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Reformation and the German Territorial State

Reformation and the German Territorial State: Upper Franconia, 1300-1630

William Bradford Smith
Volume: 8
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 298
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  • Book Info
    Reformation and the German Territorial State
    Book Description:

    Religious reform and the rise of the territorial state were the central features of early modern German history. Reformation and state-building, however, had a much longer history, beginning in the later Middle Ages and continuingthrough the early modern

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-749-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Maps
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  7. Tables
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  8. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Religious reform and the rise of the territorial state mark the two distinguishing characteristics of German history in the transition between the Middle Ages and the modern world. But just as 1517 no longer stands as the beginning of the Reformation, neither does 1555 mark the beginning of territorial state building.¹ The twin processes of religious reform and territorial formation have a much longer history, beginning in the later Middle Ages and continuing through the early modern period. The essential relationship between the rise of the territorial state and the reform movements of the fourteenth through the early seventeenth centuries...

  9. Chapter 1 Territory and Community
    (pp. 9-25)

    The formation of the territorial state provides a central—if not the central—dynamic in the history of late-medieval Germany. The charters and other documents collected in the protocol books of the vicar general’s court provide ample evidence for the growth of the territorial state from the mid-thirteenth century onward.¹ They indicate a demographic shift in the later Middle Ages, as new settlements were founded and some older ones were abandoned. They show the final dissolution of the manorial constitution and the emergence of free villages and towns. In the patterns of endowments and patronage, they chart the rise of...

  10. Chapter 2 Rebellion, Representation, and Reform
    (pp. 26-43)

    The formation of the territorial state in upper Franconia was connected to a broader transformation of society at the local level. That transformation, moreover, had significant religious overtones, so much so that we have been able to describe local changes as manifestations of the late-medieval reformatio. As suggested in that claim, however, the reforms we observed in towns and villages such as Marktschorgast and Gefrees did not occur in a vacuum. In this chapter and the next, we will sketch out the specific events that drove the reform movements, first in the Hochstift Bamberg and then, in the next chapter,...

  11. Chapter 3 “Lord in Our Own House”
    (pp. 44-58)

    The history of the late-medieval reformatio in the lands of the Franconian Hohenzollerns illustrates the tensions inherent in magisterial attempts at religious reform. As in Bamberg, the process of religious reform during the fifteenth century was closely tied to the problem of territorial consolidation. The Hohenzollern domains comprised a series of small lordships strewn across Franconia, stretching from the Swabian Alb in the west to the Bohemian Forest in the east. For administrative purposes, the lands were organized into three regions: the Niederland in middle Franconia, the Unterland in the upper Aisch valley, and the Oberland. The latter, in the...

  12. Chapter 4 Reformation and Revolution
    (pp. 59-78)

    In his ecclesiastical history of the town of Selb, Paul Reinel noted that until the year 1517 the gospel of Christ lay buried under papist lies and human teachings. After cataloging the extent and depth of popish errors, he announced how Martin Luther, “the third Elijah and prophet of the German lands,” revealed God’s true word.¹ Some three hundred pages later, in his chronicle of world affairs, Reinel described two events that occurred in 1517: the birth of Johannes Streitberger, general superintendent of the Lutheran church in the Oberland after 1560, and the misadventures of Jordan Prantner, vicar of Selb,...

  13. Chapter 5 The Limits of Obedience
    (pp. 79-96)

    The full social and political implications of Luther’s message unfolded only gradually in the years after 1517. The violent upheavals of the years 1520–25 suggested to many—Catholic and Protestant alike—that the Luther problem could not be remedied simply through minor compromises on matters of ecclesiastical practice and administration. For Catholic rulers as well as for more traditional-minded and conciliatory Lutherans, the new faith posed a distinct threat to the social order. From both the Lutheran and Catholic perspectives, evangelical religion needed to be cleansed of its potential for social and political disruption, if not eradicated altogether.¹


  14. Chapter 6 A Plague of Preachers
    (pp. 97-112)

    The two decades following the death of Albrecht Alcibiades were a time of transition and confusion. The year 1555 is generally taken to mark the end of the Reformation and the start of the confessional era.¹ At the same time, when describing the religious situation in the 1560s, it is easier to say what it was not, rather than what it was. The “storm years” of the Reformation were clearly over, but the future trajectory of Lutheranism remained uncertain. On the Catholic side, even after the end of the Council of Trent, the general religious ethos remained largely pre-Tridentine for...

  15. Chapter 7 Orthodoxy and Order
    (pp. 113-129)

    Viewed from the perspective of officials in Bamberg and Kulmbach, two issues stood out in the parochial disputes of the 1560s and 1570s. Throughout the second half of the sixteenth century, increasingly greater emphasis was given to replacing the old priesthood with better-trained, orthodox pastors. It was on the shoulders of the new priesthood, men born and raised after the Lutheran Reformation, that the burden of enforcing the new confessional norms was laid. In the confrontations between the new clergy and their flocks, serious questions arose concerning the moral character of the laity. And although a number of peasant failings—...

  16. Chapter 8 The Christian Commune
    (pp. 130-148)

    The religious history of upper Franconia during the first decades of the confessional era presents a complex and often contradictory set of images. Events in both the Hochstift Bamberg and the Hohenzollern Oberland make it difficult to perceive a clear alliance between ecclesiastical and state interests either at court or in the villages. The reform of marriage and the formation of the clerical estate both reveal deep fissures within the ecclesiastical regime and between secular and spiritual officials. The experience of pastors at the local level argues against an alliance of “pulpit and administration (Kanzel und Amtshaus) that engendered social...

  17. Chapter 9 Cuius Regio?
    (pp. 149-164)

    About the same time that Friedrich Förner penned his visitation report, Paul Reinel, a Lutheran deacon in the town of Selb, sat down to record his thoughts on the course of religious reform. His reflections took the form of the Annotationes, a manuscript history of Selb from earliest times down to the present.¹ A basic theme of Reinel’s history was that his village had always been Christian. In ancient times, “all of Germany was corrupted with heathen superstition and idol worship.” Consequently, one might think that Reinel’s ancestors were pagans and polytheists as well. Reinel argues that this was not...

  18. Chapter 10 The Stool of Wickedness
    (pp. 165-185)

    When the Swedes entered Bamberg in February, 1632, they encountered a scene of horror. For two decades the Hochstift had been the scene of one of the most ferocious witch-hunts in history, one that claimed perhaps as many as a thousand lives.¹ Our treatment of the witch-hunts in Bamberg must here be brief, but at the outset several points of clarification are in order. The phenomenon of witchcraft per se is not our concern here. Few of those accused seem to have had any genuine interest in the magical arts. The records in Bamberg reveal very little about any sort...

  19. Conclusion
    (pp. 186-194)

    As we take stock of the three centuries that preceded the Swedish invasion, two themes predominate. In the first case, the dominant principle of government in upper Franconia was that governance was local (örtlich). In the administration of their domains, the princes followed the pattern of the Hohenstaufen emperors, delegating authority to the level below them; meanwhile, local elites sought to transform delegated powers into expressions of their own status and lordship. If anything, this tendency intensified over time. In the fourteenth century, execution of the Landfriede was delegated to the princes; in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, resolution of...

  20. Notes
    (pp. 195-250)
  21. Bibliography
    (pp. 251-274)
  22. Index
    (pp. 275-280)
  23. Back Matter
    (pp. 281-281)