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A History of the Reformation (Vol. 1 of 2)

The Swabian League was dissolved in 1536


all manner of political and personal motives were at work on both sides in Germany (as elsewhere). Philip of Hesse combined a strenuous acceptance of the principles of the Lutheran Reformation with as thorough a hatred of the House of Hapsburg and of its supremacy in Germany. The Dukes of Bavaria, who were the strongest partisans of the Romanist Church in Germany, were the hereditary enemies of the House of Austria. The religious pacification of the Fatherland was made impossible to Charles, not merely by his insistence on maintaining the conceptions of the mediaeval Church, but also by open and secret reluctance to see the imperial authority increased, and by jealousies aroused by the territorial aggrandisement of the House of Hapsburg. The incompatibility between the aims of the Emperor and those of his indispensable ally, the Pope, added to the difficulties of the situation.

In 1534, Philip of Hesse persuaded the Schmalkald League to espouse the cause of the banished Duke of Wuertemberg. His territories had been incorporated into the family possessions of the Hapsburgs, and the people groaned under the imperial administration. The Swabian League, which had been the mainstay of the Imperialist and Romanist cause in South Germany, was persuaded to remain neutral by the Dukes of Bavaria, and Philip had little difficulty in defeating Ferdinand, and driving the Imperialists out of the Duchy. Ulrich was restored, declared in favour of the Lutheran

Reformation, and Wuertemberg was added to the list of Protestant States. By the terms of the Peace of Cadan (June 1534), Ferdinand publicly engaged to carry out Charles' private assurance that no Protestant was to be dragged before the _Reichskammersgericht_ for anything connected with religion.(354) Another important consequence followed. The Swabian League was dissolved in 1536. This left the Schmalkald League of Protestant States and cities the only formidable confederation in Germany.

The political union among the Protestants suggested a closer approximation. The South German pastors asked to meet Luther and discuss their theological differences. They met at Wittenberg, and after prolonged discussion it was found that all were agreed save on one small point--the presence, _extended in space_, of the Body of Christ in the elements in the Holy Supper. It was agreed that this might be left an open question; and what was called the _Wittenberg Concord_ was signed, which united all German Protestants (May and June 1536).(355)

Three years later (1539), Duke George of Saxony died, the most honest and disinterested of the Romanist princes. His brother Henry, who succeeded him, with the joyful consent of his subjects, pronounced for the Evangelical faith. Nothing would content him but that Luther should come to Leipzig to preside clerically on so auspicious an occasion. Luther preached in the great hall of the Castle, where twenty years earlier he had confronted Eck, and had heard Duke George declare that his opinions were pestilential.

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