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

Rothmann published theses explaining his teaching


An

energetic protest by the Canons induced the Bishop to inhibit Rothmann from preaching in St. Maurice. He continued his addresses in the churchyard of St. Lambert (Feb. 18th, 1532), and a few days later he was placed in possession of the church itself. St. Lambert's had been built by the municipality, and was the property of the town. Rothmann was appointed by the Town Council Evangelical preacher to the town, and was given one of the town's "gild" houses for a parsonage.

Two months later the Bishop resigned, and was succeeded by Duke Erich of Brunswick-Grubenhagen, already Bishop of Osnabrueck and Paderborn. The new Bishop determined to get rid of Rothmann. He made representations to Hesse and Electoral Saxony and other Evangelical Powers, and persuaded them to induce the more moderate of the reforming party in Muenster to abandon Rothmann; and, this done, the preacher was ordered to leave the city. The "gilds" of artisans refused to let their preacher depart, and, under the leadership of Knipperdolling,[624] drafted a letter to the authorities declaring their determination to retain him at all hazards. The democracy of Muenster and the religious movement for the first time openly combined against the authorities of the city.

While things were at this pass, the Bishop died (May 13th, 1532). The Chapter elected (June 1st) Count Franz von Waldeck, already in possession of Minden, and made Bishop of Osnabrueck

a few days later (June 11th)--a pluralist of the first rank. The reforming party in Muenster expected the worst from their new ruler. A full assembly of the "gilds" of the town was held, and by an overwhelming majority the members pledged themselves to defend their pastor and his Gospel with body and goods while life lasted. A committee of thirty-six burghers was elected to watch the course of events and to take counsel with the civic rulers and the presidents of the "gilds." Rothmann published _theses_ explaining his teaching, and challenging objectors to a public disputation. Public meetings were held; the Town Council was formally requested to hand over all the parochial churches to Evangelical preachers; which was done--the Cathedral alone remaining for Roman Catholic worship.

These proceedings produced unavailing remonstrances from the Bishop. The nobles in the neighbourhood tried to interfere, but to no purpose. In October (1532) the Bishop's party within the town began to take action. They attempted to sequester the goods of the more prominent disaffected citizens; chains were placed across the principal streets to prevent communication between the different quarters; an attempt was made to isolate the town itself. These things meant war. The "gilds," always a military organisation in mediaeval cities, armed. A party of knights sent to invade the town retired before the armed citizens. While the Bishop sought to strengthen himself by alliances and to beguile the townsmen by negotiation, a thousand armed burghers marched by night to the little township of Telgte, where a large number of the ecclesiastical and secular nobles were encamped, surrounded it, captured the Bishop's partisans, and returned to hold them as hostages. This act afforded the occasion for the intervention of Philip of Hesse. An arrangement was come to by which Muenster was declared to be an Evangelical city and enrolled within the Schmalkald League. The history of Muenster up to this time (Feb. 14th, 1533) did not differ from that of many towns which had adopted the Reformation. Rothmann had been the leader in Muenster, like Brenz in Hall, Alber in Reutlingen, or Lachmann at Heilbron.

It is usually assumed that up to this time Rothmann was a Lutheran in his teaching, that


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