Thursday, April 19

The First Protestants

On this day in 1526, the citizens of Strasburg, Nuremburg, Ulm, and nine other cities with the support of a few electors and princes, protested an earlier decree of the Diet of Worms. They petitioned the emperor for an exemption to the "uniformity of religion act" that the assembly of the imperial German principalities, kingdoms, and electorates had imposed on all the member states--and then reaffirmed several years later in Speyer. These progressive advocates of reform were thus first given the name "Protestants."


msv said...

I believe you are confusing the dates of the First and Second Diets of Speyer. The Diet of 1526 (occuring during a political quarrel between the Emperor and the Pope) was a Lutheran victory and unanimously concluded that until a general council should be convened, each prince or free city should decide the nature of religion within its jurisdiction. In 1529, a Second Diet was convened at which this decision was repealed. On April 19th, the majority of the Diet voted to accept this decision but the following day, on April 20th, the group you mentioned attempted to present Archduke Ferdinand with a "Letter of Protestation," which Ferdinand refused to accept. Because it was not allowed to be read in the Diet, it was printed and made published for the general public. It was after this that term "Protestant" was applied to those who supported the movement to allow local governments rather than the Emperor to determine religious affiliation and eventually came to refer more generally to groups that opposed the Roman Catholic Church.

gileskirk said...

The decree of uniformity I'm speaking of was first imposed at the Diet of Worms in 1521. But, the decree was first reversed, as you say, in 1526 and then reaffirmed in 1529, at Speyer.