Martin Luther: Shaping and Defining the Reformation, 1521-1532

By Martin Brecht; James L. Schaaf | Go to book overview

X

At the Coburg Because of
the Diet of Augsburg

1. THE DEPARTURE

On 11 March 1530, Elector John received the summons issued by Charles V on 21 January to attend the Diet of Augsburg, which was to begin on 8 April. After nine years' absence from the empire, the emperor was once again going to participate personally in a diet—for the first time since Worms. This time he had his hands free to deal with matters in the empire. Spain was quiet, peace had been concluded with France, and the imperial hegemony in northern Italy was secure. Charles's formal coronation by the pope would soon take place in Bologna. Two matters now demanded the emperor's personal presence in the empire. A defense had to be organized against the Turks, who had advanced as far as Vienna the preceding year. In addition, the religious dissention in the empire had to be overcome. These concerns were to be the two most important matters on the agenda of the planned diet. To settle the religious dissention, the emperor desired to "use diligence to listen to, understand, and weigh every expression, opinion, and view in love and graciousness… on both sides."1 He was concerned about arriving at a uniform, Christian truth, doing away with everything incorrectly interpreted on either side, and restoring the unity of the church.

In some respects these new tones in the politics of the empire were remarkable. At the Diet of Speyer the year before, King Ferdinand, representing his brother the emperor, had decreed that the Edict of Worms should be reinstated and that Luther's followers be discriminated against. A number of evangelical princes and cities had protested this decree. Their appeal to the emperor was summarily dismissed. In contrast, Charles V was now indicating in his summons that he was interested in discussion and conciliation. The reasons for this change in attitude were complex: repelling the Turks would be possible only if the empire were at peace internally and could act unitedly; the emperor was not merely a minion of the papal antievangelical politics; some of his advisors were interested in reaching an understanding between the opposing sides in the spirit of humanism.2 In fact, however, Charles V could not have had a clear conception of how far apart the religious parties in the empire had already diverged and what steps might be taken to meet this development.

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