The Radical Reformation

The Radical Reformation

The Radical Reformation

The Radical Reformation

Synopsis

For over 30 years George Williams' monumental 'The Radical Reformation' has been an essential reference work for historians of early modern Europe, narrating in rich, interpretative detail the interconnected stories of radical groups operating at the margins of the mainline Reformation. In its scope -- spanning all of Europe from Spain to Poland, from Denmark to Italy -- and its erudition, this book is without peer. Now available in paperback, Williams' magnum opus should be considered for an college or university-level course on the Reformation.

Excerpt

In the decade between the end of the sanguinary Great Peasants' War in Germany in 1525 and the collapse of the polygamous Biblical commonwealth of misguided peasants, artisans, and burghers in Münster in 1535, the gravest danger to an orderly and comprehensive reformation of Christendom was Anabaptism, which because of a profound disappointment with Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, their clerical associates, and their magisterial supporters, withdrew into separatist conventicles. Anabaptists were regarded as seditious and heretical. The revival of the ancient Code of Justinian made this explicit. It was midway in the decade, at Speyer in April 1529, in the same diet at which (April 19) six princes and the delegations of fourteen Upper German towns first took the name “Protestant” as stout adherents of Luther's reforms, that an imperial law (April 22) was published against the Anabaptists, in which both Catholics and “Protestants” concurred. The following day a mandate of Charles V gave specific instructions to the higher officials of the Empire as to how to deal with the baleful combination of sedition, schism, and heresy combated long ago in the ancient imperial laws against the Donatists and other separatists and willful puritans. For a brief season, however, the Anabaptists were in otherwise respectable company, for the diet included in its censure also the sacramentarians, that is, the followers of Zwingli, because the Swiss seemed to be doing, in their interpretation and observance of the second of the two principal sacraments of the church—the Eucharist—what the Anabaptists were doing with the first—Baptism. By October of the same year, however, the Lutherans and the sacramentarians from Switzerland, along with representatives of the mediating position on the sacrament of the altar—notably, Martin Bucer of Strassburg—had met under the patronage of Landgrave Philip of Hesse at Marburg to compose the differences between the two reform movements issuing respectively from Wittenberg and Zurich. Although the two . . .

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