The Colloquy of Montbeliard: Religion and Politics in the Sixteenth Century

By Jill P. Raitt | Go to book overview

munity. In every case it also supplied a platform for a political entity, whether a political faction, an independent state, or a coalition of states.

Confessions thus became symbols of two types of identity, religious and political. Like many symbols of identity they were devised with care and defended with ferocity. Their constant use is an extremely important indicator of the ways in which public opinion was then manipulated and in which power was legitimated. Their creation and defense required the close collaboration of two types of leaders, lawyers and theologians. Bureaucrats trained in the law actually managed most of these governments but they often found it necessary to draw upon the expert advice of consultants highly trained in theology.

Within the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, the rules of this confessional game were defined by the Religious Peace of Augsburg, drafted in 1555. It had ended a period of intensive religious war by allowing each local government within the empire to choose one of two confessions--the Augsburg Confession first drafted by Lutheran leaders back in 1530, or the Catholic confession then in the process of being codified at Trent. A split within the Protestant ranks soon developed, however, with the growth of a Calvinist Reformed movement, building on a base created earlier by Ulrich Zwingli and his followers. Calvin and his associates were quite prepared to accept the Augsburg Confession, but only in a version subject to several interpretations, called the Variata. Some German Protestant states lined up behind this version of the Augsburg Confession and the allied confessions presented by Calvinists in other countries. Other states, however, insisted upon a more rigid and restrictive version of the Confession of Augsburg, called the Invariata, that was later elaborated in an inter-Lutheran confessional statement called the Formula of Concord, which explicitly excluded Zwinglians and Calvinists.

The tensions between these confessions were particularly acute in the southwestern part of Germany. Three competing governments in that corner of the empire each seized upon a different confession both to assert its own identity and independence and to claim a larger role within the imperial and pan-European political contexts. The duchy of Lorraine became resolutely Roman Catholic and defended its faith in alliance with the papacy and the French Catholic Holy League. The electorate of the Palatine became primarily Calvinist, with some false starts and changes, and defended its faith in alliance with French Protestants, the Swiss cantons, and the Netherlands. The duchy of Württemberg committed itself to conservative Lutheranism and defended its faith in alliance with other Lutheran powers, primarily in eastern and northern Germany.

One particularly acute display of the resulting tensions may be found in the French-speaking county of Montbéliard. It had been converted to a largely Calvinist version of Protestant Christianity. Its immediate neighbors were the Reformed cantons of Switzerland and the duchy of Lorraine ruled by the Guise family, better known as leaders of the fervently Catholic Holy League in France. But Montbéliard itself was ruled by the dukes of Württem

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The Colloquy of Montbeliard: Religion and Politics in the Sixteenth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Introduction 3
  • Notes 10
  • 1 - Ancient Liberties and Evangelical Reform 11
  • Notes 32
  • 2 - The Political Background 45
  • Notes 60
  • 3 - The Lord's Supper 73
  • Notes 100
  • 4 - The Person of Christ 110
  • Notes 126
  • 5 - Images, Baptism, and Predestination 134
  • 6 - Aftermath (1): Polemics and Politics 160
  • Notes 176
  • 7 - Aftermath (2): The Larger Scene 187
  • Notes 192
  • Appendix 1 Appendix: in Which Is Taught, What Was Done, Regarding the Communication and Protest of the French Exiles After the Colloquy of Montbéliard 197
  • Notes 201
  • Appendix 2 - Instrument 203
  • Appendix 3 207
  • Note 210
  • Bibliography of Works Cited 211
  • Index 221
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