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

By Jill P. Raitt | Go to book overview

The rest of Lobetius's letter continued to report on the tensions in the empire and in France between Catholics and those "of the religion," that is, the Reformed. He ended the letter with a note saying that Segur 4 had returned from Saxony and brought good news concerning la cause. Lobetius hoped for even better news from Heidelberg and from the duke d'Espernon. The cause was the same that Lobetius had been addressing throughout, namely, Elizabeth's hope to form a Protestant League, one of whose objects was to aid Henry of Navarre against Henry III of France, still under the influence of the Guise family, architects of the Catholic League.

It is within the perspective of this international setting that the Colloquy of Montbéliard should be understood. It was not simply another theological controversy that failed to reconcile Reformed and Lutheran princes and theologians. Although that is also a conclusion one may draw and the one with which historians have dismissed the Colloquy of Montbéliard, such an assessment fails to consider the complex reasons for the calling of the colloquy.

The religious changes in the first half of the sixteenth century had profound political ramifications in the second half of the century. Goaded by the successes of the Protestant Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church had at last concluded the Council of Trent in 1563. But its decrees were not accepted, promulgated, and implemented at once. In fact, France, torn by the wars of religion and animated by a Gallican spirit, refused to receive the Tridentine decrees. By 1575, German Lutheranism found itself divided among many forms, which the Formula of Concord ( 1577) attempted to unite. Protestant Christianity was split into factions, each of which drew up confessions to which its constituents had to adhere and which divided the people not only into Catholic and Protestant but into Anglican, Lutheran, Reformed, and Anabaptist as well. All of these divisions were themselves further divided. The notion of tolerance had few advocates, and ruling lords demanded that their own beliefs be taught and practiced by their people on pain of exile, or, in the case of Anabaptists in either Catholic or Protestant territories, death. When one lord succeeded another with a different faith, the people had to follow the faith of the new lord or suffer exile or the ravages of war as in the Palatinate.

In German lands, the political power of the Protestant lords had led to the Peace of Augsburg in 1555, which legitimated Roman Catholics and followers of the Augsburg Confession. "Sacramentarians" were banned from the territories of the Holy Roman Empire. Who were "sacramentarians"? Lutherans labeled as sacramentarians both Zwinglians who did not follow the Augsburg Confession and Calvinists who claimed that they did follow the Augsburg Confession and therefore denied that they were sacramentarians. The legal residence of Calvinists within the Holy Roman Empire persisted as a salient issue.

In 1562, the unsettled state of France erupted into the murderous wars of religion, which ended only in 1593 when the Huguenot leader, Henry of Navarre, succeeded to the French throne as Henry IV, becoming Roman Catholic in order to do so but without losing his Reformed sympathies.

The county of Montbéliard was caught in the net of these bitter disputes

-4-

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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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