Schmalkald  War , the death of Luther, The "Interim", the Peace of Passau and Peace of Augsburg 1555.

Following the presentation of the Augsburg Confession in June 1530 weeks went by in which the papists furiously wrote and rewrote a Confutation to the Protestant Confession of Faith. They produced an exceedingly lengthy document restating their dogma with no actual rebuttal from Scripture. As ever they trenchantly insisted they were right and would brook no alternative opinion. Extirpation of the Protestants was their agitated cry. Charles V therefore closed the Diet in September and by a decree dated 19 November he gave the Protestant Lords until 15 April 1531 to conform and reconcile themselves with the Pope. They were to restore and rebuild the Catholic religious houses and return property, and the old ceremonies and rituals were to be observed. They were not to permit any further  innovations , circulation of Protestant books, and required to assist the Emperor in dealing with the Anabaptists and Zwinglians. Although aimed at Luther and the Lords, the decree impacted everybody who held Lutheran opinions.

The so called Anabaptist Revolt in Munster was led by John Matthias a baker of Haarlem and John Buckholdt from Leyden. This was a very extreme group with contorted versions of religion and ideas of creating a Heavenly Kingdom on earth. This involved sedition, rejection of civil law and government; it was soon suppressed by Rhine princes in 1535 and Buckholdt was executed, Matthias already having died of natural causes. It was not really Anabaptist in the sense of the proto Baptist belief, but an association of blame with a religious sect that was `different`  This resembled the slanders and libels against the  original Lollards who became associated with sedition and revolution in England.

 Still reluctant to draw his sword against Germany, Charles became entangled once more with problems of the Empire, while in Germany the Schmalkald League grew stronger.   Philip of Hesse grasped  the opportunity to  lead an army and recover Wurtemburg for the son of the ousted Duke. The Duke had been exiled  in 1519 and Wurtemburg given to Ferdinand, the Emperor`s brother. The successful sortie in May and June 1532 brought Christopher, Duke of Wurtemburg, a convert to the Reformed faith, into the Schmalkald League. Another addition to the League was Albertine-Saxony in 1539 when the papist Duke George died and his brother Henry, a Protestant succeeded him. In the same year Joachim, Elector of Brandenburg died and that state joined the League followed by Brunswick in 1542. There was now a solid line of Protestant states from the Baltic to the banks of the Rhine. The whole of Central and Northern Germany was Protestant, leaving only  Austria, Bavaria the Palatinate  and ecclesiastical  principalities on the Rhine that were of the old faith. 

Already there were reform movements within these remaining  states and by 1546 the Pope could see his dominion shrinking rapidly; he was set on use of the sword. Charles however, was still occupied with the Turks. An invasion fleet was off Toulon ready to descend on Southern Europe; and relations with France had again broken down, This left him still compromising and offering a General Council to settle the religious problem in Germany. The wheel turned the full circle on 17  February 1546 when after dining with his family and friends, Luther complained of stomach ache and went to rest. Later he awoke with chest pains and then peacefully died aged sixty three. He was buried at Wittenberg on 22 February 1546.

With Luther gone Charles finally turned to Germany and prepared for war. He made a league with Pope Paul III and secured very substantial funds for his attack on Protestantism. But before the blood flowed he dissimulated and attacked the Reformers and their work through the long promised Council at Trent. Here some forty prelates only, presumed to declare on behalf of the Church that the traditions of the Fathers (Popes)  were of equal authority with the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. All else that followed was, as usual it seems, pre-judged and prejudiced against the Protestants thereby condemning the people of Germany for heresy. But yet there were workings against the Emperor`s plans as the Pope himself issued a bull calling for the faithful to support war. His duplicity and dissimulation exposed, Charles now focussed on the leaders of the Schmalkald League - John, Elector of Saxony and Philip of Hesse.

In the space of weeks the League assembled an army of eighty thousand, but lost the support of a few small states who defected to the Emperor. The Electors of Cologne, Brandenburg and Palatine remained neutral, leaving the brunt of war to be faced by the princes of  Saxony, Hess, Wurtemburg, Anhalt  and the cities of Augsburg, Ulm and Strasburg. But treachery intervened in the shape of Prince Maurice of Albertine - Saxony , although a Protestant, he defected to the Emperor, deciding that he would be better off in terms of reward and spoils.

On 20 July Charles declared Saxony and Hesse outlaws precipitating the long feared war. Time was wasted by the Protestants deciding who should lead their army,  and the campaign (from summer 1546 - spring 1547) was marked by vacillating and indecision. The passes through the Alps were not defended and Spanish and Italian soldiers deployed across the plains. Opportunity to attack the Emperor while he waited for reinforcements was wasted in debate. John of Saxony was beaten at Muhlberg  24 April 1547 and his lands divided between Frederick and Maurice. Left alone Philip of Hesse was forced to accept defeat and surrendered  unconditionally and imprisoned. So ended the Schmalkald War.

Charles finally had dominion over all Germany and its religion. It was a bitter blow for the Reformation. It was also a bitter lesson for all the people as Charles levied a penalty of  one and a half million crowns (an enormous sum in those days), which was levied without much discrimination  - whether or not support had been given to the League.  Frederick did likewise with the Bohemians. An attempt was made to conciliate the people by the production of a halfway house creed- called "The Interim", this was no more than statement of popish supremacy dressed up with a few quotations from the Scriptures. It was read and instantly approved without opportunity to dissent, at the Diet of Augsburg , 15 May 1548. Even Melanchthon and the Wittenberg divines bent the knee and accepted the creed , effectively abandoning Protestantism. There was greater spirit elsewhere - in Northern Germany it was largely disregarded, Central Germany was diffident. Meanwhile the churches were `cleansed` and some four hundred pastors cast out in Southern Germany, while the populace were forced to attend mass by the soldiers. Rome was not happy that the Emperor had decided a creed and implemented it without their approval and even grudged two small concessions to the Protestants - married pastors could keep their wives, and the Eucharist could be presented in the two types.

In Rome Pope Paul III had second thoughts about his support and feared that he had created a new master - for himself. He recalled his troops and ordered the Council of Trent to re assemble in Bologna. In Germany the populace were increasingly discontented with the Emperors duplicity and rumblings of revolution were heard. A surprising turn of events was the realisation by Prince Maurice of Albertine- Saxony while at the siege of Magdeburg that he was on the wrong side. He had seen the discontent and heard cries of "Judas" made against him and perceived that he might be among those swept away  . He decided to return to the fold of Protestantism and divulged his intentions to the Princes. At Magdeburg he accepted their surrender and privately told them that he would not enforce religious conformity. Meanwhile he conducted secret negotiations with Henry II in  France and the Emperor retired to Innsbruck in the Tyrol where he had but few guards.

Maurice declared for the Protestant cause and also sought the release of Philip of Hesse; then with an army of 25,000 made a bold attempt to seize the Emperor at Innsbruck. Charles managed to escape to Villac in Carinthia (Austria). In July the Peace of Passau was signed in which the main article was that the Protestants should enjoy the free possession of religion until a Diet of all the States effected a permanent arrangement. In the absence of that the present arrangement (Passau) should remain for ever. This was followed by the Treaty of Augsburg in 25 September 1555.2

The great significance of these treaties was that the Augustan Confession ( Lutheranism ) was allowed by law to sit alongside the Roman Catholic faith. This removed the custom and practice of the Middle Ages where only one faith was ever lawful. It did not , however, confer the same rights on other Reformers and followers of Zwingli  and Calvin who had to wait until the Treaty of Westphalia (24 October 1648)  almost a century later. Charles then handed power to his son Philip to whom he gave the Netherlands and his Spanish and Italian possessions. In 1556 he formally abdicated and retired to a monastery in Spain.

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