List of Figures

Preface to the Second Edition

Preface to the First Edition

List of Abbreviations

Chapter 1 History, Historiography, and Interpretations of the Reformations

History and Historiography

Interpretations of the Reformations

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter 2 The Late Middle Ages: Threshold and Foothold of the Reformations

Agrarian Crisis, Famine, and Plague

Towns and Cities: Loci of Ideas and Change

The Printing Press

Of Mines and Militancy

Social Tensions

The Crisis of Values

Anticlericalism and the Renaissance Papacy

Suggestions for Further Reading

Electronic resources

Chapter 3 The Dawn of a New Era

Martin Luther (1483–1546)

Theological and Pastoral Responses to Insecurity

Theological Implications

Indulgences: The Purchase of Paradise

The Squeaky Mouse

Politics and Piety

From the Diet of Worms to the Land of the Birds

Suggestions for Further Reading

Electronic resources

Chapter 4 Wait for No One: Implementation of Reforms in Wittenberg

In the Land of the Birds

Melanchthon: Teacher of Germany

Karlstadt and Proto-Puritanism

Bishops, Clerical Marriage, and Strategies for Reform

The Gospel and Social Order

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter 5 Fruits of the Fig Tree: Social Welfare and Education

Late Medieval Poor Relief

Beyond Charity

The Institutionalization of Social Welfare

Bugenhagen and the Spread of Evangelical Social Welfare

Education for Service to God and Service to the Neighbor

The Catechisms and Christian Vocation

Was the Early Reformation a Failure?

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter 6 The Reformation of the Common Man

“Brother Andy”

Thomas Müntzer

The Revolution of the Common Man, 1524–1526

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter 7 The Swiss Connection: Zwingli and the Reformation

The Affair of the Sausages

Zwingli’s Beginnings

Magistracy and Church in Zurich

Zwingli’s Reform Program

Excursus: Medieval Sacramental Theology

The Marburg Colloquy, 1529

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter 8 The Sheep against the Shepherds: The Radical Reformations

The Anabaptists

Excursus: Reformation Understandings of Baptism

Zurich Beginnings

Anabaptist Multiplicity

The Münster Debacle

The Subversive Piety of the Spiritualists

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter 9 Augsburg 1530 to Augsburg 1555: Reforms and Politics

The Trail of Worms

The Diet of Worms

The Diet of Speyer, 1526

The Diet of Speyer, 1529

The Diet of Augsburg, 1530, and the Augsburg Confession

The Right of Resistance to the Emperor

Reformation Ecumenism, War, and the Peace of Augsburg

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter 10 “The Most Perfect School of Christ”: The Genevan Reformation

John Calvin (1509–1564)

Journey to Geneva

The Reformation in Geneva

Sojourn in Strasbourg

Geneva under Calvin, 1541–1564

Calvin’s Consolidation of his Authority

The Servetus Case

Protestant Mission and Evangelism: The “International Conspiracy”

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter 11 Refuge in the Shadow of God’s Wings: The Reformation in France

The Shield of Humanism

Evangelical Progress and Persecution

Calvin’s Influence in France

The Colloquy of Poissy, 1561

The Wars of Religion, 1562–1598

The St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

“Paris is Worth a Mass”

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter 12 The Blood of the Martyrs: The Reformation in the Netherlands

“La secte Lutheriane”

Dissident Movements

The Rise of Calvinism and the Spanish Reaction

A Godly Society?

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter 13 The Reformations in England and Scotland

Anticlericalism and Lutheran Beginnings

The King’s Great Matter

Passions, Politics, and Piety

Edward VI and Protestant Progress

Mary Tudor and Protestant Regress

Elizabeth I and the Via Media

Mary Stuart (1542–1587) and the Reformation in Scotland

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter 14 Catholic Renewal and the Counter-Reformation

Late Medieval Renewal Movements

The Index and the Inquisition

Loyola and the Society of Jesus

The Council of Trent, 1545–1563

Suggestions for Further Reading

Electronic resources

Chapter 15 Legacies of the Reformations




The Reformations and Women

Toleration and the “Other”

Economics, Education, and Science

Literature and the Arts

Back to the Future: The Reformations and Modernity

Suggestions for Further Reading

Electronic resources





Appendix: Aids to Reformation Studies



Praise for The European Reformations

“Derived from a lifetime of engagement with issues in Early Modern European history and written in an eminently readable style, Professor Lindberg’s The European Reformations will open up to student and scholar alike the fascinating world of the sixteenth century. Not only does Lindberg place the religious movements of the time in their political and, especially, social context, but his knowledge of the theological debates provides the reader with succinct, clear explanations of the theological substance that gave rise to the great variety of the age’s ‘Reformations’.”

Timothy J. Wengert, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia

“Carter Lindberg has written a compelling narrative regarding the emergence and development of the various ‘Reformations’ of the sixteenth century. Lindberg gives a fascinating view of the Reformations primarily from a theological and religious perspective, in concert with others like Heiko Oberman and Brad Gregory, even as he enriches this perspective with the contributions of social historians. Lindberg does especially well in focusing on the reform of the liturgy from “the cult of the living in the service of the dead” designed to free departed loved ones from Purgatory, to a form of worship that led directly to the service of the living, especially the sick, the poor, and the needy. He also shows how the reform movements were strengthened and spread by the singing of hymns and psalms by the women and men who joined these movements. This is an insightful and cogent analysis of the complex of movements we call the ‘Reformations’ of the sixteenth century.”

Randall Zachman at University of Notre Dame


To Rod, Tina, and Gary

List of Figures

1.1“Dr Martin Luther’s Glorification,” by Johann E. Hummel, 1806
1.2Phrases from Müntzer’s “Princes’ Sermon” and the Constitution of the German Democratic Republic, Allstedt Castle
2.1“Pilgrimage to the ‘Beautiful Mary’ in Regensburg,” by Michael Ostendorfer, 1520
2.2“Death and the Maiden,” Heidelberg Dance of Death
2.3“The Big Fish Eat the Little Fish,” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
2.4“Passional Christi et Antichristi,” by Lucas Cranach the Elder
3.1Christ as judge, Wittenberg parish church
3.2“A Question to a Minter,” by Jörg Breu, ca. 1530
3.3“The Fuhrwagon,” by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1519
4.1(a) “Lament of the Poor Persecuted Idols,” ca. 1530; (b) Fall of Lenin
5.1“All Kinds of Beggars’ Tricks,” by Hieronymus Bosch
5.2The Wittenberg common chest
6.1“Ständebaum,” ca. 1520
7.1“The Godly Mill,” 1521
8.1“The World Turned Upside Down,” 1522
11.1“St Bartholomew’s Night,” by François Dubois d’Amiens
14.1“Ignatius of Loyola,” by Claude Mellan, ca. 1640
15.1“Liberae Religionis Typus,” ca. 1590
15.2(a) “Jew Sow”; (b) Holocaust memorial
15.3“The Law and the Gospel,” by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1530
15.4“The Light of the Gospel Rekindled by the Reformers,” ca. 1630

Preface to the Second Edition

It is both a privilege and a great challenge to revise this textbook. It is a privilege to thank all who have contributed to keeping the text in print far longer than I ever expected – all you students and colleagues who by choice or assignment bought the book. The revision, however, has turned out to be a great challenge. With Robin Leaver (2007: ix), I now more fully appreciate Luther’s comment: “He who does not know writing thinks it requires no effort. Three fingers write, but the entire body is at work” (WA TR No. 6438). When I wrote the preface to the first edition, I cited A. G. Dickens’ words to the effect that writing synthetic texts “must form challenges to write better ones.” I had no idea at the time that so many “better ones” would appear! In English alone, we now have a range of perspectives from such scholars as Scott Hendrix (2004a), Hans J. Hillerbrand (2007), R. Po-chia Hsia (2004), Diarmaid MacCulloch (2003), Peter Matheson (2007), Andrew Pettegree (2000; 2002a), Alec Ryrie (2006a), and Merry Wiesner-Hanks (2006). Obviously, Reformation studies is alive and well! It will be obvious that I do not have enough space, let alone time and expertise, to carry on an extended conversation with these many fine scholars, not to mention the explosion of scholarly studies on the sixteenth century.

Revision is perhaps too strong a word for what follows, because I am not “re-visioning” the narrative of my text. I remain convinced of the “truism” expressed so succinctly by Heiko Oberman (1994b: 8): “[W]ithout the reformers, no Reformation. Social and political factors guided, accelerated and likewise hindered the spread and public effects of Protestant preaching. However, in a survey of the age as a whole they must not be overestimated and seen as causes of the Reformation, nor as its fundamental preconditions.” So, while my rewrite begins with the original preface, my narrative remains basically the same. What I have done is more supplementary in the sense of expanding the narrative to include more material on the British Isles, Roman Catholic reforms, and women. The following expansion is very modest, for the field of Reformation studies has exploded in the decade and a half since the first edition. Merry Wiesner-Hanks (2008: 397) notes that just in the field of women and the Reformation: “It is now nearly impossible to even know about all the new scholarship, to say nothing of reading it.” Add in the resources available on the World Wide Web and there is more than enough material for a lifetime let alone a semester course! The massive growth in scholarship on the Reformations is a cause for excitement, but at the same time the growing concentration on microstudies threatens to replace the forest with detailed studies of every tree in it. “How is one to teach a subject that finds itself in that condition? If Reformation Studies are to enjoy any continuing vitality, there must be more to them than the ever-closer scrutiny of the religious entrails and financial dealings of the weighty parishioners of MuchBinding-in-the-Marsh” (Collinson 1997: 354). Yet, as noted above, there are a number of texts to guide us through this forest of new growth, as well as summaries of the state of the field such as the splendid volume edited by David M. Whitford, Reformation and Early Modern Europe: A Guide to Research (2008) that includes web resources along with bibliography. Additional material that follows and supplements the narrative of my text is available in my edited volumes The European Reformations Sourcebook (primary sources, 2000a) and The Reformation Theologians (chapters on Humanist, Lutheran, Reformed, Roman Catholic, and “Radical” theologians, 2002).

The title of this text again speaks of “Reformations.” As far as I know, my use of the plural “Reformations” was unique when my text first appeared. Some recent texts continue this usage (Ryrie, 2006a; Matheson, 2007: 7 (subtitle: “Reformations, Not Reformation”)) while others take sharp issue with it. Hillerbrand (2003: 547) judges it “quite wrong;” but in his later volume (2007: 407) states: “Neither historically nor theologically was there ever a single Reformation movement; rather, there were several, prompting recent scholars to speak pointedly of plural ‘Reformations.’” Hendrix (2000: 558; 2004a: xv, xviii, 1) also thinks my title is less than helpful for it obscures the coherent Reformation movement “to Christianize Europe.” While this discussion may seem like so much antics with semantics, it has occupied a number of historians in recent years. For example, in the mid-1990s, the leading church historians, Berndt Hamm, Bernd Moeller, and Dorothea Wendebourg debated the issue. Wendebourg (Hamm, et al., 1995: 31–2; Lindberg 2002a: 4–9) referred to an early seventeenth-century engraving titled “The Light of the Gospel Rekindled by the Reformers” (see figure 15.4). She commented that while it is a beautiful image of unity and harmony, the reality was conflict, especially in light of the so-called “Left Wing” reformers who are not included in the engraving. Wendebourg’s point is echoed more recently by Brian Cummings. His summary of Reformation scholarship (2002: 13) merits extensive quotation: “[I]t is significant that one of the main efforts in such scholarship in recent years has been to argue the ‘Reformation’ out of existence. Some historians have attempted to avoid historical determinism by emphasizing continuities in a longer sequence. Others have deflected it by distinguishing a plurality of reformations, catholic as much as protestant, in a larger process of religious culture. As in other areas of academic study, an artful use of the plural form has been used to settle the case. Yet whatever revision of historiography is thought necessary, it must respect the fundamental dissentiousness of sixteenthcentury religion. The religious culture of this period, catholic as well as protestant, identified itself through division.” While the debate is ongoing, I continue to view the Reformation era as a period encompassing plural reform movements.

As always, I am grateful for the support given by the editors at Blackwell, not least Rebecca Harkin who encouraged me to undertake this revision. On a personal note, I am delighted to add that the original dedicatees have given us five grandchildren – Emma, Caleb, Nathan, Teddy, and Claudia. Their parents are thankful that their gestation was far briefer than that of this revision.

Preface to the First Edition

Human life without knowledge of history is nothing other than a perpetual childhood, nay, a permanent obscurity and darkness.

Philip Melanchthon

I hope that this textbook will contribute to the perennial discovery of who we are and how we got this way. The “we” here is meant globally. Such a goal of course smacks of delusions of grandeur or at least an overestimation of the influence of the Reformations of the sixteenth century. But no historian of whatever persuasion thinks he or she is an antiquarian studying the past “for its own sake” as if understanding it did not contribute to understanding ourselves. This is illustrated by citing just two major Reformation historians. Steven Ozment (1992: 217) concludes one of his books on the Reformation: “To people of all nationalities the first Protestants bequeathed in spite of themselves a heritage of spiritual freedom and equality, the consequences of which are still working themselves out in the world today.” And William Bouwsma (1988: 1) begins his study of Calvin with a litany of his influences: “Calvinism has been widely credited – or blamed – for much that is thought to characterize the modern world: for capitalism and modern science, for the discipline and rationalization of the complex societies of the West, for the revolutionary spirit and democracy, for secularization and social activism, for individualism, utilitarianism, and empiricism.” If Ozment and Bouwsma are anywhere near the mark, it behooves us to reflect on our roots.

The influence of the Reformations has extended beyond Euro-American cultures to the wider world. Scholars have pursued the influences of Calvinism on social conditions in the Republic of South Africa and of Lutheranism on modern developments in Germany and the course of Judaism; the once Eurocentric International Congress for Luther Research now includes participants from the so-called “Third World” who are concerned not only about the ecclesial applicability of Luther’s theology but its relevance to liberation and human rights. The global nature of Reformation research is evident in the translation of writings of the Reformers into various Asian languages and the existence of scholarly endeavors everywhere, including the People’s Republic of China; not to mention the impact on ecumenical dialogues among Christians and with disciples of other world religions. The Reformations continue to be seen as too important to contemporary life to be left to antiquarians and those whom Carlyle termed “dryasdust” historians.

Why one more textbook on the Reformations? There is of course the personal factor: I suspect that nearly every teacher wishes to tell the story his or her own way. I am no different; and have been stimulated in this endeavor by the occasional student question, “Why don’t you write your own text?” Such obviously brilliant and insightful students wise to the utilitarian value of such a question should not however be blamed for this project. Rather, the rationale for sacrificing more trees to the textbook trade is to incorporate aspects of the burgeoning field of Reformation studies into a text that interprets these contributions from a historical–theological perspective. Hence major attention will be directed to what the Reformers and those who received their messages believed to be at stake – literally as well as figuratively – for their salvation. The thread – with all its kinks and knots – running throughout this story is their struggle to understand and to apply to society the freedom and authority of the gospel.

What will this orientation bring to this text? I have already suggested the global impact of the Reformations on contemporary identities. Scholarly fascination with the influences of the Reformations has grown to the point where major historiographical studies are devoted to it. The initial chapter on history and historiography will illustrate that it is not only church historians and theologians who have commitments. All historians are also interpreters; thus any and all suggestions that if you can only shed theological (or political, or Marxist, et al.) convictions you will be scientifically “objective” or “value free” are suspect.

I view the Reformation era as a time of plural reform movements. This approach has significance for interpretation and definition that will be explored throughout the text. For now, the use of the plural reminds us that even commonly used terms such as “Reformation” carry within them subtle or not so subtle value judgments.

I will also attempt to incorporate into this text the research that has mushroomed so recently under the general rubric of social history. Here there is specific attention to the marginalized (the poor, women), minorities, popular culture in terms of context and reception, the development of modern traits (individualism, rationality, the secular), and the modern state-building process called confessionalization. Every work of synthesis inevitably carries within it seeds (and sometimes full-grown weeds!) of misunderstandings and all too many omissions. I hope the chronology, maps, genealogical tables, bibliography, and suggestions for further reading will ameliorate to some extent the disjointedness of this synthetic narrative and its lack of discussion of the Reformations in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. Textbook authors have the temerity angels eschew. This being the case, I take heart from Luther’s dictum to “sin boldly” as well as from the words of a great English Reformation scholar, A. G. Dickens (1974: 210): “In short, synthesis must involve writing books which form challenges to write better ones, books which will inevitably be replaced, attacked and patronized by others which climb upon their shoulders.”

I am pleased to dedicate these efforts to our new sons and daughter who, even after marrying our children, still listen patiently to dinner discourses on the Reformations and provide wry comments. I wish to thank the many students of my “Reformations” course whose lively questions and arguments over the years have frequently redeemed what began as “dryasdust” lectures. My “thorn-in-the-flesh” colleague, J. Paul Sampley, has rendered a similar service in and out of the classroom. Finally, my thanks to Alison Mudditt, Senior Commissioning Editor of Blackwell Publishers, who initiated and shepherded this project to conclusion, to Gillian Bromley, Desk Editor, whose sharp eye caught many an error, and to Sarah McKean, Picture Researcher at Blackwell, for obtaining the illustrations.

List of Abbreviations

ARG Archive for Reformation History/Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte
BC The Book of Concord. The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, ed. by Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000
CH Church History
CHR Catholic Historical Review
CO Ioannis Calvini Opera quae supersunt omnia, ed. C. Baum, E. Cunitz, and E. Reiss. Brunswick/Berlin: Schwetschke, 1863–1900 (Corpus Reformatorum, vols 29–87)
CR Corpus Reformatorum. Berlin/Leipzig, 1811–1911
CTM The Collected Works of Thomas Müntzer, tr. and ed. Peter Matheson. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1988
CTJ Calvin Theological Journal
CTQ Concordia Theological Quarterly
HJ Historical Journal
LQ Lutheran Quarterly
LW Luther’s Works, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan and Helmut T. Lehmann, 55 vols. St Louis: Concordia/Philadelphia: Fortress, 1955–86. [References in text are to volume and page, thus 31: 318 = vol. 31, p. 318]
NWDCH The New Westminster Dictionary of Church History, vol. 1, ed. Roberto Benedetto. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2008.
MQR Mennonite Quarterly Review
PL Patrologia cursus completus. Series Latina, ed. J-P. Migne, 221 vols.
Paris: Migne, 1844–1900
PP Past and Present
SCJ Sixteenth Century Journal
StA Martin Luther: Studienausgabe, ed. Hans-Ulrich Delius, 6 vols. Berlin: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 1979–99
TRE Theologische Realenzyklopädie, ed. G. Krause and G. Muller. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 1976–
WA D. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe, ed. J. K. F. Knaake, G. Kawerau, et al., 58 vols. Weimar: Böhlau, 1883–
WA Br D. Martin Luthers Werke: Briefwechsel, 15 vols. Weimar: Böhlau, 1830
WA TR D. Martin Luthers Werke: Tischreden, 6 vols. Weimar: Böhlau, 1912–21
Z Huldreich Zwinglis sämtliche Werke, ed. F. Egli et al. Berlin/Leipzig, 1905– (Corpus Reformatorum, vols 88–101); repr. Zurich: Theologischer Verlag, 1982–
ZKG Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte
ZRG Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte, Kanonische Abteilung
ZThK Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche