How Important Were the German Princes

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How important were the German princes in creating the atmosphere within which Lutheranism was successful? The German princes were essential for creating the atmosphere in which Lutheranism was successful between 1521 and 1555 because they maintained Luther’s teachings, making it a reality. Also they obtained military authority over Charles V who at this time, was a new, inexperienced emperor and also had major influence over Charles power due to the fact they were the ones who elected him. This proved useful at the Diet of Worms in 1521 when instead of Luther being issued full excommunication, instead he was offered a full hearing and this was all down to princely support. By 1531 the Schmalkaldic League was set up as a united defence alliance by protestant princes in response to Charles’s threat of eradicating Lutheranism. Despite the failure of the league itself in 1547, it is considered a success in the way that Lutheranism was now exclusively established and was growing ever more powerful, and could not be eradicated by a brute force. By the end of the Reformation in 1555 Lutheranism was finally recognised as a valid religion by Charles due to the previous treaty the Peace of Augsburg which was primarily a princely movement. The princes were significant in creating an atmosphere in which Lutheranism was successful in that they were able to respond well to Luther’s theological ideas. The German Princes established a national figurehead who they could look to for ideology and bravery to drive the Reformation. This is first displayed in 1519 when Luther met famous German theologian John Eck, who at the Leipzig debate, accused Luther of being a Hussite to which Luther controversially agreed. At this meeting Luther was ruthless: denying the authority of the pope and general council and reiterated his idea of “justification by faith alone”. This series of
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