Peace of Augsburg


Peace of Augsburg

The Peace of Augsburg was a treaty between Ferdinand I, who replaced his brother Charles V as Holy Roman Emperor, and the forces of the Schmalkaldic League, an alliance of Lutheran princes, on September 25, 1555, at the city of Augsburg in Bavaria, Germany. It officially ended the religious struggle between the two groups and made the legal division of Christendom permanent within the Holy Roman Empire. In respect of the famous quote "Cuius regio, eius religio", derived from the document allowed German princes to select either Lutheranism or Catholicism within the domains they controlled, ultimately reaffirming the independence they had over their states. Families were given a period in which they were free to migrate to different regions of their desired religion.

History

The Peace of Passau, which in 1552 gave Lutherans religious freedom after a victory by Protestant armies, foreshadowed the formation of this document. The one major problem of this document was that it did not legally recognize various religious minorities, such as Calvinism and Anabaptism. Not until the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 would these sects be given legal recognition.

The treaty effectively gave Lutheranism official status within the domains of the Holy Roman Empire. According to the policy of "cuius regio, eius religio" ("whose reign, that religion", or "in the Prince's land, the Prince's religion"), the religion (Roman Catholic or Lutheran) of a region's ruler determined the religion of its people. During a grace period, families could choose to move to a region where their faith was practiced. (Article 24: "In case our subjects, whether belonging to the old religion or the Augsburg Confession, should intend leaving their homes with their wives and children in order to settle in another, they shall be hindered neither in the sale of their estates after due payment of the local taxes nor injured in their honour.")

Although the Peace of Augsburg was moderately successful in relieving tension in the empire and increasing tolerance, it left important things undone. Neither the Anabaptists nor the Calvinists were protected under the peace, so many Protestant groups living under the rule of a Lutheran prince still found themselves in danger of the charge of heresy. (Article 17: "However, all such as do not belong to the two above named religions shall not be included in the present peace but be totally excluded from it.") Tolerance was not officially extended to Calvinists until the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. Many who did not wish to adopt Catholicism or Lutheranism emigrated from the empire, with high numbers settling in the Netherlands and France.

The intolerance towards Calvinists caused them to take desperate measures that led to the Thirty Years' War. One of the more notable measures was the Second Defenestration of Prague (1618) in which two representatives of the fiercely Catholic Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II were thrown out of a castle window in Prague. This eventually led to more involved conflict between Protestants and Roman Catholics.

Another effect of the Peace was Charles' decision to leave the throne and divide the empire in two. His brother Ferdinand ruled the Austrian lands, and Charles' fervently Catholic son, Philip II, became administrator of Spain, the Netherlands, parts of Italy, and other overseas holdings. Philip was responsible for initiating war with England, which ultimately crippled Spain and gave the Protestant movement new life, contributing to the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War.

By aligning religious divisions with political divisions, the Peace of Augsburg established the patchwork of states that characterized Germany until the 19th century.

External links

* [http://www.uoregon.edu/~sshoemak/323/texts/augsburg.htm Partial Text of the "Peace of Augsburg"]
*de icon [http://www.lwl.org/westfaelische-geschichte/portal/Internet/ku.php?tab=que&ID=739 Full text of The "Peace of Augsburg"]
* [http://nobsnews.blogspot.com/1993/11/disintegrations-of-civilizations.html#augsburg_peace "Cujus regio, ejus religio"]


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