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Augsburg Interim

Augsburg Interim

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The Augsburg Interim is the general term given to an imperial decree ordered on May 15, 1548, at the 1548 Diet of Augsburg
Diet of Augsburg
The Diet of Augsburg were the meetings of the Imperial Diet of the Holy Roman Empire in the German city of Augsburg. There were many such sessions, but the three meetings during the Reformation and the ensuing religious wars between the Roman Catholic emperor Charles V and the Protestant...

, after Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

, had defeated the forces of the Schmalkaldic League
Schmalkaldic League
The Schmalkaldic League was a defensive alliance of Lutheran princes within the Holy Roman Empire during the mid-16th century. Although originally started for religious motives soon after the start of the Protestant Reformation, its members eventually intended for the League to replace the Holy...

 in the Schmalkaldic War
Schmalkaldic War
The Schmalkaldic War refers to the short period of violence from 1546 until 1547 between the forces of Emperor Charles I of Spain and V of the Holy Roman Empire, commanded by Don Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba, and the Lutheran Schmalkaldic League within the domains of the Holy Roman...

 of 1546/47. The first draft of the twenty-six chapter decree was written by Julius von Pflug
Julius von Pflug
Julius von Pflug was the last Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Naumburg from 1542 until his death. He was one of the most significant reformers involved with the Protestant Reformation....

, but several theologians were involved in the final draft: on the Catholic side, Michael Helding, Eberhard Billick
Eberhard Billick
Eberhard Billick was a German theologian instrumental in keeping the city of Cologne Catholic during the Reformation.-External links:*...

, Pedro Domenico Soto
Domingo de Soto
Domingo de Soto was a Dominican priest and Scholastic theologian born in Segovia, Spain, and died in Salamanca at the age of 66...

 and Pedro de Malvenda; on the Protestant side, John Agricola
Johannes Agricola
Johannes Agricola was a German Protestant reformer and humanist. He was a follower and friend of Martin Luther, who became his antagonist in the matter of the binding obligation of the law on Christians.-Early life:Agricola was born at Eisleben, whence he is sometimes called Magister Islebius...

. Although it ordered Protestants to readopt traditional Catholic
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

 beliefs and practices, including the seven Sacraments
Sacraments of the Catholic Church
The Sacraments of the Catholic Church are, the Roman Catholic Church teaches, "efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper...

, it allowed for Protestant clergymen the right to marry and for the laity to receive communion
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

 in both kinds (bread and wine). It is considered the first significant step in the process leading to the political and religious legitimization of Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 as a valid alternative Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

A creed is a statement of belief—usually a statement of faith that describes the beliefs shared by a religious community—and is often recited as part of a religious service. When the statement of faith is longer and polemical, as well as didactic, it is not called a creed but a Confession of faith...

 to Roman Catholicism finally realized in the 1552 Peace of Passau
Peace of Passau
Holy Roman Emperor Charles V had won a victory against Protestantism in the Schmalkaldic War of 1547. Many Protestant princes were unhappy with the religious terms of the Augsburg Interim imposed after this victory. In January 1552, led by Maurice of Saxony, many formed an alliance with Henry II of...

 and the 1555 Peace of Augsburg
Peace of Augsburg
The Peace of Augsburg, also called the Augsburg Settlement, was a treaty between Charles V and the forces of the Schmalkaldic League, an alliance of Lutheran princes, on September 25, 1555, at the imperial city of Augsburg, now in present-day Bavaria, Germany.It officially ended the religious...

. The Interim became Imperial law on June 30, 1548. The Pope advised all bishops to abide by the concessions made to the Protestants in the Interim in August, 1549.

The Schmalkaldic War and the Battle of Mühlberg

In June 1546, Pope Paul III
Pope Paul III
Pope Paul III , born Alessandro Farnese, was Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 1534 to his death in 1549. He came to the papal throne in an era following the sack of Rome in 1527 and rife with uncertainties in the Catholic Church following the Protestant Reformation...

 entered into an agreement with Holy Roman Emperor Charles V to curb the spread of the Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

. This agreement stated, in part:

In the name of God and with the help and assistance of his Papal Holiness, his Imperial Majesty should prepare himself for war, and equip himself with soldiers and everything pertaining to warfare against those who objected to the Council [of Trent], against the Smalcald League, and against all who were addicted to the false belief and error in Germany, and that he do so with all his power and might, in order to bring them back to the old faith and to the obedience of the Holy See.

Shortly thereafter, Maurice, the Duke (and later, Elector) of Albertine Saxony, invaded the lands of his rival and stepbrother in Ernestine Saxony, John Frederick, beginning the brief, but devastating, conflict known as the Schmalkaldic War
Schmalkaldic War
The Schmalkaldic War refers to the short period of violence from 1546 until 1547 between the forces of Emperor Charles I of Spain and V of the Holy Roman Empire, commanded by Don Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba, and the Lutheran Schmalkaldic League within the domains of the Holy Roman...

. The military might of Maurice combined with that of Charles V proved to be overwhelming to John Frederick and the Schmalkaldic League
Schmalkaldic League
The Schmalkaldic League was a defensive alliance of Lutheran princes within the Holy Roman Empire during the mid-16th century. Although originally started for religious motives soon after the start of the Protestant Reformation, its members eventually intended for the League to replace the Holy...

. On April 24, 1547 the armies of the Schmalkaldic League were decisively defeated at the Battle of Mühlberg
Battle of Mühlberg
The Battle of Mühlberg was a large battle at Mühlberg in the Electorate of Saxony during the Protestant Reformation at which the Catholic princes of the Holy Roman Empire led by the Emperor Charles I of Spain and V of the Holy Roman Empire decisively defeated the Lutheran Schmalkaldic League of...


Following the defeat of the Schmalkaldic League at Mühlberg, Charles V’s forces took and occupied the Lutheran territories in quick succession. On May 19, 1547 Wittenberg
Wittenberg, officially Lutherstadt Wittenberg, is a city in Germany in the Bundesland Saxony-Anhalt, on the river Elbe. It has a population of about 50,000....

, the heart of the Reformation, and final resting place of Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

’s remains, fell to the Emperor without a fight.

The Interim

Charles V had won a military victory, but realized that the only chance he had to effectively eliminate Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 as a movement was to pursue political and ecclesiastical compromises. The series of decrees issued by the Emperor became known as an “Interim” because they were only intended to govern the church temporarily until a formal council could be convened, and the matters in question could be dealt with properly. Included in the demands of the Interim was that the Lutherans restore the number of sacraments (which the Lutherans reduced to two - Baptism and the Lord's Supper) to seven. That the churches restore a number of specifically Roman ceremonies, doctrines, and practices which had been discarded by the Lutheran reformers, including also transubstantiation, and the rejection of the doctrine of justification by grace, through faith alone. It also required that the Pope be acknowledged as the head of the Church by divine right and that the churches receive again the authority of the Roman bishops. In concession to the Lutherans, the Interim allowed for the marriage of clergy, and that the laity be given both elements (bread and wine) in communion.

Despite the fact that Philip Melanchthon, friend of Luther and co-architect and voice of the Reformation movement, was willing to compromise these issues for the sake of peace, the Augsburg Interim was rejected by a significant number of Lutheran pastors and theologians.

Pastors who refused to follow the regulations of the Augsburg Interim were removed from office and banished; some were imprisoned and some were even executed. In Swabia and along the Rhine River, some four hundred pastors went to prison rather than agree to the Interim. They were exiled, and some of their families were killed or dies as a result…Some preachers left for England (McCain et al., 476).

The Leipzig Interim

In a further effort to compromise, Melanchthon worked on a second “Interim”. Charles's ally during the Schmalkaldic War, Maurice of Saxony, along with Melanchthon and his supporters, worked out within Maurice's estates a compromise known as the Leipzig Interim
Leipzig Interim
The Leipzig Interim was a temporary settlement of 1548 AD in matters of religion, entered into by the Emperor Charles V with the Protestants.The Augsburg Interim of 1548 met with strong opposition. In order to make it less objectionable, a modification was introduced by Melanchthon and other...

. Despite its even greater concessions to Protestantism, it was barely enforced. Charles V tried to enforce the Interim in the Holy Roman Empire, but was only successful in territories under his military control, such as Württemberg and certain imperial cities in southern Germany. There was a great deal of political opposition to the Interim. Many Catholic princes did not accept the Interim, worried about rising imperial authority. The papacy refused to recognise the Interim for over a year, as it saw it as an infringement of its own jurisdiction.

Protestant leaders also rejected the terms of the Interim. The Leipzig Interim was designed to allow Lutherans to retain their core theological beliefs, specifically where the doctrine of justification by grace was concerned, while yielding in other, less important matters, such as church rituals. This compromise document again drew opposition. Those who supported the Leipzig Interim became identified as Philippists
The Philippists formed a party in early Lutheranism. Their opponents were called Gnesio-Lutherans.-Before Luther's Death:Philippists was the designation usually applied in the latter half of the sixteenth century to the followers of Philipp Melanchthon...

, as they supported Melanchthon’s efforts at compromise. Those who opposed Melanchthon became known as “Gnesio-Lutherans”, or “genuine” Lutherans.

As a result of the Interim, many Protestant leaders, such as Martin Bucer
Martin Bucer
Martin Bucer was a Protestant reformer based in Strasbourg who influenced Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican doctrines and practices. Bucer was originally a member of the Dominican Order, but after meeting and being influenced by Martin Luther in 1518 he arranged for his monastic vows to be annulled...

, fled to England, where they would influence the English Reformation
English Reformation
The English Reformation was the series of events in 16th-century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church....


Elector Maurice, seeing that the Leipzig Interim was a political failure, began making plans to drive Charles V and his army from Saxony. It was, in his estimation, "more expedient for him [Maurice] to be viewed as a champion of Lutheranism than as a traitor" (McCain et al., 480). On April 5, 1552, Maurice attacked Charles V's forces at Augsburg and he was forced to withdraw. This victory eventually resulted in the signing of the treaties of Passau (August 2, 1552) and Augsburg (1555). These two treaties resulted in the principle "Cuius regio, eius religio" – He who rules, his the religion –- allowing the ruler of a territory to set the religion therein.

External links

Information about the Augsburg Interim