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things became ; no one was any longer afraid of any
sin. Another Augsburg preacher, Caspar Meier, com-
plained exactly in the same way of the absolute moral
indi:fference of his co-religionists. Gallus at Ratisbon
wrote : * The whole multitude of evangelicals go
on confidently without penitence or improvement.
Things have gone so far that they can scarcely go
further. The most outrageous immorahty spreads
without limits.' James Schopper, pastor at Biberach,
in 1545 drew an out-and-out hopeless picture of the
fruits of the new preaching : ' the young j)cople, in
these last thoroughly corrupt times, plunged into a
variety of vices ; an era of complete barbarism was
setting in ' ; Schopper predicted a universal catastrophe.^
Equally melancholy admissions as to the moral
corruption consequent on the Church revolution were
made by the most important of the Protestant philolo-
gists and schoolmen, jurists and statesmen. ' All

1 Bollinger, ii. 79, 93, 319, 353, 577, 578. Note 14, 574.


departments of life/ wrote Joachim Camerarius in

1546, ' are permeated by brazen-faced immorality ;
open and shameless unrighteousness reigns almost
everywhere/ The Freiberg rector, John Eivius, in

1547, summed up his hfe's experiences in the following
Avords : His own epoch was distinguished from all
preceding centuries by a preposterous increase of
licentiousness and by utter corruption of morals, which
had now reached such a pitch that godlessness and
epicureanism were dominant throughout Christendom,
law had lost all authority, and bhnd passion and lust
seemed alone to have any power. ' By far the greater
number of people,' Rivius goes on, ' trouble themselves
in no wise about curbing their carnal lusts, about
sobriety and temperance, but they follow drunkenness
and other vices wholesale, plunge head over heels
into all the worst excesses and are not restrained by
any fear of God ; they serve their passions and pursue
all sorts of godlessness, while all the time they boast
loudly of their faith. When the people hear that there
is no other satisfaction for sin than the death of the
Redeemer, they at once begin to behave as though
they might now sin without offence, give themselves up
to the pleasures of the table and to voluptuousness,
do just what pleases them, and indulge od libitum
in fleshly delights and enjoyments ; for now, they
seem to think, they must no longer fast and pray ;
yea, verily, they have no longer any scruple in robbing,
pilfering, and. injuring others, just as if Christ by his
work of redemption had obtained for sinners tlie right
to go on sinning unpunished. How many are there
who do real, actual penance, while boasting so much
of their faith ? Many nowadays seek to quiet their


consciences by reading diligently all those passages
in the Bible which speak of G!od's immeasurable mercy,
but to those which admonish to improvement of hfe they
give no heed, and thus, victims of self-delusion, they
go on to ruin/ ' If you are an adulterer, or a whore-
monger, or a covetous person, or if you are stained
with other sins and vices, only believe and you will be
saved. You need not be in the least terrified by the
law, for Christ has fulfilled the law and made satisfaction
for the sins of mankind/ Talk of tliis sort gives great
offence to pious souls, leads people to a godless hfe,
and causes men and women to persist in shame and
wickedness without any thought of reforming their
fives ; such opinions encourage the godless in all
sorts of wickedness and take from them every stimulus
to improvement of hfe.

In the same year the Meissen rector George Fabricius
wrote : ' I do not think there has ever been a more
corrupt age, an age more hostile to all virtue and respect-
abifity than the present one/ The Protestant jurist
Melchior von Ossa, in agreement with numbers of other
Protestants, attributed the ' tremendous increase of vice
of all sorts ' first and foremost to the preaching against
good works. 1

These gruesome accounts are confirmed and multi-
phed by countless documents, chronicles, laws. Church
ordinances, and inspectoral protocols of unequivocal
meaning and intent. These documents show that even
if the language of the complaints is frequently over-
drawn and exaggerated, the kernel of the description is
just ; they give further an insight into the special evils

1 Dollinger, ii. 593, 600 ff., 606. See present work, vol. vi. 505, vol. xiiL
439-442, vol. xiv. 28 f.


in the different provinces and afford proof that not one
single Protestant territory remained free from moral
and rehgious anarchy.

The Saxon electorate, the cradle of the new faith,
had already been mentioned by Luther as the land in
which corruption had reached a specially terrible pitch.^
This statement was fully endorsed and confirmed with
particulars by the inspectoral reports of the Saxon
electorate of 1527-1529. Numbers of parsonages, they
say, were entirely deserted or else occupied by incapable
or immoral men. The preacher at Lucka ' had three
wives all hving at the same time, without having been
divorced from any of them.' ' The people lead evil,
inunoral hves, in open defiance of the ministers of the
Word. In Colpin the peasants call out to the preacher :
" What does the lewd parson preach about God ? Who
knows what God is, or whether there is a God V ' At
Zinna the people refused to learn the Lord's Prayer,
because it was ' too long.' Numbers of chm-ches were
used for sheep-shearing and for storing the Whitsun
beer; others were desecrated by indecorous practices.
' At Neiden the peasants tried to stone their clergyman,
and when the latter complained, the judge laughed at

A second inspection of the electoral circle of Witten-
berg in 1533-1534 reported the same anarchical con-
ditions. The inspectors spoke of : ' Dearth of Church
and school officials, increase of vice of all sorts,
contempt and blasphemy of the Divine Word, wanton

> See Bollinger, i. 302 ff.

- See the quotations from Burkhardt in the present work, vol. v. 98 ;
and the Wissenschafiliche Beilage zur Leipziger Zeitung of November 20,


and irreverent behaviour during divine worship,
disturbance of preachers by open contradiction or
unseemly and noisy proceedings. At Globig the con-
gregation were in the habit of handing each other cans
of beer during the service, not to speak of the bad
behaviour of the men to the young women in
cliurch/ ^

Reports of an inspectoral tour in the Saxon electoral
circle in 1555 dwell with special emphasis on the wide-
spread contempt of preaching and of the Sacrament.-
The so-called ' Wittenberg Eeformation ' of 1545 com-
plains of the licentiousness of the period and the utter
demorahsation of numbers of people ' who will one day
become a pest of the human race.' ^

' For, although, reckoning from the beginning,'
says a Naumburg chronicle of 1547, ' the holy evangel
has been preached here for nearly 28 years, and although
the teaching at this time is, by God's special pro-
vidence, without doubt more excellent than it ever was
before, nevertheless it has brought forth no fruit,
except as maybe God has specially ordained, that the
jieople have become so accustomed to murdering,
robbing, and immorahty, and to committing all sorts of
iniquity mthout being punished, that there is no more
any hope of improvement, and the authorities have
grown quite weary of trying to stem the terrible evils.
And now Naumburg, in which more than 40 years ago
there was a fearful upheaval and an appalhng increase

' Burkhardt, Sachs. Kirchen- und Schulvisitationen, 136, 140, 149, 150-
154, 191, 198-201. See Janssen, Ein zweites Wort an meine Kritiker,
84 ff.

- H. Hering, Miileilungen au-s dem Protokoll der Kirchenvisitation im
sdchsischen Kurkreise vom Jahre 1555. Wittenberg, 1889.

^ Dollinger, ii. 640.


of murder, has again become a regular house of robbers
and a veritable Sodom/ ^

Of the moral conditions in the county of Mansfeld
we have the following picture from the strict Lutheran
theologian, Erasmus Sarcerius, in 1555 : ' In nearly all
places, wherever one goes, one finds Httle or no godfear-
ingness among the people. They are very slow and
reluctant to hear the Word of God, seem indeed almost
to loathe it. Many people actually blaspheme God and
His Word, the Sacraments and divine worship in the
strongest manner, and say that, since the time when the
evangel came into German lands there has been neither
peace, good fortune, or safety there. And when it has
come to this, that during the time of the sermon and the
church service, card-playing, drinking, and selling goes
on, and in the afternoon during service-time, preaching
and catechisation dances are held, ninepins and bowls are
played, and numbers of people congregate in the church-
yards and indulge in tomfoolery, or sit outside taverns
and gambhng-houses, and so forth, there is indeed
sufficient proof that a yearly church visitation is needed
to put a stop to all the iniquity. Equally flagrant
is the ignorance of numbers of people, young and old,
as regards prayers and other points of the catechism,
their frequent rebelHon against learning, nay, more, their
contempt and ridicule of it, whereby it comes about that
things are actually taken for virtue and good works
which are really heinous sins and offences. Very
large, moreover, is the number of those who for
many years, 40, 30, 20, 10, have never been to the
Sacrament of the Altar ; they have neither received the

' Ntue MiUeilungen aus dem Oelnele hislorisch-antiquarischer For-
achungen, xiii. 538-539.



Sacrament according to papal or to evangelical rites.
And even if the people do go to church they chatter
about all sorts of trivial things; they do not sing, they
do not praise, honour, or pray to, God; yea, verily,
some of them are not ashamed to sing German
songs; they even indulge in frivolous improper love-

Terrible and abominable, too, is the contempt which
almost all people, especially official people and lawyers,
show for the priestly estate. For this reason our pastors
and spiritual ministers get no protection and patronage
from anyone ; they are comfortless and forsaken and
know not where to turn. It stands to reason that the
office of priest suffers from this, and the study of theology
is universally shunned. Who indeed would expose
himself to such flagrant injustice and persecution ?
And it is the official people from whom this contemp-
tuous treatment proceeds, who have the appointing
and deposing of the clergy in their hands. Anyone
who appeals to the territorial lord and the consistory
may be sure not only of deposition but of ridicule also :
' I shall be Lord enough for you.' i

Sarcerius complains very specially of the desecration
of Sunday, the highest festival. ' On no other day,'
he says, * is there so much impropriety, wantonness,
scandal, vice, villany, godlessness, as on the day of the
Lord. In the morning, especially in the towns, people
sit in the pubHc-houses drinking brandy. In the
villages also many people begin early in the morning
with wine and beer, sit outside the taverns and churches
playing cards, dancing and leaping. Yea, verily, the

• Zeitschr. des Harzvereins, xx. 520 ff., and Mansfelder Blatter, 1898,
xii. 54 ff. See also Dollinger, ii. 642.


higher the festival, the more reckless their behaviour.
On Good Friday they bake buns ; Easter is celebrated
by inordinate eating and drinking, Whitsuntide by the
so-called Whitsim ale. On the evening before Whit-
sunday they begin ringing the largest bells to siunmon
people to the Whitsun drinking, as though the bells were
made expressly for that purpose. After the bell-ringing
the drinking begins immediately ; men and women,
young and old, maid-servants and men-servants, flock
together and go on drinking till midnight, till everybody
is thoroughly drunk. The result is that even on the
feast day itself the churches are empty and there is no
more question of celebrating the Sacrament. After
divine service the drinking begins again and the pastors
themselves join in it; but the Landshneclits and the
law officials exact forced labour on these days. ' ^

Concerning the demorahsation in Hesse, Franz
Lambert wrote to Bucer in 1530 : ' I shudder at the
ways and habits of this nation." The chronicler Wigand
Lauze, in 1539, bewailed the coarseness and savageness
of the new religionists in Hesse ; a memorandum of
the Hessian theologians and preachers says outright
that the times were like those of Sodom and
Gomorrha. The officials threw the chief blame on the

In 1542 the Landgrave Phihp himself complained
that according to reports received ' there were now a
considerable number of preachers and pastors who con-
ducted themselves ill, who led disreputable lives, who
indulged in drinking, gambHng, usury, and such-like,
some of them even in worse vices, who smoked,

' Zeitschr. des Ilarzvereins, xx. 523-624.
■^ Sec present work, vol. vi. 89 f.

D 2


quarrelled and fought with the people in taverns, and
also behaved improperly towards women/ ^

111 the dominion of tlie ^largrave George of Branden-
burg- Ansbach demoralisation had abeady reached such
a pitch in 1530 that the territorial prince wanted to
revive the Mass. Brenz declared this to be useless ;
such a disordered state of things could only be checked
by the preaching of the Gospel and the determined
action of a good police. How far this was the
case is sliown by the inspectoral document of 1548.
In every house of the village of Weissenbronn, so
these reports said, a pubhc prostitute was hving. In
Ammendorf the peasants described their preacher as
* a villain, a thief, and a whoremonger." At Erlbach,
Wallmersbach, and Buchheim the preachers were killed
by the peasants. Everywhere anarchy, crime, irre-
ligiousness, and immorality.^

An equally bad state of things, according to the
statements of zealous liUtherans, reigned in the * mighty
imperial city of Nuremberg famed as one of the finest
pearls in the crown of the evangel.' That any good
fruit had grown out of the preaching of the Gospel,
Hans Sachs could not recognise. On the contrary, in
1524, he already complained of the ' immoral conduct of
the Lutherans by which the evangelical teaching was
brought into contempt.' ' Everything is now so per-
verted into carnal lust, that the last state of things is
worse than the first. In vileness of habits we outdo
the heathen, we boast of evangelical freedom and we
turn it into unbounded hberty of the flesh. We pretend

' Heppe, Kirchengesch. i. 287. Entsetzliche Nachrichten uber die
Pfarrer zu Zwesien seit dem Jahre 1530, p. 336, note 4.

- See present work, vol. vi. 451, and Dollinger, ii. 646 ff.


to place all our hope in Christ, whom, however, we only
make a cloak for our vices/ ^ The longer the preaching
of the new doctrine still went on, however, things in
the old imperial city became worse and worse.

In 1531 the Nuremberg preacher complained of the

' See present work, vol. iv. 62 f. ; vol. v. 124. See also the opinion
of Christopher Fiirer on the growing godlessness and immorality which
resulted from the new doctrine, Denkwiirdigkeiten der Charitas Pirk-
heimer, xxxvii. See also Mitteil. des Vereins fiir Niirnb. Gesch. v. 227 ;
xii. 129 ff. Dr. Th. Hampe remarks hero concerning the deterioration that
went on in the carnival merry-makings : ' The carnival play, or rather the
obscenity connected with it, which however was its essence, had indeed been
put under the ban, but the merry-makings, which were a special feature
of the carnival play, soon assumed really tlireatening forms, and people
of insight could not long remain unaware of the fact that here one devil
had been driven out by another, Beelzebub the worst of the devils.
The ridicuhng of the Pope in the carnival proceedings of 1522 might
be attributed to worthy motives, such as lay at the basis of the reform
movement, to a moral upheaval, to reUgious excitement, even though
the council does not appear to have been of this opinion, as it promptly
forbade the play and addressed a rebuke to the church official who, without
permission, had lent a cope for the performance. The resistance to
Church restraint, and the letting loose of popular passions which accom-
panies the first steps of the German Reformation, which fills the first
years after Luther's posting-up of the theses, and which, far more revolu-
tionary than religious in its character, found crass expression at Nuremberg
also in priest-baiting and lawlessness of all sorts, might, indeed must,
be regarded as a necessary and temporary manifestation of a convulsive
transformation, of a mighty stride in spiritual progress, long indeed in
maturing but swift and abrupt in its final apparition. It was somewhat
different, however, with the immoderate drinking for which the sixteenth
century has become especially notorious, and the passion for gambling, for
dice, card and hazard playing which, to judge from the countless interdicts
and inspectoral investigations of which tlie official protocols give evidence,
had reached appalling dimensions in the first half of the sixteenth century,
and had drawn high and low equally into its vortex. In the drinking-rooma,
bursas, and public-houses, where formerly fooling carnival mummers had
roused attention by their crude acting and the genuine wit which shone out
in their certainly not over- choice language, there was now hoard little
else than the clanking of beakers, the noise of dice and cards, the rattle of
money, and the oaths of the gamblers. All enactments issued against theso
practices appear to have had little immediate result.'



disorder wliicli prevailed at the Lord's Supper. * We
know from our own experience tliat all sorts of fools,
light-minded people, children, &c., come without distinc-
tion to this most venerable Sacrament. It has also
come to our knowledge that rascals, in the middle of
playing marbles, have jumped up from their game,
saying: "Come, let 's go and have a drink,'* &c.. &c. '^
That these complaints were not exaggerated, a glance
at the criminal cases in Nuremberg shows. ' Lament-
able is the number of wife and husband murders, wives
especially, recorded here of the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries. The cause lay cliiefly in the unhappy, unsound
marriage relations." Usually the unfaithful wife poisoned
the husband who had become cle trop. The regular
punishment for this crime was, after 1515, drowning,
after 1580 beheading, while the male aiders and abetters
were tortured on the wheel. For the increase of adultery
in Nuremberg we have terrible evidence. The members
of the council, strict as they otherwise were, showed
' rare toleration ' for this offence, ' conscious of the
beam in their own eyes." With remarkable frequency
there occurs among the criminal cases ' improper be-
ha^aour to children,' chiefly by elderly people and school-
masters ; incest is ' a crime very often committed,"
and it w^as always punished with death, as a rule death
by the sword ; ' in 1571 an exceptional case occurs of a
pastor's wife being drowned.' ~

In the Austrian hereditary lands, also, the people,
* since the heretical sects and doctrines had taken deeper
root, behaved from year to year more savagely,
ungovernably, and bestially.' The religious and moral

' Strobel, Neice Beitrdge, ii. 385.

■ Knapp, Das alte Nurnberger Krimimlrecht, 182, 223 &., 226, 231 ff.


anarchy increased more and more ; tlie more the new-
doctrines gained ground, the less the CathoKc clergy
fulfilled their duty.^

The same conditions prevailed in Wiirtemberg
after the forcible introduction of the new doctrine.
Here, too, as Myconius showed in 1539, the depravity
of the people was caused by the evil living of numbers
of the preachers and their wives. Drunkenness and
immorality, Myconius complained, went beyond all
bounds. ' The lords and the rulers,' wTote the preacher
Conrad Sam two years after the introduction of the
new^ doctrine in Ulm, ' care only as a ride for splendour
and voluptuousness.' They have made a covenant
with hell and death, and they say : ' We will eat and
di'ink and do whatever we please, day and night ;
perhaps we shall die to-morrow, and none of the things
which the parson talks about will come upon us.' -

The reports of the church inspections which, since
1535, had been drawn up in the dominion of the imperial
city of Ulm, give a vivid insight into the very unworthy
mode of life of the evangelical clergy, the official people,
baihffs and judges, and the appalhng demoralisation of
the inhabitants of the town, old and young ahke.

In the protocols of the inspections held in 1535, 1537,
and 1543, there are complaints from a great number of
parishes that the preachers only seldom celebrate the
Lord's Supper and do not baptise the children ; that
they do nothing but revile from the pulpit, that they
give no alms, and do not hke visiting the sick ; above
all, a large number of them come under the charge of
drunkenness. Against a goodly number of parishes
there stands written in the protocol : ' Preacher fond of

' See present work, vol. vii. 151. ^ Ibid. vol. v. 339.


wine,' ' Preaclier at Ollingen drinks/ * Preacher fond of
being in tlie public-liouse/ ' Preacher a great toper/
' Parson Hkes to carouse with boon-companions in the

* The attorney Marx Mayer of Heuthin says :
he has never been more misled by anyone than by
the present-day preachers ; they teach sobriety and
are themseh^es the most drunken lot/ (Reuthin.)

' Michael Sigler is said to have stated openly in a
pubhc-liouse at Gauspach, in the presence of a number
of people, that he w^as the first among all the Merkhngers
to become Lutheran, but as much as he was formerly
for Lutheranism, was he now against it, for the pastors
had never been good, and the preachers were worse/

With the rehgious convictions of the preachers, also,
things appear to have been not always satisfactory ;
of the preacher at Weidenstetten the report says :
* Preacher has not administered the children's baptism
for a year ; he says it doesn't matter if a child dies
without baptism ' ; and of Gingen : ' Preacher has
preached that no man will go to hell on account of sin/

The preachers on their side complained of the luke-
warmness of the parishioners and of their j)oor attend-
ance at church. For instance : ' Preacher once only
held a communion service, at which but two people
were present/ (Stetten.)

The preacher John liebmann in Pful says (at the
inspection in 1543) : ' he seldom celebrated the Lord's
Supper because there was no love amongst them/

Of Tiirkheim it says : ' The preacher only once held
a communion service, and on that occasion only one
man and six w^omen attended/


From this it would appear to be a just conclusion
that a large portion of the inhabitants did not adopt
the new teaching from inward conviction, but more
from external reasons, not to say from compulsion ;
many, too, may have remained faithful to the old religion
(the Catholic), as indeed appears from complaints made
in sundry places ; for instance, in GeisHngen : ' some
of them go to Our Lady at Lautrach,' ' about fifty
people still go to Mass at Eybach/

Of Albeck we read : ' A peasant of Herveliingen,
Peter Frank, thinks that without coercion the people
will never be got to go to church, however good and
learned the preachers may be/

Above all, however, the sick people were dissatisfied
with the new rehgion. Of Altenstadt it says (inspection
of 1543) : ' The " Sondersiechen," that is the infectious
patients kept apart from the others, will not accept the
Evangel, they would rather have the papacy back/

Many preachers complained that the officials did
not punish vice. The magistrate of Merkhngen gave
his preacher the following drastic answer : ' Go
and see how they house at Ulm ; there those commit
the worst sins who ought to punish them/ (Merkhngen,

The schoolmasters did not enjoy the best of reputa-
tions ; for instance :

Bernstadt (1543) : ' the schoolmaster swears and

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