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NelHngen (1535) : ' the schoolmaster is fond of
wine ; once could not sing the Psalms on account of

Holzheim (1535) : ' the sacristan at Holzen sells brandy
before and during the sermon.'


There is a liopeless tone in tlie reports concerning
the inhabitants themselves (the populace). In a few-
parishes only were things even half satisfactory ; by
far the most were given up to drunkenness, immoraUty,
and above all blasphemy. Let me quote a few
instances :

1535. Altenstadt : Blasphemy is common there :
they buy and drink wine on Sunday during the preaching.

Boliringen : Blasphemy and drunkenness occur
much and fi-equently.

Gingen : The vice of drunkenness very prevalent,
and at Orgensteig there is a pubhc-house of ill-fame.

NelUngen : No lack of vices among the common

Weidenstetten : Drunkenness and swearing in full
swing in the parish.

Bermaringen : Vice and crime very plentiful.

Holzen : Drunkenness and swearing go on unchecked.

1543. Nelhngen : In the spinning-rooms there is a
great deal of immoraUty.

Radelstetten : They curse and swear a great deal.
With the judges and with the parishioners blasphemy
and drinking are terribly in vogue.

Langenau : Drinking increases continually.

Lonsee : Swearing, drinking, and blaspheming in
full swing.

Kuchen : Drinking and cursing are conamon.

Holzen : A disgraceful amount of swearing, drinking,
and other iniquity in the parish.

The young people also were no better than the old
ones, it says among other things.

1535. Stetten : All complain of the ungovernable-
ness of the young.


Holzschwang : The young swear so terribly that it
is a scandal : they drink immoderately.

1543. Albeck : The young are thoroughly unruly
and insolent, they swear and blaspheme against God.

Schalkstetten : The young are thoroughly wanton.
Swearing is in full swing.

Bermaringen : A bad state of things in the parish,
especially among the young, who think nothing of
swearing and drinking.

Ersingen : The young are quite ungovernable.

The supreme ecclesiastical bench at Ulm, in view
of this melancholy result of the inspection, saw itself
compelled to enact, amongst other things in the
' general articles of the inspection of 1535,' that the
officials were not to be remiss and negligent in the
punishment of sin, for it was the common outcry that
the ordinances were httle or not at all regarded, and in
a more detailed code of instructions of 1537 it was said :
' The guardians of the lordship shall earnestly enjoin
the officials to be more dihgent in seeing that all such
vices as gambling, drinking, and blasphemy, which
prevail almost everywhere, shall be put a stop to/
The same bench also decreed that : ' The officials
and the judges are enjoined to keep dihgent watch
that no one shall go outside the territory to attend
masses and papal ceremonies, on pain of a fine of one

These official inspectoral protocols, as every un-
prejudiced reader must acknowledge, are a very bad
testimony to the effects of the new doctrines both for the
individual and for the nation. Their evidence, however,
appears then only in its true light when it is considered
that only a few years had passed since the carrying


through of the Refoiniation, and tliat the enthusiasm
for the new rehgion ought at any rate to have pasted this
short tiine.^

At Augsburg, as early as 1537, the council was
compelled to issue a stringent penal and pohce ordinance
against the prevalent vices, such as blasphemy, swearing,
perjury, drimkenness, adultery, violence, bloodshed, and
bankruptcy. In Zurich also * they soon tasted such
bitter fruits of the Gospel, that it was enough to disgust
them with it/ The penal mandates of the years 1527
to 1531 point to an increasing amount of immorahty and
disorder. The worst part of it, wrote H. Wolff to
ZwingH in 1529, was that the young were brought
up so disgracefully : ' Summarium, vices of all sorts are
at a premium.' ~

In Strasburg also, the comicil, in 1529, was obHged to
acknowledge that, in spite of all the penal mandates,
sin and wickedness went on increasing. ^ Three years
later the Strasburg preachers in a memorandum to the
magistrate said that ' the terrible decay of godly teach-
ing and of all respectabihty, with the accompanying
influx of so many strange conceits and heresies, were
worse in Strasburg than in any other place in the
empire.' ' People were saying openly in public and in
private, amongst other unheard-of blasphemy, that there
was neither a hell nor a devil. What would have been
thought of such a statement in former times ? That 's
how we improve with our crack-brained freedom.' ■*

' The above is an extract from an article in the Deutsche Volksblati,
Bell. 1898, No. 12.

- See our statements, vol. v. 339, 362, 426, 505.

•' Rohrich, Mitteilungen aus GescMcTite der evangelischen Kirche des
Elsasses (Strasburg, 1855), i. 265.

■* Zeitschr. fiir histor. Theologie (Gotha, 1860), p. 60 ff.


A few years earlier even, Bucer, the actual founder of
the innovations, had pointed out the ' growing cor-
ruption ' among the adherents of the ' Evangel/ ^
At this same time the Strasburg town-notary, Peter
Butz, said; at an open sitting of the council : * It is now
a good long while since the Word of God has been
preached in plainness and purity in this town and Hstened
to by the people, but, God have pity on us, few Christian
fruits have followed; while adultery, whoredom, blas-
phemy, usury, and other sins forbidden by God have
been practised pubhcly and shamelessly and, alas,
without being punished/ ~

Statements of this sort were by no means confined
to the towns. ' It is the unanimous complaint of all
the country pastors,' says the Strasburg Church
ordinances of 1534, ' that in all villages there is great
remissness in hearing God's Word ; there are also
people who make a practice of standing under the
church porch while the sermon is being preached and
making an unseemly noise so that preacher and hearers
are annoyed ; in some places the justices hold their
court at the sermon time/ ^

Similar contempt for the new preaching is witnessed
to by the inspectors of the Palatinate in 1556. The
great bulk of the people ' are given up to a godless,
epicurean mode of hfe,' ' the people hve from day to
day in an uncivihsed manner hke unreasoning cattle,
and pay little heed to the ministers of the Church.'
' Among the majority of the pastors ' there was found to

' Sec present work, vol. v. 145, and Dollinger, ii. 654.

2 A. Baum, Magistral und Reformation in Strasshurg his 1529 (Stras-
burg, 1887), p. 187.

' Fuller details in the present work, vol. vi. 524 ff. and vol. vii. 03.
Dollinger, ii. 6.54 (T.


be ' marked negligence, so much so tliat up till then
very few of them had given instruction in the catechism
or taught the children/ ' Numbers of pastors lead
immoral hves, which gives rise to much abusive talk
among the papists/ ^

The same charges were made by the preacher
Schwebel against the Count Palatine Ruprecht of
Zweibriicken. ' Great ingratitude and indifference
towards the pure teaching of the Evangel prevail among
the common people/ * Of this we all of us complain/
\vrote, some time later, the court preacher Glaser,
' that only very few people follow the evangel, that
a large number of people despise it, and that some even
persecute it/ ' Very many in om' land,' said Nicholas
Thomas, pastor in Bergzabern, ' would be glad if the
truth and all its ministers and priests were sent to
Jericho/ In consequence of these complaints the Count
Palatine Ruprecht endeavoured to coerce his subjects
into listening to the new-religionist preachers, although
Chancellor Schorr earnestly warned him against such a
course which would only have the effect of breeding
hypocrites. This fear was confirmed a few years later by
the preacher Thomae in his complaints of ' the hypocrisy
and sham Christianity of so many people/ The moral
conditions corresponded to this state of indifference.
* Your Princely Grace is well aware,' wrote Schwebel to
Duke Ruprecht, ' how many people are grieved and
astonished at all the shameless wickedness that goes
on, by reason of which so many terrible plagues have
happened in our times ; as there are numbers of people
who boast of the Word of God, others make the Word

• Fuller details in the present work, vol. vi. p. 523 f. ; vol. vii.
63 ff.


of God, the new doctrine as they call it, responsible
for all the mischief/

In a hopeless strain he proceeds : ' Whereas, albeit
that God has so richly made known His Word in these
our days, we are nevertheless growing worse and worse,
it is to be feared that God will utterly destroy us in the
Day of Judgment which, by all the tokens, is now not
far oft.' In like fashion does Schwebel's fellow-pastor
Thomae lament in a letter to a friend in 1542 : ' Nowdiere,
terrible to relate, are any true fruits of earnest repent-
ance and of the evangel visible. I have often thought
with great seriousness of migrating elsewhere with my
belongings, so that we may not have to encounter the
same fate that in past years befell the populations of the
neighbouring German lands.' ' Everything seems to
be tottering and hastening to ruin. We ought to seek
refuge in prayer, the sure remedy for all ills ; but
the people, everywhere incensed by the loss of money
and soldiery incurred through the faithlessness of many
of the princes, will not pray.' ' The clergy also,'
Thomae says in this same letter, * are not free from
blemish, and here and there we find some who are
stained with immorahty, avarice, adultery, and
drunkenness, and who are yet considered as holy, as
once under the papacy.' Schwebel himself gave
Thomae cause for bitter complaints because ' through
his insatiable greed he had brought discredit on the
evangel.' ^

The same manifestations were apparent in the
North German towns where the new doctrine had
been introduced amid plunder, robbery, and coercion.
Restless demagogues, butchers, tailors, renegade monks,

' See Ilidor.-ijolit. Bl. cvii. 889 ll., 892 ff., 898-899.


bookbinders were the first promoters : they became
pastors and superintendents. It was just the same in
Hildesheim, and just the same also in the old Hansa
town of Soest.i

Under such shepherds the people were bound to
become demoralised. To what degree this was the
case in the Brunswick district is shown by a report
of 1545. ' The churches are empty, but the public-
houses are full, the lower classes imitate the upper
classes, and there is no end to drinking and all sorts of
depravity.* ^

An inspection which took place in Mecklenburg in
1535 revealed a very melancholy state of things. * The
poor folk in the villages," it says of one parish, * are
obliged to hve without any instruction and without
the Word of God, just hke cattle." ^ Moreover, there
were still at that time a good many pastors in Mecklen-
burg who were papally inclined. With time the number
of these increased, but no improvement of conditions
showed itself ; on the contrary, here, too, increasing
deterioration is noticeable. In 1542 complaints occur
concerning the ingratitude of the people who have been
delivered 'from the papacy and its devilish bondage'
but who behave in such a manner ' that God will surely
send the King of Babylon from heaven.'* All later
church ordinances and inspectoral reports speak of the
increase of sin and vice of all sorts. Thomas Aderpul,
in 1548, found at Malchin ' no fruits of the gospel, but
only contempt of God, of His Holy Word and of the

' See the introduction of Jostes to Daniel von Soest, Paderbom, 1888.

- See present work, vol. vi. 216.

■* Lisch, Jahrbiicher, viii. 37 ff., 46.

^ Schroder, Mecldevburg. Kirchenhistorie, i. 464 ; cf, ii. 316, 544,


Holy Sacraments ; while everybody plunged deeper and
deeper into the sins of avarice, swearing, drimkenness,

A classic witness to the anarchy and demoralisation
of the people in Pomerania since the introduction
of the new rehgion is tlie prince's private secretary,
Thomas Kantzow, who was himself a Lutheran and
a loyal adherent of the evangel. The difference
between the Cathohc faith and life of the olden
times and the conditions which had obtained since
the rehgious revolution was so striking that Kantzow
could not conceal his astonishment at the ' immense
change in all things/ In the people of papal
persuasion he fomid reverence, benevolence, self-
restraint and great respect for the priests. Now-
adays one saw everywhere nothing but indiffer-
ence, plunder of churches, gluttony, insolence and
ignorance, and great contempt for preachers and
church ministers.-

The httle land of Dithmarsch also, which before the
Church revolution was distinguished by religious zeal
and strict discipline, fell into serious moral anarchy
after the introduction of the new doctrines. ' Whore-
mongery and intolerable heathen, Jewish, yea, even
Turkish usury,' said the preacher Nicholas Boje in 1541,
' are so gaining the upper hand that neither preaching,
teaching, exhorting, threatening and terrorising with
God's wrath and stern righteous judgment are of any
avail. We know, alas, from our own daily experi-
ence as well as from trustworthy reports how the

' Lisch, Jahrbiicher, xvi. 124. Sec also present work, vol. v. p. 104,
and vol. vi. p. 524.

- Sec present work, vol. vi. 521.


]ieinous sin of adultery is being openly and shamelessly
practised/ The sternest mandates against adultery,
protiigacy, magicians and sabbath-breakers were all
' addi-essed to the wind ' ; it seemed as though ' the
criminals were of opinion that there was neither a God
nor a devil/ ^

The waves of the pohtico-rehgious revolution broke
over all districts of Germany, and in those territories
also which had remained Catholic very soon worked
the most dire effects among clergy and people. Against
their will the Catholic populations were drawn into
the general pohtical strife ; they could not withdraw
themselves from the influences that were penetrat-
ing everywhere, and the constant necessity for
defensive action in the religious and political domain
allowed no chance to the constructive, preservative
forces. Many of the Cathohcs had not the moral
courage to oppose a manly resistance to the invading
evil ; on a far greater number the example of the
apostates exercised an ensnaring influence. Thus the
corruption which had been abundantly rife before
the outbreak of the revolution was immeasurably

How perniciously the doctrines and morals of the
Protestants worked on those who still remained in
connection with the old Church, is proved by plentiful
evidence from well-informed contemporaries. Abeady
in 1525 the Mayence Canon, Karl von Bodmami, had
animadverted on the * almost incredible increase of
profligacy among the German clergy since the proclama-
tion of the new so-called evangel.' Even before the

^ Neocorus, ii. 140. See Bollinger, ii. 450, where the Protestant
evidence concerning the conditions of the Catholic past are given.


rise of the new sects things had been bad enough among
both the secular and the monastic clergy : now, ho-wever,
they were incomparably worse, not only among the clergy
but in all estates. .4nd no wonder, for with the Church
and her teaching all religion was attacked among the
people, ' How is it possible to improve either the
upper or the lower classes when the restraints on their
passions are wholly removed, when all religious discipline
is destroyed, the Church penal laws despised and
ridiculed, fasting and confession declared not only useless
but even pernicious ? Will the greed for gold and
possessions be stilled by holding out the wealthy Church
goods to the mighty ones as easily obtainable decoy-
ducks ? Will the sanctity of family-life be assured and
protected by proclaiming principles concerning marriage
at which every earnest Christian must blush ? ' ^ George
Wizel speaks even more strongly concerning the ' mis-
leading of papists ' by the ' fleshly doctrines ' of the
new rehgionists. ' Only too quickly,' he wrote in 1538,
in his 'Aufdeckung des Luthertums,' ' did most of them
imbibe the poisonous teaching that works are nothing,
that sin will not be imputed to the faithful, that Christ
wishes people to lead reasonable, burgher lives — that
is to say, worldly hves. That which pleases and tickles
the earthly man spreads swiftly through the whole
land/ 2

That Catholic Germany * so quickly sucked in this
poison,' was not only owing to the adaptabihty of the
new doctrines to human passions, but above all to the
behaviour and conduct of those whose sacred duty it

' See present work, vol. iii. 203 £f., and iv. 47.

- Dollinger, Reformation, i. 63. See also Zeitschr. fiir kathol. Theologie,
xiv. 118.

£ 2

52 ins'i'oiiv OF THE ceiiman people

was to set themselves against the prevalent corrup-
tion. With but few favourable exceptions the German
episcopacy, at this period, played a very sorry part.
The words of the Papal Legate Aleander in his report
to Rome in 1521, ' The bishops tremble and let them-
selves be devoured hke rabbits,' held good still for the
whole first half of the sixteenth century. Not till the
spirit of the Cathohc restoration penetrated into Germany
also, did a change for the better occur in these conditions.
Of what sort the conditions were which had prevailed
beforehand, is shown, for instance, by the appalHng
fact that in 1524, in the midst of a period of the greatest
distress, on the occasion of an archery tournament,
' several bishops, to the horror of the populace, danced
and jubilated in public' ' They were most of them,'
the writer of the report adds, ' lords of high birth.' In
these words we have the index to the actual cause of
the downfall of the German episcopate ; it had become
a complete monopoly of the nobles and princes. These
great lords, as the good Catholic, Karl von Bodmann,
says, ' were less intent on pasturing their flocks than
on depasturing them.' ' It is well known,' wrote the
noble Duke George of Saxony, ' that the origin of all
this heresy with which God is visiting us, lies in the
way in which the prelates enter the Church ; for God
says : " He that entereth not in at the door is not the
shepherd." Now it is, alas, not the least scandal of
Christendom, that we laymen both of high and low degree
do not give heed to those words. For when we
appoint our own children, brothers, and friends to
bishoprics and other Church dignities we are not
concerned about the " door," but only about how we
can manage to push in our own people, whether


under the tlireshold, or down through the roof, we do
not care/ ^

The Dominican, WilHam Hammer, pointed out that
in other countries, in Italy, England, France, the
worthiest men, those who were distinguished for piety
and learning, were appointed bishops and canons,
while no regard was had to nobihty of birl h, 'In
Germany, on the contrary, the higher Church dignities
are booty for the nobles. All posts are filled with the
nobihty. Nobody can become a bishop or a canon who
has not a certain number of ancestors to boast of. But
whether any of them have the necessary learning and
whether they lead good lives, is never asked. '^ The
Augustinian monk, John Hoffmeister, said : ' There
are, alas, numbers of such shepherds of souls who
either act very little, or not at all, up to their calling.
The Church of God has now for a long time been very
badly officered and tended, let people blame whom
they will. I say it is the fault of our scandalous sins,
and that we do not deserve better shepherds. But
nevertheless woe, ever woe, unto all those who burden
God's parishes with such useless and mischievous
pastors. Had the churches been provided with learned
and pious pastors, we should not see such desolation
in them as we now see.* ^

John Eck, a witness undoubtedly above all suspicion,
says of the secularisation of the bishops in Germany :
' In their dioceses they have a coadjutor for episcopal
functions ; for other matters spiritual they employ a

' Seo our statements, vol. iv. 52, 53, 54.

^ Hislor.-polit. lil. cviii. 4.37. See also the exactly similar complaints
of Gerhard Ijoricliiiis in the Kalholik, 1894, i. 514.

•' Predig, uher die simtaglichen Kvangdien, 85'', 86'', See Histor,-
polit. Bl. cvii. 89.3-894.


vicar ; justice is administered by an " official "" ; if a
sermon is to be preaclied tliey fish you up a monk ; if a
distressed sinner is to be absolved, the penitentiary is at
hand. But when money, rents, interest are in question,
then you must address yourself to the gracious lord
bishop/ ^

In another work Eck writes as follows : ' The
prelates, bishops, abbots, provosts, pastors who neglect
the choir office and divine service, who are solely con-
cerned about temporal revenues and dues, who rear
splendid buildings, but do not adorn the churches and
altars, who do not care about rehgion and the worship
of God, may it not be said of them : " Is it time for you,
ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house He
waste? '' (Haggai i. 4). These are "blind watchmen
and overseers/' says Isaiah (Ivi. 10). To these belong
also the clergy who neglect their breviaries and prefer
books and study to prayer. Let them remember and
fear the curse with which they are threatened : " Cursed
is he who is neghgent in the work of God." These are
sons of Naaman who preferred the rivers and waters of
Damascus to the river of Jordan, and would not wash
in the latter at Ehjah's command. These also often
prefer the dictates of their own caprice in the choice of
books and read profane books rather than the Canonical
Hours, which are prescribed by the Church at the
inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Woe be unto these !
To this class also belong the traffickers in Church offices,
those plundering courtiers and sycophants from whose
ravages no land is any longer safe. These do not trouble
themselves as to who has the right of patronage over
the Church, how many souls are committed to their

' Christliche Prediglen, Part III., 1553, Bl. xxxii'\


care, whether the appointed anniversaries, and whatever
else has been instituted to the Glory of God, are properly-
ordered and kept up. They are hirehngs whose eyes
are fixed only on the profits gained from pensions, and
from benefices in which they are not obhged to reside.
Or maybe they are even worse : devouring wolves who
neglect and destroy the flock, who, according to the
words of the Apostle, seek their own profit and treat
religion as a worldly business. These are they who
*' dwell in ceiled houses and let God^s house lie waste."'
For they do not hold disputations concerning the faith ;
they do not write books to instruct others ; seldom or
never do they read the prayers of their breviaries.
Know you what sort of shepherds of souls these are?
Even such as Zachariah has described : " Take unto
thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd. For
lo ! I will raise up a shepherd in the land which shall
not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek
the young one, nor heed that that is broken, nor
feed that that standeth still, but he shall eat the
flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces. Woe
to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock " (Zachariah
xi. 15-17). Of such idol shepherds Germany is now
full." I

Bishop Gabriel of Eichstiltt acknowledged, in
1530, that Lutheranism was a scourge from God, sent
'because we bishops are doing nothing. I talked the
matter over at Augsburg with this and that bishop,
but it was of no use, they will not take it to

' Y.cV, Comment, sufpr A ggaeo'D.v'". Sec Wiedemann, 382. Sec alHO
the memorandum of Eck, of 1.523, in the Ilislur. Juhrbuck, v. 372 IL, and
the complaint.s of U.singen in l':nihis, Usivgen, 7'J IT.


To what pass things had come is seen from a Pro-
testant report of tlie same year, in which the Primate
of the German Church, Cardinal Archbishop Albert of
Mayence, and the Archbishop Hermann of Wied
were described as ' half evangehcal.' The Mayence

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