Nuremberg During The Reformation

Nuremberg during the Reformation played a significant roll in the dissemination of Martin Luther’s teachings. Nuremberg was the first German city, in 1525, to become protestant during the Reformation that began in 1517. As one of the most significant printing and publishing centers in Europe at the time, Nuremberg was, as Martin Luther often said, “the eyes and ears of Germany”.

In the middle of December 1524 Emperor Charles V received a letter signed by representatives of important southern German imperial cities like Strassburg, Ulm, and Nuremberg. This letter would decisively shape German history from that point up to the end of the first empire in 1806. The reformers wanted to remain loyal to the emperor, but follow their own consciences regarding matters of the soul and thereby the teachings of Martin Luther.

The momentous decision was put in to practice in March 1525 with the “Religious Discussions” in the Great Hall of the Nuremberg City Hall. Now the Bible would be used as a legal basis for making decisions, Latin canon law would no longer be used, all Catholic church property would be confiscated, and all convents and monasteries would be either closed or forbidden to take in new members. With all of this the connection to Rome and the Pope were nullified.

Nuremberg was now Protestant. The scope of this cutting sentence cannot be underestimated because in the 15thcentury Nuremberg had become one of the most powerful and richest cultural centers in the entire Holy Roman Empire of German Nation. Naturally, all of this had ramifications that went much further than just Nuremberg’s territorial borders; for the Emperor and the Pope the Reformation in Nuremberg was a major blow to their power.

Should you find yourself in Nuremberg between now and 31 October 2015, be sure to visit the special exhibition in the Fembohaus museum titled “Germany’s Eyes and Ears: Nuremberg as Media Center during the Reformation”.

By the way, the Fembohaus is Nuremberg’s only large merchant’s house from the late Renaissance that survived WW2 mostly undamaged. It’s worth a visit in it’s own right!