Zwingli Can’t Go to Baden

zwingl_badenIn 1525 the project of the disputation was revived. The Bishop of Constance chose Baden as the place. Zwingli declared his willingness, if necessary, to go to Schaffhausen or St. Gall, but the city Great Council refused him permission to go out of Zurich. The Diet at Luzern, on January 15, 1526, determined on Baden as the place and May 16, 1526, as the time.

Zwingli’s correspondence of 1526 shows clearly the course of events. After the disputation was determined upon there was uncertainty in regard to the place. Bern favoured Basel. Other cantons wanted Luzern. Œcolampadius naturally preferred Bern. Zwingli did not want to go out of Zurich. Perhaps his physical condition had something to do with it. Œcolampadius, on March 7, 1526, alluded to his having ulcers.

Zwingli himself, writing to Vadianus on Friday, March 30th, tells of an alarming attack of illness which had occurred that day. On April 16, 1526, Zwingli wrote a long letter to the City Council of Bern giving his reasons why he would not go to Baden for the disputation, although anxious to debate in such a presence.

The nine reasons amount to this—that the safe conduct and protection which Bern promised were really valueless under the circumstances because at Baden the Five Forest Cantons, Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Luzern, and Zug, devoted to the old teaching, would outvote the other three cantons of Zurich, Bern, and Basel, devoted to the new.

He then proceeds to give his reasons for declining to go to any place where the Five Cantons had control.  

  1. Those cantons had condemned him unheard as a heretic and burnt his books.
  2. They still persist in doing so.  
  3. They have avowedly gotten up the disputation for the purpose of silencing him.  
  4. As they have ordered him arrested, contrary to federal law, what value would their safe conduct have?  
  5. They are bound by mutual vows to uproot the faith he professed.
  6. Their negotiations for the disputation were with Eck and Faber exclusively, not with him, he not being in any way consulted.
  7. While Eck’s and Faber’s writings are freely circulated in the Five Cantons, his were suppressed.
  8. He had two years before plainly told Eck and company that under no consideration would he go to Baden or Luzern.

Baden was not attended by Zwingli but it was by Oecolampadius, who kept Zwingli informed of all the doings.