The Last Attempt to Stop the Reformation In Zurich: The Anniversary of its Failure

second_zurich_dispPursuant to the order of the Council, on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 19 and 20, 1524, Canon Hofmann, chief representative of the Old Party among the priesthood, met the three people’s priests, and six theologians and six councillors, in private sessions, and attempted to defend the old usages. But the commission decided that he had not made out his points from Scripture, and so the Council voted that the canons must give outward assent to the Council’s orders or leave the city.

With this last desperate attempt the Old Party closed their efforts, and there was no further formal opposition in Zurich to the Reformation. One by one, as the people were fully able to stand it, and understand it, those practices of the Old Church which Zwingli considered objectionable were removed. The saints’ days passed unobserved; the procession to Einsiedeln which had taken place annually on Monday after Pentecost (that year May 16th), and which was made much of, was permanently abolished, by order of Council, the preceding Saturday; the reliques were by similar order, June 15th, taken from the churches and reverently buried; the organs were removed and the ringing of the church bells during a tempest, even the tolling for funerals, stopped.

Masses for the dead, processions of clergy, payment for confession, blessing of palms, holy water, candles, and extreme unction, all became things of the past. The removal of the pictures, statues, images, and other ornaments from the churches was accomplished in the city between Saturday, July 2d, and Sunday, July 17th. Similar scenes took place all over the canton. The next step, and one which like the others was carefully weighed, was the abolition of the convents and monasteries in the city and canton of Zurich.*

*Jackson, S. M., Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531) (pp. 223–225).

Arguing with Radicals

Huldrich_zwingli 8In the middle of January, 1525, Zwingli and the other Pastors in Zurich were in a pitched battle against the radicals who were then urging their followers to abandon the Reformation and speed ahead with a total severance from society.  1525 would become the year during which Zwingli spent the majority of his time battling these ’causers of unrest’.

Indeed, things had already developed to such a threatening level to the well being of the city that in December the year before Zwingli had written  his scathing Wer Ursache gebe zu Aufruhr. In March of 1525 Zwingli published De vera et falsa religione commentarius, which took a swipe at both the old believers and the radicals.   In April the trial of some rebaptizers was observed by Zwingli; in May his Von der Taufe… appeared.   In June, Von den Predigtamt took to task those asserting pastoral and preaching privileges even though they lacked the appropriate tools.  And in November, the Antwort über Balthasar Hubmaiers Taufbüchlein saw the light of day.

All of these books were ‘conflict’ oriented and 1525 was perhaps the most conflict ridden of Zwingli’s life.   And that doesn’t take into account the opening of a front against an inaccurate understanding of the Lord’s Supper which was then developing and would come to a head at Marburg in 1529.

Notwithstanding all these disputations and difficulties, Zwingli maintained a cheerful disposition.  Depression and despair would stay away until 1531, when early in the summer, he would try to resign.

The historically ignorant to this day constantly insist that the Radicals were chiefly interested in infant baptism and its abolition.  This is not the case.  Nor is it the case that they insisted on baptism by immersion- since they were happy both to sprinkle and to pour.  No, their aim was far more inappropriate: they wanted a Church separated from society.

As Schaff puts it so pointedly:

The first and chief aim of the Radicals was not (as is usually stated) the opposition to infant baptism, still less to sprinkling or pouring, but the establishment of a pure church of converts in opposition to the mixed church of the world. The rejection of infant baptism followed as a necessary consequence. They were not satisfied with separation from popery; they wanted a separation from all the ungodly. They appealed to the example of the disciples in Jerusalem, who left the synagogue and the world, gathered in an upper room, sold their goods, and held all things in common. They hoped at first to carry Zwingli with them, but in vain; and then they charged him with treason to the truth, and hated him worse than the pope.

Zwingli could not follow the Anabaptists without bringing the Reformation into discredit with the lovers of order, and rousing the opposition of the government and the great mass of the people. He opposed them, as Augustin opposed the schismatical Donatists. He urged moderation and patience. The Apostles, he said, separated only from the open enemies of the gospel, and from the works of darkness, but bore with the weak brethren. Separation would not cure the evils of the Church. There are many honest people who, though weak and sick, belong to the sheepfold of Christ, and would be offended at a separation. He appealed to the word of Christ, “He that is not against me, is for me,” and to the parable of the tares and the wheat. If all the tares were to be rooted up now, there would be nothing left for the angels to do on the day of final separation.

The Radicals couldn’t and wouldn’t tolerate such sensibility.  So they stirred civil unrest.  That the authorities could not tolerate, and the Radicals reaped the whirlwind.

Zwingli’s Testimony at Hubmaier’s Trial

Zwingli testified at Balthasar Hubmaier’s trial as follows:

Doctor Balthasar hatt grett, man moge der oberkeit nienderth mit bas abkommenn, dann mit dem widertouff.  — Zwingli.

And the council passed sentence of exile.  Because the Anabaptists were viewed not so much heretics (which they were) as anarchists.  The council could deal with heretics.  Anarchists, though, were a cancer that had to be excised without mercy.

Today With Zwingli

Zwingli was in Bern for the doings there and wrote his lovely wife to check in on things.

thumb_zwingli-and-wife-2Gnad und frid von gott.

Liebste husfrow, ich sag gott danck, das er dir ein fröliche gburt verlihen hatt. Der welle üns die nach sinem willen ze erziehen verlyhen. Schick miner bäsy j oder ij tuechly sölcher maass und wys, als du sy treyst. Sy kumpt zimmlich, doch nit bagynlich, ist ein frow von 40 iaren,  in alle wys und maass, wie sy meister Iörgen frow beschriben hatt.  Tuot mir und üns allen über die maass guetlich. Bis hiemit gott  bevolhen. Gruetz mir gfatter schaffnerin, Uolmann(!) Trinckler,  schultheiss Effingerin, und wer dir lieb sye.  Bitt gott für mich und uns alle.

Geben ze Bernn xj. tags Ienners.

Gruetz mir alle dine kind; besunder Margreten tröst in minem namen.

Huldrych Zuingli, din huswirt.  Schick mir, so bald du kanst, den tol’ggenrock.

Der frommen Anna Reinhartin ze Zürich, siner lieben husfrowen.

Quote of the Day

zw934Hierumb, gnädige wyse herren, wellend mich umb gotzwillen vor gantzer gemeind verantwurt haben und, hatt es fuog, ouch disen brief vor gantzer gemeind vorlesen lassen; dann ich by gott, der üns alle erlöst hatt, sag, das ir mir uss miner sorg und angst in disen gevarlichen zyten nimmer kumend; und wo ich úch für andre yenen gedienen könd, wölt ich mich nit sparen. – Huldrych Zwingli (Z VIII, 523-524)

Quote of the Day

Let us, therefore, fight vigorously and prudently on a fair field, for we are defending a most righteous cause, in which we feel sure there is no hidden wrong. Let them hurl upon us from the hostile camp those soldiers’ insults—“traitors,” “robbers,” “weaklings.” Let us care nothing for them, trusting completely to our cause. — Huldrych Zwingli

Women in Zwingli’s World

Here’s a great essay for your weekend reading pleasure: Women in Zwingli’s World.

Traditional Zwingli scholarship has been fairly unanimous in the assumption that women did not play a significant role in Zwingli’s life. The records are strangely silent on the matter. Neither his writings nor his activities suggest that Zwingli was greatly involved with women and their specific concerns. In fact, one of the archivists of the Zürich Staatsarchiv expressed surprise some years ago when I asked for catalogue entries under the subject heading «women in Zwingli’s world». Nonetheless, the possibility of gaining new insights into the role women played in Zwingli’s world led us to re-examine a number of available sources.

Do enjoy.

Ulrich Jr.

Zwingli’s family tree

Did you know…

William, Zwingli’s eldest son, born in 1526, after studying in Zurich went to Strassburg to complete his education, but there died of the plague in 1541. Ulrich, born January 6, 1528, who is said to have been the image of his father, studied at Basel, became a clergyman, diakonus in the Great Minster in Zurich in his nineteenth year, professor of Hebrew in 1556, of theology in 1557; he married Bullinger’s daughter Anna. She died of the plague in 1565.*

*Samuel Macauley Jackson, Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531), Heroes of the Reformation (New York; London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons; Knickerbocker Press, 1901), 360.

The Berne Disputation

Schaff writes

The disputation at Berne lasted nineteen days (from Jan. 6 to 26). It was the Protestant counterpart of the disputation at Baden in composition, arrangements and result. It had the same effect for Berne as the disputations of 1523 had for Zurich. The invitations were general; but the Roman Catholic cantons and the four bishops who were invited refused, with the exception of the bishop of Lausanne, to send delegates, deeming the disputation of Baden final.

Dr. Eck, afraid to lose his fresh laurels, was unwilling, as he said, “to follow the heretics into their nooks and corners”; but he severely attacked the proceedings. The Reformed party was strongly represented by delegates from Zurich, Basel, and St. Gall, and several cities of South Germany. Zurich sent about one hundred ministers and laymen, with a strong protection.

The chief speakers on the Reformed side were Zwingli, Haller, Kolb, Oecolampadius, Capito, and Bucer from Strassburg; on the Roman side, Grab, Huter, Treger, Christen, and Burgauer. Joachim von Watt of St. Gall presided. Popular sermons were preached during the disputation by Blaurer of Constance, Zwingli, Bucer, Oecolampadius, Megander, and others.

The Reformers carried an easy and complete victory, and reversed the decision of Baden. The ten Theses or Conclusions, drawn up by Haller and revised by Zwingli, were fully discussed, and adopted as a sort of confession of faith for the Reformed Church of Berne. They are as follows:

1. The holy Christian Church, whose only Head is Christ, is born of the Word of God, and abides in the same, and listens not to the voice of a stranger.

2. The Church of Christ makes no laws and commandments without the Word of God. Hence human traditions are no more binding on us than as far as they are founded in the Word of God.

3. Christ is the only wisdom, righteousness, redemption, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. Hence it is a denial of Christ when we confess another ground of salvation and satisfaction.

4. The essential and corporal presence of the body and blood of Christ cannot be demonstrated from the Holy Scripture.

5. The mass as now in use, in which Christ is offered to God the Father for the sins of the living and the dead, is contrary to the Scripture, a blasphemy against the most holy sacrifice, passion, and death of Christ, and on account of its abuses an abomination before God.

6. As Christ alone died for us, so he is also to be adored as the only Mediator and Advocate between God the Father and the believers. Therefore it is contrary to the Word of God to propose and invoke other mediators.

7. Scripture knows nothing of a purgatory after this life. Hence all masses and other offices for the dead are useless.

8. The worship of images is contrary to Scripture. Therefore images should be abolished when they are set up as objects of adoration.

9. Matrimony is not forbidden in the Scripture to any class of men; but fornication and unchastity are forbidden to all.

10. Since, according to the Scripture, an open fornicator must be excommunicated, it follows that unchastity and impure celibacy are more pernicious to the clergy than to any other class.

All to the glory of God and his holy Word.

Zwingli preached twice during the disputation. He was in excellent spirits, and at the height of his fame and public usefulness. In the first sermon he explained the Apostles’ Creed, mixing in some Greek and Hebrew words for his theological hearers. In the second, he exhorted the Bernese to persevere after the example of Moses and the heroes of faith.

Perseverance alone can complete the triumph. (Ferendo vincitur fortuna.) Behold these idols conquered, mute, and scattered before you. The gold you spent upon them must henceforth be devoted to the good of the living images of God in their poverty.

“Hold fast,” he said in conclusion, “to the liberty wherewith Christ has set us free. You know how much we have suffered in our conscience, how we were directed from one false comfort to another, from one commandment to another which only burdened our conscience and gave us no rest. But now ye have found freedom and peace in the knowledge and faith of Jesus Christ. From this freedom let nothing separate you. To hold it fast requires great fortitude. You know how our ancestors, thanks to God, have fought for our bodily liberty; let us still more zealously guard our spiritual liberty; not doubting that God, who has enlightened and drawn you, will in due time also draw our dear neighbors and fellow-confederates to him, so that we may live together in true friendship. May God, who created and redeemed us all, grant this to us and to them. Amen.”

There’s a good deal of material in Zwingli’s Works related to the Berne Disputation.  Those are found in vol. VI/1 of ZW.

Nr. 110 Bittschrift an den Rat, daß man Zwingli selbst und andere Gelehrte an die Disputation zu Bern senden möge, Zwischen 7. und 11. Dezember 1527
Nr. 111 Ratschlag der 4 Verordneten und 3 Leutpriester wegen der Disputation zu Bern, Zwischen 7. und 11. Dezember 1527
Nr. 112 Notizen Zwinglis an der Berner Disputation, 6. bis 25. Januar 1528
Nr. 113 Voten Zwinglis an der Berner Disputation, 6. bis 25. Januar 1528
Nr. 114 Zwinglis Entwurf für Berchtold Hallers Schlußansprache, 25. oder 26. Januar 1528
Nr. 115 Entbietung Zwinglis, Oekolampads, Capitos und Bucers, 26. Januar 1528
Nr. 116 Die beiden Predigten Zwinglis in Bern, 19. und 30. Januar 1528
Nr. 117 Anweisung für das Berner Reformationsmandat, Zwischen 27. und 31. Januar 1528

Read that. It’ll give you some food for thought.

The Invitation to the First Zurich Disputation: 3 January, 1523

zurich_stumpf“We, the Burgomaster, Council and the Great Council, as the Two Hundred of the city of Zurich are called, send to all and every people’s priest, pastor, curate, and preacher having parish and dwelling in our cities, country, dominion, upper and lower jurisdiction and territory, our salutation, favourable and gracious disposition, and would have you to wit: Since now for a long time much dissension and disagreement have existed among those preaching the Gospel to the common people, some believing that they have truly and completely delivered the gospel message, others reproving them as if they had not done it skilfully and properly.

Consequently the latter call the former errorists, traitors, and even heretics, although they, desiring to do the best thing, and for the sake of the honour of God, peace and Christian unity, offer to give to everyone desiring it account and proof of their doctrines out of Holy Scriptures. So this is our command, will, and desire: That ye pastors, curates, preachers, as a body and individually, if any especial priests desire to speak about this, having benefices in our city of Zurich, or otherwheres in our territory, or if any desire to reprove the other side, or otherwise to instruct them, appear before us on the day after Emperor Charles’s day, that is the nine and twentieth day of the month of January, at early Council time, in our city of Zurich and particularly in our Council House, and that those contending should do so, using the truly Divine Word in the German tongue and speech.

There we with all diligence, with some scholars, if it seems good to us, will give attention, and, according to what shall prove itself to be consonant with Holy Scripture and truth, we shall send each and every one of you home with the command to continue or to abstain; so that from henceforth each one may not preach from the pulpit what seems to him good, without foundation in the true Holy Scripture. We shall also announce the same to our gracious lord [the Bishop] of Constance, so that his Grace or his representative, if he so desire, may also be present.

But if anyone be contrarious and bring not in proof from the true, Holy Scripture with him we shall proceed further according to our knowledge, in a way from which we would gladly be relieved. We are also of good hope in Almighty God that those earnestly seeking the light of truth He will so graciously illuminate with the same, that we may walk in the light as children of the light.

“Given and officially stamped with our secret seal, Saturday after the Circumcision of Christ [January 3] and after His birth in the three and twentieth year of the lesser reckoning.”

Victory for Zwingli and his colleagues was assured when the Scriptures were declared the only authority.

Zwingli’s Opposition to the Worship of Mary

zwingli_lookoutWe do not insult Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, when we forbid that she be adored with divine honors; but when we would attribute to her the majesty and power of the Creator, she herself would not permit such adoration. For true piety has one and the same character among all men and is the same in all, because it originates by one and the same Spirit.

It cannot even be imagined, therefore, that any created being should at the same time be pious and suffer the worship due the Deity to be offered to himself. So also the Virgin Mother of God will as much the less accept the worship due the Deity as she is high above all created beings and reverently devoted to God, her Son. It is a mark of insanity in godless men and demons when they allow divine honors to be paid to them.*

Zwingli wrongly believed that Mary remained perpetually a virgin. But he was right to excoriate worship of her. Something as a Christian he simply could not and would not do.

*H. Zwingli, The Latin Works of Huldreich Zwingli. (W. J. Hinke, Ed.) (Vol. 2, p. 239).

Read Zwingli’s Letters on His Birthday

A Bit More, On Zwingli’s Birth

A full account of the event:


HULDREICH ZWINGLI, the Reformer of German Switzerland, was born on Thursday, January 1, 1484, in a house which still stands in well-nigh perfect preservation. It is in the hamlet called Lysighaus, i. e., Elizabeth house, ten minutes’ walk from the parish church of Wildhaus, or, as it was then called, Wildenhaus, a village in the Toggenburg Valley, in Switzerland, at its highest point, 3600 feet above sea-level, and about forty miles east by south of Zurich. It is perhaps twenty-five feet deep by thirty feet wide, and, like many other Swiss peasant houses, has a peaked roof and overhanging eaves. It is two stories high, has a hall running through the ground floor, and the large room on the right as you enter is shown as that in which the great event occurred.

Zwingli was not born in poverty, as his future fellow Reformer Luther had been seven weeks before, at Eisleben, twenty-five miles west of Halle, in Saxony; nor of common people, nor was he raised in the school of adversity.

On the contrary, the family were in comfortable circumstances, and were prominent in their community. The carved rafters in their living-room bear silent testimony to this fact, as the poorer people did not have them. But we are not left to that sort of evidence. Zwingli’s father was, as his father’s father had been, the Ammann, i. e., chief magistrate, or bailiff, of the village, and his father’s brother was the village priest; while his mother’s brother Johann became abbot of the Benedictine monastery of Fischingen; and a near relative was abbot of the Benedictine monastery of Old St. John’s, only two miles west from Wildhaus.

Further proof that Zwingli’s parents were well-to-do or could command money is the fact that Zwingli received about as good an education as the times afforded, and yet there is no evidence that his father or other relatives had to pinch themselves to bring this about.

Zwingli’s father was a farmer and raiser of flocks and herds. Three of Zwingli’s younger brothers and two of his older followed his father in these pursuits, but Zwingli himself left home too young to have had any practical acquaintance with the life, except perhaps for a few months.

The allusions he makes to his childhood are interesting, and it were good if they were more numerous. Thus he says: “We recognise the profound compassion of God in that He was willing to have His Son, in the tenderness of His youth, suffer poverty for our sakes, so that we, instructed by our parents from our earliest years, might bear even with joyfulness our evil things and deprivation itself.”

Again he says: “My grandmother has often told me a story about the way Peter and the Lord conducted themselves toward one another. It seems that they used to sleep in the same bed. But Peter was on the outside, and every morning the woman of the house would waken him by pulling his hair.”

Again: “When I was a child, if any one said a word against our Fatherland, I bristled up instantly.”

Again: “From boyhood I have shown so great and eager and sincere a love for an honourable Confederacy that I trained myself diligently in every art and discipline for this end.”*

Happy birthday, Huldrych!
S. M. Jackson, Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531), pp. 49-51.

A Day Full of Zwingli, Celebrating Zwingli’s Birth

First, what do you need to read in order to really know Zwingli (and actually know him- not like the pretenders who only know some snippet about him because that’s what they’ve heard from some silly Lutheran partisan or Wesleyan ignoramus)-


FOR A FULL BIBLIOGRAPHY OF ZWINGLI: FINSLER, GEORG. Zwingli-Bibliographie. Verzeichniss der gedruckten Schriften von und über Ulrich Zwingli. Zürich: Orell Füssli, 1897.


HULDREICH ZWINGLI’S WERKE. Erste vollständige Ausgabe durch Melchior Schuler und Joh. Schulthess. Zürich: Friedrich Schulthess, 1828–61. 8 vols. in 11 parts, with Supplement, 8vo.

The German writings: vol. i. (1522–March, 1524), 1828, pp. viii., 668; vol. ii., 1st part (1526–January, 1527), 1830, iv., 506; vol. ii., 2nd part (1522–July, 1526), 1822, viii., 531; vol. ii., 3rd part (1526–1531), 1841, iv., III. The Latin writings: vol. iii. (1521–1526), 1832, viii., 677; vol. iv. (1526 sqq.), 1841, iv., 307; vol. v., 1835, iv., 788; vol. vi., 1st part, 1836, 766; vol. vi., 2nd part, 1838, 340; vol. vii., 1830, viii., 580; vol. viii., 1842, iv., 715. Supplement by Georg Schulthess u. Gaspar Marthaler, 1861 (both German and Latin), iv., 74.

Vols, v., vi., parts 1 and 2, contain Zwingli’s commentaries, which are on Genesis, Exodus, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Our Lord’s Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, James, Hebrews, and 1 John, all in Latin; vols. vii. and viii. contain the correspondence.

A new edition of the Complete Works is in preparation. It is greatly needed, although that now extant is worthy of the highest praise. It superseded the two previous editions, the first by Rudolf Gualther, Zwingli’s son-in-law, Zürich: Froschauer, 1545, 4 vols., 4to; the second is a reprint, Zürich: Froschauer, 1581, 4 vols., 4to.


M. Huldreich Zwingli’s sämmtliche Schriften im Auszuge. Zürich: Gessner, 1819. 2 vols., 8vo (pp. xxv., 555, 640).
Topically arranged by thorough Zwingli students. Very convenient to find out exactly what Zwingli said upon any theme, which the ample index enables one to do. The contents are entirely in a modern German translation of the original Latin and old Zurich German. A reprint with references to the Schuler and Schulthess edition of Zwingli mentioned above would be a worthy undertaking.

BAUR, AUGUST. Zwinglis Theologie. Ihr Werden und ihr System. Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1885–89. 2 vols., 8vo (pp. viii., 543; ix., 864).
The classic work on Zwingli’s theology.


Archiv für die schkweizerischen Reformationsgeschichte. Herausgegeben auf Veranstaltung des schweizerischen Piusvereins durch die Direction: Graf Theodor Scherer-Boccard, Friedrich Fiala, Peter Bannwart. Freiburg im Br.: Herder, 1868–75. 3 vols., 8vo (pp. lxxvi., 856; vi., 557; vi., 693).
These volumes tell the story from the Roman Catholic side.

BULLINGER, HEINRICH. Reformationsgeschichte nach dem Autographon. Herausgegeben auf Veranstaltung der vaterländisch-historischen Gesellschaft in Zürich von J. J. Hottinger und H. H. Vögeli. Frauenfeld: Ch. Beyel, 1838–40. 3 vols., 8vo (pp. xix., 446; viii., 404; viii., 371).  Bullinger was Zwingli’s successor; an honest man and a diligent collector of authentic material. He wrote in the Zurich Swiss German, which has to be learnt by those familiar only with the modern High German.

CHRISTOFFEL, RAGET. Huldreich Zwingli. Leben und ausgewählte Schriften. Elberfeld: R. L. Friderichs, 1857. 8vo (pp. xiv., 414; writings, 351).  The same translated by John Cochran: Zwingli; or, The Rise of the Reformation in Switzerland. A life of the Reformer, with some notices of his time and contemporaries, by R. Christoffel, Pastor of the Reformed Church, Wintersingen, Switzerland. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1858. 8vo (pp. vii., 461).  The translation omits entirely the selected writings of Zwingli, but otherwise is eminently satisfactory. The book itself is topically arranged, and is entirely reliable, but Christoffel gives no references, and so only one familiar with the writings of Zwingli knows whence his numerous and judicious quotations come. Christoffel made the transfusions of Zwingli’s treatises into modern High German, referred to below, and in the notes in this book.

EGLI, EMIL. Actensammlung zur Geschichte der Zürcher Reformation in den Jahren 1519–1533. Mit Unterstützung der Behörden von Canton und Stadt Zürich. Zürich: J. Schabelitz, 1879. 8vo (pp. viii., 947).  It is a pity that this book is so scarce. It should be reprinted. It collects innumerable items of great interest to the Zwingli student in the very language of the time, and presents a picture of Zurich life of all kinds by contemporaries. Its composition was a gigantic labour, only possible to youth, enthusiasm, and indefatigable, intelligent industry.

MOERIKOFER, JOHANN CASPAR. Ulrich Zwingli nach den urkundlichen Quellen. Leipzig: S. Herzel, 1867–69. Two parts, 8vo (pp. viii., 351; vi., 525). The author knew his subject thoroughly. His matter is arranged in short chapters, his references are mostly to manuscript sources, and singularly few are directly to Zwingli’s writings.

MYCONIUS, OSWALD. Vita Huldrici Zwinglii. This is the original life, very interesting but a mere sketch. The best edition is in the Vitæ quatuor Reformatorum [Luther by Melanchthon, Melanchthon by Camerarius, Zwingli by Myconius, and Calvin by Beza], edited by Neander, Berlin, 1841, pp. 14.

STAEHELIN, RUDOLF. Huldreich Zwingli. Sein Leben und Wirken, nach den Quellen dargestellt. Basel: Benno Schwabe, 1895–97. 2 vols., 8vo (pp. viii., 535; 540). The author, who died in 1900, was for many years Professor of Theology in the University of Basel and lectured upon Zwingli. The book has the calm strength of easy mastery of its materials. Only one thing detracts in the smallest degree from its usefulness to students of Zwingli,—the author frequently puts several references to the writings of Zwingli together at the bottom of the page in such a way that they are hard to separate. If these references could be assigned to the places where they properly belong, then Staehelin’s book would be in all respects beyond criticism. As it is, it will probably retain the first place among lives of Zwingli for years to come—at least until the appearance of that new edition of Zwingli’s Works so eagerly awaited.

STRICKLER, JOHANN. Actensammlung zur Schweizerischen Reformationsgeschichte in den Jahren 1521–1532 im Anschluss an die gleichzeitigen eidgenössischen Abschiede. Zürich: Meyer u. Zeller, 1878–84. 5 vols., 8vo.  Vol. i. (1521–1528), pp. vii., 724; vol. ii. (1529–1530), 819; vol. iii. (1531, Jan.–Oct. 11), 647; vol. iv. (1531, Oct. 11,–Dec., 1532), 736; vol. v. (1521–1532), 172, with bibliographical appendix, 81.  Here are presented the raw materials of history in the shape of documents of all descriptions, chronologically arranged, as in Egli. The labour of compiling these volumes must have been immense.

VÖGELIN, J. K., GEROLD MEYER VON KNONAU, and others. Historisch-geographischer Atlas der Schweiz in 15 Blättern. Zürich: F. Schulthess, 1868. 2nd ed., 1870. Folio.

VÖGELIN, SALOMON. Das alte Zürich. Zürich: Orell, Fues & Co., 1828. New ed., much enlarged, 1878–90. 2 vols., 8vo (pp. xvii., 671; viii., 788). Invaluable, but so peculiarly arranged that consultation is difficult.


Zwingliana. Mittheilungen zur Geschichte Zwinglis und der Reformation. Herausgegeben von der Vereinigung für das Zwinglimuseum in Zurich. Zürich, 1897 sqq.  Two parts a year, edited by that tireless Zwingli student and scholar, Professor Emil Egli. Every Zwingli student should subscribe to it.


Zeitgemässe Auswahl aus Huldreich Zwingli’s practischen Schriften. Aus dem Alt-Deutschen und Lateinischen in’s Schriftdeutsche übersetzt und mit den nothwendigsten geschichtlichen Erläuterungen versehen, von R. Christoff el, V.D.M. Zürich: Meyer u. Zeller, 1843–1846. 12 parts.

Translations of more or less complete selections into modern high German are given by R. Christoffel in the Appendix to his biography as mentioned above, and by C. Sigwart in the Appendix to his sketch of Zwingli (in Die vier Reformatoren, Stuttgart, 1862), pp. 336–406; of especial interest is the first Bernese sermon in 1528, pp. 381–405; the second Bernese sermon is translated by R. Nesselmann (Buck der Predigten, Elbing, 1858), pp. 689–692.

In old English translations appeared of Zwingli’s “Confession of Faith,” two translations (Zürich, March, 1543, and by Thomas Cotsforde, Geneva, 1555); of his “Pastor,” London, 1550; of his “Certain Precepts,” [which is the same as “The Christian Education of Truth “and “Eine kurze Unterweisung,” mentioned on previous pages] London, 1548; and “Short Pathway to the Right and True Understanding of the Holy and Sacred Scriptures,” [i. e., Zwingli’s sermon on the Word of God,] Worcester, 1550, translated by John Veron.1

There are several others more modern but these classics are indispensable for anyone interested in understanding Zwingli.  If readers are interested – I’m happy to send along some suggestions.

Reading Zwingli at first hand is now easier than ever before, simply by visiting the University of Zurich’s web page which contains his theological treatises and letters.  That, of course, is where everyone should start.  Zwingli’s theological treatises can be accessed here and his letters here.

1Jackson, S. M. (1901). Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531) (pp. xxi–xxvi).

On Zwingli’s Birthday: 24 Treatises

Nr. 1 Das Fabelgedicht vom Ochsen (lat.), (Herbst 1510)
Nr. 2 Das Fabelgedicht vom Ochsen (dt.), (Herbst 1510)
Nr. 3 De gestis inter Gallos et Helvetios relatio, (Herbst 1512)
Nr. 4 Der Labyrinth, (Frühjahr 1516)
Nr. 5 Gebetslied in der Pest, (Ende 1519)
Nr. 6 Zeugenaussage zu den Soldverträgen mit dem Ausland, 1521
Nr. 7 Predigtworte zu den Soldverträgen mit dem Ausland, 1521
Nr. 8 Von Erkiesen und Freiheit der Speisen, 16. April 1522
Nr. 9 Acta Tiguri 7. 8. 9. diebus aprilis 1522, (April 1522)
Nr. 10 Eine göttliche Vermahnung an die Eidgenossen zu Schwyz, 16. Mai 1522
Nr. 11 Supplicatio ad Hugonem episcopum Constantiensem, 2. Juli 1522
Nr. 12 Eine freundliche Bitte und Ermahnung an die Eidgenossen, 13. Juli 1522
Nr. 13 Apologeticus Archeteles, 22./23. August 1522
Nr. 14 Von Klarheit und Gewißheit des Wortes Gottes, 6. September 1522
Nr. 15 Eine Predigt von der ewig reinen Magd Maria, 17. September 1522
Nr. 16 Suggestio deliberandi super propositione Hadriani Nerobergae facta, (November) 1522
Nr. 17i Aktenstücke zur ersten Zürcher Disputation: I. Die 67 Artikel Zwinglis
Nr. 17ii Aktenstücke zur ersten Zürcher Disputation: II. Das Ausschreiben der Disputation
Nr. 17iii Aktenstücke zur ersten Zürcher Disputation: III. Der Abschied der Disputation
Nr. 18 Handlung der Versammlung in der Stadt Zürich auf den 29. Januar 1523 (Erste Zürcher Disputation), 3. März 1523
Nr. 19 Entschuldigung etlicher Zwingli unwahrlich zugelegter Artikel, 3. Juli 1523]]

Nr. 20 Auslegen und Gründe der Schlußreden, 14. Juli 1523
Nr. 21 Von göttlicher und menschlicher Gerechtigkeit, 30. Juli 1523
Nr. 22 Quo pacto ingenui adolescentes formandi sint, 1. August 1523
Nr. 23 De canone missae epichiresis, 29. August 1523
Nr. 24 Vortrag zur Reformation des Stifts, (September) 1523

Gregory was One Of Zwingli’s Dearest Friends

In 1487, Bartholomew Zwingli [Huldrych’s uncle] removed from Wildhaus to Wesen, a town on the western end of the now little visited but grand and striking Lake of Walenstadt. It was only a matter of a dozen miles to the south-west of Wildhaus, but the bristling Churfirsten came between.

Wesen was the market-town of the district, and Bartholomew had scarcely been inducted into his rectory before he was promoted to be dekan, or superintendent, which made him a person of considerable importance and influence. In the rectory at Wesen Zwingli lived with his uncle, and in the parish school under his uncle’s direction he made his first acquaintance with learning.

But as it was soon evident that he had the making of a scholar in him his uncle sent him in 1494 to Basel, or rather to Klein Basel, which is that part of the city on the east bank of the Rhine, to the school of St. Theodore’s Church, kept by that gentle and wise master, Gregory Buenzli, in whom Zwingli found a fatherly friend.

Master and pupil afterwards carried on an intimate correspondence, but only three letters of it remain. Two are from Buenzli (vii., 111 and 567), dated February 3, 1520, and December 1, 1526, respectively; the first of which shows that Buenzli, who in 1507 (Egli, Analecta, i., 2) succeeded Bartholomew Zwingli as pastor at Wesen, was still there in 1520, the latter having died in 1513; the second, that Buenzli was in 1526 failing mentally. The one from Zwingli (vii., 257), dated December 30, 1522, alludes to the length and intimacy of their friendship and shows quite characteristic interest in promoting the affairs of one of Buenzli’s friends. Zwingli acknowledges Buenzli’s activity in the cause of the Reformation in his “Instructions for Walenstadt,” dated December 13, 1530 (ii., 3, 86)(S.M. Jackson).


Zwingli’s Letter to Gregor Bünzli


Recte sentis, carissime Gregori, cum putas tibi licere a me, quęcunque usus requirat, petere; nam ego tuis respondere votis ita cupio, ut non possim magis, cum ob summam, qua praeditus es, pietatem, tum ob inveteratam longis annis amiciciam, quibus factum est, ut communi amico nostro Laurentio Moero, viro iuxta pio atque docto, ex animi mei sententia cnsilium dederim, nihil veritus quorundam insidiosas suspiciones. Malui enim ipse me malorum calumniis obiicere, quam virum tam probe de Christi doctrina sentientem in rerum suarum naufragium pertrahere; nam sacerdotium istuc, pro quo ad nos venit, ita extenuatum est, ut vix Euclionem aliquem vel Chremilum enutrire possit; taceo, quod pręstantior vir sit, quam qui rei tantum domesticę curam gerere debeat et non potius magni gregis esse dux.

Adde, quod Rhetiorum Curię docendo Christum longe plus boni parare potest, quam Tiguro tacendo ac ad sarcinas sedendo et nos expectando. Quod certe cogeretur; nam verbi ministerium a senatu nobis commendatum est, a quo munere citra sęnatus voluntatem sine tumultu deiici non possem. Quid facerem, qum is me per fidem eliceret, ut consulerem, et tu per amiciciam iuberes? Consului itaque, ut ad suos redeat nec deserat, nisi dei spiritus iubeat ex una civitate in aliam fugere [Matth. 10. 23], Rhetos Christo lucrifaciat.

Sic enim apud nos comparatum est, ut, si cum quibusdam canonicis sentiret, hostem haberet plebem; si contra eos, multum decederet rei; nam ea, quę promisimus, haud diserte expressimus. Ex quibus obiter id expiscari potes, quid de Christo sentiant quidam sacerdotes, atque hoc in urbe tam unanimi consensu recte credente. Sed fuerunt sacerdotum principes longe infestiores Christo et scribę, quam Herodes et Pilatus.

Quamobrem nihil inconstantię homini velim imputes: servasset, hercle, cum rerum dispendio fidem, nisi nos eum hac opinione liberavissemus. Vehementer enim dolebat Curiam suo euangelista privari, quę unde similem nactura esset, non occurrebat. Prudentes esse iussit Christus [Matth. 10. 16]. Vale et pauca, quę cum illo de sanctorum, hoc est divorum intercessione coram contulimus, hominem memorare iube.  Vale iterum.

Ex Tiguro, 3. Kalendas Ianuarias MCCCCCxxiij.
Huldrichus Zuinglius.

Meet Your Enemy

Oh, to be able to go to this!

Im Januar 1523 drängten 600 Menschen in den Ratssaal am Limmatquai und hielten die erste Zürcher Disputation als hitzigen Diskussions-Marathon. Sie wurde zum Wendepunkt der Zürcher Reformation. Knapp 500 Jahre später drängt der Populismus in der Zwinglistadt den Diskurs, den Streit und die Argumentation vom Platz. Wie beleben wir unseren öffentlichen Raum neu? Am 20. und 21. Januar werden aus Feinden Gegner. Ein Wochenende lang haben Zürcherinnen und Zürcher die Gelegenheit, Mitmenschen, deren Meinung sie nicht teilen, zu einem Blind Date zu treffen.

Sie möchten einen Befürworter der Frauenquote mit Argumenten besiegen? Mit einer Unterstützerin von Kultursubventionen die Kunst des Streitdialogs erproben oder einem Gegner ethischen Konsums leibhaftig begegnen, statt ihn digital zu verdammen? Aus der untenstehenden Liste wählen Sie diejenigen Themen aus, über die Sie in einem der drei Veranstaltungsblöcke (Sa, 20. Januar, 16:00 bis 18:30 / 19:30 bis 22:00; So, 21. Januar, 12:00 bis 15:00) diskutieren möchten, und wir finden für Sie unter den anderen Teilnehmern den passenden Gegner oder die passende Gegnerin. Pro Veranstaltungsblock können Sie an bis zu fünf Gesprächen à 20 Minuten teilnehmen und an einem von 50 Tischen in einer Atmosphäre zwischen Restaurant und Spielhalle Auge in Auge mit Ihrem Feind disputieren. Unser Ensemble nimmt Sie in Empfang und umsorgt Sie, während Diskussions-Coaches beratend zur Seite stehen. In einer Lounge können Sie sich entspannen oder weiterreden, Gratisdrinks sind garantiert. Ein Hoch auf die Diskussionskultur!

Wenn Sie die Tickets online kaufen, erhalten Sie die Unterlagen zur Themenwahl per Mail mit Ihrer Buchungsbestätigung zugeschickt.

Etc. Please go and tell me how it is.

Today With Zwingli: Preparing for the Bern Disputation

In the latter part of 1527 Zwingli’s thoughts took a new turn. The Reformation had made great headway in Bern, and the Bernese City Council, in imitation of that of Zurich, resolved on Sunday, November 17th, to hold a disputation in which the Word of God alone could be appealed to as sole authority for teachings respecting religion. The bishops of Constance, Basel, Lausanne, and Wallis and delegates from all the cantons were invited.

The Zurich Council agreed to accept the invitation, December 7th. Zwingli asked formal permission for himself and other scholars to go,  and the Council’s formal affirmative answer was passed December 11th. On December 15th, Zwingli was able to announce to Œcolampadius that all the preliminaries were then arranged.

On December 27, 1527, he sent a dignified letter to the Ulm City Council proposing to meet John Eck, who had slandered his dear friend, their pastor, Conrad Som, also Œcolampadius, and himself, in Ulm, Memmingen, Constance, or Lindau.

By invitation of the Zurich Council delegates from Schaffhausen, St. Gall, and Constance to the Bern disputation assembled in Zurich on January 1st, and so when the start was made the next day, which was Tuesday, there was quite an imposing array of ecclesiastics and other citizens, nearly one hundred in all; yet lest evil befall them it was accompanied by three hundred armed men to the borders of Bern. After that there was no danger. They entered Bern on January 4th. Zwingli and the burgomaster of Zurich, Diethelm Roeust, put up at the hospice, which was directly opposite to the gate of the city. Zwingli’s brother-in-law, Leonhard Tremp, was master of the hospice and a City Councillor.

Zwingli was easily the most distinguished man in the disputation, but the Roman Catholic theologians were conspicuous by their absence. They had of course no more desire than Zwingli had to talk to deaf ears or to expose themselves to insult and possible physical violence. It was the fashion of the day to ridicule intellectual opponents and attribute everything bad to them, nor has the fashion passed away.*

*Samuel Macauley Jackson, Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531) (Heroes of the Reformation; New York; London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons; Knickerbocker Press, 1901), 280–281.