Category Archives: Zwingli

Oh Huldrych… You Say The Darndest Things

zwingli_squirtHannibal, the most dangerous enemy of the Romans (except covetousness, which was the worst enemy of the Romans and proved their undoing), could not be conquered until he allowed the soldiers to become effeminate. But after he had been at Capua for a winter and permitted the soldiers to disport themselves in wantonness and lust, in the next spring Hannibal began to be defeated, and it was generally said that Hannibal had led an army of men to Capua and was taking a crowd of women away.*

*The Latin Works and The Correspondence of Huldreich Zwingli: Together with Selections from His German Works, (Vol. 1, pp. 145–146).

Causing Offense

What clearly affects the divine truth, as the belief and commandments of God, no one shall yield, whether one is offended or not. — Huldrych Zwingli

Baden: Let the Debate Commence

The Diet of Switzerland took the same stand against the Zwinglian Reformation as the Diet of the German Empire against the Lutheran movement. Both Diets consisted only of one house, and this was composed of the hereditary nobility and aristocracy. The people were not directly represented by delegates of their own choice. The majority of voters were conservative, and in favor of the old faith; but the majority of the people in the larger and most prosperous cantons and in the free imperial cities favored progress and reform, and succeeded in the end.

The question of the Reformation was repeatedly brought before the Swiss Diet, and not a few liberal voices were heard in favor of abolishing certain crying abuses; but the majority of the cantons, especially the old forest-cantons around the lake of Lucerne, resisted every innovation. Berne was anxious to retain her political supremacy, and vacillated. Zwingli had made many enemies by his opposition to the foreign military service and pensions of his countrymen. Dr. Faber, the general vicar of the diocese of Constance, after a visit to Rome, openly turned against his former friend, and made every effort to unite the interests of the aristocracy with those of the hierarchy. “Now,” he said, “the priests are attacked, the nobles will come next.” At last the Diet resolved to settle the difficulty by a public disputation. Dr. Eck, well known to us from the disputation at Leipzig for his learning, ability, vanity and conceit, offered his services to the Diet in a flattering letter of Aug. 13, 1524. He had then just returned from a third visit to Rome, and felt confident that he could crush the Protestant heresy in Switzerland as easily as in Germany. He spoke contemptuously of Zwingli, as one who “had no doubt milked more cows than he had read books.” About the same time the Roman counter-reformation had begun to be organized at the convent of Regensburg (June, 1524), under the lead of Bavaria and Austria.

The disputation was opened in the Catholic city of Baden, in Aargau, May 21, 1526, and lasted eighteen days, till the 8th of June. The cantons and four bishops sent deputies, and many foreign divines were present. The Protestants were a mere handful, and despised as “a beggarly, miserable rabble.” Zwingli, who foresaw the political aim and result of the disputation, was prevented by the Council of Zurich from leaving home, because his life was threatened; but he influenced the proceedings by daily correspondence and secret messengers. No one could doubt his courage, which he showed more than once in the face of greater danger, as when he went to Marburg through hostile territory, and to the battlefield at Cappel. But several of his friends were sadly disappointed at his absence. He would have equalled Eck in debate and excelled him in biblical learning. Erasmus was invited, but politely declined on account of sickness.

The arrangements for the disputation and the local sympathies were in favor of the papal party. Mass was said every morning at five, and a sermon preached; the pomp of ritualism was displayed in solemn processions. The presiding officers and leading secretaries were Romanists; nobody besides them was permitted to take notes. The disputation turned on the real presence, the sacrifice of the mass, the invocation of the Virgin Mary and of saints, on images, purgatory, and original sin. Dr. Eck was the champion of the Roman faith, and behaved with the same polemical dexterity and overbearing and insolent manner as at Leipzig: robed in damask and silk, decorated with a golden ring, chain and cross; surrounded by patristic and scholastic folios, abounding in quotations and arguments, treating his opponents with proud contempt, and silencing them with his stentorian voice and final appeals to the authority of Rome. Occasionally he uttered an oath, “Potz Marter.” A contemporary poet, Nicolas Manuel, thus described his conduct:—

“Eck stamps with his feet, and claps his hands,
He raves, he swears, he scolds;
‘I do,’ cries he, ‘what the Pope commands,
And teach whatever he holds.’ ”

Oecolampadius of Basle and Haller of Berne, both plain and modest, but able, learned and earnest men, defended the Reformed opinions. Oecolampadius declared at the outset that he recognized no other rule of judgment than the Word of God. He was a match for Eck in patristic learning, and in solid arguments. His friends said, “Oecolampadius is vanquished, not by argument, but by vociferation.” Even one of the Romanists remarked, “If only this pale man were on our side!” His host judged that he must be a very pious heretic, because he saw him constantly engaged in study and prayer; while Eck was enjoying rich dinners and good wines, which occasioned the remark, “Eck is bathing in Baden, but in wine.”

The papal party boasted of a complete victory. All innovations were forbidden; Zwingli was excommunicated; and Basle was called upon to depose Oecolampadius from the pastoral office. Faber, not satisfied with the burning of heretical books, advocated even the burning of the Protestant versions of the Bible. Thomas Murner, a Franciscan monk and satirical poet, who was present at Baden, heaped upon Zwingli and his adherents such epithets as tyrants, liars, adulterers, church robbers, fit only for the gallows! He had formerly (1512) chastised the vices of priests and monks, but turned violently against the Saxon Reformer, and earned the name of “Luther-Scourge” (Lutheromastix). He was now made lecturer in the Franciscan convent at Lucerne, and authorized to edit the acts of the Baden disputation.

The result of the Baden disputation was a temporary triumph for Rome, but turned out in the end, like the Leipzig disputation of 1519, to the furtherance of the Reformation. Impartial judges decided that the Protestants had been silenced by vociferation, intrigue and despotic measures, rather than refuted by sound and solid arguments from the Scriptures. After a temporary reaction, several cantons which had hitherto been vacillating between the old and the new faith, came out in favor of reform.*

The documents and debates are available in this new volume from TVZ.

*History of the Christian church.

Today With Zwingli: Die erste kurze Antwort über Ecks sieben Schlußreden

Huldrych Zwingli published his little 19 page Flugschrift Die erste kurze Antwort über Ecks sieben Schlußreden on 21 May, 1526.  Zwingli also addressed it to the Confederation (so that all the Cantons which had embraced Reform would know how Eck should be answered by their own Pastors and Theologians).

The occasion was, of course, the Baden Disputation (which Zwingli had not been allowed to attend- the Zurich City Council deeming him too valuable to risk having him killed by the angry Catholics- a thing that certainly would have happened had he gone).

It commences

Frommen, vesten, fürsichtigen, ersamen, wysen, gnädigen, lieben herren! Sidmal mir üwer wyßheit uß ursachen, die sy wol weyßt, ze lieb den ungemeinen platz Baden nit endren wil und aber daby Egg unnd Faber mit aller irer practick, red und anheften der artiklen allein uff mich reichend, sam die disputation allein sye umb minetwillen angesehen (darumb ich vermeindt allerbillichost gewäsen wär, daß man ein gemeinen platz angesehen hett, vorus so man vor jaren offenlich verstanden hat, daß mir Baden gheinswegs gemein ist; darus ich ermessen mag, das ir fürnemen und höchste begird ist, nit mit mir, sunder hinder mir ze disputieren und da uff beschlüß ze tringen, die sy, wo mir der platz gemein wer, nit vertruwtind fürzebringen, wiewol ouch hierinn gott wirt ynsehen thuon), hierumb ist an üch, mine gnädige herren, min demuotig pitt, ir wellind mir des Eggen gründ, die er über die siben schlußreden anzeigen wirt, schrifftlich lassen zuokomen; wil ich imm in gar kurtzer zyt allweg by üch schriftlich antwurt geben.

It then lists Eck’s theses upon which Zwingli comments one by one.  To my knowledge the present little treatise has never been translated.  A pity, really, and yet more evidence that folk interested in the period need to learn German or suffer the sorrow of never really knowing what went on.

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.

Calvin on the Schismatics and their Insulting Words About Zwingli and Oecolampadius

Melanchthon showed Calvin an anti-Zwingli anti-Oecolampadius pamphlet written by a schismatic and Calvin remarked

What good purpose could it serve to assault the Zwinglians every third line, and to attack Zwingli himself in such an unmannerly style?   And not even to spare Oecolampadius, that holy servant of God, whom I wish that he resembled, even in being half as good, in which case he would certainly stand far higher in my esteem than he does. O God of grace, what pleasant sport and pastime do we afford to the Papists, as if we had hired ourselves to do their work!”

The last line means that Calvin saw these schismatics as doing more harm to the Reformation than the Papists could ever hope.

Today With Zwingli: The Zurich Marriage Ordinance of 1525

zwingliAnother important piece of internal regulation, viz., relative to marriage and divorce, inspired and formulated by Zwingli, was passed by the Councils on May 10, 1525.

Briefly, marriages were usually to be public, in churches, and with the consent of parents or guardians. Even though the discovery should soon be made that the parties were unfitted for living together, still they are to live together for a year, and then they may be divorced.

Divorces may be granted for other causes. Adultery is a crime to be severely punished by the authorities. So also seduction and like offences when marriage cannot be arranged. Those who commit adultery hoping thereby to secure a divorce and so be free to contract another marriage, or to live unchastely, were to be excommunicated and for ever banished. By thus claiming for Zurich the adjudication of the matrimonial cases the break with the past was still further emphasised, as formerly all such cases came to the episcopal court in Constance.  (S.M. Jackson)

Fun Facts From Church History: The Church Which Hosted Zwingli in Glarus…

… Was burnt in the conflagration which well-nigh destroyed the town on Friday, May 10, 1861, and upon its site is a building containing the Law Courts, the Public Library, and a small museum.

Bet ya didn’t know that, did ya?

The Zwingli Stamp

Die Briefmarke Huldrych Zwingli – 500 Jahre Zürcher und oberdeutsche Reformation ist ein gemein­sames Projekt der Deutschen und der Schweizerischen Post. Die Idee zur Marke stammt von der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland.

Gilt in der Deutschschweiz Ulrich Zwingli als der Reformator schlechthin, fristete er in Deutschland bislang ein Dasein im Schatten Martin Luthers. Ausgerechnet die Deutsche Post ehrt ihn nun mit einer Briefmarke. Der philatelistische Sonderdruck Huldrych Zwingli – 500 Jahre Zürcher und oberdeutsche Reformation ist ein gemein­sames Projekt der Deutschen und der Schweizerischen Post.

Er zeigt den Reformator in dem ­bekannten Portrait des Malers und Zwingli-Zeitgenossen Hans ­Asper. Dazu steht in grossen Lettern Zwinglis wohl berühmtester Ausspruch geschrieben: „Tut um Gottes willen etwas Tapferes!“

Etc.  Have you ever seen anything more fantastic?  No, no you haven’t.

Jetzt online: 37 Vorträge der Konferenz zur Zürcher Reformation

Im Februar hat die Konferenz  “Die Zürcher Reformation und ihre Rolle in den europäischen Reformationsbewegungen” beim Institut für Schweizerische Reformationsgeschichte stattgefunden. Die 37 Vorträge sind jetzt online anzuschauen.

Das Institut für Reformationsgeschichte hat einen YouTube-Kanal erstellt und dort 37 Videos hochgeladen.

Unter den Referenten sind viele nahmhafte Wissenschaftler wie Volker Leppin, Ian Hazlett, Christohp Strohm, Peter Opitz, Emidio Campi, Amy Nelson Burnett und Herman Selderhuis.

Hier können Sie sich die Videos anschauen.

For your viewing pleasure.

Zwingli for Today, Again

Fear is a cruel adviser. – Huldrych Zwingli

Zwingli For Today

A coachman does nothing when God burdens and chastises him; he does not acknowledge God until he breaks a wheel or a spoke, and then he says ‘O God!’ –  Huldrych Zwingli

Today With Zwingli: Redemption Means Change or it Means Nothing

When … Divine Majesty formed the plan of redeeming man, it did not intend that the world should persist and become inveterate in its wickedness. For if this had been the plan, it would have been better never to have sent a redeemer than to have sent one under such conditions that after redemption there should be no change from our former diseased state.

It would have been laughable if He to whom everything that is ever to be is seen as present had determined to deliver man at so great a cost, and yet had intended to allow him immediately after his deliverance to wallow in his old sins. He proclaims, therefore, at the start, that our lives and characters must be changed. For to be a Christian is nothing less than to be a new man and a new creature [2 Cor. 5:17].  — Huldrych Zwingli

Fun Facts From Church History: Zwingli’s ‘Zurich German’ Wasn’t Widely Understood

zwingli213The dialect the good people of Zurich spoke was, and is, in many respects, quite unique (even now).  Luther had problems with it and so did The Landgrave of Marburg.

Consequently, on

May 7, 1529, [Zwingli wrote the Landgrave in the lead-up to the Marburg Colloquium] – “… that I address you in Latin I do it for this reason only because I fear that our Swiss tongue is strange to you” (viii., 663). So, also, to the same on July 14th he wrote: “I fear that if we meet I shall not be understood in my tongue. So I do not know whether it would not be better if we used Latin” (viii., 324).

At Marburg Luther constantly whined about Zwingli using Greek.  He did so not to be a show-off (even though he could have done, being at that stage far better than Luther (though not than Melanchthon) at Greek and the best of the lot in Hebrew) but because the folk there assembled would have been lost had he spoken the language of his home.

Zwingli in the Arts – #ICYMI

Daniel Lienhard- an artist in Zurich- has drawn these wondrous pieces of art.  The first four show that Luther and Zwingli had far more in common than usually discussed and the last two are just for fun:

Use of these images is by permission of the artist only.  Please don’t redistribute or repost them.

The Zurich Antistes: Because You Want To See Them

So here they are:


Today With Zwingli: Über den ungesandten Sendbrief Fabers Zwinglis Antwort

On the 30th of April, 1526, Huldrych Zwingli published his Über den ungesandten Sendbrief Fabers Zwinglis Antwort.  Zwingli had been forbidden by the Zurich Magistrates to attend the Baden Disputation (because they knew he would be killed) and when his friend Oecolampadius sent him a copy of Fabers ‘Answer’ to Zwingli’s reformatory efforts, Zwingli was forced to reply.

The title of the book itself is a swipe at Faber’s rather uncharitable behavior, for rather than sending Zwingli a copy of his own work, Faber failed to do so.  It was simply customary, in the 16th century, to send your theological adversaries any work you produced which addressed theirs.  Faber didn’t.  So Zwingli swings away- ‘Concerning the Letter Faber Didn’t Send (To Me Directly!), Zwingli’s Answer!’

The book is itself made up of 65 short paragraphs (and some not so short) responding point by point to Faber’s critique.  It is brutally direct and just the sort of thing that makes the 16th Century theologians so fun to read.

That Papal Pension of Zwingli’s

Ok, here are the facts- which cannot be seriously disputed:

Zwingli’s Papal Pension

zwingli_writing_bullinger_RGBullinger says (i., 8) that the Pope (Julius II.) gave Zwingli a pension, “for the purchase of books.” But this was a sort of euphemism, and was understood on both sides as binding him to some extent to the papal chair, for the Pope was not in the habit of giving pensions to men like Zwingli out of charity or admiration. Yet since Zwingli was then a loyal papalist he could with perfect propriety and in all good conscience accept it. The year of its first bestowal was probably 1512–13.

But when he came out as a severe critic of the papacy, as he did in 1517, then his acceptance was not proper, as he himself allows in the passages to be quoted. But he continued to take the papal pension till 1520, when it had become a public scandal and source of trouble, as his enemies were constantly throwing it in his teeth.

zwingli_lookoutLike mean spirited people do today, I’ll interject… But back to our story-

Why he took it was his poverty, which has been often pleaded in excuse for similar action. Chronologically, the first bit of writing which can be quoted in which he alludes to his fault in continuing to receive the pension is the dedication to the sermon on the Virgin Mary, which he published in 1522.

He says: “My connection with the Pope of Rome is now a thing of several years back. At the time it began it seemed to me a proper thing to take his money and to defend his opinions, but when I realised my sin I parted company with him entirely” (i., 86).

Zwingli124Next and more explicit was his confession in the “Exposition of the Articles” of the Zurich Disputation of January, 1523:

“I had for three years previous [to 1520] been preaching the Gospel with earnestness; on which account I received from the papal cardinals, bishops, and legates, with whom the city has abounded, many friendly and earnest counsels, with threats, or with promises of greater gifts and of benefices. These, however, have had no effect upon me. On the other hand, in 1517 I declined to receive the pension of fifty gulden, which they gave me yearly (yes, they wanted to make it one hundred gulden, but I would not hear to it), but they would not stop it until in 1520 I renounced it in writing. (I confess here my sin before God and all the world, that before 1516 I hung mightily upon the Pope and considered it becoming in me to receive money from the papal treasury. But when the Roman representatives warned me not to preach anything against the Pope, I told them in express and clear words that they had better not believe that I would on account of their money suppress a syllable of the truth.) After I had renounced the pension they saw that I would have nothing more to do with them, so they procured and betrayed (to the Senate), through a spiritual father, a Dominican monk, the manuscript containing in one letter my renunciation and receipt of payment, with a view of driving me out of Zurich. But the scheme failed, because the Honourable Senate knew well that I had not exalted the Pope in my discourses; so that the money had not affected anything in that direction; also that I in no way advanced their plans and had twice declined their pension; also that no one could from the past teaching accuse me of breaking my oath or impairing my honour. On these grounds the Senate declared me innocent” (i., 354).

zwingli109Confirmation of these statements of Zwingli is given in this letter of Francis Zink, the papal chaplain at Einsiedeln: “A little time ago when I heard that you [the Senate of Zurich, to which body he is writing] were about to take up the matter of the people’s priest, Huldreich Zwingli, I met him twice in order to give my testimony. But now that I am sick and cannot come in person before your honourable body, I write to tell exactly all about it.… Huldreich Zwingli received for some years, while at Glarus, at Einsiedeln, and finally at Zurich, a yearly allowance from the Pope; but the sole reason why he has done so is his poverty and need, especially while with you at Zurich. And assuredly he would have lacked provision for his family if this support had been taken from him.… Nevertheless, this was so great a cross to him that he desired to resign his position with you, having it in mind to come back to Einsiedeln.… Moreover, it is perfectly evident that he has never been moved a finger’s breadth from the Gospel by the favour of the Pope, emperor, or noble, but always proclaims the truth and preaches it faithfully among the people. For if he had permitted himself to be turned aside to serve the interests of the papacy in greater measure he might have received one hundred florins a year, not to speak of benefices at Basel or Chur, but none of these enticed him. I was present when the Legate Pucci was frankly told by him that he would not for money advance the papal interests, but would preach and teach the truth to the people in the way which seemed best to him. Under the circumstances he left it entirely to the Legate whether he should grant the pension or not. Hearing this the Legate smoothed him down, saying that even if he [Zwingli] was not inclined to befriend the Pope, still he [the Legate] would befriend him: for he had not made the offer to turn him aside from his purpose [to preach the truth], but had had in view his need and how he might live in greater comfort and purchase books, etc.… I wished, therefore, to make this clear to you, not that I might absolve Master Huldreich Zwingli as if he had not received subsidies, but that you might know how he received them, and at what instance it was brought about, that you might see it from the right standpoint.” (This letter of Zink’s is quoted in the note to vii., 179.)

zwingli092Zwingli was brought before the Senate to explain his inconsistency in taking the Pope’s money while attacking him, but this letter of Zink’s cleared him and he was not forced to resign. As Zwingli had no adequate support from his people’s priest’s office he felt the loss of the pension, but in the next year, 1521, he was made a canon in the cathedral and that made up for the lack of it and more (See vii., 182 sq., and p. 151).*

That, dear reader, is the truth and truly related. Zwingli, whether rightly or wrongly, accepted money from Rome in order simply to survive. When he was properly supported by Zurich, that became unnecessary. The gist of which is, if you don’t support your clergy, they may have to rely on pagans for survival.
*S. Jackson, Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531) (pp. 114–116).

Zwingli Critiques a Review by Emser

Emser didn’t like Zwingli’s ‘Commentary on True and False Religion‘ (a work of true genius) so when he reviewed it (i.e., responded to it), said review provoked Zwingli to respond – in part –

You are so shallow, not to say foolish, that I am convinced you absolutely failed to understand what I wrote.

Few do read with the aim of understanding anything really.

In Which Zwingli Explains Why He Published his Sermon on ‘The Choice of Food’

zwingli_schriftenBecause his enemies were misrepresenting the oral presentation, Zwingli expanded and published it.

I have therefore made a sermon about the choice or difference of food, in which sermon nothing but the Holy Gospels and the teachings of the Apostles have been used, which greatly delighted the majority and emancipated them. But those, whose mind and conscience is defiled, as Paul says [Titus, 1:15], it only made mad.

But since I have used only the above-mentioned Scriptures, and since those people cry out none the less unfairly, so loud that their cries are heard elsewhere, and since they that hear are vexed on account of their simplicity and ignorance of the matter, it seems to me to be necessary to explain the thing from the Scriptures, so that every one depending on the Divine Scriptures may maintain himself against the enemies of the Scriptures. Wherefore, read and understand; open the eyes and the ears of the heart, and hear and see what the Spirit of God says to us.