- The Schmalkald League was an alliance of German Protestant rulers ratified on February 27, 1531, at Schmalkald in Hesse-Nassau. In their pact, the rulers of Hesse, Saxony, Brunswick-Grubenhagen, Brunswick-Lünenburg, Anhalt, and Mansfeld stipulated that for the next six years any military attack upon one would be considered as against all. Their major fear was a Catholic force moving against them on religious grounds. They were soon joined by additional German rulers, and still more as Protestantism spread farther. Denmark joined in 1538.At a second meeting in 1535, the group extended the pact for an additional 10 years. In response, in 1538, several Catholic countries formed a Catholic League led by the Holy RomanEmperor. only skillful negotiations prevented the outbreak of war at that time. In 1546, the emperor adopted a set of new measures aimed at suppressing the Protestant alliance, and the War of Schmalkald ensued. The victorious Catholic forces captured and imprisoned both Elector John Frederick of Saxony and Landgrave Philip of Hesse, reinstated a number of Catholic prelates, and extracted a promise from the defeated rulers to attend and recognize the authority of the Council of Trent. The Schmalkald League was dissolved. However, war again broke out several years later, this time with Protestant forces gaining the upper hand and reversing the earlier Catholic provisions.Further reading:■ Roland H. Bainton, The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century (Boston: Beacon Press, 1952)■ A. G. Dickens, Reformation and Society in Sixteenth Century Europe (London: Thames & Hudson, 1966)■ Harold J. Grimm, The Reformation Era (1550-1650) (New York: Macmillan, 1973).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.
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