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9 - Urban Reformations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Thomas A. Brady Jr.
Affiliation:
University of California, Berkeley
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Summary

Had I but Venice's might

Augsburg's splendor,

Nuremberg's skill,

Strasbourg's cannon,

And Ulm's money,

I would be the richest man in the world.

Traditional saying

The citizen's first duty is unrest.

Günter Grass

One day in 1524 an Augsburg ropemaker named Ott was overheard to curse “the dishonorable priests and the rich …, who pile up goods and money and keep the truth from us. We have always been evangelicals, and we still are today, but, truly, we have been fed many lies. If we truly followed the gospel, we would all have to be like brothers.” At the center of the unprecedented storm of words and deeds that broke over the German cities during the first half of the 1520s stood precisely Ott's principle: Christians follow the Gospel as brothers. In this evangelical movement, collective hopes of a better, more just future mingled with personal hopes of salvation. For this reason, and because for a while the cities became the nurseries and schoolhouses of religious change, it is hardly going too far to say that the Protestant reformation was, at least in its youth, “an urban event.” The cities served the whole society as concentrated points of knowledge, technology, literacy, wealth, communication, and power. In their milieus new ideas could gain a hearing and new practices support. Secure within their walls could take place the mobilization of movements for change.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009

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  • Urban Reformations
  • Thomas A. Brady Jr., University of California, Berkeley
  • Book: German Histories in the Age of Reformations, 1400–1650
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511627026.015
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  • Urban Reformations
  • Thomas A. Brady Jr., University of California, Berkeley
  • Book: German Histories in the Age of Reformations, 1400–1650
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511627026.015
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Urban Reformations
  • Thomas A. Brady Jr., University of California, Berkeley
  • Book: German Histories in the Age of Reformations, 1400–1650
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511627026.015
Available formats
×