In the first half of the seventeenth century Lutherans and Reformed in the Crown region of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth entered into a number of local agreements which provided for joint use of Protestant churches, church discipline, and set out rules for the future between the two confessions. Often referred to as “church unions,” they have been hailed domestically and internationally as evidence of an “irenic” disposition of Polish Protestants. However, none of these agreements has ever been looked at more closely for what the provisions actually stipulated. This is especially striking given that two of the these “unions” dissolved after less than a decade.
In this article I analyze three such “unions” for their specific provisions: liturgical and theological. I contend that they might be construed as irenic, only if we understand it to mean a suspension of personal and interconfessional polemics from the pulpit. However, all three situations started from a place of Reformed superiority and all three cases were to Calvinize the Lutherans in the long term—a rather pragmatic goal and not a particularly irenic one. These agreements highlight the difficulties of applying the Sandomir Consensus to particular localities in a much more hostile seventeenth-century environment for Protestants.