Catholic Reform in the Age of Luther

Duke George of Saxony and the Church, 1488-1525


In his portrait of Duke George of Saxony (1471–1539) Christoph Volkmar offers a fresh perspective on the early Reformation in Germany. Long before the Council of Trent, this book traces the origins of Catholic Reform to the very neighborhood of Wittenberg. The Dresden duke, cousin of Frederick the Wise, was one of Luther's most prominent opponents. Not only did he fight the Reformation, he also promoted ideas for renewal of the church. Based on thousands of archival records, many of them considered for the first time, Christoph Volkmar is mapping the church politics of a German prince who used the power of the territorial state to boost Catholic Reform, marking a third way apart from both Luther and Trent.

This book was orginally published in German as Reform statt Reformation. Die Kirchenpolitik Herzog Georgs von Sachsen, 1488-1525.
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EUR €237.00USD $273.00

Biographical Note

Christoph Volkmar, Ph.D. (2007), is Director of Magdeburg City Archives and lecturer (Privatdozent) at the University of Leipzig. He is author of Die Heiligenerhebung Bennos von Meißen (Aschendorff, 2002) and Jörgs Junker. Landadel und Reformation im Mittelelberaum (forthcoming).

Table of contents

Preface to the English Edition
Preface to the German Edition


1 A Critical Survey of Scholarship

2 George of Saxony’s Church Politics from a New Perspective

Church Governance and Catholic Reform before the Reformation (1488–ca. 1521)

3 Church Politics of German Princes in the Late Medieval Empire

4 The Wettin Tradition of Reform

5 George of Saxony (1471–1539) as a Reformer of the Church

6 Papacy and Council

7 The Empire

8 Bishops and Cathedral Chapters

9 The Ecclesiastical Court System

10 The Regular Clergy

11 The Lower Clergy

12 The Laity

13 Printing and the Public before Luther

14 Summary and Discussion

The Clash with the Early Reformation (1517–1525)

15 George of Saxony and Martin Luther: A New Look at an Old Enmity

16 “The Damned Lutheran Sect”

17 Church Politics against the Reformation in the Empire (1522–1525)

18 Outlawing the Reformation

19 Territorial Politics against Evangelical Pastors

20 Territorial Politics against Evangelical Monks

21 Territorial Politics against Evangelical Subjects

22 Preaching

23 Printing

24 Reform Instead of Reformation

25 Church Politics against the Reformation: Successes, Limits, Perspectives




All interested in late medieval church reform, state-building in German territories, the early Reformation and especially in opposition to Martin Luther.


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