Peace of Augsburg with Background and consequences

Peace of Augsburg

Peace of Augsburg Treaty signed between Ferdinand I of Austria and the German princes of the Schmalkalden League.

The Peace of Augsburg was a treaty signed between Ferdinand I of Austria, representing Carlos V, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire , and the German princes who were members of the Schmalkalden League .

This was signed on September 25, 1555 and had the objective of ending the conflicts unleashed between the emperor, who had tried to restore Catholic unity from the beginning of his coronation, and the Protestant German princes.

In the treaty, Carlos V recognized the official existence of the Lutheran churches and granted to the princes the right to choose which religion to adopt .

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Background to the Peace of Augsburg

Charles V was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1519, just 2 years after the protest of Luther, who had started the Protestant Reformation . From that moment on, one of his objectives was to reintegrate the German princes who supported Luther into the Catholic religion . At the same time, he wanted the papacy to recognize the need for a revision and reform of the Church .

However, some conflicts, such as the war with France that extended with small truces from 1519 to 1559 and the need to stop the Turkish advance from the east, prevented the emperor from dedicating himself to the reconstruction of German religious unity with the attention that this required. As a consequence, the Protestant princes were strengthened.

The conflict had different stages, marked by advances and setbacks in the relationship between both parties, which were manifested in meetings or assemblies known as “diets.” Some of these stages were:

  • The First Diet of Spira (1526) : Each prince was allowed to tolerate or condemn Lutheranism in his territory.
  • The second diet of Spira (1529 ) : the first diet was rejected and it was held that, in the reformed states, Catholic worship should be maintained.
  • The first diet of Augsburg (1530) : summoned by Carlos V to reestablish religious unity. The diet encouraged the princes to leave Protestantism and submit to the emperor.
  • Formation of the League of Schmalkalden (1531-1547) : in rejection of the intimation of Carlos V, the Protestant princes united and established alliances with enemy states of the emperor.
  • Battle of Mühlberg (1547) : Carlos V faced and defeated the League of Schmalkalden.
  • Second Diet of Augsburg (1547-1548) : the emperor imposed an Interim , a document in which he tried to reconcile aspects of the two religions; however, this did not satisfy either party.
  • Treaty of Passau or Peace of Passau (1552) : after long armed conflicts, Carlos V recognized the freedom of worship for Protestants.
  • Third Diet of Augsburg (1555) : signing of the Peace of Augsburg.

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Some of the consequences of the Peace of Augsburg were the following:

  • The legitimacy of the Lutheran Protestant religions in the German states was recognized .
  • Princes were given the freedom to practice whatever religion they chose . Not so to the subjects, who had to adopt the religion of their prince or emigrate to another state. This arrangement is known as cuius regio, eius religió .
  • Emperor Charles V was weakened and as a consequence handed over to his brother, Fernando II, control of the Holy Empire. The following year, he abdicated the Spanish Crown in favor of his son, Felipe II.
  • The papacy ignored the emperors chosen by the Protestant princes. Therefore, the legitimation that the Church carried out of the Holy Roman Emperor by crowning him in the Vatican ended . Carlos V was the last emperor crowned by the pope.
  • While the treaty resolved many conflicts at the institutional level, it did not resolve religious tensions among the population. The confrontations between Catholics and Protestants intensified throughout the century until ending in the 30 Years’ War in the 17th century .

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