Importance of the Protestant Princes/Schmalkaldic League

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In 1525 three major princes openly converted to Lutheranism. They had such important positions in the empire that their conversions played a major role in giving Lutheranism credibility and in ensuring the movement's continued survival and growth

  • Albrecht of Hohenzollern's conversion shocked Catholic Europe and the fact that he was the cousin of Albert of Mainz made his conversion even more contreversial
  • Phillip of Hesse was a Landgrave. The titles made him the empire's third-highest prince in terms of noble status. He also had military importance. Phillip played a most crucial role in organising the military defence of the new faith and in negotiating with allie
  • John the Steadfast succeeded his brother Frederick the Wise as Elector of Saxony in 1525. Since Saxony was the most senior of the seven electorships, John was politically the second most important man in the empire after the emperor. As Luther lived in his territory, his protection was crucial for Luthers continued survival.

Why did the Princes Convert?

  • Faith; genuine belief in Lutheran doctrine must be given a high priority in their reasons for converting not least because supporting Luther was dangerous. The Princes risked losing everything as the papal bull of excommunication and the Edict of Worms meant that any suporter could have been condemned as a heretic and outlaw. Futhermore once the Recess of Speyer had been revoked in 1529 and the Edict of Worms made compulsory in the second Diet of Speyer Lutheran princes were once more in a dangerous position.
  • The Princes also stood…


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