The Chancery of God: Protestant Print, Polemic and Propaganda against the Empire, Magdeburg 1546–1551, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Chancery of God

Protestant Print, Polemic and Propaganda against the Empire, Magdeburg 1546–1551, 1st Edition

By Nathan Rein


288 pages

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The disastrous protestant defeat in the Schmalkaldic War (1546-47) and the promulgation of the Ausburg Interim (1548) left the fate of German Protestantism in doubt. In the wake of these events, a single protestant town, Magdeburg, offered organized, sustained resistance to Emperor Charles V's drive to consolidate Habsburg hegemony and reinstitute uniform Roman Catholic worship throughout Germany. In a flood of printed pamphlets, Magdeburg's leaders justified their refusal to surrender with forceful appeals to religious belief and German tradition. Magdeburg's resistance, interdiction and eventual siege attracted admiring attention from across Europe. The teachings developed and disseminated by Protestant thinkers in defence of the city's stance would ultimately influence political theorists in Switzerland, France, Scotland and even North America. Magdeburg's ordeal formed a signal crisis in the emergence of German Lutheran confessional identity. The Chancery of God is the first English language monograph on Magdeburg's anti-Imperial resistance and pamphlet campaign. The book offers an analysis of Magdeburg's printed output (over 200 publications) during the crucial years of 1546-51, texts which present a broad spectrum of arguments for resistance and suggest a coherent identity and worldview that is characteristically and self-consciously Protestant.


’Rein’s book is a must read for religious historians and political theorists…’ Religious Studies Review ’Overall, this is a must-read for students of German religious and political history in the mid-sixteenth century. The scope of the treatment goes well beyond the geographical or temporal limits described in the title: indeed, careful consideration of Rein’s thesis may well force scholars to rethink some of the standard approaches to the history of Confessionalization and of the origins of modern theories of political resistance.’ Catholic Historical Review ’… [Rein] has crafted a book that will be equally useful to scholars and students both as a detailed analysis of the marriage between politics and religion in the Lutheran reformation and as an insightful introduction to the broader contours of contemporary research in sixteenth-century religious history. … This book, then, besides being a welcome contribution to specialized Reformation history, is also potentially useful in the classroom.’ Sixteenth Century Journal

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Pamphlets and policy; 'German liberty'; 'God's Word, pure and clear': the interim controversy; Urban theology and the siegeworks; Religion and the 'Magdeburg worldview'; Afterword; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Nathan Rein is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Ursinus College, USA.

About the Series

St Andrews Studies in Reformation History

With the publication of its 100th book in 2012, the St Andrews Studies in Reformation Studies series celebrated an impressive publishing achievement. Since its establishment in 1995 the series has consistently offered high-quality, innovative and thought-provoking research in the field of early modern religious history. By encouraging authors to adopt a broad and inclusive interpretation of ’Reformation’, the resultant publications have done much to help shape current interdisciplinary interpretations of early-modern religion, expanding attention far beyond narrow theological concerns. Each title within the series has added to a body of international research showing how the ripples of the Reformation spread to virtually every corner of European society, both Protestant and Catholic, and often beyond. From family life, education, literature, music, art and philosophy, to political theory, international relations, economics, colonial ventures, science and military matters, there were few aspects of life that remained untouched in some way by the spirit of religious reform. As well as widening conceptions of the Reformation, the series has for the last fifteen years provided a publishing outlet for work, much of it by new and up-and-coming scholars who might otherwise have struggled to find an international platform for their work. Alongside these monographs, a complementary selection of edited volumes, critical editions of important primary sources, bibliographical studies and new translations of influential Reformation works previously unavailable to English speaking scholars, adds further depth to the topic. By offering this rich mix of approaches and topics, the St Andrews series continues to offer scholars an unparalleled platform for the publication of international scholarship in a dynamic and often controversial area of historical study.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Modern / 17th Century