Karpeles Manuscript Library

Martin Luther

(1532) Marking the Recognition of the Protestant Movement

Luther approves the proposed terms of a treaty between Emperor Charles V and the Protestants.
In 1529, the withdrawal of the concessions given at the Imperial Diet at Speyer had provoked the protest of the minority of evangelical princes and of 14 imperial cities, which earned the protesters the title of Protestants. By 1532, the Protestant movement had grown to the extent that various Protestant Princes and States formed the "Schmalkaldic League" and threatened war on the Emperor. At the same time the powerful Turkish armies were also advancing on Rome.
Emperor Charles V proposed a treaty which would exchange recognition of the Protestant movement for the Protestant support against the Turks*. The treaty also marked the first time in history that the Protestants had ever formally signed any agreement with the Catholic Church. Indeed, it was the first time that they were recognized as an independent religious/political power.
In this letter, written to influence the Leader of the League, the Prince of Saxony, to support the treaty during the negotiations to avert the imminent war, Luther argues that disapproval of the terms would result in "letting in the Turks" and the possible destruction of the Empire along with both religions and everything else. Both sides agreed and signed the Treaty of Nurnberg in July 1532.
*and Protestant support in electing Charles V's brother, the future Emperor Ferdinand I, as Roman King.