The brothers, Frederick and John of Saxony, were key figures in the early history of the Reformation. Frederick the Wise holds an established place in historiography as the founder of the University of Wittenberg and as Luther’s protector. His younger brother John the Constant is virtually unknown in comparison, although he was decisively influential in promoting the Evangelical cause at the Imperial Diets of Speyer in 1526 and of Augsburg in 1530. By introducing frequent visitations in 1527, he ensured a consistent implementation of the Reformation.
The academy project “Briefe und Akten zur Kirchenpolitik Friedrichs des Weisen und Johanns des Beständigen im Kontext frühneuzeitlicher Staatswerdung” collects and publishes letters and documents pertaining to the church politics of these two princes of the Reformation for the first time. There will be special attention given to the question of the interdependency between the implementation of the Reformation and the state formation and their promotion of each other. The beginning of the brothers’ mutual governance (German: Mutschierung) of Electoral Saxony in 1513 and the death of John in 1532 form the temporal parameters of the editing project. This time frame allows for a longitudinal analysis covering the period before the public appearance of Martin Luther and the transition from a decentralized development of the Reformation under Frederick to a governmentally directed Reformation under John that spread across the Holy Roman Empire and Europe. The process of these fundamental changes are reflected especially in correspondence and decrees of the princes.
Documents pertaining to the church politics of the two Ernestine princes will be provided in an electronic and printed version for Reformation research.