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The Counterreformation in Inner Austria (1579-80)

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Second, the [Protestant] lords and subjects resident here shall nonetheless out of gracious favor and paternal solicitude be permitted to retain one or two preachers each, who are faithful to the true Augsburg Confession, to preach to them and their dependents in private and to officiate at church services in their country houses, but otherwise to admit no one else, still less to usurp pastoral prerogatives like preaching, baptizing, celebrating communion, or anything else.

Third, the other subjects [Protestants] shall only call [these preachers] or others like them out to their houses and engage them for themselves, their wives, children, and servants, and to practice their recognized and confessed religion in this way, but wholly without inciting others [to attend] or allowing them to participate if they come independently, for Your Princely Grace has by no means permitted this.

Fourth, it is Your Princely Grace’s established will and desire, that neither Your Princely Grace nor Your allies shall suffer any loss with regard to their rights to their fiefs or to their legal rights of confirmation, particularly under the guise of guardianships (8). Your Princely Grace intends that [You and Your allies] should have and exercise these rights of patronage and confirmation from now on and in perpetuity just as [they did] 100, 60, 50, 40, 30, 20 and 10 years ago without any obstruction or argument from the [noble] guardians, who shall not dare to take any more from the churches for themselves than ecclesiastical law and Imperial policy allows on pain of Your Grace’s displeasure and punishment.

Fifth, Your Princely Grace most solemnly commands by statute and decrees that anyone who has removed the least thing from any church return it intact within two months at the latest, and that in future no one dare to do this on pain of Your Grace’s displeasure and punishment.

And it is also Your Princely Grace’s established will and intention that no hostile act shall be done anywhere on religious grounds, but rather [that everyone] promote kind and good things for one another in brotherly friendship and that – together with Your Princely Grace – everyone shall exert himself to the utmost to this end, so that the beloved fatherland might continue to be protected from the tyranny of the Ottomans and from other disasters, and that all may live together, deal together and coexist as it behooves and is fitting for a pious, Christian ruler and his loyal, obedient subjects to do.

As God is Your witness, Your Princely Grace has made these resolutions solely for the benefit and protection of Your loyal lands and people, regardless of how unwillingly they may be received. And [Your Princely Grace] intends to commend to everyone these resolutions, and in particular the obedience ordained by God. He also wishes to reassure the magnates and knights at last that they and their wives, children, and servants may keep their consciences clear and may be free of all oppression. And they will consider the reasons that have inexorably moved Your Princely Grace to this justification and ordinance without bias and in light of the ordinance's necessity and thereafter will not only (as is fitting) commend and approve Your Princely Grace’s abundant, faithful care for them and for the whole fatherland, but will also be humbly grateful to Your Princely Grace and will not oppose these [resolutions] in the least by word or deed, for Your Princely Grace did not and still does not know what else to do in these matters without abandoning the land and people to utter destruction and acting contrary to all reason. [ . . . ]

(8) The traditional guardianships [Vogteien] through which nobles exercised rights of protection over others – trans.

Source: Albrecht P. Luttenberger, ed., Katholische Reform und Konfessionalisierung. Darmstadt: WBG, 2006, pp. 334-42.

English translation: Heidi Eberhardt Bate

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