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The Religious Peace of Augsburg (September 25, 1555)

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§ 23. [Prohibition of Religious Coercion] No estate shall induce another's subjects to accept his religion and abandon the other's, nor shall he take those subjects under his protection or in any way defend them in such actions. This rule, however, is not intended to apply to the obligations of those who have long been subject to their lord's rule, which shall remain undiminished.

§ 24. [Right to Emigrate of those who Change Religion] It may happen that Our subjects or those of the electors, princes, and other estates, either of the old faith or the Confession of Augsburg, wish to leave Our lands or those of the electors, princes, and estates of the Holy Roman Empire, together their wives and children, and settle elsewhere. They shall be permitted and allowed to do so, to sell their goods and possessions, after having paid a reasonable sum for freedom from servile obligations and for taxes in arrears, such as has everywhere been customary for ages. Their honorary posts and their obligations, however, shall be unrecompensed. Their lords, however, shall not be deprived thereby of their customary right to demand recompense for granting freedom from servility.

§ 25. [Provisional Character of the Religious Peace] The search for an agreement in matters of religion and faith must be pursued in effective and appropriate ways, but without an enduring peace a Christian, friendly composition concerning religion cannot be achieved. We, also the electors' representatives, the attending princes, the estates, and the envoys of the absent estates, spiritual and temporal, have agreed on this peace pact, so as to achieve this desired peace by eliminating the highly injurious mistrust in the Empire, to protect this noble nation from an imminent, final ruin, and to assure the quick achievement of a Christian, friendly, and final composition concerning the religious division. We have also agreed always and faithfully to keep and honestly obey this peace, until the Christian, friendly, and final restoration of religious unity. If such a reunion cannot be obtained by way of a General Council, a National Council, colloquies, or the Imperial Diet, the agreement in all of the above points and articles shall nonetheless remain in force until the final agreement in matters of religion and faith. Accordingly, in this and in other forms, a durable, permanent, unlimited, and eternal peace should be established and agreed upon and remain in force.

§ 26. [Extension to the Imperial Knights] Those free knights who are immediately subject to his Imperial Majesty shall also be included in the peace. They shall not be interfered with, persecuted, or troubled by any one on account of either of the aforesaid religions.

§ 27. [Extension to the Imperial Cities] In many free and Imperial cities, both religions – Our old religion and that of the Augsburg Confession – have for some time been practiced. They shall continue to exist and be maintained in these cities. The citizens and other residents of these free and Imperial cities, both of clerical and lay estates – shall continue to live peacefully and quietly with another. Neither party shall venture to abolish or force the other to abandon its religion, usages, or ceremonies. On the contrary, according to the provisions of this peace, each party shall leave the other to maintain in a peaceful and orderly fashion its religion, faith, usages, ordinances, and ceremonies, together with its possessions, just as is mandated above for the estates of both religions.

Given in Our [Charles V], King Ferdinand's, and the Holy Empire's city of Augsburg on the twenty-fifth day of the month of September, since the birth of Christ Our dear Lord one thousand five hundred and fifty-five, in the twenty-fifth year of Our reign as emperor and in the twenty-ninth as ruler of Our other realms.

Source of English translation: Emil Reich, trans., Select Documents Illustrating Mediaeval and Modern History. London: P. S. King & Son, 1905, pp. 226-32, revised and with additional articles by Thomas A. Brady Jr.

Source of modern German text: (last accessed August 18, 2011); translated from the original Early New High German by Ralph Glücksmann. For the original Early New High German version, please see Karl Zeumer, ed., Quellensammlung zur Geschichte der Deutschen Reichsverfassung im Mittelalter und Neuzeit. 2nd ed. rev., vol. 2. Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr-Paul Siebeck, 1913, pp. 341-47.

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