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Swiss Defenders of the Old Faith – Articles of the Nine Members’ Delegates (1525)

In no sector of the Empire did popular regimes resist the new faith as quickly or as decisively as in the Swiss Confederation. The issue split the confederate assembly [Tagsatzung] and pushed it to the brink of war (1529) and then to actual war (1531). At this time, the Confederation consisted of thirteen full members or Orte (literally, "places"): Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Lucerne, Zurich, Zug, Glarus, Bern, Solothurn, Fribourg, Basel, Schaffhausen, and Appenzell, several associate members, and two autonomous but allied rural republics in the Valais and Graubünden. At a 1525 meeting in Lucerne, the delegates of nine members declared their protest against the religious innovations and registered their determination to maintain and defend the old faith against the evangelicals' agitation and attacks. In general, the larger Swiss city-states (Zurich, Basel, and Bern) became solidly Protestant, the older, less commercially developed members (Lucerne, Fribourg, Solothurn, Uri, Schwyz, and others) held to Catholicism, and the autonomous rural republics were mixed.

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These are the articles of the nine members’ delegates, along with the delegates from our dear confederation in the Valais, drafted during the assembly in Lucerne to be taken back for the approval of our lords and superiors. Resolved on Saturday the 28th day of January, in the year etc. 1525.

Through the preaching, writing, and teaching of the Lutheran and Zwinglian followers, and others, it has unfortunately reached the point that in many places, notably in our Confederation, our old true Christian faith has been divided, despised, and mocked in many of its articles – particularly the holy sacrament, also the most worthy virgin and the dear saints – and the holy ordinations and statutes of the Christian church, along with the punishments established for their violation, have been rejected and are no more. Therefore, in order to ensure that humans (who are indeed always more inclined to evil and sin than to good) do not live according to their evil wantonness in great coarseness without fear or punishment, and to ensure that every person does not create his own faith according to his own will* and understanding (a problem that has grown tremendously in these days, while the highest spiritual shepherd of the church and the spiritual magistrates have remained silent and asleep about these concerns), it has seemed good and necessary to our Confederation that we should preempt and investigate, so that we and our associated members may not be poisoned and seduced by such sects, unbelief, and evil.

We have therefore drawn up the articles recorded below and promise to keep them, until such time as such error and division as now exists in our faith may be ended, clarified, and unity reestablished in the church by means of a general Christian council or another appropriate and sufficiently Christian assembly to which our own delegations are called and participate, so that everyone may know where he stands. And we wish to act as befits good Christians.

Part I**
[1.] FIRST, that everyone, whether he be clergy or layman, shall take care and shall entirely avoid, orally or in script, speaking, disputing, writing, or in any other way attacking the twelve pillars of our true Christian faith that are taken by Christian churches from God's true word and have always been firmly held.

[2.] FURTHER, that every one shall restrain himself and avoid speaking, writing, or disputing with anyone in any way against the seven holy sacraments of Christ our preserver, as they are established by the Christian churches from his words, but rather everyone and every Christian person should be zealous to honor, believe, and hold them without any doubt, as the Christian church has ordained and held until now.

[3.] ITEM, no one shall undertake, nor have it in his mind and intention, to make use of, carry out, or distribute the holy sacraments – and particularly the sacrifice of the holy mass – with all of their ordinances, except as the Christian church has established, ordained, and up to now held.

[4.] The holy sacraments should also be distributed, used, and held for us laypeople, as has been established by the Christian church and always done until now.

And also, no layperson shall approach the most honorable sacrament of the altar without prior confession and absolution in the form prescribed by the church, nor should he undertake to desire or take the sacrament in both kinds against the ordination of the Christian churches.

* Literally, "his own head and understanding" – trans.
** The paragraphs from here on are numbered so as to facilitate citation – trans.

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