380, 1

In a night in April 1631 pater Athanasius was woken up* by unusual noise and saw a kind of gloaming in front of  his cell’s window.  Finally he got up, curious to find out what caused the twilight. He found the spacious yard of his collegium filled with armoured men and battle horses, standing in rank and file. Shattered he tumbled back and turned to the next sleeping chambers, only to find his brethren in deep sleep. Blaming his drowsy state of being half asleep he returned and had a second look, but nonetheless – there they stood. He turned away and tryed to find another living soul to share and witness what he saw, but found nobody, and finally the vision vanished.
He was deeply moved, felt anxiety and nervousness. Furcht had grabbed his soul, in the coming days he paced the floors and corridors like a madman. The feeling of impending doom was overwhelming, before his inner eye scenes of destruction materialized, he saw all the details “like  in a mirror”. His state of mind did not go unnoticed, confratres asked him what tantalized him so much, finally his superior wanted to know. Athanasius answered, that he felt misfortune and harm coming onwards, not only for the collegium, but for the whole of Franconia and even all Deutschland: “Take care, my father, to bring the treasures of our church to a place of safety. And the house construction your Reverence started will sadly not be finished.” His predictions were met with laughter.

After the battle of Breitenfeld (Ger., Eng.) in September king GUSTAV (Ger., Eng.) advanced to the South of Germany, dividing his army in two columns: One moved over the Thuringian mountains, the other went more to the South and finally followed the valley of the Main river, point of rendezvous for his 30.000 men was Würzburg. The Northern column made short work with the fortress of Königshofen (Ger., Eng.); the protestant Reichsstadt Schweinfurt (Ger., Eng.) took the side of the king on 12th of October; that was the moment when the newly installed Fürstbischof  FRANZ (1596-1642) (Ger.) decided to leave and go to the Rheinland. On the 14th king GUSTAV stood in front of the city’s walls, some suburbs outside were looted, and burnt, immediately. The advance happened with unexpected velocity and momentum, as Athanasius puts it: All lost their head, everyone quickly grabbed his stuff – or what he believed to be necessary – and fled.
They panicked. Within 24 hours, while the enemy was closing in, the collegium was disbanded in total confusion. Rumours about the enemy killing religious people, especially members of the societas Jesu (Ger., Eng.) made the round and fired the state of bewilderment. Athanasius KIRCHER (1602-1680) (Ger., Eng.) was swept away in the chaos and had to leave behind all his writings. He fled first to Mainz, later to Speyer. Finally his superiors decided to sent him to Lyon, later Avignon, where he taught as professor for mathematics, ethics (Moralphilosophie), and Hebraic and Syriac language, as he had done in Würzburg.

* Selbstbiographie des P. Athanasius Kircher aus der Gesellschaft Jesu. Aus dem Lateinischen übersetzt durch Dr. Nikolaus Seng, Fulda 1901, S. 28 ff.



13 thoughts on “380, 1

  1. And Reformed. Three. In the confessio Augustana from 1555 there were three confessions accepted. The paper from Augsburg was a kind of peace treaty – the next important one is the instrumentum pacis from 1648 that ends the thirty years war. These hundred years are incredible, they definitely change the face of Europe, put an end to the middle ages and lay the fundament for the early modern Europe, emphasis on modern.
    The early states – in all caution using the word state here – were divided by dynastic possession, rank within the Reich, form of organisation, economic possibilities, and last but NOT least religious denomination. Kunterbunt.
    Gustav of Sweden had a roaring victory over the emperor’s army led by Tilly in Breitenfeld (September 1631) and swept through the South of Germany in a kind of “Blitz” – storming to his death in Lützen in November 1632. The Southern “states” were led by Fürstbischöfe – a unique construction, where the roman-catholic bishop is the worldly ruler too (Würzburg, Bamberg, Eichstätt, Mainz, and others). Schweinfurt is a Reichsstadt – and as other free cities of the Reich as Nürnberg, Augsburg, Frankfurt (damn rich economical centers) turned towards the protestant denomination, as other dukes did: Thus becoming their own bishops, leading their own religious organisations, churches.
    The division stayed, it was fought out in those thirty years.

  2. Thanks for the additional info. I haven’t studied any details of this part of European history.

    Once Germany formed into a single modern state, did the regions tend to keep their former religious affiliations?

  3. Thank you Wanda. I will write a bit more about this.

    Yes, basically the South is catholic, the North protestant – with all caution, of course there are protestant churches here and catholic ones in Schleswig-Holstein. From the 16th century onwards new (protestant) church organisations were founded and the beginning 17th century saw the Gegenreforation (carried out namely by the SJ, Kircher’s Orden). What we can observe is kind of radicalization in the generations after 1555 that leads towards the big war. After 1650 all is different. The protestant churches are established, and the idea of a “Staat” develops. Gemany as unified state is – together with Italy – a latecomer: 1871 France, the UK, Spain already are states with a tradition, based and rooted in their societies. And the new state is dominated by Prussia, what 1630 is still something lost in the eastern nowhere. Prussia is dominated by the Hohenzollern family, they are protestant to the bone. And of course throughout the 19th century and into the 1920s they work on their legitimation with a line from Luther – Friedrich der Große (Friedrich the second of Prussia) – Wilhelm I (Kaiser of the German Reich), founding emperor 1871. The nazis will use this and draw a line from Friedrich via Bismark (the German emperor’s chancellor) to Adolf (who is originally elected to be deutscher Kanzler).
    excuse me now please, I’ll hug my bed. ask, i’ll answer tomorrow.

  4. Why did some states become protestant and others remained Catholic? Was it truly because of religious beliefs or was it more about political power? And what did Herr Mago enjoy his retail therapy? Inquisitive squirrels want to know.

  5. New header – you really had a lot of work in the last weeks, dear Boxer. I thought about changing it now. History is fascinating, me not so much.

    As always it is a mixture, LGS. First it is important to understand that the state the Roman church was in was definitely poorly. We see a big divide between the higher ranks taken by aristocrats, who lead states as bishops or large organisations as abbots, who generally speaking are politicians of the time; on the other hand we have the poorly payed and badly educated priests who have to held services at churches on the countryside, who do not live any better, sometimes even worse, than the peasants. In a lot of areas the religious communities themselves wanted to hear a reformed preacher, and payed him a wage, with or without the permission of the worldly rulers.
    Even in the Fürstbistum Würzburg protestant service was held in the Dom in the 1550s. The bishops of Bamberg and Würzburg turned the wheel back and re-catholizied their areas; their colleague in Eichstätt was not so sccessfull, here communities simply did not return to the old religion, but of course stayed good middle Franconian citizens.
    The worldly rulers were divided: There are some who really have a religious interest, like the Pfalzgrafen in Heidelberg who slowly wander from Luther into the direction of Calvin. Others like the Bavarian Wittelsbach family are really that catholic, that they do not think into this direction for a second.
    The Reichsstädte clearly see the chance to get rid of bishops and to form their own church organisations, with all the advantages: Money stays in the land (no taxes to Rome), religious controll means social and political control too.
    Some dukes, as the one of Saxony, the duke of Württemberg, clearly think into the same direction – and grab the possibility to get rid of the Roman organisation and taking care of the catholic possessons – houses, land, rights, cash, thus helping the notouriously starving state cassa, and becoming their own bishops.
    Political and economical deliberations play an important role, but personal belief and religious interest of the person in command are important too.

    I’d like The Universe to stop nagging and throw some good stuff in my way, Roses.

    The religious differences are really not that wide or deep that it couldn’t be bridged, Austere, but see my answer to LGS, it always has a social, economical and political dimension too. The first part is mainly transscribed and cited from the German text.

  6. It became pretty adventorous for him until he finally reached Rome, in the late 1630s I think. There he stayed until his death. A writer called him the “pope’s universal scientific weapon”.

    Yes, MsScarlet, follow me to Somerset – isn’t that your neck of the woods?

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