Peace of Augsburg (1555)

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The Peace of Augsburg was the designation of the agreement reached at the Imperial Diet of Augsburg on 25 September 1555, among the states of the Holy Roman Empire that granted to adherents of the Augsburg (Lutheran) Confession equality of rights with the Catholics. The Reformed, i.e., all followers of Zwingli and Calvin (called Sacramentarians) and the Anabaptists and all the "sects damned" by Recesses of the Imperial Diet were excluded from this "religious peace." It must not be assumed that this document is an expression of freedom of religion or of tolerance in the modern sense. It is far from that. Only to the rulers was freedom granted to decide which one of the "two religions" should be legally established in their lands. Subjects were required to accept the religion of the ruler, but were permitted to leave the country without loss of goods or honor if they differed. But this applied only to Lutherans and Catholics. Thus the reprehensible, disastrous principle of cuius regio eius religio was elevated to the rank of imperial law. Especially detrimental to Protestantism was the "ecclesiastical reservation," whereby a Catholic ruler who was also a bishop or other church official would lose his church office and all secular power as well as the income accruing from his land if he transferred to Protestantism. In any case his subjects would remain Catholic.

In the tedious negotiations, lasting almost a year, it is of especial interest to note that the Palatinate demanded that freedom of worship be granted all subjects, except the "condemned sect." Hesse pleaded for the groups related to the Augsburg Confession, whereas the Duke of Württemberg expressly demanded the exclusion of the Sacramentarians and Anabaptists. It is obvious that in this assemblage of princes the idea of giving religious freedom to the Anabaptists could not arise; their condemnation was agreed upon by all.


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 92.

Ritter, M. "Der Augsburger Religionsfriede." Historischen Taschenbuch (Leipzig, 1882): 212.

Wolf, Gustav. Der Augsburger Religionsfriede. Stuttgart: Göschen, 1890.

Author(s) Christian Neff
Date Published 1953

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Neff, Christian. "Peace of Augsburg (1555)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 17 Aug 2022.

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Neff, Christian. (1953). Peace of Augsburg (1555). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 17 August 2022, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 186. All rights reserved.

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