Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|
Zwingli

When studying the Protestant Reformation, the top two reformers that come to mind are Martin Luther and John Calvin. However, a third, and vitally important, reformer must also be remembered. Huldrych Zwingli lit the touchpaper of the Swiss Reformation and came to be the influential, yet short-lived, founder of the Reformed Protestant denomination. He started his religious career as a Catholic priest and died a martyr on the battlefield, defending Protestantism and having founded the Reformed Church in Zürich. Let's take a look at the life of Switzerland's first generation reformer.

Zwingli Timeline

Zwingli's early experiences in life affected his moral and theological position and influenced his preaching at the Grossmünster. Let's look at a timeline of Zwingli's life as the first leader of the Swiss Reformation.

DateEvent
1484Huldrych Zwingli was born in St Gallen, Switzerland.
1498 – 1506Zwingli underwent education and studied theology in the universities in Vienna and Basel.
1506Zwingli was ordained as a priest and moved to Glarus.Zwingli worked as a chaplain for the Swiss Mercenary Army.
1515Battle of Marignano.
1516Zwingli moved to Einsiedeln.
1518Zwingli was appointed the “people's priest” of Grossmünster in Zürich and began preaching reform.
1520As people's priest, Zwingli was granted permission to preach the “true divine scriptures”.
1522The Affair of the Sausages.
1523January – First Zürich Disputation. Zwingli announced his 67 Artikels and the Swiss Reformed church was founded.October – Second Zürich Disputation.
1528Bern became a Reformed canton. Zwingli helped to form das Christliche Burgrecht.
1529Colloquy of Marburg.First Kappel War.
1530Christoph Froschauer printed the first complete edition of the Zürich Bible.
1531May Das Christliche Burgrecht instigated a blockade on the Catholic Die Christliche Vereinigung.October – Second Kappel War. Heinrich Bullinger assumed leadership of the Swiss Reformation as the new people's priest of Grossmünster. Zwingli died in battle.

Zwingli Biography

Huldrych Zwingli was born into Catholicism but through his experiences of education and as a Catholic priest, he started to advocate reforms to the Catholic faith. Let's look at Zwingli's early life experiences and a timeline of his life to show how he started the Swiss Reformation.

Zwingli Painted portrait of Huldrych Zwingli StudySmarterFig. 1 Painted portrait of Huldrych Zwingli.

Early Life

Zwingli was born in 1484 and received a rich university education, studying theology at the universities in Vienna and Basel. After he was ordained as a priest, Zwingli served as a chaplain for the Swiss Mercenary Army in Glarus.

Switzerland engaged in the Battle of Marignano with France in 1515 as part of Switzerland's expansion ambitions into Italian territory. The battle resulted in 20,000 deaths, the defeat of the Swiss Army, and the 1516 'Perpetual Peace' treaty with France to never engage in conflict again. The treaty marked the beginnings of Switzerland's position of neutrality, but the mercenary army would still fight other countries' conflicts. It was the bloody conflict at Marignano that led Zwingli to oppose the mercenary system in his preaching.

Zwingli's views on the mercenaries caused disruption in Glarus, so he moved to Einsiedeln in 1516 and began to preach parts of his reformation ideas. Zwingli was a skilful debater, which earned him favour with the papacy. Following this, Zwingli was appointed the people's priest of the main Zürich church, the Grossmünster, in 1518.

Zwingli Reformation

The Swiss Reformation began in the 1520s with a series of events that were orchestrated by Huldrych Zwingli. Let's take a look at his starring role in initiating reform in Switzerland.

The Affair of the Sausages

Christoph Froschauer owned a printing house in Zürich during the 1520s, and, as a devoted follower and friend of Zwingli, published many of his works. In 1522, Froschauer held a gathering of Zwinglians to eat meat during the season of Lent. Eating meat was forbidden by the Catholic Church, but Zwingli argued that there was no mention of the fast in the Bible and so it should not be enforced by law.

In a show of liberty, the gathering at the printing house ate dried sausages and used Froschauer's printing to get word out of their rebellion. Zwingli was present at the occasion, but did not eat the meat. Those who did eat were jailed by the Church. Zwingli defended their actions from the pulpit in Grossmünster, and the rebels were eventually released.

Zwingli A painting of swiss reformers pulling down a cross in Zurich StudySmarterFig. 2 The Affair of the Sausages kickstarted the Reformation movement in Zurich. Amidst the rising fervour for Reformation, the partakers in the Affair pulled down a cross in another act of Protestant defiance in Zurich in 1523.

This first act of rebellion against the Catholic Church was Zwingli's example of challenging the laws that the Church imposed on society that were not rooted in scripture. Zwingli was advocating for a divine law which could be found in the Bible rather than based on papal or bishop authority.

The 67 Artikels

Following the growing support for Zwingli's reforms, he wrote and published his 67 Artikels in 1523 during the First Zürich Disputation. It was a similar document to Martin Luther's 97 Theses from 1517, stating Zwingli's criticisms of Catholicism and stating his beliefs. The 67 Artikels laid the groundwork for the Swiss Reformed Church under Zwingli and led to reforms to Zürich life. Zwingli worked to abolish mass religious imagery in Zürich from his position as people's priest. By 1525, Zürich had officially adopted Zwingli's proposals and became the first Reformed canton of the Swiss Confederacy.

Zwingli Religion

So, what did Zwingli's Reformed Protestant religion look like in 16th century Switzerland? At the First Zürich Disputation in January 1523, Zwingli was invited to join the Catholic representatives of Zürich to discuss his reforms. It was at this meeting that Zwingli announced and published his 67 Artikels that advocated a strict adherence to Biblical scripture as authority rather than Catholic bishops or the Pope. Zwingli won the disputation, and the Zürich city council allowed him to continue his method of preaching using scripture.

Later that year, Zwingli was invited to the Second Disputation regarding the religious direction of Zürich's churches. He invited another Reformed priest, Leo Judd, to the proceedings. Judd argued for the abolition of religious iconography, such as images, stained-glass, statues, or other potentially idolatrous imagery. Combined with Zwingli's rejection of Mass, other Catholic traditions, and transubstantiation, the Council agreed mostly with Zwingli's measures but implicated them gradually, allowing churches to decide on the destruction of their statues etc.

Zwingli Photograph of the inside of a Reformed Church StudySmarterFig. 3 The inside of a Reformed Church is very plain to avoid worshipping false images. The writing reads, 'Blessed are those who hear and keep the Word of God,' referencing the strict following of the Bible as the only authority on Christianity.

This marked the beginning of the Reformed Church in Zürich, which took hold with the citizens' rejection of both Christmas and Easter Catholic rites after the Disputations. Zwingli had managed to reform the canton, which now placed scripture as the highest form of Christian authority. It also allowed him to apply his hopes of changing Zürich into a society whereby the Bible is the sole authority for both religious and secular issues.

Zwingli Beliefs

Similar to Martin Luther's reforms in Germany, Zwingli agreed that the Catholic Church required reforming due to its gradual degradation through corruption. In particular, Reformers wished to address the sale of indulgences by the Catholic Church, one of the key sources of corruption that was permitted by the Papacy.

Zwingli's beliefs proposed reforms to both Swiss religious practices and societal practices in general. Let's look at how Zwingli wanted to change the Church.

  • Follow the principle of sola scriptura whereby the Bible and religious scripture is the sole authority for Christians.

  • The Eucharist (breaking of bread and drinking of wine a.k.a. Mass) is a "commemorative rite" rather than the actual transubstantiation of the bread and wine into Jesus' body and blood. Zwingli believed Mass should be a simple representation rather than a miracle.

  • Zwingli believed that the clergy should be allowed to marry and not be celibate, as many broke this rule anyway.

  • Zwingli also believed that the canton government ruled through divine right. This meant that after Zürich adopted his reforms, the state government and the church merged, and Christian conduct was expected through all areas of society.

  • Another of Zwingli's beliefs was in the dissolution of the mercenary system, which Reformed cantons adopted.

Luther Zwingli

Both Martin Luther and Huldrych Zwingli were active at similar times in Germany and Switzerland respectively. A German prince, Philip of Hesse, was converted to protestantism by the preachings of Luther and corresponded with Zwingli about uniting the Protestant faith in Europe to oppose the Catholic Habsburgs. To unite the faith, which was fragmenting into denominations through slight differences of theology and practices, Philip of Hesse hosted the Colloquy of Marburg in 1529. It was a showdown between Lutheranism and Zwinglianism to discuss the Reformation, and had the aim of uniting the German and Swiss reformers.

Zwingli Painting of the Colloquy of Marburg StudySmarterFig. 4 This painting depicts the Colloquy of Marburg. After the Diet of Speyer in April 1529 concluded in a majority against the Reformation, Philip of Hesse was determined to unite the Protestant churches to form an alliance against their potential persecution by Catholics. The Colloquy failed to fully unite Luther and Zwingli as Protestant denominations continued to form throughout Europe.

The two protestant powerhouses agreed on 14 of the 15 Articles of Marburg. However, the fifteenth was contested and regarded the presence of Christ during the sacrament of Eucharist. Zwingli believed it was a purely symbolic event, whilst Luther argued that Jesus was spiritually present during the activity. This disagreement led to the irreversible split with Lutheranism and Zwingli's Reformed Protestant Church, and characterised how the Protestant denominations continued to fracture throughout the world rather than unite against Catholic oppression.

Anabaptism

Another example of how Protestantism continued to fragment throughout Europe after Zwingli and Luther's initial reforms can be seen with the Anabaptist faith. The Anabaptists were inspired by Zwingli but argued for further radical reform. Anabaptists were named after their belief that adults should have a second baptism. They argued that in the Bible, baptism was a ritual where the devotee consented to the remission of sins. Seeing as infants cannot consent, Anabaptists claimed that infant baptism was unBiblical and therefore chose to baptise consenting adults. This was seen as heretical and too radical for both Zwingli and Luther, who agreed to the persecution of Anabaptists. Famous denominations that sprung from Anabaptism include the Amish community and the Mennonites.

Zwingli Significance and Legacy

Huldrych Zwingli is known as the progenitor of the Swiss Reformation, and successfully established his Reformed Protestant faith in 4 of the 13 Swiss cantons (Zürich, Basel, Bern, Schaffhausen), whilst also spreading into other coexistent cantons of Appenzell and Glarus. He created a loyal following and used his connections with the likes of printer Christoph Froschauer to spread his ideas of Reformation throughout the country. Froschauer published Zwingli's Swiss German translation of the Bible in the year of Zwingli's death, in 1531. By using the country's language, the so-called Zürich Bible became the popular common book for Swiss Reformed churches at the time.

Unfortunately, Zwingli's legacy within the Reformed Protestant church is often tarnished by his aggressive zeal for a United Reformed Switzerland. He was prepared to forcibly convert Catholics and unite Reformed cantons to invade Catholic cantons (as was seen with The Kappel Wars). Zwingli's ambitions to dictate a Protestant ethic throughout the whole of Swiss society led to his downfall, and he was killed on the battlefield of the Second Kappel War in 1531.

Zwingli Portrait of Heinrich Bullinger StudySmarterFig. 5 Heinrich Bullinger succeeded Zwingli as the head of the Swiss Reformation.

However, Zwingli's close associate Heinrich Bullinger succeeded him as both people's priest of Grossmünster in Zürich and head of the Swiss Reformation. Bullinger introduced better moderation in light of Zwingli's aggression, and managed to create an alliance with French Reformer John Calvin (who was leading Reformation movements in Geneva at the time). Once Calvin adopted Bullinger's Helvetic Confessions, the Reformed faith spread across Europe, uniting many churches through Calvin's connections.

It was Zwingli's proposals that kickstarted the Swiss Reformation, but it was his successors who managed to export a better strategy to spread the Reformed Protestant faith across the globe.

Zwingli - Key takeaways

  • Huldrych Zwingli was born in 1484 in St Gallen. He studied extensively at the Universities of Basel and Vienna to develop a rich theological education.
  • Zwingli served as a chaplain in the Swiss Mercenary Army in Glarus. Combined with his experience studying scripture, Zwingli began to formulate his ideas of Swiss reformation, including adhering solely to scripture, and abolishing mercenaries in Switzerland.
  • When Zwingli became the people's priest of the Grossmünster in Zürich in 1518, he had more scope to preach his ideas.
  • The Swiss Reformation began with the 1522 Affair of the Sausages, which Zwingli observed to offer theological justification. After the First and Second Zürich Disputations in 1523, Zürich became the first reformed canton of Switzerland which followed Zwingli's ideas, known as the 67 Artikels.
  • Zwingli believed in similar reforms to Martin Luther, but treated the Eucharist as a commemorative rite without the physical or metaphorical presence of Christ during the ritual. This led to splits in Protestantism at the Colloquy of Marburg.
  • Zwingli advocated a Protestant society governed by the Church and scripture. The idea for a United Reformed Switzerland led to his ambitions of aggressive Protestant expansion throughout the country, and eventually led to his death at the Second Kappel War in 1531.

References

  1. Fig. 2 Swiss reformers pulling down the cross (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carolinum_Z%C3%BCrich_-_Stadelhofen_-_Reformationschronik_von_1605_Heinrich_Bullinger_2015-11-06_17-09-52.JPG) by Roland zh (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Roland_zh) licensed by CC BY SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en)
  2. Fig. 3 Inside a Reformed Church, Valendas (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Reformed_Church_Valendas_04.jpg) by Caumasee (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Caumasee) licensed by CC BY SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en)
  3. Fig. 4 Painting of Colloquy of Marburg (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Religionsgespr%C3%A4ch_zu_Marburg_1529_August_Noack.jpg) by HEN-Magonza (https://www.flickr.com/photos/hen-magonza/) licensed by CC BY SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en)

Frequently Asked Questions about Zwingli

Zwingli's followers were originally called Zwinglians. His faith eventually developed into the Reformed Protestant faith.

Zwingli did not agree with the corruption of the Catholic church and wanted Christians to live by the authority of the Bible rather than the Papacy.

Zwingli initiated the Swiss reformation and reformed several Swiss cantons. He also produced the Zürich Bible in Swiss German which allowed for better reach of the biblical scriptures throughout the country. Zwingli's aggressive ambitions of spreading the Reformation throughout Switzerland by force initiated the Kappel Wars in 1529 and 1531. The bloodshed was unpopular with the Reformed Church and it introduced moderation under Heinrich Bullinger, Zwingli's successor, to better success. Zwingli paid the price for his expansions as he died on the battlefield in the Second Kappel War in 1531.

Huldrych Zwingli famously started the Swiss Reformation in 1522 following the Affair of the Sausages.

Zwingli believed that Christians should only respond to the authority of the Bible and religious scripture. He also wanted to abolish the Swiss mercenary system and create a United Reformed Switzerland, reforming every canton.

Final Zwingli Quiz

Question

When was Huldrych Zwingli born?

Show answer

Answer

1484

Show question

Question

Which Swiss battle did Zwingli observed that informed his opposition to the Swiss Mercenary system?

Show answer

Answer

Battle of Marignano

Show question

Question

Which position did Zwingli hold in the Grossmünster in Zürich from 1518?

Show answer

Answer

People's priest

Show question

Question

Which event kickstarted the Swiss Reformation?

Show answer

Answer

The Affair of the Sausages

Show question

Question

When was the Affair of the Sausages?

Show answer

Answer

1522

Show question

Question

Which of Zwingli's associates owned a printing house?

Show answer

Answer

Christoph Froschauer

Show question

Question

Zwingli ate sausages during the Affair of the Sausages. True or False?

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

Which document did Zwingli publish after the First Zürich Disputation in 1523?

Show answer

Answer

The 67 Artikels

Show question

Question

By which year had Zürich become the first reformed canton of Switzerland?

Show answer

Answer

By 1525

Show question

Question

Which key associate of Zwingli aided the Second Disputation of Zürich to abolish religious imagery and statues?

Show answer

Answer

Leo Judd

Show question

Question

Zwingli wanted to extend the Reformed Faith to Swiss society in general, rather than simply religious practices. True or False?

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

How did Zwingli regard the Eucharist?

Show answer

Answer

It was a commemorative rite and Jesus is not present during the activity

Show question

Question

Who hosted the Colloquy of Marburg in 1529?

Show answer

Answer

Philip of Hesse

Show question

Question

How many Swiss cantons did Zwingli successfully reform?

Show answer

Answer

4 out of 13

Show question

Question

In which conflict did Zwingli die in 1531?

Show answer

Answer

The Second Kappel War

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Zwingli quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.