The Fifteen Confederates was published anonymously in the autumn of 1521, shortly after Martin Luther’s hearing at the Diet of Worms and subsequent disappearance. The fifteen pamphlets that make up the book address religious, social, economic, and political challenges facing the German people. Their author, Johann Eberlin von Günzburg, became one of the most prolific and popular pamphleteers of the German Reformation. As an important contribution to the pamphlet war that accompanied the beginnings of the Reformation in Germany, The Fifteen Confederates gives us a valuable window onto the aspirations and dreams that accompanied Luther’s initial calls for reform of the church and society.
About the Author
Geoffrey Dipple is Professor of History at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. His research interests include Reformation Anticlericalism and the Radical Reformation. He has published widely in the history of the Reformation, including Antifraternalism and Anticlericalism in the German Reformation (1996) and “Just as in the Time of the Apostles”: Uses of History in the Radical Reformation (2005).
List of Illustrations
Note on Translation
1. The First Confederate
A pitiful complaint to the Christian Emperor Charles concerning Doctor Martin Luther and Ulrich von Hutten. Also concerning the courtiers and mendicant friars. That His Majesty not allow himself to be led astray by such people.
2. The Second Confederate
Concerning the forty day fast before Easter and others, and how wretchedly the Christian people are burdened by them.
3. The Third Confederate
An admonition to all Christians that they take pity on cloistered women.
4. The Fourth Confederate
On the long, wearisome braying which the spiritual monks, priests, and nuns call the canonical hours.
5. The Fifth Confederate
An exhortation to all authorities of the German Nation that they reform the pulpit.
6. The Sixth Confederate
Erasmus of Rotterdam, a prince among learned men in our age, writes about the preaching of the mendicant friars in the book entitled Encomion Morias.
7. The Seventh Confederate
In praise of parish priests.
8. The Eighth Confederate
Why Sir Erasmus of Rotterdam is translated into German. Why Martin Luther and Sir Ulrich von Hutten write in German.
9. The Ninth Confederate
To all Christian authorities, both worldly and spiritual, of the German Nation, a wretched, fervent lamentation of all God-fearing monks, nuns and priests that one should come to their aid and save them from their unchristian neighbors.
10. The Tenth Confederate
New statutes concerning reform of the spiritual estate which Psittacus brought from the land of Wellfaria.
11. The Eleventh Confederate
A new ordinance concerning the secular estate written in Wellfaria, as described by Psittacus.
12. The Twelfth Confederate
A friendly response of all God-fearing, decent, reasonable people in the German land to the pitiful complaint made to them by those in orders.
13. The Thirteenth Confederate
A hopeful exhortation to the upright, honorable, strong, and Christian lords, officials, and subjects of the Common Confederacy (known as the Swiss) that they faithfully help to preserve evangelical teaching and devout Christians.
14. The Fourteenth Confederate
Sir Erasmus of Rotterdam reveals in the book Encomion Morias the shameful service we render to the saints.
15. The Fifteenth Confederate
To each and every believer in Christ, a wholesome warning to guard against new, dangerous teachings.
Name and Subject Index
Endorsements and Reviews
Eberlin’s pamphlets relate to Luther’s idea of reforming aspects of the Catholic Church, the papacy, monasteries, parishes, clerics, and rituals. This volume is an essential work for those interested in early German Reformation religion and culture.
Richard G. Cole, Professor of History Emeritus, Luther College, Iowa
The Fifteen Confederates takes English-speaking students of the German Reformation to the heart of the early, popular movement for evangelical reform. Its tracts present a blistering critique of the corruptions in both the church and secular society, as well as the idealistic – even utopian – hopes for a brighter future. [Dipple’s] translations are both accurate and readable, and his explanations of difficult terms and passages are illuminating.
Michael Baylor, Professor of History, Lehigh University, Pennsylvania
Reading Geoffrey Dipple’s lively translation … one senses the development of the Reformers’ thinking – from reform from within, towards root and branch reform that would be founded on Biblical preaching and the vernacular Bible … one is taken into the middle of the debates in the early years of the Reformation in a way that captures the imagination.
Richard Cleaves, in Congregational History Society Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 5
As the author of an important monograph on Eberlin, Dipple is well qualified to rectify that deficiency by offering a translation and introduction which reflect the most recent scholarship. … a fine edition, which will be of great use to students of the Reformation who do not have German.
Tom Scott, in Modern Believing, Vol 57.2
This translation is a valuable introduction to the early Reformation. It can be assigned in the classroom and is also a handy reference work because of Dipple’s explanations of terminology.
Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte, Vol 44, 2015