October 11, 1531

For us here in the US, history started in one of several discrete moments. For those of us with Viking ancestry, it begins in Vinland — Newfoundland — around 1000 CE meaning Newfoundland should properly be called, “Nearly-newfoundland.” For others it began in 1607 in Jamestown or 1620 at Plymouth Rock. Yet, events in Europe that occurred long before the colonies began to succeed and endure affected the culture than emerged in America.

One of these events was the Second War of Kappel that happened in Kappel am Albis in near the border between Canton Zürich and Canton Zug, a brief, bloody rout in which 500 soldiers from Protestant Zürich were killed by an army from the five nearby Catholic Cantons.

Zürich had not been Protestant long — in fact, nowhere had been Protestant long. The conversion of Zürich was led by a charismatic preacher, a priest, by the name of Huldrych Zwingli.

Portrait of Zwingli by Albrecht Dürer

When we think of the Reformation now, we think of Tudor England and Martin Luther, but it was a far more complex event. Luther and Zwingli, who were contemporaries, debated over doctrine several times, hoping to find a way to bring their two movements together. Their efforts fell apart over the question of whether the bread and wine changed to the body and blood of Christ during communion. For Luther it did; for Zwingli, no. The two men, from then on, led rival reforms each in his own Imperial city with more or less support from local princes and city leaders.

Each of these reforms increased in size and power until the Pope convened a council in the Imperial city of Speyer in 1529 and declared all reformed religions heresy. Those who practiced these religions — and any other of the emergent non-Catholic religions — were declared heretics.

See the full story at: October 11, 1531

9 thoughts on “OCTOBER 11, 1531 – THIS DAY IN HISTORY”

    1. There’s a lot to learn. Garry found himself intrigued too. He has always believed history is important because how can you understand the news if you don’t know what happened before. But as a Lutheran, he only knew this stuff in that specific context. Here is a new context. Hmm. There’s always more to learn 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. As they say, history is written by the winners. Zwingli is a big hero in Zürich, and some Christian scholars write about him, but the whole story of the Reformation is so much more intricate (and intriguing) than I knew. I was raised passionately anti-Catholic and I didn’t know why. My experiences in Switzerland on my first visit were very strange and intense and are partly why I wonder about the idea of “ancestral memory.” The imprisonment, torture and execution of Anabaptists went on in Zürich until the end of the 17th century. Crazy. These mild, gentle, hard-working peoples’ families were broken up, the children adopted out, the parents killed.

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