The impact of Lutheranism on cities was significant. During the 16th century, 51 out of 64 imperial cities converted to Lutheranism, the first being Nuremberg in 1525.
German princes played an important role in bringing Lutheranism to the cities. In Luther’s pamphlet entitled, ‘The Address to the Christian Nobility’, he rejected the power of the Pope and called for political action against the Church. He wrote the pamphlet in German and intended for it to be read by the German princes.
He argued that as the Church had corrupted true Christianity, it was the responsibility of the princes to take control of religion in their territories. Luther argued that:
“All Christians are truly of the spiritual estate, and there is no difference among them, save of office alone.”
The fact that cities were more literate meant that Lutheran ideas spread quickly. Some cities and towns endowed preacherships on those who wanted to preach the scripture. In Wurttemberg, 31 per cent of the towns did just this to satisfy public demand. Some preachers gained famed, including Johannes von Staupitz and Geiler von Kaiserberg.
Churches were regulated and bureaucratised in keeping with Luther’s teachings. Government was increasingly run by professional state servants, who were committed to efficiency and moderate but progressive change.
Before a city converted to Lutheranism it underwent a simple process: a Catholic delegate would face a Lutheran delegate in a "disputation" (academic argument) and the city magistrates would decide who had won.
Some cities took longer to convert. For example, in 1522, Regensberg had shown support for Luther but it did not convert until 1542 for fear of angering the Catholic Duke of Bavaria.
There were financial benefits to adopting Protestantism as well. All Catholic property would fall into the hands of the Protestant city. Cities such as Leisnig used these new funds for charity, using the scriptures to defend these donations. In Strasbourg, lay elder cared for the city’s social welfare and to discipline the population under the orders of Martin Bucer.
Lack of evidence makes it almost impossible to know exactly how cities responded to Lutheranism. There are 2,000 cities that have yet to be thoroughly researched, making it impossible to make accurate comments on free cities. But in general, the northern cities tended to convert to Luther, although Cologne in the north remained Catholic.
"The Impact on the Lutheran Faith on Cities". HistoryLearning.com. 2023. Web.