The Zwinglian Reformation in Zurich - article ; n°1 ; vol.8, pg 15-30
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Archives des sciences sociales des religions - Année 1959 - Volume 8 - Numéro 1 - Pages 15-30
16 pages
Source : Persée ; Ministère de la jeunesse, de l’éducation nationale et de la recherche, Direction de l’enseignement supérieur, Sous-direction des bibliothèques et de la documentation.



Publié par
Publié le 01 janvier 1959
Nombre de lectures 54
Langue Français
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo


N. Birnbaum
The Zwinglian Reformation in Zurich
In: Archives des sciences sociales des religions. N. 8, 1959. pp. 15-30.
Citer ce document / Cite this document :
Birnbaum N. The Zwinglian Reformation in Zurich. In: Archives des sciences sociales des religions. N. 8, 1959. pp. 15-30.
doi : 10.3406/assr.1959.2051 ZWINGLIAN REFORMATION
Puritanism own and tism claimed significance church in conception Reformation conflict by legitimation the through has with middle of often the Geneva the from theological Bullinger Reformed of been Zurich extremely the was overlooked 1520s 1519-31 profoundly faith and articulate extended early ecclesiastical and or has teachings successor church minimised affected and been to all active in distinctiveness recognised partial in of by The south Zurich it influence Zwingli opposition German Anabaptists 2) bore Anglicanism of developed of the its some the to Protestan Zwinglian historical Luther Zurich of who and his its
am indebted to the American Philosophical Society and the Central Research Fund
of the University of London for grants in aid of these researches have reported on some of
them in my doctoral dissertation Social Structure and the German Reformation Harvard
university 1958 prepared with the support of Pre-doctoral Fellowship of the Social Science
Research Council also wish to thank Professor Joseph Lortz for introducing me to Reformation
studies and Dr Paul Guyer for placing at my disposal his list of members of the Zurich Council
1515-40 am also indebted to Professor van Müralt Zurich for valuable advice am also
greatful to Dr Werner Schnyder for correcting number of mistakes in an earlier version of
this paper
There has been something of renaissance in Zwingli studies recently see PFISTEB
Die Zwingli Forschung seit 194:5 Archiv für eschichte xlviii 1957) pp 230-4:0
Ernst TBCBLT8CH Die Soziallehren der christlichen Kirchen Gruppen Ges Schriften
Tubingen 1919 hardly mentions it Max Weber dismissed it as of but transitory historical
importance Die protestantische Ethik Geist des Kapitalismus Ges Aufstäze Religions-
îä Tubingen 1920 84 With his usual perspicacity Professor Tawney has seen
that it cannot be dismissed so lightly Religion and the Rise of Capitalism Pelican Edition)
London 1938 pp 104 and 114-15 The brilliant essay by Franz Borkenau On Lutheranism
Hwiwn III 1944) pp 162-76 ought also to be mentioned in this connection
Zwingli Luther Quellen Forschungen Reformations-geschichte
VI) Leipzig 1924 and II QFRG VII) Gutersloh 1953 deals with the political and ecclesiastical
ramifications in this area of the sacramental controversy His Zürcher Ehegericht Genfer
Konsistorium I-II Quellen Abhandlungen Schvieizerischen Reformationsgeschichte VII
X) Leipzig 1924-42 depict the influence of the Zurich Church on the organisation of the
neighbouring ones
Zürcher JShegericht etc and McNiaiL The History and Character of Calvi
nism N.Y 54
traces But for our understanding of the Reformation Zwinglianism has
rather special importance independent of the question of the direct influences it
exerted and of the indirect lines of ecclesiasticaî descent from it The Zwinglian
Reformation poses in small but critical compass sociologcal problem touched
upon by much of the modern historiography of the Reformation the question
of the relationship between capitalism and early Protestantism
Zwinglianism with its radically anti-sacramental doctrines its initial
emphasis on popular participation in Church government however modified by
Zwmgli under political pressures) and above all its ethical attitude to the profane
world of work anticipated in important respects those Calvinist doctrines des
cribed by Max Weber as indispensable to the emergence of that complex of ideas
aspirations and anxieties he designated as the capitalist spirit This is not
the place to rehearse yet once again the controversy over thesis Weber
himself said that he had not proposed to substitute in his words one-sided
idealistic interpretation of history for an equally one-sided materalistic one And
it will be recalled Weber dealt primarily with the seventeenth century variants of
Calvinism But if the Zurich Reformation enables us to see some of the compo
nents of Calvinism in statu nascendi an investigation of its social context may
allow us to consider anew the connection between capitalism and Protestantism
The view that the special characteristics of Swiss Protestantism in general
and of the Zurich Reformation in particular were shaped by the republicanism of
the Swiss cities is familiar We find it in Ranke 8) in the latest survey of the
subject by an authority on Zurich and the recent volume of the CMH 10
But this view clearly raises questions rather than answering them The constitu
tions of the Swiss cities in fact differed some were more others less oligarchic 11
And the formal political institutions of the republics as well as the factual balance
of power within them were legacies of centuries of social conflict Zurich had
throughout the latter half of the fifteenth century experienced violent political
struggles these were produced largely by the opposition of artisanry to
patrici te 12 The Reformation too was accompanied by the conflict of social
strata but we cannot here speak of simple opposition between and
patrici te each was rent by internal divisions of various kinds And to this
complex and changing system of alignments was added the complication of the
relationship between town and countryside Rather than considering the general
characteristics of the society in which the Zwinglian Reformation occurred
therefore we should do well to relate it to the specific pattern of social conflict
of which it was at once the expression and the partial resolution
des Vereins KBESSNEB Be formations Schweizer geschickte Ursprünge OLXX CKitersloh de anglikanischen 1953 C.H Staatskirchentums ABBET The Marian Schriften Exiles
Cambridge 1938
WEBEB op cit
BANKE Deutsche Geschichte im Zeitalter Reformation edited by Joachimsen)
III München 1925 pp 43 ff
MUBAI/T Die Beformation Historia Mundi III Bern 1957 â9
10 The in Zürich 8traseburg and Geneva C.M.H. III 1957
pp 96-7 Bupp does suggest that the cities differed from one another socially)
11 MtTBALT Stadtgemeinde Beformation Schweiz Zechr Schweizerische
Geschichte 1930) pp 349-84
12 DANDLIKEB Geschichte Stadt Kantons Zürich 1908 GVYEB Die
sosiale Schichtung Bürgerschaft Zürichs Ausgang des Mittelalters bis 1798 Zürich 1952
By 1519 Zurich had had generation of relative political stability after
the violent conflicts of the late fifteenth century In these group of newly
wealthy gild masters had challenged the previous ruling elite They sought
further to limit the autonomy of the countryside Peasant and patrician had
joined the artisanry in counter-attack on the the new elite whose wealth had
been won in trade In the ensuing struggles these last two eventually made
common cause to the permanent disadvantage of the patrici te And the peasantry
was soon opposed in turn by all the urban strata
The constitution of 1498 the outcome of these conflicts enabled the artisan
gilds to dominate the state It did not follow that the artisans did so Rather the
politically important gildsmen were often those wealthy masters whose bid for
near monopoly of power had been unsuccessful but who were able to manipulate
the constitution to their own advantage Indeed they effected partial rapproche
ment with the remaining patricians whom they joined in the state service and as
officers in army The artisanry now saw itself governed by unified
political elite despite all the fissures within the latter The process of rapproche
ment between burgher and patrician in fact could not be completed The Refor
mation was to divide all these strata and the omnipresent peasantry and to
recombine them in series of transient camps the period of relative political
stability ended in 1519
The total population of the state of Zurich in 1519 was some 60000 14
Of these 50000 lived in the countryside 5000 in the two town of Winterthur
and Stein am Rhein 5000 in Zurich itself The great German cities of the era
were five or six times the size of urban Zurich The number of male citizens in
1529 was according to the military rolls of the City 923 There were some 200
places in both the Great and Small Council of the government theoretically
every citizen had high chance of holding office 15 Participation in government
no doubt involved bigher proportion of the citizenry than elsewhere but it was
nonetheless limited This discrepancy between theoretical possibility and factual
restriction may very well have acted as political irritant the more so because in
small city politics were of necessity far more visible than in large one For
the moment we need only note that system which in the city was at least
formally representative exercised authority of far more arbitrary sort in the

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