The secularisation of the domains of the Teutonic Order in Prussia led to the establishment of the first Lutheran territorial church in the world. This fact is almost forgotten today, and this is evident even in specialised literature on the Reformation. The article outlines the introduction of the Reformation in Prussia, considering it as an example of its smooth and successful entrenchment. In order to show this, the late stage of the rule of the Teutonic Order is defined, showing that fundamental reform was triggered by a multi-layered crisis characteristic of the Order’s domains in Prussia. The article shows that, in coordination with Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchton, and assisted by his bishops, after becoming the first Duke of Prussia in 1525, Albert, the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, implemented reforms in his domains that resembled the main problems raised by the Reformation in an almost exemplary way. But at the same time, it shows that the introduction of the Reformation in Prussia was not a unidirectional process, for Duke Albert supported Andreas Osiander’s ideas for some time, before he gradually entered the ranks of the confessors of Augsburg.
There was no ideal or typical way of establishing the Reformation in Europe, while Church reform in East Central Europe cannot be attributed solely to the influence of the ideas from Wittenberg. Much more important than looking for a causal relationship is to analyse the responses, correlations and interactions. This is done in the article by looking for an answer to the question why Protestantism established itself relatively late in the geographical area called Courland (Kurland, present-day Kurzeme), and more precisely how the creation of the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia (1561–1562) was connected with the establishment of the Evangelical Church in this region. In looking for an answer, the article outlines the challenges faced by the Teutonic Order’s domains in Livonia during the Reformation in the first half of the 16th century. It explores the activities of Gotthard Kettler, the last Master of the Teutonic Order in Livonia (1559–1561), in the conversion to Protestantism, and the creation of the Duchy. Finally, the article discusses how ‘the princely Reformation’ that created new confessional and cultural realities in the northeast of Central Europe during the second half of the 16th century manifested itself in a specific region.
The visual aspects of sepulchral culture in Livonia in the Late Medieval and Early Modern period have been thoroughly studied by art historians. They have analysed the spread and condition of tombstones and epitaphs, as well as the pictorial programmes of monuments. Less attention has been paid to records inscribed on tombstones, which are known both from surviving examples and from old manuscripts. According to Estonian art historians, Lutheranism changed the pictorial programmes of tombstones, and only in the second half of the 16th century put the word into the central position on them. The article seeks to verify this statement on the basis of broader material than has been used so far. For this purpose, the author uses data on all Latin tombstone records known today from Estonian churches (from the 14th century to 1918, they are held in the yet unpublished database Corpus Electronicum Inscriptionum Latinarum Estoniae), and analyses the oldest Livonian occasional poetry (manuscript and printed) from the first half of the 16th century. The article shows that the attempts to write long texts for grave monuments and place them in the dominating position on the tombstone were made in Livonia already before the Reformation, and can be considered a result of the impact of Renaissance humanism.
In the Late Medieval and Early Modern period, tile stoves not only heated premises, but also decorated the homes of those who could afford them. The scenes and figures depicted on the tiles changed according to the broader changes that took place in culture. Images relevant to the Protestants appeared on tiles in the course of the development of the Reformation in Europe, in addition to religious motifs representing Catholic values. But what can the information encoded in the decoration of private spaces tell us about the owners’ religious beliefs and moral values? The article explores the issue by examining the case of a stove made of tiles with ambiguous signs: some of them had a meaning in Catholic culture, others spread after the introduction of Lutheranism, and one tile portrayed an authority relevant to the Anabaptists. Archaeologists have found all these tiles in a closed site on a single plot, a house in a former suburb of Memel (Klaipėda), which itself (and hence the stove) dates back to the 17th century. Not only were contemporaneous tiles used to build the stove, but tiles with symbols from previous periods were also reused. The article provides an interpretation of the contradictory religious signs that appeared on a single stove built in a suburb of Memel.
How were the Reformation and a variety of different confessionalisations manifested in material culture? The article discusses this issue by presenting a dozen examples of works of art relating to the present territory of Latvia. In 1521, when urban citizens there responded to the ideas of the Reformation for the first time, a large part of present-day Latvia belonged to a conglomerate of various holdings called the Livonian Confederation. The religious polarisation of society characteristic of the early period of the Reformation (the 1520s) is represented in works of art discussed in the first chapter. The second chapter discusses works from the period of political instability caused by the First Northern War (1558–1583). It is characterised by Livonia’s political, cultural and confessional division, of which representations can also be seen in many examples of the visual arts.
By the late fifteenth century, more notably after 1477, appeal cases from Catholics in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania began to appear before the Consistory Court in Gniezno in increasing numbers. These cases involved quite a wide social group, and dealt with a broad range of issues (not just matrimonial disputes or the hiring out of parish churches between priests). Appellants came before the judges from across the Grand Duchy. This article covers cases from 1524 to 1539. Even when court material gives few details of cases, it can help solve issues of parish church and chantry foundations and patronage. The most striking feature of the records between 1524 and 1538 is the predominance of cases from Žemaitija, a diocese which previously featured only in disputes involving the bishop. This confirms the deepening of Catholic practice across the diocese of Medininkai (Žemaitija) as reflected in particular in the increasingly predominant use of Christian forenames from the last quarter of the fifteenth century. Most interesting perhaps for those studying the rise of Protestantism in Lithuania will be the occurrence of one Fr Andriejus Mažvydas, parish priest of Alsėdžiai, among the appellant litigants of 1536. This information about a very probable kinsman (uncle, cousin, brother?) of Martynas Mažvydas offers new insights into the Lutheran’s family background and geography.
The Teutonic Order in Prussia recognised and acknowledged its responsibility to catechise both the German-speaking colonists and the native population. The Reformation made no radical changes to these requirements, but gave them serious attention. During the 1540s to the 1560s, several Catechisms for the non-German subjects of the Duke of Prussia were prepared and published in Königsberg, including three in the Old Prussian language. The editor of the first and second Old Prussian-language Catechisms published bilingual books, with the German Catechism on the left-hand page, and the same text on the right-hand page in the Old Prussian language. Reinhold Trautmann established that the source of the Decalogue in these books was Luther’s 1531 Small Catechism. However, he had difficulties confirming the sources of the remaining four parts of the Catechism, since he found a number of words and phrases which could not be identified as coming from Luther’s Catechisms. The article elaborates on Trautmann’s thesis that the source of the German Decalogue is Luther’s 1531 Enchiridion. In addition, it argues that the sources of the remaining parts of the Catechism were German-language catechetical and liturgical texts that were circulating in Prussia at that time.