The Beginnings of the Reformation in the Light of Gdańsk and Königsberg Chroniclers of the First Half of the 16th Century. The Activity of the First Reformers
Początki reformacji w świetle relacji kronikarzy gdańskich i królewieckich z pierwszej połowy XVI wieku. Działalność pierwszych reformatorów
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The article poses the question about the possibility to define the moment when the Reformation appeared in Prussia. In the literature of the subject matter it is hard to find one answer to thi question. The scholars most frequently give the year 1518 – the year when Jacob Knade of Gdańsk left the Order and got married. The author reminds the critical analysis by Paul Simson, who showed that the year 1518 resulted from the erroneous interpretation of the subsequent sources. The author poses the question to the narrative sources written in Gdańsk and Königsberg which resemble personal accounts – none of them recognizes the above mentioned event connected with Knade. Moreover, the accounts mention the Reformation for the first time in the years 1522–1523. Simon Grunau was the first to write about the Reformation in the spring of 1522. In the article the chronicle by Bernt Stegmann of 1528, the chronicle by Simon Grunau (1517–1530) and chronicles by the city’s notaries of the Old City of Königsberg Johann Beler (1519–1523) and Caspar Freiberg (ca. 1548) were used. The chroniclers reveal the chaos of the first years of the Reformation. They associate the beginnings of the Reformation in the cities with the speeches of Lutheran preachers. The accounts provided by Simon Grunau – travelling between Gdańsk and Königsberg – are the most comprehensive. Some Lutheran preachers are presented by him as people without a past, of unknown background. Others, such as Amandus and Speratus, are accused of Jewish origin and plotting against Christians. All of them – Stegmann, Grunau, Freiberg and Platner underline the threat brought about by the activity of the Lutheran preachers for the life and order in the city. Stegmann blames Jacob Hegge and Johann Franck for instigating to violence. Grunau, who analyzed the origin of the movement and ideas of Luther, considers Prussian uneducated supporters of Luther – Jacob Hegge and Johann Amandus – to be the most pernicious. Moderate preachers such as Alexander Sveniche, Johann Poliander and Michael Meurer – educated people respecting peace and rejecting blasphemy – were presented in the positive light. Such opinions are the evidence that the chroniclers (Grunau, Stegmann, Platner) saw the need to introduce certain reforms and do away with abuses in the Church.
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