The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Schmalkaldic League

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SCHMALKALDIC LEAGUE, the league formed at the close of 1530 by the Protestant princes of Germany, assembled at Schmalkalden, to resist the aggressive measures contemplated by the Emperor Charles V. It ultimately included the whole of northern Germany, Saxony, Würtemberg and Denmark, with portions of Bavaria and Switzerland. The object of the league was the common defense of the political and religious freedom of the Protestants, and the confederacy was first intended to continue only for six years, but subsequent events induced them in 1535 to renew it for another period of 10 years, and to raise a permanent army to carry out the objects of the league. About this time it was joined, among others, by the king of France, Francis I, though only from political motives, and Henry VIII of England declared himself its protector. The confederacy received a fuller consolidation by a new Protestant confession, drawn up at the instance of John Frederick of Saxony by Luther and other divines, and known as the Articles of Schmalkalden, from the circumstance of their having been signed (1537), like the league itself, at the town of Schmalkalden. These articles were essentially the same as those of the Confession of Augsburg. The league was latterly crippled by mutual jealousy and the conflict of interests, and its early successes in the so-called Schmalkalden War were ultimately more than outweighed by the complete rout at Mühlberg and the capture of John Frederick. The ends of the league, however, were ultimately gained through the instrumentality of Duke Maurice, now Elector of Saxony, who in 1552 declared war against the emperor, and forced him in 1552 to grant the Treaty of Passau, which secured the religious liberty of the Protestants. See also Charles V; Reformation, The.