16 February 2017 to 14 May 2017
1040 Vienna, Karlsplatz 8
P: +43 (0)1 505 87 47
F: +43 (0)1 505 87 47 7201
Martin Luther’s critique of the sale of indulgences in 1517 was the spark that ignited the Reformation. Marking the 500th anniversary of Luther’s publication of his 95 Theses, the exhibition recalls the decades when Vienna was a majority-Protestant city.
Renaissance Humanism, the discovery of the Americas, and the invention of the printing press fundamentally altered the European worldview around 1500. Vienna, too, was undergoing transformation. University life was blossoming, and important scholars bestrode the city. Luther’s ideas fell on fruitful ground, even finding favor with Emperor Maximilian II. Yet his successors refused to tolerate any form of Protestant worship, forcing much of the population to take refuge in the castles on the outskirts of Vienna. Hernals, in particular, became a significant center of Protestant culture.
The Reformation survived the triumphal years of the Viennese Counter Reformation in secret and in the chapels of foreign legations. Joseph II’s Patent of Toleration (1781), a declaration that accorded a circumscribed freedom of religious expression to Lutherans and Calvinists, rounds out the exhibition.
Three outstanding original documents – a printing of Luther’s theses (1517), the Augsburg Confession (1530), and the Peace of Augsburg (1555) – bring the exhibition beyond the horizons of Vienna.
Religious Conflict after Luther