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Protestant Resistance – The Schmalkaldic League (1531/35)

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This, our Christian League, is not intended to be against His Imperial Majesty, our most gracious lord, or anyone else, but only to sustain Christian truth and peace in the Holy Empire and the German Nation. It is meant, therefore, solely as a defense and protection for us, our subjects, and our relations against unjust coercion. Otherwise, each of us is willing to seek and accept the law's judgment (1).

If an estate who is not a member wishes to join this, our Christian League, he shall be accepted and admitted with the knowledge and consent of all, provided that he himself has accepted the Holy Gospel.

Our Christian League, which shall begin today and remain in force for six consecutive years, will be accepted and held to by each and all of us honestly, loyally, and against any threat.

If it should happen that any member shall go to war with anyone because of God's Word or related grounds, and if the war is not settled before the six years are up, even though the stipulated term has run out and the League itself has [legally] expired, all members shall nonetheless remain steadfast and see the matter through to its end, and no member shall withdraw or take independent action.

This Christian League may be extended, should the parties to it so wish.

We, the aforementioned elector, princes, counts, and urban envoys pledge that these terms and promises shall be maintained firmly, constantly, and consistently, and we shall follow and live by them honorably, loyally, and without reservations, and do nothing that is in any way contrary to them. This we pledge by our honor and dignity, on our word and oath, for ourselves and our heirs or successors, and in accordance with this agreement.

Finally, in order to document, strengthen, and give greater security [to this act], we, the aforementioned elector, princes, counts, and cities, affix our seals. Namely, we Duke John, elector, for us and our son, Duke John Frederick of Saxony, Dukes Ernest for himself and his two brothers, Otto and Francis of [Brunswick-]Lüneburg, deliberately affix our seals to this treaty. Given on Monday after Invocavit Sunday in the year of Our Lord 1531.

(1) "recht geben und nehmen," from the Latin: iustitiam facere et recipere. It means a willingness both to seek redress and to defend one's case before a court – trans.

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