Relations Between City and Bishop.

The Counter-Reformation found centers in Switzerland at Lucerne (see CYSAT, RENWARD), and, somewhat later in the bishopric of Basel. The more difficult task presented itself in Basel, since here the issue was not merely to restore Romanism in a district already half conquered by the Calvinists; there was also a political conflict with the city of Basel, still striving after complete independence and extension of its boundaries. The rights of bishop and municipality often conflicted even before the Reformation; within the episcopal domain, in the modern Bernese Jura, the city possessed sovereign rights at a good many places; the bishop, on the other hand, was not only the spiritual lord of the city, but was endowed with comprehensive rights of sovereignty, being empowered to nominate mayor and council, and the city was pledged to pay him various taxes and the temporal domain of the diocese extended up to the city gates. Before the ecclesiastical agitation, the city of Basel was striving to enlarge its possessions at the expense of the bishopric and of the episcopal rights. In 1521 the municipality, without opposition, relegated all rights of the bishop to the nomination of mayor and council. The introduotion of the Reformation dissolved, in 1529, the last bond between bishop and city, and the chapter moved over to Freiburg im Breisgau. In a treaty with the city, in 1530, Bishop Philip of Gundelsheim (1527-53) permitted the exercise of the new doctrine in certain districts of the diocese. The total dissolution of the bishopric appeared now to be merely a question of time. The city pursued its goal quietly but persistently; more and more parishes were united with it in various ways, but without assuring the status of the Reformation within the diocese; the bishopric was imperial soil, and the religious peace of 1555 expressly excluded the adherents of Zwingli.

Jacob Christoph Introduces the Counter-Refororation.

From 1560 a more vigorous church life was astir in Switzerland on the Roman Catholic side; following Borromeo's visit to St. Gall, Einsiedeln, and Luzerne in 1571, the Counter-Reformation distinctly begins to be perceptible in the original cantons, and even the neglected diocese of Basel was reached. On the death of Bishop Melchior, in 1575, the time of compliance came to a close. At the ensuing election, the youngest of the canons, Jacob Christoph Blarer of Wartensee (b. 1542), with urgent admonitions, elicited from his colleagues the promise to labor to restore the right belief, and then became the electors' choice (June 22, 1575). It was no easy task that he set for himself; the bishopric was involved in debt and ecclesiastically in confusion, and the city unquestionably had the ascendancy. At first Jacob Christoph acted in a friendly manner toward the city, but he inquired into the patronal privileges of the diocese and their legal bases. Relations to the instigator and promoter of the Swiss Counter-Reformation became visible; it was Carlo Borromeo of whom Jacob Christoph requested synodical by-laws, and the decrees of the Council of Trent were proclaimed in the diocese. The decisive step which he ventured was the conclusion of a league with the Roman Catholic cantons of the confederacy, Sept., 1579. This league was a significant fact; the Roman Catholic districts of western Switzerland, Fribourg, and Soleure, until then isolated between Protestant districts, gained a territorial connection with these new allies; the passage to France, a matter of great importance for the Roman Catholic Swiss mercenaries, was thereby secured; and against the city of Basel and its demand for the conversion of the diocese to the Protestant cause stood henceforth the combined Roman Catholic federation. Indeed, the treaty of alliance


was framed expressly for reciprocal protection in religious concerns, even against members of the confederacy, and for the recovery of apostate subjects; only the bishop was not to use force without the allies' consent. In 1580 he came out openly with his designs; he solemnly excommunicated the prominent adherents of the Reformation in Pruntrut, summoned the Protestant congregations of the diocese to return to the Roman Church, dismissed the Protestant preachers, reinstated Roman worship in certain places, and even preached himself, at the most endangered spots. The Jesuit Canisius devised a catechism for the bishopric; a synod, attended by two hundred priests, convened at Delsberg, in Apr., 1581, and conferred concerning a diocesan visitation, the reform of the hierarchy, synodical by-laws, and the revision of the liturgical books.

Settlement of the Contention Between City and Bishop.

The city of Basel and the Protestant cantons had not failed to remonstrate when the bishop's first steps to repress the new doctrine became known. In reply Jacob Christoph affirmed his rights. Disturbances in the districts affected by the bishop then moved the citizens of Basel to bring their grievances before the diet of the confederacy. A court of arbitration was accordingly appointed. which, in the course of two years' proceedings, brought about a solution of the contention, in 1585. Two treaties were concluded: the first secured to the city of Basel the cession of all episcopal claims to sovereignty, both in the city and in the Sissgau and certain neighboring districts, for 200,000 florins; on its part the city renounced all sovereignty rights within the diocese. The cathedral chapter, in compensation for its ancient rights in the city, was to receive an indemnity of 50,000 florins. In the second treaty it was provided that the patronal privileges between Basel and congregations of the diocese should indeed still nominally exist, but that no right of the bishop should be thereby infringed, and that the city should be forbidden to protect subjects against the bishop; in return, the bishop pledged himself to suffer the subjects of the city to adhere to their own religion, merely reserving to himself the right of reinstating Roman Catholic worship. Every one was to enjoy freedom of choice in religion, and neither side should injure the other.

Although both the cathedral chapter and the pope protested against these treaties, it nevertheless appeared that they indicated the only proper course of action. The cession of untenable rights and titles of possession made the bishop unlimited lord in his domain. The city lost its influence over episcopal subjects. The prosecution of church reform no longer encountered insurmountable opposition; everywhere in the diocese the Roman Church recovered firm ground, and the number of Protestants continually decreased. Although the treaty allowed the Evangelicals of Basel free exercise of religion, it soon appeared that the bishop, in virtue of his conceded right of instituting Roman Catholic worship collaterally with the Evangelical, possessed the means of gradually abolishing the latter. The Evangelical subjects were everywhere confronted with the bishop's Roman Catholic officials, from whom they could obtain justice only with difficulty. Though the Reformation maintained itself in most places to about 1595, it was nevertheless constantly decreasing, and at last quite vanished.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: P. Ochs, Geschichte der Stadt und Landschaft Basel, vl. vi., Berlin 1829 J. Burckhardt Die Gegenreformation . . . am Ende des 16. Jahrhunderts, Basel, 1855; A. P. von Segesser, Ludwig Pfyffer und seine Zeit, vols. ii.-iii., Bern, 1880-82; L. Vautrey, Hist. des évêques de Bale, vol. ii., Einsiedeln, 1884.


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