Catherine’s Tirade at Wolsey – Second Diet of Speyer – The First Protestants
On a hot day in 1529, Catherine of Aragon launched a tirade against Cardinal Wolsey. Wolsey’s gentleman usher, George Cavendish, describes Wolsey under pressure, caught between the Boleyns and Catherine and to this is added Edward Hall's account of the showdown.
An Imperial assembly was called at Speyer. Called the Second Diet of Speyer, it opened on 15 March 1529. In Charles’s absence, his brother Ferdinand was again the host. His opening proposition to the diet was to condemn the way in which the edict issued at the First Diet of Speyer (in 1526) had been interpreted. The German states had taken it to mean that they each had the right to make what religious reforms they chose. Ferdinand now denied them any such right, in addition to which he demanded that the old religion be enforced in all states. He also forbade all innovations and threatened not only the Anabaptists but also the Zwinglians with annihilation. These attacks aroused several of the powerful cities in southern Germany, which felt themselves in sympathy with the new doctrines.
The implicated cities and states responded by way of a Protestation on 19 April 1529. The German princes and towns defended themselves on a principle formulated by the Saxon Chancellor Gregor Bruck: ‘In matters concerning God’s honour and the salvation of households, each man has the right to stand alone and present his true account before God on the last day no man will be able to take shelter behind the power of another, by a small all great.’ This was signed by the Elector of Saxony the Landgrave of Hesse, Margrave George, the Prince of Anhailt and the ambassador of the Dukes of Luneburg together with the southern cities.
Those who protested have since become known as the Protestantes. Their alliance was the foundation for the formation of the Schmalkaldic League, a military-backed confederation against the Holy Roman Empire in which Thomas Cromwell would embroil himself.