Andreas Karlstadt

Andreas Rudolf Bodenstein called Karlstadt (c. 1486 in Carlstadt, † December 24, 1541 in Basel ) was a German reformer of the 16th century.

  • 2.1 Lord's Supper
  • 2.2 Responsibility question
  • 2.3 Pictures question


Andreas Bodenstein probably came from the bourgeois leadership of his hometown. When his father the winemaker Peter Bodenstein is assumed, which is occupied in 1481 as mayor. The young Andreas probably first attended the local grammar school before it was founded in 1499 enrolled at the University of Erfurt. This he left in 1503 with the degree of bachelor and moved to the University of Cologne, where he became acquainted with the teachings of Thomas Aquinas.

Work before the Reformation

1505 went Karlstadt at the newly founded University of Wittenberg, where he was still a PhD in the same year MA. In the following years he worked as a lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and held primarily Lectures on Thomas Aquinas, but sat apart among other things, with the writings of John Duns Scotus and William of Ockham. In 1510 he was ordained a priest and was briefly a doctorate on a Doctor of Theology and took a job in 1511 as a lecturer at the Faculty of Theology at, with which also the Archdeacon of the Collegiate Church of All Saints ( Castle Church ) was connected. In addition, he made ​​several senior positions at the university. As dean, he received his doctorate in 1512, Martin Luther to the doctor of theology. At the same time he continued his university education continued in the legal field. 1516, he acquired during a prolonged stay in Italy, during which he also worked as a clerk at the Curia, doctoral degrees in both laws.

First, opponents of Luther's turn to the theology of Augustine of Hippo, he later developed for followers of this church father. He was also influenced by the writings of John of Staupitz and the mysticism of John Tauler.

Karlstadt as the Wittenberg reformer

1518 opened Karlstadt with the Apologeticae Conclusiones in which he on the relationship between human will and divine grace took position among others who struggle with Johannes Eck. In the Leipzig Disputation in 1519 he limited himself to these issues and held back on the issue of papal primacy. Eck held after an understanding with Karlstadt still possible, but not with Luther.

Only after the papal bull threatening excommunication Exsurge Domine against Luther and his followers in 1520 took Karlstadt an open break with the Pope and the Church tradition.

For a short time he worked in Denmark, but soon returned to Wittenberg. There he was during Luther's stay at the Wartburg to the main protagonists of the Wittenberg movement. Neither the City Council nor Melanchthon put against this great resistance.

Karlstadt preached for a renewal of worship, the abolition of the images of the saints and of sacred music, which still were holding his opinion of the devotion and celibacy. A central question for him was the celebration of the sacrament in both kinds, ie distribution of bread and wine to the community. For Christmas 1521 Charles City celebrated the first Mass in Protestant German. He wore this secular dress and celebrated the Lord's Supper in both kinds, the laity took the cup into his own hands. In order for the mediation of salvation was virtually abolished by priests. His marriage to Anne of Mochau beginning of the year 1522 witnessed his break with celibacy. Finally, in February 1522, there were riots and riots in removing the images from the churches.

To end this, the city council, Luther called for help, the Wartburg left against the advice of the Elector Frederick and gave his Invocavit sermons in March 1522. In these he criticized the implementation of the Reformation thoughts by Karlstadt, because that took no account of the weak. At the same time, Luther placed the old forms of worship restore and put a ban on preaching for Karlstadt and censorship and seizure of his writings by the University through ..

Disappointed by Luther, he retired from the University of Wittenberg and on an acquired asset in Wörlitz back and operational agriculture there.

Pastor in Orlamünde

In the summer of 1523 Karlstadt was elected pastor of Orlamünde, after the community had fallen out with his predecessor because of the tithe services. Here he continued the Reformation, with the support of the community in his senses through, reformed the liturgy, abolished infant baptism and removed the organ and the holy pictures. He took the entire Saaletal influence on the Reformation movement. In particular, to Jena, where at that time had Martin Reinhart evangelical as the first parish priest and Gerhard Westerburg, he maintained close contacts. There are also several of his writings were printed.

In many ways, such as images and question the Lord's Supper resembled his positions which Zwingli and Calvin. A short time he was with Thomas Müntzer in connection, but joined the Allstedt fret not at, as he rejected violence as a means to enforce the Reformation. The church in Orlamünde behaved passively while later, according to peasant unrest. In the rejection of violence and in the design of a standing apart from the world community its positions also resembled those of the 1525 -emergent Swiss Anabaptists. Nevertheless, Luther saw in him a trailer Müntzer and operated his dismissal and expulsion. In August 1524 came during Luther's visitation by Thuringia to two disputations in Jena and Orlamünde. Then Karlstadt was reported in September 1524 from the Electorate of Saxony.

More Stations

The following period was characterized by a restless wanderings that led him through several Upper German cities. However, he was expelled again everywhere for a short time. With the assistance of Luther in 1525 he could after he had revoked his doctrine of the Eucharist, return to Wittenberg, but remained of preaching and university excluded. 1529 he returned Electorate finally back. He initially turned to northern Germany. During an eight -month stay in East Frisia ( including in Pilsum ), he met with the Baptist Melchior Hofmann.


1530 went Karlstadt with the intermediate stations Strasbourg and Basel to Zurich, where he worked first as a deacon of the hospital and took the pastorate in 1531 Altstaetten, which he had to give up again in the Second Kappel War due to the victory of the orthodox cantons. Subsequently, he worked in Zurich at the school of the cathedral. In intercession Heinrich Bullinger, he became a lecturer in 1534 and priest in Basel. In 1537 he was rector of the University of Basel. After an eventful life he died there in 1541 on Christmas night of the plague.

Work and works

First, promoters and companion of Luther, Karlstadt soon developed its own Reformation conception. In particular, in his ideas of the laity expertise, he went further than many other reformers.

Lord's Supper

In 1524 he opened with a treatise on the Lord's Supper the eucharistic controversy between Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli, which contributed to the split between Wittenberg and Upper German Reformation.

Author question

Whether Karlstadt is the author of the anonymous, published in 1525 Peasant War pamphlet at the meeting common peasantry, is controversial in historical research and not yet proven.

Images question

But (got klag ego ) My heart is auff yn of youth rather erbiethung VND wolachtung the effigy ertzogen VND auffgewachßen. VND I entered a schedliche Forcht / I am happy wolt endletigen / and kan nit. Alßo I stand in Forcht / I dorfft olgotzen keynen burn. I hette carefully the Teuffels fool mocht beleydigen me. How I want the Scripture ( at a teyll ) have / and white. dz images not vermogen / also do not have to live / bluth / to Spirit. Idoch helt me Forcht at the other teyll / and make / I me from eynem painted teuffell / before eynem schatwen / before eynem gereusch a leychten bletlins Forcht / and flihe the / I menlich Search solt.

Quote: Andreas Bodenstein: From abtuhung the Bylder. Wittenberg 1522

Andreas ground stone radical call for elimination of the images seem as an attempt to dissolve in an act of violence by their own images of fear. Iconoclasm became a symbolic break with his former " idolatry ".