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Catholics Cleanse Salzburg of Protestants

by Frank L. Perry, Jr., President, The Georgia Salzburger Society

Salzburgers Expelled in Snowstorm,1731. (Artist, Hong Min Zou, Permission: The Richard C. Kessler Enterprise)

SALZBURG. Salzburg's ancient history dates from about 700 B. C., when Celtic people settled the upper Danube Valley. Roman legions from Emperor Julius Caesar, 59-44 B. C., marched north through the beautiful mountain passes from Italy. Nearby, the "salt mountain," Salzburg, "salt city," raised its peak into the sky above the Saltza River. Celtic miners dug a shaft more than 1,000 feet deep through rock and clay to extract the salt bed. Their salt monopoly generated prosperity for the community and a tradition developed by the seventeenth century of sealing oaths by licking a cake of salt in the presence of witnesses.(1) Gold, silver, copper, iron, gypsum and marble mining increased the wealth of the region.

SALZBURGER EXPULSION. In Salzburg, a sovereign church-state (now Austria), on October 31, 1731, the 214th Anniversary of Martin Luther's Reformation, Roman Catholic Archbishop Count Leopold von Firmian (also, secular Prince) signed his Edict of Expulsion, Emigrationspatent, demanding that all Protestants recant their non-Catholic beliefs or be banished(2). It was signed October 31, 1731, Reformation Day, to be read publicly November 11, 1731, the anniversary of Luther's baptism. Firmian was surprised when 21,475 citizens professed on a public list their Protestant beliefs and were forced into exile from 1731 - 1734.

Luther's "Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms" affirmed the Christian's duty to obey the magistrate, unless contrary to God's Word. In the latter case, he recommended emigration instead of armed resistance.(3)Luther identified with Jesus who "suffered under Pontius Pilate." Jesus did not attack the authority of Pilate, who was the functionary, statesman, politician doing the "politically correct" thing to please the Sanhedrin, maintain civil order and protect his own position of power (4).Therefore, the Salzburger emigres identified with Jesus and Luther, submitting to legal authority.

Archbishop Count Leopold von Firmian

Edict of Expulsion (Emigrationspatent)(5)

We Leopold, by the Grace of God, Archbishop of Salzburg, Legate of the Holy See Apostolical, and Primate of Germany, &c. To all our Vice Deans, Bailiffs, Provosts, Governors, their Substitutes, Judges, and to all our Officers and Subjects,

Greeting: Know ye, that having heard, contrary to all Expectation, that a great Part of our Subjects, living in the Mountains, had rebelled against us, their lawful Prince, under Pretence of Persecution in Matters of Religion, and other Oppressions on the part of our officers, and had of their own Motion stirred up a Sedition, so much the more Criminal, because it is directly contrary to the natural Laws and Constitutions of the Empire; and being desirous, in order to prevent the Consequences of so great a Misfortune, to make use of our Paternal Clemency, before we inflict upon them the Punishment they have so justly deserved, by redressing their Grievances in a proper Manner, according to Justice; we did without Loss of Time, upon the 9th of July last, appoint Commissioners, and ordered them to repair to the Mountains forthwith, to inquire into the Grievances of our Subjects, and give us an exact Account of the same.

The Commissioners we sent thither were not wanting in the Discharge of their Duty: they went from District to District; they took an Account of the respective Grievances, both Civil and Religious; and after they had inquired into them, they eased some, and entirely redressed others, to the Satisfaction of the Mutineers; who, especially such as had declared to the Commissioners, that they made Profession of the Evangelical Religion, or the Confession of Augsburg, unanimously and voluntarily declared and promised, that they would inviolably preserve the Fidelity which was due to us as their Lord and Prince; that they would pay all the Obedience and respect due to the Spiritual and Temporal Regencies; that they would avoid all unlawful Assemblies; that they would raise no Commotions; that they would not molest the Catholicks with Threats, with Preaching in Publick, or otherwise; and that they would not undertake any thing that was contrary to the Oath and Duty of faithful Subjects, or that might disturb the publick Safety and Tranquillity:

In return for which, the Commissioners promised them, with our Approbation, and until we should publish our Resolution upon that Subject, agreeably to the Constitutions of the Empire, that every one of them might exercise his Religion in secret at his own House, provided they forbore Preaching and Assembling in an unlawful Manner.

Nevertheless, we have since heard, to our Sorrow, that the Rebels, immediately after the Departure of the Commissioners, without any regard to their own Promises, or to the wholesome Admonition that was given to them, began again to assemble themselves in a tumultous manner in several Places, both publickly and privately, to make seditious Sermons to the People assembled, to threaten to exterminate the Catholicks with Fire and Sword, to abuse the Spiritual and Temporal Regencies, yea, even our own Person, both in Word and Deed, and, in short, to commit several other Actions worthy of the most severe Punishments.

WHEREUPON, and in order to convince our rebellious and disloyal Subjects, more and more of our sincere Intentions, which mean nothing but our Preservation, we ordered our said Commissioners to exhort once more our respective Jurisdictions situate in the Mountains, by way of Circular Letters, dated the 30th of July, not to stop the Course of our Paternal Love, nor interrupt, by criminal Enterprizes, Violences, and tumultous Assemblies, our Designs, which tend only to the Publick Welfare, but to keep themselves quiet at Home, and wait with Peace and Unity the Decision of their Grievances, both Civil and Religious; with Assurances, that we would cause them to be examined with the utmost Care; and that we would redress the same in such a manner as we shall be able to answer before God and the World.

To put these Assurances in Execution, we appointed Deputies, the 6th of August, consisting of Members of the Consistory, of the Aulick Counsel, and the Chamber, and ordered them to meet immediately, to examine, with all possible Care, the Grievances that should be communicated, and to consider how they might be entirely terminated, or at least made easier. But our Subjects, instead of making suitable Returns for our paternal Care, turned it into Ridicule, and casting off the Respect and Fidelity which they owe to us, they began openly and wantonly to abuse our Clemency, by committing all sorts of Disorders; and having found Means to gain over some of our Subjects by Promises, and others by Artifice, they summoned a general Conference at Schwartzach, upon the 5th of August, and called it the Great Council:

In this Conference, Proposals were made the most prejudicial to us, to the Archbishoprick. and the Country: Here they deliberated, and took Resolutions, which they engaged to execute by a solemn Oath, which they took kneeling, and with Hands lifted up: They afterwards repeated their tumultous Assemblies and Deliberations, both publickly and privately; they continued to make seditious Sermons, to threaten more than ever, to exterminate the faithful Subjects with Fire and Sword, and to shew their Contempt even of our Person by injurious Discourses.

THESE EXCESSES, and others so contrary to the Laws of God and Nature, gave us the greater Concern, because we were in hopes our Rebellious Subjects, being convinced of our Paternal Love, and in our favourable Dispositions, would no longer have abused our Patience. We might with a good Grace enough, have exerted our Power and Authority against them, by punishing them As Rebellious Subjects; but our Love and Clemency having again prevailed over us, we contented our self with publishing and affixing up, in all the Places of the Mountains, dissuasive Letters, dated the 30th of August; wherein we exhorted the Mutineers that were risen against us and their Country, to render us the Obedience and Submission that is due to us, and to preserve inviolably the Fidelity they had sworn to us; forbidding them to continue the aforesaid Enterprizes, Assemblies, Preachings, Threats, Injuries, or other the like Things, upon Pain of forfeiting their Estates, and even their Lives, to all and every one that should be found to act contrary thereto. And the better to secure the publick Tranquillity, we did moreover forbid them to assemble themselves, either in private or in By-places, to the Number of more than three; or to undertake any thing whatsoever, that could prejudice our Power or Authority, occasion the Spiritual or Temporal Regencies to be abused or maltreated, or disturb the publick Tranquillity.

But as the Mutineers, far from giving Attention thereto, have had the Boldness to go on with their Disorders as before, despised those dissuasive Letters, and told the Officers of Justice and other Persons to their Faces, that we had nothing to do to command them; this shews, that the Redress of Civil or Religious Grievances, of which they complained in the Beginning of their Mutiny, was not the Point they aimed at; but that they wanted to introduce a boundless Liberty, to erect a new State among themselves, and to make themselves an independent People.

In short, some of them, continuing their abominable Excesses, and their Assemblies so often forbid, did of their own Authority forbid the frequenting of our Churches; they went from House to House to give notice of their seditious Preachments, to begin on a certain Signal, either by Beat of Drum, or the firing of some Muskets: So that we were at last obliged, tho' against our Will, to make use of the Power which God has put into our Hands; and on the 28th of September we caused the principal Author of the Sedition to be seized and imprisoned, not upon Account of Religion, but for disturbing the publick Tranquillity, and for rising against us, his lawful Lord and Prince.

The next Morning, several of his Adherents had the Boldness to get together and endeavour to set him at Liberty, and to attack our faithful subjects, but tho' they durst not execute their Enterprize, seeing the good Dispositions that were made to give them a warm Reception; they nevertheless gave fresh Proofs of their seditious Spirits, by summoning new Assemblies in several Places, repeating their injurious and menacing Discourses against our Person, and disobeying our command, and those of our Officers: They have set up a new Head, to whom they have promised Fidelity, and have not been unmindful of demanding Succours of the Evangelical Protestants, under Pretence of being persecuted for the sake of Religion; and falsly alledging, that it was our Intent to refuse them the Right of going away, and by such and other false Reports, they have endeavoured not only to stir up a Sedition in the neighbouring Countries, but also to kindle the Flames of a Religious War throughout the Roman Empire .

As our Honour, our Dignity, and our Authority, in the Quality of an Archbishop and Sovereign Prince, will not permit us to endure any longer, that the said Disturbers of the publick Peace and Safety of all the Archbishoprick, should persist in their Spirit of Rebellion and Disobedience, of which they are fully convicted, as appears by a great number of Reports, Memorials, and Certificates worthy of Credit, and attested upon Oath: As, on the other hand, we are not ignorant of the general Ordinances, which have been issued from time to time by our Predecessors, touching the Conduct which the Spiritual and Temporal Regencies were to observe, agreeably to the Constitutions of the Empire, with regard to Subjects suspected in Matters of Religion, and particularly in relation to the Right of going away: And as we should be inexcusable, it as an Ecclesiastical Prince, we should tolerate the Exercise of a Religion in our Archbishoprick, contrary to the Roman Catholick Religion; which, by the Grace of God, is of more than 1200 Years standing; we have the less Reason to refuse the Right of going away, because we have always been inclined, as we are still, to give our Consent to it, on purpose to avoid giving Offence to our said Subjects, and to those of the bordering Provinces of the Emperor and Bavaria.

It will not be found that ever we refused that Liberty of Departure; but it appears on the contrary, by divers publick Acts, agreeable to the Constitutions of the Empire, that we have always granted it without any Limitation: So that in order to restore a settled Tranquillity in our Archbishoprick, and to prevent yet greater Troubles, there now remains no other Method to be taken, than to extirpate entirely to the Root those turbulent and seditious Fellows, who in Times past have so often disturbed this Archbishoprick; and that with the greater Reason, because nothing is to be expected in this Archbishoprick but fresh Troubles; and that notwithstanding the wholsome Advice given them by the Pastor, notwithstanding all the Methods we have tried, in Performance of our Pastoral duty, to prevail with them to desist from their Criminal Enterprizes, and to bring them back into the Way of the Faithful, they will, in spite of all these Admonitions and Exhortations persist in their Rebellion and Obstinacy: And therefore we thought it was high time to publish proper Ordinances upon that Subject.

We communicate this our present Command to all our Subjects, Citizens and Inhabitants, particularly to those who have declared themselves to be of the Reformed, or of the Confession of Augsburg, and persist in the Profession thereof, either in publick or in private: And after the most serious Consideration, by virtue of our Power, as immediate Prince of the Empire, and of the Right which belongs to them, as such to reform Religion, and to command their Subjects. who profess another, to depart from their Territories, we ordain,

1. THAT all those who profess either of the Religions above mentioned, and tolerated in the Empire, and who upon Occasion of the last Rising have declared themselves to be such, whether in publick or in private, shall depart this Archbishoprick, and Countries thereunto belonging, with all their Effects; never to enter it more, upon pain of Confiscation of their Effects, or even of Death, according to the Exigency of the Case.

2. SUCH of the Inhabitants of this Archbishoprick, as have no Settlement, or those who are not Burghers, the Workmen, Valets, or Domesticks of both Sexes, who have attained the Age of twelve Years, and profess one of the said two Religions, and have declared themselves so to be in manner aforesaid, shall depart with all their Effects in 8 Days, to be computed from the Day of the Publication of these Presents; and in case they do not readily obey, they shall be punished in manner aforesaid, without any Hopes of Pardon.

3. WHEREFORE, all those, let them be what they will, that work in the Salt Mines, or such other Works; or who, either in the Mountains, or in the Plains, are in our Service, or employed by us. by the Members of our Chamber, or by other Officers of our Country, are from this time forward, and in general discharg'd from their Service and Work; they shall have no Salary from the Day of the Date of these Presents, nor what is called Provision or Benefice-Money; but they shall be obliged to depart the Country within the limited Time, and under the Penalties above mentioned.

4. AND as it has been customary, not to admit any Person to the Burghership or Freedom of the Towns or Boroughs of this Archbishoprick, till he had proved that he and all his Family professed the Catholick Religion, and produced Certificates on the part of the Regencies established for that purpose; we will and ordain, that all and every Burgher or Artisan, making Profession of one of the said Religions, and who declared themselves so to be during the present Rising and Rebellion, have from this time forward entirely forfeited, throughout the Archbishoprick, their Right of Burghership and Freedom; and that, like the others, they depart this Archbishoprick, with some difference, however, in regard to the time, with respect to the other Inhabitants that are not Burghers.

5. AS for those Peasants who have Settlements, and the other Inhabitants of this Archbishoprick of both Sexes, who have Houses or Land, and have declared themselves, either in private or publick, to be of one of the said two Religions, (Lutherans or Calvinists) which they had professed before; tho' they ought not to be ignorant, that according to the Constitutions of the Empire, and by virtue of the general Mandates from time to time issued by our Predecessors, they were enjoined to embrace the Roman-Catholick Religion, as being the only one tolerated in this Archbishoprick, and which the Prince God has set over them professes; and that within a limited Time, to be computed from the Day of their Change of Religion; or to dispose of their Estates, and then to quit our Archbishoprick; and tho' on the other hand they have forfeited all Right of Departure, and other Privileges stipulated by the Treaty of Westphalia, of which they have rendered themselves unworthy, by stirring up the last Insurrection, disturbing the Publick Tranquillity, and acting directly contrary to the said Treaty of Westphalia, the Constitutions of the Empire, and our Ordinances and Dissuasive Letters:
nevertheless, out of our Clemency, provided that in the mean time they keep themselves quiet, agreeably to our Dissuasive Letters, we grant a Month's Time to those who are possessed of 150 Florins or under, two Months to such as are worth from 150 to 500 Florins, to sell their Effects in the best manner they can in that Time, and then to quit the Country, upon the Penalties above mentioned; and we moreover permit them to keep a Man-Servant and a Maid-Servant, and no more, of their Religion, to do their Business during that Time.

6. AS all that is above, regards only such as make Profession of one of the two Religions aforesaid, tolerated in the Empire, and who have declared themselves to be such, we reserve to our selves the Punishment to be inflicted upon the Mutineers and Disturbers of the Publick Peace, and upon such as profess a Heresy which was never tolerated in the Empire. And as for those who joined the Rebels and Disturbers, only for the Sake of their Religion, and are not in other respects chargeable with Sedition or Rebellion, we exempt them from the Punishment that they may have deserved, provided they leave the Archbishoprick, as is above said; and we grant them a general Pardon by these Presents.

7. AS it may be presumed, that after the Publication of this Ordinance, several of the Seditious, who by this Rebellion had more in view the good things of this Life, than the Salvation of their immortal Souls, and have made Application to those of the Evangelical Religion; and others, who till the Time of the Sedition, concealed, after a Hypocritical manner, and under a Catholick outside, the Religion they professed in the Heart, will likewise return to it, in order to take the first Opportunity to create new Disturbances in the Country: And as these sort of People are by no means to be rely'd upon, after so many Examples of Sedition which those Rebels to God and their Country have from time to time excited in our Archbishoprick; We do by these Presents will and ordain, that those, who, after the Admonition they received from the Commissioners we sent into the Mountains last July, to consider well an Affair of so great Importance, and their everlasting Salvation were so nearly concerned, before they came to a Resolution, did nevertheless declare to the said Commissioners, that they would embrace another Religion, which for the most part they know nothing of, preferably to the Roman-Catholick Religion, if they have not given Proofs of the Repentance within a Fortnight afterwards, by entering themselves again as Catholicks before the Regency; that in like manner those, who in the Memorials drawn up by our rebellious Subjects, and communicated to us by Order of his Imperial Majesty, are denominated and entered as Evangelical, and of the Confession of Augsburg, shall not be included in this our Ordinance, nor enjoy the Benefit thereof, even tho' they should pretend that they were entered wrong, and without their Knowledge or Content, unless they make due Proof of such false Entry, and of their good Behavior.

8. AS for those who have not hitherto declared themselves, either in publick or in private, as making Profession of another Religion, but have nevertheless render'd themselves suspicious, by their Conduct and Manner of Living; as we can fix upon nothing certain with regard to them, tho' we are very desirous to root out that noxious Weed, because till this is done, we can never expect to see a lasting Tranquillity in our Archbishoprick; we will and ordain, that all the general Mandates formerly published upon the Subject of Religion, be hereby renewed; and that when the spiritual and temporal Regencies visit their respective Jurisdictions, they shall examine such Subjects as they suspect on Account of Religion, or at whose Houses they shall find prohibited Books, and shall ask them civilly, without fining or inflicting any other Punishment upon them. whether they be Catholicks, and will persevere in that Religion, or whether they will declare themselves to be of the Lutheran or reformed Religion.
As for those in the first Circumstance, the Regencies shall give them the necessary Instructions with regard to the Conduct they are to observe for the fiuture; and they shall take away the prohibited Books which may be found at their Houses, and forbid them to have any more such, at their Peril. As for the others, they shall not be constrained in their Liberty of Conscience; but Notice shall be given them, that agreeably to the Laws of the Empire and their Country, they shall sell their Estates and Effects in the best manner they can, within a limited Term, and then leave the Country, having first paid their Taxes, as is usual in all Places. If it should happen, that any one, who pretends to be a Catholick, but is really of another Religion, has prohibited Books in his House, or is a Dealer in them, or is present with others in unlawful Assemblies, such Transgressors shall be condemned to perpetual Banishment, and even, if the Case requires it, shall suffer Death, and forfeit his Estate.

9. WE have already declared, that it is not our Intention, that those who profess one of the said two Religions tolerated in the Empire, and are not in other respects chargeable with Sedition, Rebellion, or Heresy, should be looked upon by us with an Eye of Indignation, as contrary to the Constitutions of the Empire; but we are desirous to procure them, to the best of our Power, the Liberty of Departure above specified. Wherefore we enjoin all our Regencies, and command them by these Presents, that all necessary Assistance be given to such as shall go out of the Country within the Time above allowed them; Certificates to be granted them, if they desire it, of their Birth, Family, Profession, and honest Behaviour. We forbid any other Tax to be imposed upon, or required of them, than that which is in our Archbishoprick; and it is our Pleasure, that after they have entered themselves in a judicial Manner, they be conducted from District to District, till they be out of the Country.

10. WE enjoin all such of our Subjects, as are included in this our Ordinance, and are obliged to leave the Country in the manner above mentioned, upon pain of suffering without Mercy, the Penalties mentioned in the beginning of our said Ordinance, to appear before the Regencies of their respective Places, before the Expiration of the Terms allowed them to pay the usual Tax honestly; and to demand a safe Conduct for their Departure out of the Country.

11. ALL the Regencies appointed by us, shall take the utmost Care, that this our Ordinance, and every Clause or Article thereof, be strictly put in Execution: And after the respective Terms, which we have graciously granted to those who are obliged to go away, shall be expired, they shall make enquiry after such as have not obeyed our Commands: they shall commit them to Prison and proceed against them, in case of Need, by Military Force, without suffering themselves to be led away from their Duty by Presents, or any other Motives of Friendship or Enmity, Love or Hatred; but shall behave themselves in that Affair without respect of Persons, and in such wise as they can always answer to God and us, if they have not a mind to be deprived of their Places, and incur our Displeasure, and to be severely punished.

FINALLY, that none may plead Ignorance, and to the end that this our Ordinance and Licence of Departure may be the more strictly and diligently executed and observed; it is our Pleasure that it be Printed, Published in the usual Places, publickly read, and affixed: For such is our Will and Intention. In witness whereof, we have signed it with our own Hand, and have sealed it with the Seal of our Arms. Done in our Residence of Saltzburg, the 31st of October, 1731.

Signed, LEOPOLD.
L.S. By Order of his Highness, H.CHRISTANI,
Chancellor of the Court


WHEREAS the Bearer of this, who professeth the Protestant Religion, Langprandtner by Name, Servant at Hayd in the County of Gaftein, is obliged to go out of these Archiepiscopal Dominions, and leave the Country, the Magistrate is ready to assist him for that Purpose, and give him a well-attested Certificate of his Birth, Pedigree, and Apology: and therefore I, as lawful Magistrate, do testify accordingly, that the said Langprandtner is born of honest Parents, viz. of Joseph Langprandtner, Farmer at Dorff, and Mary Gruber his Wife; and that he behaved himself, to the best of my Knowledge, in his Service with a Farmer, honestly and faithfully; but that he is obliged, upon the Account of having forsaken the Roman Catholick Religion, which alone is exercised and suffered in these Archiepiscopal Dominions, to go out of them, and leave. (6)

Salzburger Father and Son
Salzburger Mother, Daughter, and Infant Cradle on Back

Photos(7) Land owners were given 3 months to leave. Tradesmen, laborers and miners were given 8 days. Cattle, sheep, furniture and land, dumped on the market, depressed prices, consequently, the Saltzburgers received little money for their lifetime investment. Bishop Firmian confiscated their land for his own impoverished Catholic relatives and ordered all Lutheran books and Protestant Bibles to be burned. Many children age 12 and under were seized and reared Roman Catholic.

SNOWSTORMS. The first Saltzburger refugees were forced to flee in frigid ice and snow storms beginning in November 1731 through January 1732, seeking shelter in the few cities of Germany controlled by Protestant Princes. Adult men and women sang Luther's Reformation hymn, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, Joseph Schaitberger's Exile Song, Isaac Watts' Come, Gracious Spirit, Heavenly Dove, Martin Rinkart's Now Thank We All Our God and other inspirational hymns as they trudged through deepening snow and cold knifelike winds, while their children rode on creaking wooden wagons loaded with baggage. Some Lutheran children were kidnapped and reared in Catholic homes. The few coins exiles carried were soon exhausted by taxes, tolls and payment for protection by soldiers from robbers. Great sympathy for thousands of refugees poured out from the Protestants of Europe and some Catholics. Gifts received along the route were used to buy food and clothing for the dispossessed emigrants.
Lutheran King Frederick William I of East Prussia and Lithuania accepted 12,000 Salzburger Protestant emigrants in the year 1732.

1. The Salt Oath demonstrated courage in their faith by dipping one finger into a salt dish, or touching a salt block, then touching the finger to their tongue, while raising the other hand to God as witness. "You are the salt of the earth," said Jesus.
2 .Copies of Emigrationspatent in UGA, Georgia Room, Athens, GA. and University of Chicago Library.
3 .Daniel J. Rettberg, "Marginalia," Reformation Notes, No.9, Fall 1996, (Atlanta, GA: Emory U. Pub. Office),4.
4. Karl Barth, Dogmatics in Outline, Vergilius Ferm, ed., Classics of Protestantism, (New York: Philosophical Library, Inc., 1959), 555f.
5. Appendix No. 1. "The Archbishop of Salzburg's Decree against his Protestant Subjects." Part I, pp. 41-60. An Account of the Sufferings of the Persecuted Protestants in the Archbishoprick of Saltzburg, etc. (London, MDCCXXXII. Printed by J. Downing in Bartholomew-Close). From the DeRenne Collection (DER 1732.A2); Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, GA
6. Ibid
7. Angelica Marsch, Die Salzburger Emigration in Bildern, (Weisshorn, Bayern: Anton H. Konrad, Verlag, 1986)

Note: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote the poem "Hermann and Doroethea" about the sufferings of the Salzburger exiles.