1531 - Religious Tensions Rising
The Protestant Reformation of 1517 heralds a long period of religious tension between the Catholic establishment of the Holy Roman Empire on one side, and the newly converted Protestant states on the other. A significant political undercurrent is the challenge the Protestant states present to the authority of the ruling Catholic Habsburg dynasty.
In 1531 in Switzerland (nominally part of the Holy Roman Empire but effectively autonomous and free from Empire influence following victory in the Swabian War of 1499), the Second Battle of Kappel is fought between Catholic and Protestant Swiss cantons. A Catholic victory forces the dissolution of the Protestant alliance and enforces Catholicism in key strategic areas. However, elsewhere in Switzerland Protestant parishes and communities are allowed to remain, and canton leaders are allowed to choose between Catholicism or Protestantism for their territories.
Separately, in the same year German Protestant princes within the Holy Roman Empire, led by the rulers of Hesse (on the northern border of the old Alemannic territory) and Saxony, form the Schmalkaldic league. The League is a defensive alliance which raises an army to oppose any possible attack by the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (main picture - seated).
In 1546 Charles attacks Saxony in an effort to suppress Protestant resistance in the Empire. In the ensuing Schmalkaldic War the badly-led Protestant army is defeated at the Battle of Mühlberg in 1547. As a result Charles V is able to impose in 1548 the "Augsburg Interim" on the Protestants which, while granting some concessions to the Protestants, imposes a largely Catholic doctrine on them. The decree pleases no-one, Protestant or Catholic, and will soon be overturned by force.