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Alpirsbach Monastery

Erhard Schnepf, painting. Image: Ökumenisches Heiligenlexikon, Joachim Schäfer
REFORMER "UNTER DER STAIG" (IN THE LOWLANDS)

Erhard Schnepf

The Heilbronn-native theologian Erhard Schnepf (1495–1558) had an adversarial working relationship with Ambrosius Blarer. The duke had tasked them with introducing the Reformation in Württemberg. In 1548, Erhard was dismissed from all offices.

Heidelberg Palace and historic town. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Achim Mende

Schnepf met Martin Luther in Heidelberg.

HOW DID HE BECOME A REFORMER?

The son of a cobbler, he initially attended the Heilbronn grammar school before studying theology in Erfurt. Upon completing his first degree in 1511, Schnepf transferred to Heidelberg, where he was present for Luther's now famous Disputation on the Power of Indulgences. Together with Philip Melanchthon, Martin Bucer and Johannes Brenz, Schnepf was one of the enthusiastic students who subsequently fought passionately for the reformation of the church. Their efforts brought Luther's ideas to fruition.

Duke Ulrich von Württemberg, painting. Image: Wikipedia, in the public domain

Duke Ulrich asked Schnepf for help with the Reformation.

WHAT WERE HIS ACTIVITIES IN WÜRTTEMBERG?

When Duke Ulrich von Württemberg had retaken his lands in 1534, he asked Schnepf and Ambrosius Blarer to introduce the Reformation in Württemberg. Schnepf was successful in establishing a moderate Lutheranism in Württemberg's church constitution in 1536. Furthermore, both reformers agreed to a geographic separation of their activities: Schnepf would bring reform to lands "unter der Staig" (the lowlands north of Stuttgart) and Blarer would take the lands "ober der Staig" (the highlands around Tübingen).

WHAT WAS SCHNEPF AND BLARER'S RELATIONSHIP LIKE?

Schnepf and Blarer fought frequently. One of these disputes took place at the Götzentag (Day of False Gods) gathering in Urach in 1537. Schnepf was defeated and Duke Ulrich imposed aniconism, which subsequently cost Württemberg many priceless artworks. When Blarer became too radical for even the duke, the duke unseated him and entrusted Schnepf alone with reforming the state. Schnepf now implemented changes that are still part of Württemberg's national church to this day.

Flier: Klagrede (lamentations) of poor pursued false gods and temple images (Erhard Schön, circa 1530, here without text). Image: Wikipedia, in the public domain

Schnepf was against aniconism in churches and the related iconoclasms.

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