ZWINGLI, Huldrych

Huldrych Zwingli was a Reformation theologian who oversaw Zurich's break with Rome and developed the notion of the spiritual, rather than the actual, presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Zwingli, of peasant stock, received his mas­ter of arts in theology by 1506 in Vienna. Influenced by the humanists, Zwingli turned his linguistic talents in Greek to the study of the Bible. After drawing attention for his sermons as a papal chaplain, he became a minister at the Great Minster of Zurich in 1518.
Zurich was dominated by a skillful council, and Zwingli was granted great latitude with his sermons, which, though plain, were very effective. By 1522 Zwingli was an evangelical, holding the Bible as the only source of theological authority. A near-death experience convinced him of the necessity of complete submission to God's will to achieve salvation, and his zeal so impressed the Zurich council that he was appointed canon of the Minster in 1521.
By 1522 Zwingli was beginning the process of breaking ties with Rome and renounced his former humanist leanings. He attacked the church on the issue of indulgences and on clerical celibacy; he pushed the envelope further by taking a bride himself in early 1522. His enormous popularity in Zurich was supported by the city council, but opposition within the Swiss Confederation and the Holy Roman Empire was mounting to such an extent that Zwingli felt compelled to issue a statement of faith in response, the Apologetica Architeles. He followed up the statement with a challenge for debate in 1523, essentially to underpin the council's assertion of government control in matters of religious worship. Zwingli was now irrevocably a Reformer.
Zurich's break with Rome was now apparent and was confirmed by its aban­donment of the Mass in 1525. Zwingli's Short Christian Introduction justified the repudiation of the Mass based on his contention that the Eucharist was only symbolic, not the miraculous transubstantiation espoused by the Catholic church; he also rejected a number of other Catholic practices.
Tensions between Zurich and the Swiss Catholic states were growing, and Zwingli advocated an aggressive defense of the new faith and a solid political plan that would give Zurich dominance within the Swiss Confederation. To assure that his Reformed teaching would survive and spread, Zwingli began to get involved in the political world much more intimately. To that end, he ar­ranged a debate in the city of Berne, and his commanding performance led that city to accept the Reformation. In many ways, this debate saved Protestantism in Switzerland and assured its eventual spread throughout Europe.
Martin Luther* and Zwingli, despite having many shared beliefs, disagreed heartily over the nature of the Eucharist, and it was apparent that the only way to heal the split in Protestantism was to have the two men meet and debate. However, the Marburg Conference, held in October 1529, failed to resolve their differences over the Eucharist, although a feeling of mutual respect was engen­dered between the two Reformers. Marburg definitively split the Catholics and the Protestants, and it was clear that a violent confrontation was inevitable within the confederation. A short fight in June 1529 was followed by more sustained hostilities in the aftermath of the Diet of Augsburg in 1530 and the formation of the Protestant Schmalkaldic League early in 1531. Zwingli, in the figurative guise of an Old Testament warrior, participated in a preemptive strike by Zurich against the Swiss Catholic states and was severely wounded in a confrontation on 11 October 1531. Captured, he refused a confessor and was then killed; his body was cut up and burned to prevent its use as a Protestant relic. The sub­sequent peace allowed Zurich's religious freedom, a cause for which Zwingli was no doubt glad to have died, as it meant that the Reformed faith was per­manently ensconced in central Europe.
U. Gabler, Huldrych Zwingli: His Life and Work, 1986.
G. R. Potter, Zwingli, 1976.
Connie S. Evans

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Zwingli, Huldrych — born Jan. 1, 1484, Wildhaus in the Toggenburg, Sankt Gallen, Switz. died Oct. 11, 1531, near Kappel Major reformer in the Protestant Reformation in Switzerland. Educated in Vienna and Basel, he was ordained a priest in 1506. An admirer of Erasmus …   Universalium

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  • Zwingli — I Zwịngli,   Ulrich (Huldrych), schweizerischer Reformator, * Wildhaus (Kanton Sankt Gallen) 1. 1. 1484, ✝ (gefallen) bei Kappel am Albis 11. 10. 1531. Zwingli war nach dem Studium der freien Künste und der scholastischen Theologie (Via antiqua) …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Zwingli und Calvin —   Der Südwesten des deutschen Sprachgebiets zeichnete sich vor dem Ursprungsgebiet der Reformation durch eine stärkere Bindung an den Humanismus und einen deutlichen kulturellen Vorsprung aus: Selbstbewusstsein und Mitwirkungsrechte der Laien… …   Universal-Lexikon

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