Siege of Magdeburg, 1550-1551

Magdeburg was the seat of the Prince-Archbishops of Magdeburg and never gained the status of an Immediate or Free Imperial City. Still, it gained the status of an autonomous, independent-minded city, a member of the Hanseatic League. Especially in the decades preceding the siege, the city council of Magdeburg pursued an independent-minded history, and the early acceptance of the reformation (in 1524; it was implemented in the Princebishopric a number of years later) was an expression of this independent-mindedness, as well as expression of resolve to resist the attempts by Archbishop Albrecht von Brandenburg (1513-1545) to restore episcopal control over the city. The absence of the princebishop (since 1519 he also was Prince-Archbishop of Mainz, and, as such, elector) provided a favourable environment.
In 1531 the city joined the Schmalkaldic League. Following the Schmalkaldic War 1546-1547, the city of Magdeburg (not the Princebishopric) refused to accept the Augsburg Interim of 1547 and was banned. Magdeburg attracted Lutheran refugees from many parts of Germany (the population, due to the refugees, had risen to 40,000), and in the city publications by uncompromising Lutheran theologians rejecting the Augsburg Interim, such as Hartmann Beyer of Frankfurt, were printed; the city was nicknamed "Unseres Herrgotts Kanzlei" (Our Lord's Chancery).
Duke Maurice of Saxony was charged with leading an expedition against the city; the siege was begun in 1550. The suburbs (outside the city walls) were burnt down. Dukes Albrecht in Prussia and Duke Johann Albrecht of Mecklenburg concluded an alliance directed against the Emperor and sent troops to relieve Magdeburg; they were dispersed by Duke Maurice. The city surrendered to favourable conditions on November 4th 1551. During the siege, the besieging forces had lost c. 4,000 men, the defenders 468 men.

Magdeburg History, from Hotels Germany
Article Magdeburg, from EB 1911
Hochburg des Protestantismus, from Kleine Stadtgeschichte Magdeburgs, in German
Erxbistum Magdeburg (Prince-Archbishopric of M.), from Lexikon des Mittelalters, posted by Mittelalter Genealogie, in German
Hartmann Beyer, from BBKL, in German
Magdeburg ist Lutherstadt und "Unseres Herrgotts Kanzlei", from Evangelische Kirche der Kirchenprovinz Sachsen, in German
Zeittafel zur Magdeburger Stadtgeschichte (Time Table on the History of the city of M.), from Website von Alemann Family, in German
Zeittafel Sachsen-Anhalt (Timeline Sachsen-Anhalt), from Anhaltweb, in German
DOCUMENTS List of Princebishops of Magdeburg, from Regnal Chronologies, scroll down for Magdeburg
REFERENCE Andrea van Dülmen, Deutsche Geschichte in Daten (Timeline of German History), Vol.1 : Von den Anfängen bis 1770 (From the Beginnings to 1770), München : dtv 1979, in German
Norbert Dudek, Magdeburg, Daten zur Geschichte (M., Data on her history), Magdeburg : Melling Druck, 1992, 33 pp.

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on March 22nd 2004, last revised on November 18th 2004

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