The Reformer vs. the Prince-Bishop

For many of FRANCONIA’S CITIES, 2017 is a year of remembrance of the “confessional era.” You are invited to get to know the reformer Martin Luther as well as a powerful prince-bishop.

2017 marks the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation Movement. Franconia, due to its geographic location within the state of Bavaria, was at its epicenter. The cities of Coburg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and Nuremberg were important locations at that time and they, therefore, are especially involved in anniversary events. Oher historical milestones celebrated in FRANCONIA’S CITIES in 2017 include the lives of the powerful and art-loving Würzburg Prince-Bishop Julius Echter and the unforgettable Eichstätt Duke Eugen.

Knights, Peasants, Lutherans: 500-Years of Reformation in Franconia

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Martin Luther published his famous theses in 1517, ushering in the Reformation Movement. In subsequent decades, FRANCONIA’S CITIES played a major role in its lasting success. Explore the developments of that turbulent time at the “Bavarian State Exhibit” at the Veste Coburg, as well as at exhibits in Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Nuremberg.

Coburg occupies a special place in the history of the Reformation Movement: The city became a major focus when Martin Luther moved to the Veste Coburg for several months in 1530 to seek refuge in the fortress as an excommunicated, political outlaw. It is a fitting location for the “Bavarian State Exhibit” (May 9 – November 5, 2017) with the title “Knights, Peasants, Lutherans.” The exhibit sheds light on the issue of what changes took place in the Holy Roman Empire as a result of the publication of Martin Luther’s theses. You also learn how tightly Franconia was connected to Martin Luther, and how the political realities of the world were mirrored here on a smaller scale. The state exhibit can be visited at the impressive Veste Coburg and at the Moriz Church in the Old Town of Coburg. Aside from this exhibit, Coburg also offers several other events related to Martin Luther and his era.

For example, there is a living history event called “Un Paso Honroso - An Honorable Path” at the Veste Coburg (August 9 – 13, 2017). Experience the court manners and customs that were fashionable at the time, chivalrous magnanimity, fame and bravery. The Natural Science and History Museum in Coburg contributes to the anniversary with an exhibit called “Animals, Nature, and Creation in Martin Luther’s World” (April 9 – October 29, 2017). Plus you can go geocaching on Martin Luther’s tracks.

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With the Sword and Unwavering Faith

Coburg is not the only Franconian city that offers cultural events for the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation MovementRothenburg ob der Tauber offers a special exhibit through the end of 2018 at its Medieval Crimes Museum. The exhibit “With the Sword or Unwavering Faith” the exhibit explores Martin Luther’s attitude about witchcraft. The Rothenburg Reichsstadt Museum, on the other hand, highlights how the “War of the Confessions” was waged with the mass media of the time. The formerly Free City of Nuremberg was something like a “Media Center of the Reformation” in the 16th century. The new technology of printing books was advanced here at lightning speed. Nuremberg offers two large exhibits for the Reformation anniversary: “New Spirit and New Beliefs” (June 30 – October 4, 2017) at the Albrecht-Dürer House and “Luther, Columbus, and the Consequences” (July 13 – November 12, 2017) at the German National Museum.

A Prince-Bishop full of Contradictions: Julius Echter in Würzburg

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While the rest of Franconia celebrates the Reformation anniversary in 2017, the city of Würzburg concentrates on the role its Prince-Bishop Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn, who vehemently fought the new movement, had in those years. There are two exhibits dedicated to the prince-bishop full of contradictions and in honor of the 400-year anniversary of his death.

Würzburg was Prince-Bishop Julius Echter’s residential city and his heritage can be seen clearly throughout the city. It was him who founded the Würzburg University and the Juliusspital Hospital. You get more acquainted with the prince-bishop at the exhibit “Julius Echter 1573-1617: The Controversial Prince Bishop – An Exhibit after 400 Years.” (June 23 – September 17, 2017) at the Würzburg Museum am Dom. It appears as if this powerful ruler harbored two separate souls in his body: on the one hand, he was a wise and benevolent ruler, on the other hand, he ousted Jews from Würzburg and was a fanatic witch hunter.

But Echter also was a promoter of the arts and culture. This is the topic of an exhibit at the Martin von Wagner Museum at the Würzburg University (June 25 – September 24, 2017). “Julius Echter – Patron of the Arts” highlights how the city became a player on the international renaissance scene thanks to Echter’s leadership and support.

The Unforgettable Eugene: 200-Years of Eichstätt Principality

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For many years, the city of Eichstätt was ruled by the crozier of the prince-bishops. This changed in 1817, when Napoleon’s stepson Eugène de Beauharnais from the Leuchtenberg Dynasty took charge of the Eichstätt Principality as its first secular ruler. That was 200 years ago and Eichstätt commemorates the “unforgettable Eugene” with numerous events.

The Eichstätt anniversary celebrations include guided tours, lectures and other events, as well as the new “KultURwald,” a forest trail where you can track the path of the Leuchtenberg family. But their heritage can also be found at many places in the city, such as their former residence or at their garden that was partly transformed into an English-style landscape park during their rule.

There are Leuchtenberg guided tours such as “Love Fairy Tales and Olympic Games” or “Golden Nuggets and Golden Rabbits.” Furthermore there is a guided tour of the royal “pigs’ park” May 27, 2017) where they used to hunt wild boar. Or how about a hike with the topic “Iron Smelter and Beer Brewer” (September 30, 2017) tracing some of the Leuchtenbergs’ commercial operations. Learn about royal hunts, the fashion of the Leuchtenberg princesses and the relationship between Napoleon and the Leuchtenbergs at local lectures.

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