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date: 25 February 2024

Printing, Propaganda, and Public Opinion in the Age of Martin Lutherfree

Printing, Propaganda, and Public Opinion in the Age of Martin Lutherfree

  • David BagchiDavid BagchiUniversity of Hull


Luther had a notoriously ambivalent attitude towards what was still the new technology of the printing press. He could both praise it as God’s highest act of grace for the proclamation of God’s Word, and condemn it for its unprecedented ability to mangle the same beyond recognition. That ambivalence seems to be reflected in the judgment of modern scholarship. Some have characterized the Reformation as a paradigmatic event in the history of mass communications (a Medien- or Kommunikationsereignis), while others have poured scorn on any reductionist attempt to attribute a complex movement to a technological advance and to posit in effect a doctrine of “Justification by Print Alone.”

The evidence in favor of some sort of correlation between the use of printing and the success of the Reformation in Germany and Switzerland is certainly formidable. Thousands of German Reformation pamphlets (Flugschriften) survive to this day in research libraries and other collections (with Luther’s own works predominant among them), suggesting that the Holy Roman Empire was once awash with millions of affordable little tracts in the vernacular. Contemporary opponents of the Reformation lamented the potency of cheap print for propaganda and even for agitation among “the people,” and did their best either to beat the evangelical writers through legislation or else to join them by launching their own literary campaigns. But, ubiquitous as the Reformation Flugschrift was for a comparatively short time, the long-term impact of printing on Luther’s Reformation was even more impressive, above all in the production and dissemination of Bibles and partial Bibles that used Luther’s German translation. The message of the Lutheran Reformation, with its emphasis on the proclamation of God’s Word to all, seemed to coincide perfectly with the emergence of a new medium that could, for the first time, transmit that Word to all.

Against this correlation must be set the very low literacy rate in the Holy Roman Empire in the early 16th century, which on some estimates ranged between only 5 and 10 percent. of the entire population. Even taking into account the fact that historical literacy rates are notoriously difficult to estimate, the impact of printing on the majority must have been negligible. This fact has led historians to develop more nuanced ways of understanding the early-modern communication process than simply imagining a reader sitting in front of a text. One is to recognize the “hybridity” of many publications—a pamphlet might contain labeled illustrations, or be capable of being read out aloud as a sermon, or of being sung. Luther himself published many successful hybrid works of this kind. Another is the notion of the “two-stage communication process,” by which propagandists or advertisers direct their message principally to influential, literate, opinion-formers who cascade the new ideas down. Clearly much work remains to be done in understanding how Luther’s propaganda and public opinion interacted. The fact that our present generations are living through a series of equally transformative and disruptive communications revolutions will no doubt inspire new questions as well as new insights.


  • Religion and Politics
  • Christianity

Printing and the Reformation: Two Views

Luther was not the first condemned heretic to write books, but he was the first to benefit from the rapid and cheap dissemination of ideas made possible by the printing press. It is significant that, at the Diet of Worms in 1521, Luther was required to retract not his ideas but the books that contained them, and the resulting Edict made special mention of the unauthorized printing of books calculated to spread heresy. Far from putting an end to the propagation of Luther’s cause through the press, the Diet and its Edict were followed by an even more massive output of religious publishing than had gone before. The year 1520 had seen 275 editions of Luther’s works leave the presses. In 1523, two years after Worms, that figure rose to 390.1 Reformation literature in general, and Luther’s works in particular, transformed the German-language book market, which (again in terms of editions) quadrupled between 1518 and 1520 and almost doubled again between 1520 and 1524.2

It was inevitable that such an astonishing phenomenon, combined with the success of Luther’s Bible translations from 1522, should have encouraged evangelicals to regard the coincidence of the new technology and the Reformation as providential. Luther once famously hailed printing as “the latest and greatest gift, by which God intends the work of true religion to be known throughout the world and translated into every tongue.”3 Twelve years later, in 1542, one of the first historians of the German Reformation, Johann Sleidan, also identified printing as a special gift from God, by which the German people would become the means of bringing the light of the gospel to the whole world.4 More recent commentators have also been inclined to see in printing a cause—or at least a necessary precondition—of the Reformation. For Lawrence Stone (following Marshall McLuhan), both printing and the Reformation marked a shift from “image culture” to “word culture,” with a growing concentration on printed Bibles as the Word of God, at the expense of images as the book of the laity.5 For Elizabeth Eisenstein, the Reformation was one of three revolutions brought about by the printing press.6 For Bernd Hamm, the Reformation was a “media event.”7 The case was put starkly by Bernd Moeller in a famous slogan: “without printing, no Reformation.”8

Other scholars have expressed unease with what they see as a species of technological determinism, as ridiculed by A. G. Dickens’s quip about “Justification by Print Alone.”9 The Reformation was not primarily a technological event. Moreover, low rates of literacy (probably only 5 percent in German-speaking lands) meant that, for the most part, the new faith must have come by hearing, in a range of formal and informal situations: from hedge-, street-, and saloon-bar preaching as much as from the pulpit; from public disputations and private conversations; and from plays and popular songs.10 On this view, printing was therefore, at best, only a secondary means by which the Reformation message was conveyed. It may even be the case that Reformation historians have been misled into according the printing press more importance than it actually warrants. Estimates for the volume of 16th-century printing are extrapolated from the copies that survive in libraries. In most cases, however, these survivals are not random but have at some point been collected and preserved. There is a danger, in other words, that our perception of the 16th-century book trade and its characteristics (for instance, the popularity of Luther and Karlstadt and the relative unpopularity of Catholic authors) is simply a reflection of the natural bias of earlier collectors towards famous or favored names.

Even the apparent advantages offered by the printing press, such as the ability to produce pamphlets and broadsheets quickly and in large numbers, could be counter-productive. The temptation to rush a sure-fire bestseller into print before one’s publishing rivals was too strong for many to resist; yet a rushed, or even a pirated, print job risked distorting the very message it was supposed to carry. By 1525, Luther was so exercised by these underhand practices that he prefaced his collection of Lenten sermons with a foreword addressed to “my dear printers, who so openly rob and steal from each another.” “I could put up with their crimes [of theft and fraud],” he admitted, “did they not corrupt and ruin my books so badly in the process. But they print them so quickly that when they come back to me I no longer recognize them: something is missing in that place; that bit has been transposed; that has not been corrected.”11 With such careless work in mind, Luther himself could at times curse the proliferation of books through printing with as much enthusiasm as he praised it.12 Little wonder that, the year before, he began using complex woodcut logotypes that could not easily be reproduced to identify his original publications, and thereby was one of the first authors to claim intellectual property rights.13

Caveats about low literacy rates and the over-estimation of the impact of print on the dissemination of Protestantism were joined towards the end of the last century by a stern reassessment of the Reformation pamphlet’s value as a historical resource. Anonymous and pseudonymous pamphlets had often been taken for what they claimed to be, the expression of the fears and hopes and beliefs of “the common people,” which was only too ready to ally itself with Luther and against the financial and spiritual tyranny of Rome.14 But now these pamphlets were treated as a propaganda ruse by educated reformists hoping to create the impression of an unstoppable groundswell of public opinion on Luther’s side.15 As a result, historians generally ceased to regard pamphlets as offering credible evidence of popular mentalities and turned instead to the civil, legal, and ecclesiastical archives for echoes of the genuine voices of the people.16

By the late 1980s and the early 1990s, scholarly scepticism about the role of printing for the Reformation was widespread. It is significant, for example, that the survey volume Reformation Europe: A Guide to Research II, published in 1992, contained no chapter specifically on the subject of pamphleteering or on printing more generally. This is in telling contrast to its predecessor of ten years before, when pamphlet research was flourishing, and to its successor, published in 2008, when the history of the book was once again in rude health.17 This skepticism was an understandable reaction to those treatments, which too readily identified the rise of the handpress and the rise of Protestantism, or which regarded the Reformation pamphlet as representative of “popular opinion” tout simple. But a position that denies an important role to print in the dissemination of Reformation propaganda has to ignore too much evidence. Catholic authorities—civic and ecclesiastical—in the Empire and Switzerland clearly took both the effectiveness of the press and its association with heterodoxy with the utmost seriousness. Local ordinances, in support of the Edict of Worms, were issued in many cities and were strictly enforced.18 Naturally, there were corresponding bans on unauthorized preaching, but it was recognized that the printed word had a potency and danger peculiar to it: the Catholic apologist Johann Cochlaeus pointed out that an heretical book corrupts not only its first readers, but can be picked up by an unwary soul fifty or more years later and corrupt an entirely new generation, in much the same way as Luther and his followers were misled by the writings of Wycliffe and Huss long after those heresiarchs themselves had expired.19 These Catholic testimonies show that the reformers’ high evaluation of the importance of printing as a key factor in spreading the new teachings was shared by their opponents.

The notion that Reformation pamphlets were produced and consumed solely by a well-educated elite also seems less secure than it once did. Socially marginalized groups, like women and male manual workers, did write pamphlets, and they appealed to the characteristically Lutheran doctrine of universal priesthood to justify doing so.20 There is evidence that pamphlets were read aloud by literate members of a community for the benefit of their unlettered colleagues. Indeed, partisans claimed that, because of the availability of pamphlets, better sermons could be heard in taverns than in churches, and in the pubs of Basel it seems that impromptu preaching out of books did take place.21 Many pamphlets were particularly suited to this treatment, either because they were themselves the texts or summaries of sermons or else because the diction and rhythm adopted was that of spoken German, as was especially the case with Eberlin von Günzburg’s works.22 Rather than compartmentalize the Reformation pamphlet as a literary product of and for a literate elite, we should think instead of the “hybridization” of media, whereby print (both word and image) and other visual and oral forms worked together in a completely integrated manner to convey Reformation propaganda.23 The contents of pamphlets might be summarized in short ditties by the colporteurs who sold them,24 or they might be communicated through woodcut illustrations accompanying the text. A good example of the latter is the thoroughly bi-medial pamphlet The Passional of Christ and Antichrist, with words by Melanchthon and Schwertfeger (though evidently inspired by Luther’s To the Christian Nobility of 1520) and illustrations by Cranach. The message embodied in the Reformation pamphlet was accessible by more means than literacy alone.

In the same way that our definition of 16th-century literacy is perhaps too restrictive, so our estimates of literacy may be too conservative. Edwards has argued that the very large number of pamphlets produced in the early 1520s—some six million copies for a total population of only twelve million, or twenty copies for each literate person—suggests that we have seriously underestimated the extent of literacy in the Holy Roman Empire.25 The ready availability of worthwhile reading material would itself have been an incentive to greater literacy: Reformation publishing created a market, as well as catering for one. Evidence of extensive book ownership, and we assume of literacy, crops up in unlikely places. One would hardly expect the harsh conditions endured by the miners of the Austrian Tyrol to be conducive to reading. But we find that, in the middle of the 16th century, they owned a wide selection of theological books, in Latin as well as in German, including many of the works of Luther, Eck, and Sachs.26 (Pettegree reminds us that book ownership does not necessarily imply literacy, citing the case of Lieven de Zomere, a Ghent baker who claimed to own many books by Luther but who took his copy of The Babylonian Captivity of the Church to a local cleric to have it read to him. Pettegree suggests that de Zomere and other illiterates might have purchased Reformation pamphlets less to read them than to buy into the excitement of the new and illicit ideas they contained.27 That is certainly plausible; but in de Zomere’s case it might simply have been that he read Dutch and Low German but not Latin.)

Those who warn against seeing printing in general, and the pamphlet in particular, as a significant factor in the dissemination and reception of the Reformation message in the Holy Roman Empire may be guilty of too much caution. Is the same true of those historians who discount the value of pamphlets as sources for determining public opinion? Here again, it might be mistaken to assume that all pamphleteers were denizens of ivory towers, remote from the concerns of the common people, of which some falsely purported to be. Most pamphlets were published anonymously, so there is extremely little hard evidence available about the social background of those who wrote them. But, thanks to R. W. Scribner, we do have information about an analogous group. Scribner collected biographical data on 176 Protestant preachers active in Germany up to about 1550. We can see from this that, despite their extraordinarily high standard of education, more than 40 percent of the first Reformation preachers were from rural poor, urban poor, or artisan families.28 Many of Scribner’s preachers were also pamphleteers, and we can assume that the profiles of both groups were at least broadly similar. Such writers would have continued to share much of the outlook and interests of the class from which they had emerged, and would have felt qualified to voice the concerns of “the common man” in their writings. We should of course be wary of assuming a total community of interest: education changed perspectives and expectations then as now. But of all those in 16th century Germany who could articulate complex ideas in writing, upwardly mobile pamphleteers were indeed best qualified to represent “the common people.”

From Broadsheet to Pamphlet

The commercial success of the Reformation pamphlet was due to a number of factors: it was relatively cheap, it was a handy size, it could be produced quickly and in large numbers, and (above all) its subject matter was what the public wanted to read. But it did not appear overnight to satisfy the demands of religious controversy and persuasion. The cheap, small format book had been a familiar feature of life in France, Germany, and the Low Countries for many decades. Even before the invention of moveable metal type, saints’ lives, devotional guides for dying well, and picture bibles (biblia pauperum praedicatorum) had been printed from woodcuts. These continued to be produced in volume even after letterpresses became common, and of course, the woodcut remained the cheapest and most convenient means of illustrating books for two hundred years.29

Printing from blocks had some advantages. It required no special equipment other than a block of wood, a knife, ink, and paper. But its strength lay in its facility for reproducing single sheets and relatively short books in relatively short print runs. While this did not put it at any particular disadvantage in contrast with moveable type at first, when short runs were the norm, the block printing of texts was overtaken by the newer invention after about 1460. But it continued to serve an important purpose, not least in helping to satisfy the huge demand for devotional works in the 15th century with cheap and plentiful prints and booklets.

One reason for the eclipse of block printing by moveable type was the coarseness of the paper used in western Europe at this time. Metal type applied by screw press made a much clearer impression than woodblocks but naturally it required a deal of preparation. First, a punch in a hard metal such as steel had to be engraved for each of the characters for a particular font; these punches were then used to strike matrices in a softer metal, which could in turn be used as molds for turning out the alloy types (or sorts) themselves. The sorts would be made up into pages and set in a rigid frame (or forme). The forme would be turned face-up and inked (using a suitable fatty ink specially formulated to adhere to the metal) and a sheet of paper forced onto the forme by a mechanical press. The sheets could then be folded, sewn into gatherings, and, if required, bound. It was little wonder that the first printers were highly skilled workers, such as goldsmiths and moneyers, rather than enterprising block printers. The earliest printed books included veritable works of art such as the Psalter of Johann Fust and Peter Schoeffer, and the 42-line Bible traditionally attributed to Johann Gutenberg; but from our point of view it is significant that, contemporaneously with these fine works, the Mainz presses were turning out more popular and ephemeral material, such as vernacular printed calendars and letters of indulgence.30 Some sixty printing shops had been established in German-speaking lands by 1500, to keep up with a growing demand. No doubt the growing availability of printed material helped to stimulate the growth of literacy, in 15th- and 16th-century Germany as in 17th-century England. But the invention of printing also coincided with an explosion of the German population, from around 10 million in 1470 to perhaps 20 million in 1600. The reading public must have doubled at least during that period.

This popular end of the market included small booklets of a few, unbound pages, but was dominated by the production of single sheets, printed on one side, usually containing a woodcut in the upper portion and text (often in verse) in the lower half. These were the forerunners of the modern newspaper, and it would not be too misleading to characterize them in modern terms as broadsheet in size but tabloid in content. Typically, their subjects were reports of notable events, astrological predictions, or sensationalist reports of strange phenomena, such as deformities in new-born children or animals. Such reporting might be used to influence public opinion, by interpreting these phenomena as portents relating to contemporary political and social affairs. The court of Emperor Maximilian I routinely used broadsheets and pamphlets for propaganda purposes (for example, a child born with two heads in 1495 was portrayed by imperial publicists as representing the double-headed eagle, and as a good omen for the house of Habsburg’s power-struggle with the German princes).31 Small format books might be the vehicle of satire, most famously the celebrated Letters of Obscure Men, which appeared in quarto, octavo, and eventually even duodecimo.32 Alternatively, they might be put to more sinister purposes. Franciscan friars used them to embarrass their Dominican rivals over the notorious Jetzer case in Berne, which ended in death at the stake for four Dominicans in 1509, while some of the most virulent anti-Jewish sentiments expressed in the 16th century belong to this period.33

The Reformation Pamphlet

Definition and Physical Appearance

What was a Reformation pamphlet? The most influential attempt at a definition has been that of Hans-Joachim Köhler, director of the project, which published and cataloged all copies of 16th-century pamphlets extant in the libraries of the former West Germany. He defined a pamphlet as “a self-contained, occasional, and unbound publication consisting of more than one page, addressed to the general public with the aim of agitation (that is, the influencing of events) and/or propaganda (that is, the influencing of beliefs).”34 In physical terms, the typical pamphlet was of a handy, quarto, size (usually about 8 inches by 6 inches), and of 16 pages or fewer in length, though some ran to 80 pages or more.35 The gatherings might be sewn, but not bound, so that the title page was also the front cover, often embellished either with a woodcut appropriate to the content, or more likely some merely decorative devices drawn from the publisher’s own stock. By the early 16th century, the convention had already been established by which Latin was normally set in roman type and German in Fraktur or “gothic” type (the distinction lasted well into the 20th century). Pamphlets in German naturally used different dialects, according to the region of the author or compositor. There was, as with the English of this period, no standardized orthography, so that the same word might be spelled in several different ways even on the same page. The text itself was often contracted or abbreviated—usually by the omission of consonants, indicated by a special mark above the preceding vowel. This was a survival from the age of the scribe in which abbreviations, especially of Latin, were heavily used to save time and, more importantly, to ensure the neat justification of the right-hand margin. Given that justified margins could now be achieved by adding metal spacers of the required width between characters and words, and that contractions, which required extra characters in every font, made the job of setting type and replacing it after use so much more cumbersome, it was surprising that the practice only gradually died out during the century. Naturally, errors were made during the process of typesetting, which required the compositor to assemble a mirror image of the required text. Mistakes could also be made when laying out the forms in the exact manner required for each format of book, so that pages might appear in the wrong order. Proofreading could catch the worst slips, and lists of corrigenda could be added to the final page, or a loose leaf might be pasted in; but cheap pamphlets generally did not warrant the extra expense involved.

Early 16th-century pamphlets are therefore crude affairs, far from the triumphs of art and craft we normally associate with early printed books. In later centuries, they were traded for their value as scrap paper rather than as reading matter. Circulated and read unbound, many must have fallen to pieces long before they could meet such a fate. The important thing about them, then as now, was not their appearance but their contents.

Literary Characteristics, Content, and Argumentation

Sixteenth-century pamphlets covered a wide variety of subjects, from cookery and books of trades to astrology and works of traditional theology and devotion. But in the 1520s, the vast bulk of pamphlets was religious in character and related to the growing demand for reform of the Church. Typically, they portrayed the Church as a corrupt institution that oppressed the consciences of the laity even as it emptied their pockets. Monks and friars were excoriated for their hypocrisy in professing poverty while amassing great wealth. Similarly, they portrayed the Pope, while arrogating to himself the title of Vicar of Christ, as preferring the pomp and circumstance of his court to the hard life of the first disciples and of their Master. They claimed that the straightforward message of the Gospel had been displaced by human inventions—canon law, scholastic theology, the cult of the saints, masses for the dead—and that the Italian-led Church had for too long exploited the proverbial slow-wittedness of the Teutons. But at last, they proclaimed, even the Germans were waking up to their misfortune. There is indeed much in the pamphlet literature of the Reformation, both in content and in tone, to remind us of the Internet age and its predilection for conspiracy theories. Balancing the negative messages, however, were positive elements, proclaiming enlightenment through the notion of the open Bible, liberation through the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and the restoration of right order by providing support and education for the poor.36

These arguments, both positive and negative, might be presented in a number of ways. Some Flugschriften were reasoned expositions, corresponding to pamphlets in the modern sense. Far more numerous were those that adopted a sermonic style, and indeed were often straightforward transcriptions of sermons actually preached.37 Almost as widely used was the format of the open letter, addressed to a friend or patron, but in reality intended for a much wider readership. The letter was a form much favored by humanists, in imitation of classical models. But when Luther addressed open letters to persecuted communities, his inspiration was more likely the epistles of the New Testament and the early fathers. Some evangelicals deliberately copied the style of St Paul’s letters, for instance.38 An example is Balthasar Stanberger’s A Letter on Loving God and One’s Neighbour of 1523, addressed to the publisher Johann Michael. Another very popular genre was the prose dialogue between two or more antagonists. The dialogue had long been used to convey philosophical and theological ideas, from Plato to Anselm and beyond, and the Renaissance had seen a revival of the form, though Ulrich von Hutten’s inspiration, for example, was more likely the comic dialogues of Lucian. Many Reformation dialogues were more lively and direct even than Hutten’s still rather stilted efforts, and it may be that they owed their inspiration to the theatre, most notably the Shrovetide plays (Fastnachtspiele).39

Other literary genres were adopted, but these were less widely used than those already mentioned; they included plays proper, such as Niklaus Manuel’s The Devourers of the Dead, performed in Berne during Lent 1523;40 poems, such as Hans Sachs’s The Wittenberg Nightingale;41 and the apocalyptic Weissagung (prophecy) genre, associated with both prophecies (for example, those of Joachim of Fiore and Johannes Lichtenberger) and astrological predictions.42 Those who opposed the Reformation in print used a similar array of literary styles, but here there was a far greater concentration on the more scholarly forms such as treatises and disputations.43

In addition to classifying pamphlets in terms of genre, it is also possible to classify them in terms of subject matter. Ozment has identified seven major areas covered by Reformation pamphlets:44 critiques of Catholic religious belief and practices, particularly aspects of the sacrament of penance, indulgences, confraternities; critiques of and satires on the clergy and religious;45 complaints about the social and economic implications of Catholicism; defences of clerical matrimony, and advice on marriage and domestic life; treatises on Church-State relations; books of or about peasant protest and revolt; and “mirrors of a Christian” and other catechetical literature.

Such classifications by style and subject matter are artificial and, as one might expect, a high proportion of pamphlets straddle two or more genres (a treatise in the form of a letter, for example), or deal with more than one subject. The pamphleteers were, after all, addressing a general public, not a specific audience with a single interest. Their variety of approach is nowhere more evident than in individual topics treated in the pamphlets. Köhler analyzed a random sample of more than 3,000 pamphlets from the period 1520–1530 and concluded that the average pamphlet dealt with at least nine topics (such as Scripture, the doctrine of justification, and so on), and a maximum of well over twenty.46 The topical richness of the pamphlets leads Köhler to conclude that they were not as ephemeral as is usually supposed. Certainly, it could be argued that the more devotional and edificatory pamphlets had a longer “shelf life” than the occasional and polemical pieces.

The Visual Impact of Reformation Pamphlets

The message of the pamphlets was not conveyed by words alone. Many pamphlets and most broadsheets were enlivened by woodcut illustrations. These were sometimes no more than title-page decoration to a publisher’s standard design, complete with playful putti in irrelevant (and often irreverent) poses. But sometimes, as with the broadsheets, woodcuts could be related to the text in a more appropriate way. The precise relationship between text and image, and the effectiveness of this relationship in the context of a largely illiterate society, is still the subject of debate.

During the 15th century, woodcuts of the saints, usually associated with pilgrimage sites, circulated widely both before and after the advent of the printing press.47 Another type of woodcut with a religious theme was that included by Sebastian Brant in his writings, explicitly intended for those who could not read the text without help.48 Cuts with an anticlerical or antipapal message were also issued before the Reformation, most famously an early example of paper engineering in which a reverential portrait of Pope Alexander VI became, at the turn of a flap, a triple-crowned devil. Finally, woodcuts were used to illustrate apocalyptic broadsheets frequently critical of ecclesiastical institutions.

On the eve of the Reformation, therefore, there existed a repertoire of printed images with a wide range of religious associations, from the devotional and edifying to the critical, which could be drawn on by Protestant illustrators both to condemn the Church of their day and to present an alternative ideology in positive terms. But how successful were they in this dual aim? It is reasonable to suppose that negative images that ridiculed or vilified the authorities would, like present-day political cartoons, have a far greater effect than more constructive images. This was certainly the view of Scribner, who believed that compared with the “undeniable success” of the anti-papal features of Reformation visual polemic, attempts to produce more positive propaganda came to little.49 One of the most celebrated examples of the use of negative imagery is the joint publication by Luther and Melanchthon, The Significance of Two Horrible Figures (1523). This depicts and describes a misshapen calf born in 1522, known as the Monk-Calf of Freiburg, and a strange creature found dead on the banks of the Tiber in 1496, known as the Pope-Ass. The first was interpreted by Luther as a sign of God’s displeasure at monasticism, the second by Melanchthon as a judgement on the Papacy. The explanation of portents was a stock-in-trade of the late medieval broadsheets, and the Wittenberg reformers were able to harness anti-Roman feeling, a universal interest in strange phenomena, and fascination with the grotesque to good effect: the pamphlet went through several editions.50

Perhaps even more negative was the frequent depiction of Luther’s opponents as animals, making them figures of fun and defusing the force of their arguments or the threat they posed. Johann Cochlaeus and Pope Leo X had names that invited their immediate transformation into a snail and a lion respectively. Hieronymus Emser’s family arms featured a wild mountain goat, and he likened himself to this noble beast before he was metamorphosed into it by his enemies; Thomas Murner’s surname suggested (at a pinch) the “murmaw” call of a tom-cat; and Jacobus Hochstraten’s name lent itself to transformation into “höchste Ratte,” “King Rat.” The reasons for identifying Johann Eck as a sow and Jakob Lemp as a dog are now lost to us.51

Negative images were undoubtedly striking and had an important place in the arsenal of Reformation publicists. But they were neither the most characteristic, nor the most effective, nor the most enduring use to which the xylographer’s art was put in the service of reform. Köhler examined the title page illustrations of 519 pamphlets published between 1501 and 1530 and discovered that, in over 40 percent of cases, the illustration helped to explain the content of the pamphlet, while only 16 percent could be described as polemical in intent.52 These figures might even underestimate the constructive nature of Reformation iconography, since Köhler looked only at title pages, not illustrations in the body of the text, and did not consider broadsheets. But even his raw data are a useful corrective to the common assumption that such illustrations were predominantly negative. It should also be noted that many apparently negative illustrations in reality had a dual nature, conveying a positive message alongside the negative. Several of the most famous Reformation woodcuts possess this quality, especially those that were deliberately constructed as a diptych, or that otherwise expressed a contrast between truth and falsehood. Examples of this genre include the late (c. 1547) Two Kinds of Preaching by Lucas Cranach the Younger, as well as the much earlier The Old and New God, and of course the Passional of Christ and the Antichrist (1521).53 In the last of these, by depicting a contrast between the Christ forced to carry his cross and the Pope carried in a litter, Cranach the Elder not only criticizes curial ostentation, but also makes the theological point that the true following of Christ involves suffering. It is therefore difficult to make a hard and fast distinction between positive and negative illustrations in these pamphlets, and still more difficult to conclude with Scribner that the negative had a greater popular appeal.

A similar degree of agnosticism seems called for when considering the public at which these illustrations were aimed. The traditional understanding of images as the books of the unlearned certainly underlies much Reformation publishing, in which illustrations are explicitly described as being for the sake of the simpler sort. But it has been pointed out that such illustrations often make little or no sense without some knowledge of the accompanying text.54 Moreover, the interpretation of many images presupposes a good knowledge of Scripture or the classics.55 For example, the woodcut of The Poor Common Ass (1525) is notoriously difficult to decipher, even with the aid of Hans Sachs’s accompanying text.56 But it makes much more sense if the ass, which here represents the poor common people, is seen as the heroic beast of Numbers 22. Her riders (devilish personifications of Tyranny, Usury, and Hypocrisy) can then be interpreted as successive Balaams opposed to God’s will, while the ass herself balks at the angel with a drawn sword, on the extreme right of the cut, who represents the Word of God. Two other angels, representing Reason and Justice, are portrayed as ineffective in comparison.57 The interpretation of Hans Holbein the Younger’s woodcut, Christ the Light of the World benefits from familiarity not only with the Johannine antithesis of light and darkness, but also with the allegory of the cave in Plato’s Republic.58 In neither example would ignorance of the biblical or classical allusions hinder comprehension of the fundamental message of the woodcuts, but knowledge of them adds to their layers of meaning and to their enjoyment. Like the double-entendres of British pantomime, which can win both innocent laughter from those of tender years and salacious guffaws from adults, such images were clearly designed to work at different levels simultaneously. We are again reminded of how “literary” Reformation iconography could be, and of the closeness with which the different media of communication were integrated.

To speak of “Reformation” iconography is, however, misleading. The generous use of illustrations in printed religious matter was characteristic of the Lutheran Reformation but not of Calvinism, which in the 16th century demonstrated what has been called a fear of graphic representation.59 We are reminded that the Reformed (Zwinglians and Calvinists) were far more exercised about the place of images in worship than were Evangelicals, and perhaps it is concern at the possible misuse of pamphlet illustrations that explains this fear.60 That these fears were not entirely unfounded is suggested by the fate of Luther’s own image. Scribner has shown how pictures of the reformer, often in saintly guise complete with halo or other sign of divine favor, came to be treated with as much devotion and superstition as any religious image of the Middle Ages.61

The peculiarly Lutheran predilection for images had another result, in the illustration of Lutheran bibles. In a brilliant study of the German New Testament (1522), Edwards has shown the licence with which Luther treated the physical text of Scripture, hedging it about with introductions and marginalia in an attempt to show the reader “what he should expect in this book.”62 These aids included Cranach’s polemical woodcuts for the Revelation of St. John, most famously the depictions of the beast in the temple (Rev. 11) and of the whore of Babylon (Rev. 17) wearing papal tiaras. The tiaras proved controversial and were quickly withdrawn; but their original inclusion exemplifies the remarkable freedom Luther felt able to exercise in relation to the form of the sacred text, provided that its essence was retained. A further development of this freedom came with the production of Lutheran “lay Bibles.” Here the image was all-important, and such Bibles were often no more than collections of broadsheets, illustrating with text and woodcut the main outline of salvation history. This was not so much a case of a Bible specifically prepared for the laity, as if layfolk were second-class Christians who did not need exposure to the real thing, but a means of preparing the laity to access the Bible.63

Pamphleteers and Printers

A large proportion—perhaps around half—of Reformation pamphlets omit any indication of author or printer or provenance or date, partly to avoid the risk of prosecution, partly perhaps to indicate a mighty but anonymous swell of popular support for reform.64 In some cases, internal or external evidence allows us to identify the author; in other cases, telltale characteristics such as standard title page designs or typefaces or house styles can reveal the identity of the printer and/or the year of publication. But often these anonymous pamphlets keep their secrets. Nonetheless, a great number of pamphlets do carry reliable information, and allow us to make fairly firm generalizations.

It is a relatively straightforward task to name the most widely published of the evangelical pamphleteers. Luther himself comfortably heads the list of vernacular writers active between 1518 and 1525, with 1,465 German-language printings and reprintings of his works, trailed at some distance by Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt (125), Urbanus Rhegius (77), Philipp Melanchthon (71), Ulrich Zwingli (70), Johann Eberlin von Günzburg (62), Wenceslaus Linck (53), Hans Sachs (51), Heinrich von Kettenbach (45), Johannes Bugenhagen (41), Johann Oecolampadius (42), Jakob Strauss (42), Ulrich von Hutten (41), Hartmuth von Cronberg (32), Thomas Müntzer (18), Wolfgang Capito (14), Balthasar Hubmaier (12), and Martin Bucer (7).65 As one might imagine, this list of the most prolific evangelicals is dominated by clergy and the theologically educated: six of the eighteen had been monks or friars and eight were secular clergy. Perhaps more surprising is that the names of four laymen appear on the list: Melanchthon, Sachs, Hutten, and Cronberg.

Interestingly, this list would seem to be fairly representative of pamphleteers as a whole. No detailed prosopographical studies of evangelical writers as such exist, but analogous data is available from Scribner’s study of Protestant preachers active in Germany to 1550 (several of whom were also pamphleteers).66 This shows that 20 percent of preachers were lay, mostly teachers, which corresponds closely to the 22 percent of our list. Thirty-two percent had backgrounds in religion, while 42 percent were secular clergy.67 This is very close to the population of Edwards’s list, which yields 33 percent former religious and 44 percent secular clergy. Scribner’s preachers were mostly young to middle-aged when they started their evangelical preaching careers: 31 percent of those for whom we have data were under 30; a further 37 percent were aged between 31 and 40.68 They were a well-educated group, of whom three quarters were university educated, and no fewer than half had completed or commenced a higher degree.69 And while they were overwhelmingly urban in background, they were not necessarily privileged: 49 percent came from artisan, poor urban, or poor rural families.70

The category of lay writers can be broken down still further. Miriam Chrisman has studied the writings of all ninety-four German lay propaganda pamphleteers (Protestant and Catholic) active in the period 1519 to 1530, and has determined their social status as follows: noble knights, 25 percent; minor civil servants and technicians, 18 percent; urban elite, 6.5 percent; town clerks and university-educated officials, 10.5 percent; artisans, middle-ranking burghers, popular poets, 40.5 percent.71 Given the numerical predominance of the artisan class, it is not surprising that one of the four most prolific lay writers (Hans Sachs) should belong to that group. Hutten and Cronberg came from the second most populated group, the nobility. The fourth, Melanchthon, was omitted from Chrisman’s reckoning. Chrisman further identifies six (6.5%) of her ninety-four writers as women (one from the rank of the nobility, two from the civil servant/technician class, and three from the urban elite). Three of the lay pamphleteers are identified as Catholic. A lay category omitted by Chrisman was that of peasant writers. Some thirty pamphlets were published under the names of self-styled peasants in this period, but Chrisman assumes that these were in reality the work of educated clerical reformers masquerading as peasants.72

The same tendency to social and cultural mobility is evident in the case of the printers who produced pamphlets. Printers were typically drawn from the ranks of highly skilled manual workers—silversmiths, goldsmiths, engravers, and painters—who could use many of their skills in the art and technology of printing. Others came up from the ranks, as it were, journeymen who composed the type or pulled the sheets and who had amassed enough capital to set up in business for themselves. Yet others were highly educated men: at least twelve of the seventy-seven printers active in Strasbourg between 1480 and 1599 had been to university, while Georg Rhau became a printer in Wittenberg only after having held the chair of music at the university.73 Printing involved art, technology, labor, commerce, and intellectual activity, and it is not surprising that printers themselves were drawn from all these worlds, and often continued to inhabit them. On the one hand was Heinrich Seybold of Strasbourg, whose printing business was ancillary to his main profession as a physician.74 On the other hand, in the smaller shops it was not unknown for the master himself, along with his wife and children, to roll up their sleeves and share in the presswork.75 Examples of women printers are rare but not unknown. As with all the regulated trades, it was common for businesses to pass to others through marriage or re-marriage as well as through direct (male) inheritance; but it was unusual for women to run presses themselves for any length of time, or to carry out business in their own name. Margarethe Prüss of Strasbourg, whose three husbands were all printers, ran her dead father’s shop for two brief periods of widowhood (1522–1525 and 1526–1527). Another Strasbourg woman, the unmarried Walpurg Wühinger, purchased citizenship in 1525 and joined the printers’ trade guild, but seems to have printed nothing.76

The printers can justifiably be called unsung heroes of the Reformation, because of the dangers they ran in handling religious pamphlets. In addition to the usual commercial risks, publishers of such material in the Empire, between 1521 and 1528, were acting in contravention of the Edict of Worms. In practice, the Edict was enforced along partisan lines, to enable an evangelical city council to act against a Catholic printer (such as Johann Grüninger in Strasbourg), or a Catholic council against evangelical printers (such as Leipzig and Dresden under Duke Georg). Partly for this reason, and partly to make a profit, some printers handled the pamphlets of both sides indiscriminately (examples include Johann Weissenberger at Landshut, Valentin Schumann at Leipzig, and Ulrich Morhart at Tübingen). But others clearly worked in accordance with their own religious convictions, such as the Catholics Peter Quentel at Cologne, Alexander Weissenhorn at Ingolstadt, who printed for Eck, and Nicholas Wolrab at Leipzig, who printed for Cochlaeus. The greatest risks were run by those who printed Anabaptist works, who could not rely on a friendly council but could depend on the hostility of Protestants and Catholics alike. One such was the Nuremberg printer Hans Hergot, who was executed in 1527 for printing the pamphlet The New Transformation of a Christian Life, which describes a communalist utopia.77 In a display of ecumenical intolerance typical of the age, Hergot was prosecuted by Luther for publishing falsified copies of his New Testament, and by Duke Georg of Saxony on the other side of the religious divide. It was at the latter’s instigation that Hergot was killed.

The tragic example of Hergot and his vision of a society free from the tyranny of property reminds us how socially conservative the 16th century was. But in spite of its conservatism and deep concern with matters of status and rank (not even Hergot proposed the outright abolition of the nobility), it was also a period of great social mobility and the breaking down of time-honored distinctions. The rise of the commercial classes meant that the landed gentry no longer had a monopoly of wealth, while the expansion of university education challenged the Church’s claim to monopolize learning: the difference between cleric and layperson was no longer that between the lettered and the unlettered. The role of the clergy was partly confirmed, partly further undermined, by such lay movements as the devotio moderna and the popularity of lay-controlled confraternities. The Reformation, when it came, was led by clergy and monks, who preached the open Bible and the priesthood of all believers, and in doing so undermined their own position in society. We can see from the background and education of both pamphleteers and printers that they, no less than the pamphlets they produced, inhabited the social and cultural meeting-point of worlds hitherto kept apart.


Pamphlets were ephemeral productions designed to be read as soon as they came off the press. The efforts described above of pamphleteers and printers to design, produce, and market these little books would have been wasted without the prospect of an immediate, paying readership. Unfortunately, this is the aspect of the process we can say least about with any degree of certainty. One can of course deduce from the characteristics of a pamphlet the “public” at which it was aimed; but that is no firm indication of the audience actually reached.78 Equally, one can deduce from the fact that pamphlets have survived to this day in libraries and private collections that these books were bought and owned and preserved; but book owning is not the same as book reading. Much invaluable work has been done on the inventories of books sometimes attached to 16th-century wills.79 But pamphlets were often not considered worth recording separately, alongside more valuable bound volumes, and inventory evidence is therefore sketchy at best. It seems that our understanding of pamphlet-consumption is destined to lag behind our understanding of pamphlet production.

Review of the Literature

Despite over a century and a half of intensive research, the phenomenon of printing, propaganda, and public opinion in the time of Martin Luther remains enigmatic. The amount of printed material that has survived is considerable, and through such developments as the Universal Short-Title Catalogue and the progressive digitization of library holdings, it is now more accessible than ever before. Academics who conducted their doctoral research before the late 1990s can only envy the facilities available to their present-day successors. However, there is much we still do not know about this mass of material. We do not know how representative were the views they contain, or how effective these publications were at persuading others of those views. Precisely because it has been, and remains, so enigmatic, the field of Reformation printing has been perhaps more than usually vulnerable to the vagaries of scholarly fashion. Before suggesting how this field is likely to develop in future, it might be instructive briefly to review the manner in which it has been treated in the past.

Past Approaches to Pamphlet Literature

A pamphlet in 16th-century Germany was known in Latin as a libellus (from which the English word “libel” derives) and in German as a buchlein or, often, a schandbuchlein. The term “flying writing” (Flugschrift in German, feuille volante in French) was first coined by C. F. D. Schubart in 1787–1788.80 Unlike the neutral English word “pamphlet,” both sets of terms were pejorative, one emphasizing their role in slandering their opponents, the other emphasizing their transitory nature. The terms reinforced the idea that Reformation pamphlets were cheap, crude, and aesthetically unprepossessing artefacts of far less interest to the bibliographer than literary works of more lasting value, and it is fair to say that, because of this, pamphlets received little scholarly attention until the second half of the 19th century.81

The case for studying pamphlets as a worthwhile subject of historical and theological inquiry in their own right was first put seriously by Gottfried Blochwitz in a 1930 article.82 Blochwitz set the agenda for much subsequent discussion by categorizing authors according to the fidelity with which they reproduced Luther’s doctrine of justification by faith alone. He concluded that these pamphlets were evidence that Luther had disseminated his message successfully to every level of society, even the lowest. Blochwitz’s research questions and conclusions reflected the interests of his day. During the 1930s and 1940s, Nazi ideology would deify “the common [German] man,” his wisdom and traditions, as was reflected in a general scholarly interest at the time in volkisch lore and movements.83 Under the Third Reich, Luther’s mastery of the print propaganda of his time was seen explicitly as a forerunner of Hitler’s mastery of the wireless and the newsreel, as can be seen from a wartime doctoral dissertation in which Luther was presented quite explicitly as a literary Volksführer.84 Reformation pamphlets became object lessons in the successful propagandizing of a populace, and were hailed, quite literally, as weapons in a propaganda war: two selections of pamphlets appeared in the early 1930s with uncompromisingly militaristic titles: Stormtroopers of the Reformation and Satirical Field Artillery against the Reformation.85

The theme of “Luther and public opinion” was specifically addressed in a book of the same name by the French Germanist Maurice Gravier, who studied a select number of Reformation pamphlets from a series of perspectives: their position for or against Luther, their value for shedding light on social and economic history, and their literary merit.86 It was perhaps over-ambitious in its scope, and it makes the mistake of assuming that the message of the pamphlets reflected public opinion. But given the personal and practical difficulties Gravier must have faced in writing about a German national hero in German-occupied France, his work deserves to be considered a landmark study.

More Recent Research

Perhaps because of the enthusiasm with which pamphlet studies were prosecuted in the Nazi era, the immediate post-war years saw a decline of interest. One of the most important works to emerge in the 1950s was Ingeborg Kolodziej’s dissertation, completed in Berlin at the height of the Cold War; although pioneering in several respects, and still widely cited to this day, it is indicative of the contemporary state of pamphlet research that it was never published.87 Not until the mid-1970s was the interest of scholars fully revived, and this was due to three factors above all.

The Impact of Information Technology

The development of ready-made statistical programs for mainframe computers in the 1960s and 1970s enabled historians who were not programming specialists to access computers for the manipulation of large bodies of data. The analysis of catalogue entries of 16th-century book collections, broken down by author, date, provenance, publisher, language, format, and so on, was pioneered by R. G. Cole in his study of the Gustav Freytag pamphlet collection.88 This was followed by similar computer analyses by Chrisman and Edwards, though their studies were not restricted to pamphlets.89 A statistical approach to early printed pamphlets and books was also taken by R. A. Crofts.90 The advent of the worldwide web transformed this field of study in two ways. First, it meant that large bibliographies could be hosted online and laid the foundation for the holy grail of researchers, a union catalogue of all 16th-century holdings extant in libraries. The Universal Short-Title Catalogue is hosted at St. Andrews and has been supported chiefly by the United Kingdom’s Arts and Humanities Research Council. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly for the purposes of this entry, digital copies of holdings of regional German libraries are being made accessible online free of charge. This service lacks the sophistication of an equivalent paid-for service such as Early English Books Online (which alongside digital images provides the machine-readable text of the books), but is nonetheless likely to revolutionize the study of German Reformation pamphlets once again.

The “History of the Book” Approach

The second of the three factors behind the renaissance of pamphlet research is the adoption of the so-called “history of the book” approach. Pioneered by French scholars such as Lucien Febvre, it attempts to locate printing in its social and cultural context and is therefore an arm of cultural history.91 The most ambitious attempt to apply this approach to 16th-century book production was E. L. Eisenstein’s The Printing Press as an Agent of Change. Chrisman’s essay on the Strasbourg book trade applies the same method to a detailed local study, while Natalie Zemon Davis’s classic studies of book production in Lyon also fall under this heading. Since then, the “history of the book” has continued to develop as one of the most vibrant areas of study in early-modern history. Something of its vitality can be gauged from the Library of the Written Word series, published by Brill under the direction of Andrew Pettegree.

The Reformation “Public Sphere”

The third factor, which has particularly characterized German-language studies, is the post-war growth of methods for assessing the effectiveness of mass communications. The result has been an unlikely alliance of capitalist and Marxist methodologies brought to bear on the Reformation pamphlet. The way was led in the 1970s by Balzer’s analysis of Hans Sachs’s pamphlets according to the principles of mass communication research and market research, and by Schütte’s study of Murner’s Great Lutheran Fool using propaganda theory.92 Behind both works lay the application to the early 16th century of Jurgen Habermas’s concept of bürgerliche Öffentlichkeit, a multivalent term usually translated into English as “the bourgeois public sphere.” While Habermas himself insisted that the condition for the development of the public sphere proper did not exist before the 18th century, the case has been put for the emergence of a reformatorische Öffentlichkeit (a “Reformation public sphere”) in the 1520s.93 These limited studies were followed by the work of H.-J. Köhler and his pamphlet research unit based at Tübingen, who subjected much larger samples of pamphlets to an array of approaches, including communication theory and propaganda analysis and opinion research.94 Bernd Moeller’s Flugschriften project at Göttingen also produced a series of valuable studies based on more traditional content analysis.95

The public sphere approach has had the effect of demonstrating the importance of context when discussing German Reformation propaganda. First, it is now usual to speak of a communication process in which the public were not mere recipients of a propaganda message but active participants within the Reformation public sphere. It is also acknowledged that, for various reasons, the Reformation public sphere that obtained in Germany was not replicated elsewhere, and therefore that the German experience cannot be taken as indicative of the European experience as a whole.96 Finally, the Reformation public sphere needs to be seen as one stage, and an early one at that, of a communications revolution that would last centuries and would come to include such developments as those of a postal service and the newspaper.97 The fact that recent generations have lived through three communications revolutions in quick succession (the personal computer in the 1980s, the Internet in the 1990s, and mobile computing in the 2000s) sensitizes us to the experience of analogous change undergone by previous generations and, combined with the greater access to research materials made possible by those very advances, encourages one to believe that the study of printing, propaganda, and public opinion in the age of Luther will continue to flourish.

Primary Sources

Opportunities for getting to grips with German Reformation pamphlets are understandably limited for those who lack a reading knowledge of 16th-century German and (in some cases) Latin. An excellent starting place would be Luther’s own pamphlets, which range from the short and pithy (The Sermon on Indulgence and Grace of 1518) to the long and pithy (To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation of 1520), and which can readily be found in the standard Luther translations. For instance, both the above-mentioned can be found in Timothy Wengert’s The Annotated Luther. For translations of typical pamphlets by publicists other than Luther, including an example of contemporary Catholic counter-propaganda, see Erika Rummel’s Scheming Papists and Lutheran Fools. Five Reformation Satires. See also B. D. Mangrum and G. Scarizzi, A Reformation Debate: Karlstadt, Emser, and Eck on Sacred Images. It is unfortunate that more anthologies of Reformation pamphlets do not exist in English translation, though there are examples of German equivalents, which are less forbidding to the learner than a digitized or even a real pamphlet. Thanks to its being reprinted in 1967, there are still copies of Otto Clemen’s valuable edition of Flugschriften aus den ersten Jahren der Reformation in university libraries. More recent anthologies include a series that originated in the German Democratic Republic and reflects Marxist principles of selection: Adolf Laube and Hans‑Werner Seiffert, Flugschriften der Bauernkriegszeit; Adolf Laube Flugschriften der frühen Reformationsbewegung (1518–1524, Flugschriften vom Bauernkrieg zum Täufferreich (152–1535), and Flugschriften gegen die Reformation (1525–1530. Many examples of printed broadsheets can be found in Max Geisberg and W.L Strauss, The German Single-Leaf Woodcut: 1500–1550.98

For the more advanced student, the digitized holdings of German regional libraries are proving to be a wonderful, free, resource. The process is not yet complete, but it has already transformed the field, especially for scholars based outside Germany. Notable collections include those of Bavaria, Erfurt-Gotha, and Saxony-Anhalt. The best finding aid for German pamphlets since 2000 has been the Verzeichnis der im deutschen Sprachbereich erschienenen Drucke des 16, abbreviated as VD16.99 A version of this is now online, hosted by the Bavarian State Library. As of April 2012, about 30 percent of the entries in VD16 had been digitized. For pamphlets printed outside Germany, the best starting-point is the USTC (Universal Short Title Catalogue).

Further Reading

  • Behringer, Wolfgang. “Communications Revolutions: A Historiographical Concept.” German History 24.3 (2006): 333–374.
  • Chrisman, Miriam U. Conflicting Visions of Reform: German Lay Propaganda Pamphlets, 1519–1530. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1996.
  • Dickens, Arthur Geoffrey. The German Nation and Martin Luther. London: Harper & Row, 1974.
  • Edwards, Mark U., Jr. Printing, Propaganda, and Martin Luther. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1994.
  • Eisenstein, Elizabeth L. The Printing Press as an Agent of Change: Communications and Cultural Transformations in Early-Modern Europe. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1979.
  • Gilmont, Jean François, ed. The Reformation and the Book. Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 1998.
  • Matheson, Peter. The Rhetoric of the Reformation. London: T&T Clark, 1998.
  • Moeller, Bernd. “Flugschriften der Reformationszeit,” Theologische Realenzyklopädie, Vol. 11, ed. Siegfried M. Schwertner. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1983.
  • Ozment, Steven. The Serpent and the Lamb: Cranach, Luther, and the Making of the Reformation. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2011.
  • Pettegree, Andrew, and Matthew Hall. “The Reformation and the Book: A Reconsideration.” Historical Journal 47 (2004): 1–24.
  • Pettegree, Andrew. Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
  • Scribner, Robert W. For the Sake of Simple Folk: Popular Propaganda for the German Reformation. 2d ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981.


  • 1. Mark U. Edwards Jr., Printing, Propaganda, and Martin Luther (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1994); see Table 1 on 18f.

  • 2. Hans-Joachim Köhler, “Erste Schritte zu einem Meinungsprofil der frühen Reformationszeit,” in Martin Luther: Probleme seiner Zeit, Volker Press and Dieter Stievermann (eds), Spätmittelalter und Frühe Neuzeit (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1986), 250. Miriam U. Chrisman, Lay Culture, Learned Culture: Books and Social Change in Strasbourg (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1982).

  • 3. WA TR 1:523, no. 1038.

  • 4. Cited in Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change: Communications and Cultural Transformations in Early-Modern Europe (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 305.

  • 5. Lawrence Stone, “Literacy and Education in England, 1640-1900,” Past and Present 42 (1969): 69–139.

  • 6. Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, passim.

  • 7. Berndt Hamm, “Die Reformation als Medienereignis,” Jahrbuch für biblische Theologie 11 (1996): 137–166.

  • 8. Bernd Moeller, “Stadt und Buch: Bemerkungen zur Struktur der reformatorischen Bewegung in Deutschland,” in Stadtbürgertum und Adel in der Reformatio: Studien zur Sozialgeschichte der Reformation in England und Deutschland, ed. W. J. Mommsen (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1979), 25–39, at 30.

  • 9. Arthur Geoffrey Dickens, The German Nation and Martin Luther (London: Harper & Row, 1974), 103.

  • 10. Robert Scribner, “Oral Culture and the Diffusion of Reformation Ideas,” History of European Ideas 5 (1984): 238.

  • 11. Luther, foreword to Fastenpostille (WA 17/II: 2–3).

  • 12. WA 4:476–478, no. 4763. Other anti-book-proliferation sentiments can be found at 6:458 (the doleful influence of Aristotle’s books); WA 15:50 (against monastic books); WA 53:217f. (that not all books are good); WA TR 4:75, no. 4012 (that the books of some Latin poets should be banned); WA TR 4:84f., no. 4025 (that there are too many books and only the Bible should be read); WA TR 4:432f., no. 4691 (against “the infinite sea of books”); WA TR 5:662–665, no. 6442 (the existence of the Bible in German makes other publications unnecessary).

  • 13. John L. Flood, “Le livre dans le monde germanique à l’époque de la Réforme,” in Jean-François Gilmont, ed., La Réforme et le livre. L’Europe de l’imprimé (1517–v.1570) (Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1990), 61f.

  • 14. An influential example is Gottfried Blochwitz, “Die antirömischen deutschen Flugschriften der frühen Reformationszeit (bis 1522) in ihrer religiös-sittlichen Eigenart,” Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 27 (1930): 145–254.

  • 15. See, for example, Hans-Joachim Köhler, “‘Der Bauer wird witzig’: Der Bauer in den Flugschriften der Reformationszeit,” in Zugänge zur Bauerlichen Reformation, ed. Peter Blickle (Zurich: Chronos, 1987), 196–198; Miriam Usher Chrisman, Conflicting Visions of Reform. German Lay Propaganda Pamphlets, 1519–1530 (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1996), 7; Peter Matheson, The Rhetoric of the Reformation (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1998), 84.

  • 16. Scribner, “Oral culture,” 238, 251. Contrast the approach taken by Steven Ozment in Protestants: The Birth of a Revolution (New York: Doubleday, 1992).

  • 17. Steven E. Ozment, ed., Reformation Europe: A Guide to Research (St. Louis, MO: Center for Reformation Research, 1982); W. S. Maltby, ed., Reformation Europe: A Guide to Research II (St. Louis, MO: Center for Reformation Research, 1992); David Whitford, ed., Reformation and Early Modern Europe: A Guide to Research (Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2008).

  • 18. Flood, “Le livre dans le monde germanique,” 100.

  • 19. Johann Cochlaeus, Auff Luthers Trostbrieff an ettliche zu Leiptzigk, Antwort und grundtliche unterricht, was mit denselbigen gehandelt (Dresden: Wolfgang Stöckel, 1533), sig. aiir-v. Cochlaeus makes this point in an interesting foreword, in which he compares the huge sums wasted each year on heretical books in Germany with the fabulous wealth accruing to those more loyal Catholic realms, Spain and Portugal, from their newfound lands.

  • 20. Martin Arnold, Handwerker als theologische Schriftstelle: Studien zu Flugschriften der frühen Reformation (1523–1525) (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1990), 330. Peter Matheson, Argula von Grumbach: A Woman’s Voice in the Reformation (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1995), 136 et passim.

  • 21. Heinrich von Kettenbach, Ein Sermon zu der löblichen Statt Ulm zu seynem Valete in Flugschriften aus den ersten Jahren der Reformation, 4 vols., ed. Otto Clemen (1907–1911; repr. 1967), 2: 107. Other evidence of pamphlets being read aloud is collated by Scribner, “Oral culture,” 241–243. Andrew Pettegree questions whether this would have been a widespread practice, given the strict social distance between the literate and the illiterate. See his Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 117–120.

  • 22. Monika Rössing-Hager, “Wie stark findet der nichtlesekundige Rezipient Berücksichtigung in der Flugschriften?” in Flugschriften als Massenmedium der Reformation, ed. H.-J. Köhler, Spätmittelalter und Frühe Neuzeit 13 (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1981), 77–137. See also R.W. Scribner, “Oral culture and the transmission of Reformation ideas” in Helga Robinson-Hammerstein, ed., The Transmission of Ideas in the Lutheran Reformation (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1989), 83–104.

  • 23. Scribner, For the Sake of Simple Folk: Popular Propaganda for the German Reformation, second edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), xv. The concept of hybridization is borrowed from McLuhan.

  • 24. Flood, “Le livre dans le monde germanique,” 90.

  • 25. Edwards, Printing, Propaganda, 39 and 172.

  • 26. Flood, “Le livre dans le monde germanique,” 94, 95.

  • 27. Pettegree, Culture of Persuasion, 169ff. See also his comments on reasons for purchasing books “which have little or nothing to do with reading” on 156–159.

  • 28. R. W. Scribner, “Practice and Principle in the German towns: Preachers and People,” in Reformation Principle and Practice: Essays Presented to Arthur Geoffrey Dickens, ed., Peter Newman Brooks (London: Scolar Press, 1980), 97–117, see at Table 4. Scribner gives the example of Bartholomeus Rieseberg, an agricultural labourer until the age of 17, when he sought an education. Attaching himself to a succession of tutors and schools, he eventually enrolled at the university of Wittenberg in 1518. He became a convinced Lutheran and eventually returned to his own village as its pastor (p. 106).

  • 29. Kai-Wing Chow, “Reinventing Gutenberg: Woodblock and Movable-Type Printing in Europe and China,” in Agent of Change: Print Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, eds., Sabrina Alcorn Brown, Eric N. Lindquist, and Eleanor F. Shevlin (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2007), 169–192.

  • 30. Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 30; Lucien Febvre and H.-J. Martin, L’apparition du livre (Paris: Albin Michel, 1974), 56.

  • 31. See Robinson-Hammerstein, The Transmission of Ideas, 18, and the literature cited there.

  • 32. Bernd Moeller, “Flugschriften der Reformationszeit,” Theologische Realenzyklopädie, Vol. 11 (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1983) 240. See the Universal Short-Title Catalogue (USTC) for details of formats.

  • 33. Moeller, Theologische Realenzyklopädie, Vol. 11, 240; Herbert Walz, Deutsche Literatur der Reformationszeit: Eine Einführung (Darmstadt, Germany: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1988), 66. On the Jetzer case, Luther’s later literary opponent Thomas Murner, OFM, published the tract Die war History von der vier Ketzer Prediger Ordens zu Bern verbrant (Strasbourg, Germany: Johann Knobloch, 1510); Johannes Pfefferkorn, the former Jew who opposed Reuchlin over the banning of the Talmud, advised the expulsion or enslavement of all Jews in the Holy Roman Empire in his pamphlet Ich bin ain büchlinn der Juden veindt ist mein namen (Augsburg, 1509).

  • 34. H.-J. Köhler, “Die Flugschriften. Versuch der Präzisierung eines geläufigen Begriffs,” in Festgabe für Ernst Walter Zeeden zum 60: Geburtstag, eds. H. Rabe and Hansgeorg Molitor (Münster: Aschendorff, 1976), 36–61, at 50. Köhler’s definition is helpfully expanded by Johannes Schwitalla in his Deutsche Flugschriften, 1460–1525. Textsortengeschichtliche Studien (Tübingen, Germany: Niemeyer Max Verlag, 1983), 14.

  • 35. See Tables 2 and 3 in Richard G. Cole, “The Reformation pamphlet and communication processes” in Köhler, Flugschriften als Massenmedium, 139–161.

  • 36. Useful introductions to the message of the Reformation pamphlet in English can be found in Ozment, Protestants, 45–86 and in two books by Peter Matheson: The Rhetoric of the Reformation (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1998) and The Imaginative World of the Reformation (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001).

  • 37. The German word Sermon is a linguistic “false friend” for modern English-speakers, usually representing the Latin sermo (“reasoned discourse”). For example, Luther’s Eyn Sermon von dem Newen Testament of 1519 was in fact a treatise. A sermon proper was normally entitled “ein Predigt.”

  • 38. See Ralph Keen’s analysis of Bugenhagen’s Epistola ad Anglos (1525) in his Johannes Cochlaeus: Responsio ad Bugenhagium Pomeranum (Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1988), 17–22.

  • 39. For examples translated into English, see Erika Rummel, Scheming Papists and Lutheran Fools. Five Reformation Satires (New York: Fordham University Press, 1993), which contains selections from Hutten and others. See also W. Lenk, Die Reformation im zeitgenössischen Dialog (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1968) and Bernd Balzer, Bürgerliche Reformationspropaganda: Die Flugschriften des Hans Sachs in den Jahren, 1523–25 (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1973), 99–104.

  • 40. Text in F. Vetter, ed., Niklaus Manuels Spiel evangelischer Freiheit: Die Totenfresser. “Vom Papst und seiner Priesterschaft” 1523 (Leipzig: H. Haessel, 1923).

  • 41. “Die wittembergisch Nachtigall, die man ietz horet uberall,” in Ausgewählte Werke, Vol. 1, Hans Sachs (Leipzig: Insel, 1923), 8–24.

  • 42. See D. Kurze, Johannes Lichtenberger: Eine Studie zur Geschichte der Prophetie und Astrologie, Historische Studien 379 (Lübeck, Germany: Matthiesen, 1960); also M. Steinmetz, “Johann Virdung von Hassfurt, sein Leben und seine astrologischen Flugschriften,” in Köhler, Flugschriften als Massenmedium, 353–372; and Paolo Zambelli, ed., “Astrologi hallucinati” : Stars and the End of the World in Luther’s Time (Berlin: de Gruyer, 1986).

  • 43. See David V. N. Bagchi, Luther’s Earliest Opponents. Catholic Controversialists, 1518–1525, second ed. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2009), 195.

  • 44. See Steven E. Ozment, “Pamphlet literature of the German Reformation,” in Reformation Europe: A Guide to Research (St Louis, 1982), 85–105, esp. 90–105.

  • 45. The anticlericalism presented in around 400 pamphlets was analyzed by Hans-Christoph Rublack in his essay “Anticlericalism in German Reformation Pamphlets,” in Anticlericalism in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, eds., P. A. Dykema and H. A, Oberman (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1993), 462–489. In the same volume, Ronnie Po-Chia Hsia (“Anticlericalism in German Reformation Pamphlets: A Response,” 491–498) challenged Rublack’s assumption that the pamphlets constitute a coherent historical source.

  • 46. H.-J. Köhler, “The Flugschriften and Their Importance in Religious Debate: A Quantitative Approach,” in Zambelli, Astrologi hallucinati, 161–162.

  • 47. A. M. Hind, An Introduction to the History of Woodcut (New York: Dover, 1963), 76.

  • 48. See R. Engelsing, Analphabetentum und Lektüre. Zur Sozialgeschichte der Lesens in Deutschland zwischen feudaler und industrieller Gesellschaft (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1973), 22–23.

  • 49. Scribner, For the Sake of Simple Folk, 228.

  • 50. Deuttung der czwo grewlichen Figuren, Bapstesels czu Rom und Munchkalbs zu Freyerberg ijnn Meysszen funden (Wittenberg: J. Rhau-Grünenberg, 1523), in 11: 375–385. On the Pope-Ass, see most recently Lawrence P. Buck, The Roman Monster. An Icon of the Papal Antichrist in Reformation Polemics (Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2014).

  • 51. See Scribner, For the Sake of Simple Folk, ills 43, 46, and 51.

  • 52. H.-J. Köhler, “Erste Schritte,” 262f. The categories used by Köhler are: polemical (82 examples); illustrative/explanatory (213); heraldic motifs/portraits (134); devotional images/saints/Biblical motifs (84); theological instruction (6).

  • 53. Scribner, For the Sake of Simple Folk, ills 165f., 48, 115–126.

  • 54. Scribner, For the Sake of Simple Folk, 231; Pettegree, Culture of Persuasion, 111–117.

  • 55. R. G. Cole, “Pamphlet woodcuts in the communication process of Reformation Germany,” in Pietas et Societas. New Trends in Reformation Social History: Essays in Memory of Harold J. Grimm, eds., K. C. Sessions and P. N. Bebb, Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies 4 (Kirksville, MO: Sixteenth Century Journal Publishers, 1985), 103–121. See also Konrad Hoffman, “Typologie, Exemplarik und reformatorische Bildsatire,” in Kontinuität und Umbruch: Theologie und Frömmigkeit in Flugschriften und Kleinliteratur an der Wende vom 15. zum 16. Jahrhundert, eds. J. Nolte (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1978), 203f.

  • 56. Scribner, For the Sake of Simple Folk, ill. 93.

  • 57. Hoffmann, “Typologie,” 194–202. Scribner himself did not recognize the allusion to Balaam’s ass and so misinterpreted the picture as ambiguous and fatalistic (Simple Folk, 122f.).

  • 58. Scribner, For the Sake of Simple Folk, ill. 33. Again, in his explanation of this cut, Scribner seems unaware of its classical dimension.

  • 59. Jean-François Gilmont, “Pour une typologie du ‘Flugschrift’ des débuts de la Réforme,” Revue d’Histoire Ecclesiastique 78 (1983), 788–809, at 297.

  • 60. On the 16th-century iconoclastic controversy, see the classic study by C. M. N. Eire, War Against the Idols: The Reformation of Worship from Erasmus to Calvin (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1986).

  • 61. R. W. Scribner, “The Incombustible Luther: The Image of the Reformer in Early Modern Germany,” Past and Present 110 (1986), 38–68.

  • 62. Edwards, Printing, Propaganda, 109–130.

  • 63. Robinson-Hammerstein, Transmission, 31f; Ruth B. Bottigheimer, “Bible Reading, ‘Bibles’, and the Bible for Children in Early Modern Germany,” Past and Present 139 (1993), 66–89.

  • 64. Walz (Deutsche Literatur, 64f.) suggests that anonymity was a deliberate tactic to hint at greater popular support than there was. In his analysis of the Freytag Collection of pamphlets, Richard G. Cole shows that some 57 percent (930 out of 1624) polemical pamphlets were anonymous (see Cole, “Reformation Pamphlet and Communication Processes,” Table 4), while 45 percent of all pamphlets lack some note of publisher, place, or date (Cole, “Reformation in Print”). Of the much larger number of pamphlets examined in the Tübingen project, 71 percent lack indication of provenance, 47 percent lack a date (see Flood, “Le livre dans le monde germanique,” 53).

  • 65. Figures taken from Edwards, Printing, Table 5. These indications of prolificity are not entirely trustworthy. There was no contemporary German equivalent of the English Stationers’ Company or its records, so modern bibliographies are based on existing library collections, which may well betray a collecting bias in favour of more famous authors.

  • 66. Scribner, “Practice and Principle in the German Towns.”

  • 67. Scribner, “Practice and Principle in the German Towns,” Table 1.

  • 68. Ibid, Table 2.

  • 69. Ibid, Table 3.

  • 70. Ibid, Table 4.

  • 71. Chrisman, Conflicting Visions of Reform. The categories and statistics presented here are abstracted from Fig. 6.

  • 72. Chrisman, Conflicting Visions, 7. See also H.-J. Köhler, “‘Der Bauer wird witzig’: der Bauer in den Flugschriften der Reformationszeit,” in Zugänge zur Bäuerlichen Reformation, ed. Peter Blickle (Zurich: Chronos, 1987), 187–218. Contrast David Bagchi, “Poets, Peasants, and Pamphlets: Who Wrote and Who Read Reformation Flugschriften?” Studies in Church History 42 (2006), 189–196.

  • 73. Chrisman, Lay Culture, Table 4; Flood. “Le livre dans le monde germanique,” 46.

  • 74. Chrisman, Lay Culture, 10.

  • 75. Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin, The Coming of the Book. The Impact of Printing 1450–1800 (London and New York: Verso, 1990), 131.

  • 76. Chrisman, Lay Culture, 22, 23.

  • 77. Chrisman, Conflicting Visions, 129f.

  • 78. Natalie Zemon Davis’s famous stricture, cited in Jean‑François Gilmont, “L'imprimerie à l'aube du XVIe siècle,” in idem, La Réforme et le livre, 24.

  • 79. For England, see Elisabeth S. Leedham-Green, ed., Books in Cambridge Inventories, 2 vols. (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1987–1988); Robert J. Fehrenbach, ed., Private Libraries in Renaissance England, 7 vols. (Binghamton, NY, and Tempe, AZ: Medieval and Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1992–2009), now supplemented by PLRE.Folger. For Strasbourg, see Chrisman, Lay Culture.

  • 80. See Walz, Deutsche Literatur, 62 and Hella Tompert, “Die Flugschrift als Medium religiöser Publizistik. Aspekte der gegenwärtigen Forschung” in Kontinuität und Umbruch. Theologie und Frömmigkeit in Flugschriften und Kleinliteratur an der Wende vom 15. zum 16. Jahrhundert, eds., Josef Nolte, Hella Tompert, and Christof Windhorst (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1978), 216.

  • 81. An important turning point in the development of pamphlet studies was the publication of Oskar Schade’s three-volume edited selection, Satiren und Pasquille aus der Reformationszeit, 3 vols. (Hanover: C. Rümpler, 1856–1858).

  • 82. Gottfried Blochwitz, “Die antirömischen deutschen Flugschriften der frühen Reformationszeit (bis 1522) in ihrer religiös-sittlichen Eigenart,” Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 27 (1930), 145–254.

  • 83. For a summary of this trend, with suggestions for further reading, see R. W. Scribner, “Ritual and Popular Religion in Catholic Germany at the Time of the Reformation,” in Popular Culture and Popular Movements in Reformation Germany, ed. R. W. Scribner (London: Hambledon, 1987), 17. On Blochwitz in context, see P. Bockmann, “Der gemeine Mann in den Flugschriften der Reformationszeit,” in Formensprache Studien zur Literaturästhetik und Dichtungsinterpretation, ed. P. Bockmann (Hamburg, 1966), 11–44.

  • 84. Alexander Centgraf, “Martin Luther als Publizist: Geist und Form seiner Volksführung” (Berlin, 1940), cited in Tompert, “Aspekte,” 218.

  • 85. Arnold E. Berger (ed.), Die Sturmtruppen der Reformation: Ausgewählte Flugschriften der Jahre, 1520–25 (Leipzig, 1931) and idem, Satirische Feldzüge wider der Reformation: Thomas Murner, Daniel von Soest (Leipzig: Diesterweg, 1933).

  • 86. Maurice Gravier, Luther et l’opinion publique: Essai sur la littérature satirique et polémique en langue allemande pendant les années décisives de la Réforme (1520–1530) (Paris: Editions Montaigne, 1942).

  • 87. Ingeborg Kolodziej, “Die Flugschriften aus den ersten Jahren der Reformation (1517–1525),” (PhD iss., Freie-Universität, Berlin, 1956).

  • 88. Richard G. Cole, “The Reformation in Print: German Pamphlets and Propaganda,” Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 66 (1975), 93–102.

  • 89. Chrisman, Lay Culture; Mark U. Edwards Jr., “Catholic Controversial Literature, 1518–1555: Some Statistics,” ARG 79 (1988), 189–204; Mark U. Edwards Jr., “Statistics on Sixteenth-Century Printing,” in P.N. Bebb and S. Marshall (eds), The Process of Change in Early Modern Europe: Essays in Honor of Miriam Usher Chrisman (Athens, OH, 1989), 149–163. For an earlier analysis of Luther’s literary output, Edwards had written a program for that specific purpose. See Luther’s Last Battles: Politics and Polemics, 1531–46 (Leiden, The Netherlands, 1983), 211.

  • 90. R. A. Crofts, “Books, Reform, and the Reformation,” ARG 71 (1980), 21–36; R. A. Crofts, “Printing, Reform and the Catholic Reformation in Germany (1521-1545),” Sixteenth Century Journal 16 (1985), 369–381.

  • 91. Lucien Febvre and H.-J. Martin, L’apparition du livre (Paris, 1974).

  • 92. Bernd Balzer, Bürgerliche Reformationspropaganda: Die Flugschriften des Hans Sachs in den Jahren 1523–25 (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1973); J. Schütte, “Schympf red”: Frühformen bürgerliche Agitation in Thomas Murners “Grossen Lutherischen Narren” (1522) (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1973).

  • 93. See Rainer Wohlfeil, “Reformatorische Öffentlichkeit,” in Literatur und Laienbildung im Spätmittelalter und in der Reformationszeit, eds., Ludger Grenzmann and Karl Stackmann (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1984), 41–54; Rainer Wohlfeil, Einführung in die Geschichte der deutschen Reformation (Munich: Beck, 1981).

  • 94. Köhler, ed., Flugschriften als Massenmedium; Kohler, “Erste Schritte.”

  • 95. Bernd Moeller, “Die frühe Reformation als Kommunikationsprozeß,” in Kirche und Gesellschaft im Heiligen Römischen Reich des 15. und 16. Jahrhunderts, ed., Harmut Boockmann (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1994), 148–164; Bernd Moeller, “Das Berühmtwerden Luthers,” Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung 15 (1988), 65–92; Thomas Hohenberger, Lutherische Rechtfertigungslehre in den reformatorischen Flugschriften der Jahre 1521–1522 (Tübingen, Germany: J. C. B. Mohr, 1996) is an excellent example of the Göttingen approach.

  • 96. Andrew Pettegree and Matthew Hall, “The Reformation and the Book: A Reconsideration,” Historical Journal 47 (2004), 1–24.

  • 97. Wolfgang Behringer, “Communications Revolutions: A Historiographical Concept,” German History 24.3 (2006), 333–374.

  • 98. Timothy Wengert, ed., The Annotated Luther, Vol. 1: The Roots of Reform (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2015). For translations, see Erika Rummel, Scheming Papists and Lutheran Fools. See also B. D. Mangrum and G. Scarizzi, eds, A Reformation Debate: Karlstadt, Emser, and Eck on Sacred Images (Toronto: Dovehouse Editions, 1991). Reprinted in 1967; Otto Clemen, Flugschriften aus den ersten Jahren der Reformation, 4 vols. (Leipzig: Haupt, 1907–1911) can be found in university libraries. Recent anthologies include Adolf Laube and Hans‑Werner Seiffert, eds., Flugschriften der Bauernkriegszeit (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1975); Adolf Laube, Annerose Schneider, and Sigrid Looss, eds., Flugschriften der frühen Reformationsbewegung (1518–1524), 2 vols. (Vaduz: Akademie-Verlag, 1983); Adolf Laube, Annerose Schneider, and Sigrid Looss, eds., Flugschriften vom Bauernkrieg zum Täuferreich (1526–1535), 2 vols. (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1992); and Adolf Laube, Annerose Schneider, and Sigrid Looss, eds., Flugschriften gegen die Reformation (1525–1530), 2 vols. (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 2000). Printed broadsheets, Max Geisberg and W. L Strauss, eds., The German Single-Leaf Woodcut: 1500–1550 (New York: Hacker Art, 1974).

  • 99. Verzeichnis der im deutschen Sprachbereich erschienenen Drucke des 16. Jahrhunderts, ed. Irmgard Bezzel, 22 vols. (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1983–2000), abbreviated as VD16. This is a digitized collection of 16th century German publications.