Luther’s doctrine of “the Universal Priesthood” is soon proclaimed in the churches of Nuremberg. An ordained priest is no longer necessary to mediate between God and man. All believers are equal before God. This radical concept develops an enormous social brisance - especially in the cities, where ever more people are able to read the pamphlets, or read them aloud to each other. The cities offer particularly fertile ground for new ideas.
The new doctrine goes hand in hand with growing criticism of the Church. For the poorer classes, it is less about faith and more about social justice. Their dissatisfaction merges with the protests of the peasants. As also in Nuremberg, where it is reported, “A large crowd of journeymen, apprentices and servants with knives and hammers demand exemption from taxes and duties, otherwise they will beat down the doors of the Town Hall and slay the councilmen.”
The municipal authorities in the Town Hall of the city of Nuremberg must act. In order to restore social and religious peace, a religious discussion is scheduled in the great hall. Invited are representative of the old - and the new - doctrines. Monks, faithful to the pope, debate with protestant pastors. Although the angry mob outside has long since made its decision. The records state, “The people waited for the monks, wanting to tear them apart. Many called for them to be flung out the windows.”
1525: Nuremberg, as the first imperial city, introduces the Lutheran Reformation on a mandatory basis. This is not actually legal, as religious authority is vested in the Bishop of Bamberg. He protests vehemently - but in vain. The political balance of power has shifted. Now the city council decides upon the fate of the church institutions. The monasteries are dissolved or, at the very least, forbidden from accepting new novices. The city shall administer the properties of the church and occupy all leading ecclesiastical offices. In all the churches of Nuremberg, Lutheran is preached. The reformer is delighted. “Nuremberg, you shine like the sun among the stars,” he is heard to say in March 1525. Many imperial cities are soon to follow Nuremberg’s example.