Huldreich Zwingli

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Zwingli, Huldreich


Born Jan. 1, 1484, in Wildhaus; died Oct. 11, 1531, near Kappel. Swiss religious reformer and political figure. Founder of Zwinglianism, one of the burgher-bourgeois Protestant movements.

Zwingli was the son of a village magistrate. He was one of the most highly educated humanists of his time. Zwingli’s reforming work took place in Zürich, where he was appointed people’s priest in 1519, and was closely connected with the intensified sociopolitical struggle in the city. Progressive townspeople, who were associated with the new capitalist attitudes, the guilds, and the local peasantry opposed the patricians, the nobility, and the leadership of the city. Expressing the interests of the former classes, Zwingli developed an integrated system for the reform of the church and the political order. Zwingli’s religious teachings had much in common with those of Luther, but Zwingli was more decisive than Luther in his opposition to the ceremonial aspects of Catholicism. He explained the sacraments of the Eucharist and baptism, for example, rationally, considering them symbols rather than mysteries. Zwingli opposed the republicanism of his church to the princely Lutheran Reformation. He advocated the possession of small holdings and condemned usury, serfdom, and the use of mercenaries.

In 1522, Zwingli openly broke with the pope, abandoned his priestly calling, and married. In the following year he emerged the victor in his dispute with the Catholic Church, and his 67 articles (1522) became the basis of Zwinglianism. In 1523, Zwingli began implementing his reform of the church and the political order in Zürich: monasteries were closed, images and relics were removed from churches, and monastery property was confiscated and turned over to the needs of charity and education. In addition, authority in the city passed from the oligarchical small council to the great council, in which the guilds dominated; the use of mercenaries and the acceptance of foreign pensions were made punishable by death. Zwinglianism also won out in Bern, Basel, Schaffhausen, Glarus, and St. Gallen which together with Zürich joined in the Christian Civic Alliance.

Zwingli, however, not only failed to draw strength from the peasant movement that arose in Zürich in 1524, but through minor concessions to the authorities accompanied by repression he brought about its elimination and instigated a persecution of the Anabaptists. Zwingli insisted on retaining the large tithe, gave his church a strict organizational form, and made the church dependent on the civil authorities. As a result, Zwingli weakened the mass support for his reforms. In a war with the Catholic forest cantons, the Zürich forces were defeated and Zwingli was killed in a battle at Kappel.


Sämtliche Werke, vols. 1–14. Leipzig-Zürich, 1904–68.


Prozorovskaia, B. D. Ul’rikh Tsvingli. St. Petersburg, 1892.
Köhler, W. Huldrych Zwingli, 2nd ed. Leipzig, 1954.
Farner, O. Huldrych Zwingli. vols. 1–4. Zürich, 1943–60.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
" "Reply to the Letters of Theobald Billican and Urban Rhegius," in Emil Egli, Georg Finsler, Walther Kohler and Oskar Farner, eds., Huldreich Zwinglis Samtliche Schriften, vol.
Jackson, trans, and ed., Selected Works of Huldreich Zwingli (Philadelphia: Heidelberg Press, 1901), 106.--Z 1: 561; Harder, Sources, 202.