179 estates such as Vösendorf and Hernals.78 Once the urban population had been returned to Catholicism, the nobles should be admonished to restrict their religious services to themselves and their households. If they respected these rami?ications, religious conditions in Austria would improve considerably. If they refused, they would bear the blame for a revocation of the concession.79 These recommendations echoed the principles established at the Munich Conference and closely mirrored policies in Inner Austria. During the initial phase of recatholization, it was more promising to isolate the nobility in society than to challenge its con?irmed privileges. Through the large-scale removal of ministers and the conversion of townspeople and peasants, Lutheranism was to lose its popular foundation. In the end, the remaining religious liberties would degenerate into an empty shell, to be pushed over at will. CONCLUSION The Protestant Reformation spread rapidly in the Habsburgs’ hereditary lands. It was popularized by itinerant preachers, by personal contacts with the early centers of the reform movement, and not least of all by an encompassing literature, which acquainted the literate segment of the population with the new tenets. From the very beginning, it was interconnected with wider social and political issues. The peasant wars of 1525/1526 visibly displayed the interpenetration of spiritual and political impulses. The new religious ideas touched broad segments of the Austrian populace. Only in the westernmost provinces could this development be interrupted early, aided by the successful suppression of the locally strong Anabaptist movement and its joint demand for social and spiritual reform. In the remaining provinces, Lutheranism seemed destined to establish itself as the majority religion, especially among the societal elites in aristocracy and urban patriciate. Yet religious conditions in Austria were determined by the ?irm adherence of the ruling dynasty to the old church. As was the case throughout much of Europe, the ruling monarchs decisively shaped religious conditions in their domains. The Peace of Augsburg symbolized a development in which the Protestant estates of the Holy Roman Empire acknowledged the emperor’s religious authority over his patrimonial subjects in exchange for securing autonomy for themselves. Thus, a religious reform movement that had reverberated throughout most of the empire was ultimately restricted to those territories in which the rulers had embraced it as well. Church and dynasty subsequently embarked on returning the imperial hereditary lands to Catholicism. This process took time, however, because the Habsburg territories were so diverse and geographically disjoined that the authorities 78 Ibid., 166. 79 Ibid., 168-170.
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