Diet (dies, day; German Reichstag), the assembly of the states of Germany. The Diet shared with the emperor the rights of sovereignty, except in a few cases reserved to the emperor. It consisted of three colleges-electors, princes, and free cities. To be valid, a resolution had to be adopted by all the three colleges, and to be sanctioned by the emperor. In a particular college a majority of votes was in most cases sufficient, but religious questions formed an exception. SEE CORPUS CATHOLICORUM and SEE CORPUS EVANGELICORUM. The elector of Mainz, as arch- chancellor of the empire, was director of the Diet.
The following list (taken from Buck, Theological Dictionary, and from Farrar, Ecclesiastical Dictionary) includes the chief Diets held in reference to the affairs of the Reformation.
1. The Diet of Worms, in 1521, in which Alexander, the pope's nuncio, having charged Luther with heresy, the duke of Saxony said that Luther ought to be heard. This the emperor granted, and sent him a pass, provided he would not preach on the journey. On Luther's arrival at Worms, he protested that he would not recant unless they would show him his errors from the Word of God alone. He was consequently ordered away from Worms, and, by an edict of the 26th of May, he was outlawed.
2. The First Diet of Nuremberg, in 1523, when Francis Chieregati, Adrian the Sixth's nuncio, demanded the execution of Leo the Tenth's bull, and of Charles the Fifth's edict, published at Worms, against Luther. It was answered that it was necessary to call a council in Germany to satisfy the nation respecting its grievances, which were reduced to one hundred articles, some of which struck at the pope's authority and the discipline of the Roman Church: they added that in the interim the Lutherans should be commanded not to write against the Romanists. All these things were brought into the form of an edict, and published in the emperor's name.
3. The Second Diet of Nuremberg, in 1524. Cardinal Campeggio, pope Clement the Seventh's nuncio, entered the town incognito for fear of exasperating the people. The Lutherans having the advantage, it was decreed that, with the emperor's consent, the pope should call a council in Germany; but, in the interim, an assembly should be held at Spire, to determine what was to be believed and practiced; and that, to obey the emperor, the princes ought to order the observance of the edict of Worms as strictly as they could. Charles V, being angry at this, commanded the edict of Worms to be observed very strictly, and prohibited the assembly at Spires.
⇒See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
4. The First Diet of Spires, held in 1526. Charles V, being in Spain, named his brother, archduke Ferdinand, to preside over that assembly, where the duke of Saxony and the landgrave of Hesse demanded, at first, a free exercise of the Lutheran religion, so that the Lutherans preached there publicly against Popery; and the servants of the Lutheran princes had these five letters, V. D. M. I. AE., embroidered on their sleeves (Verbum Dei manet in Eternum), to show publicly that they would follow nothing but the pure Word of God. The archduke, not daring to oppose these courses, proposed two things: the first, concerning the Popish religion, which was to be observed in maintaining the edict of Worms; and the second concerning the help demanded by Louis, king of Hungary, against the Turks. The Lutherans prevailing about the first, it was decreed that the emperor should be desired to call a general council in Germany within a year; and that, in the mean time, every one was to have liberty of conscience. Whilst they were deliberating in vain about the second, king Louis was defeated and killed in the battle of Mohacz.
5. The Second Diet of Spires was held in 1529. It was decreed against the Lutherans that wherever the edict of Worms was received, it should not be lawful for any one to change his opinions;: but in the countries where the new religion (as they. termed it) was received, it should be lawful to continue in it till the next council, if the old religion could not be re- established there without sedition. Nevertheless, the mass was not to be abolished there, and no Romanist was allowed to turn Lutheran; the Sacramentarians were to be banished out of the empire, and: the Anabaptists put to death; and preachers should nowhere preach against the Church of Rome. Six Lutheran princes, namely, the elector of Saxony, the marquis of Brandenburg-Bayreuth, the two dukes of Luneburg, the landgrave of Hesse, and the prince of Anhalt, with the deputies of fourteen imperial towns, protested, in writing, two days after, in the assembly, against this decree, which they would not obey, it being contrary to the Gospel; and appealed to a general or national council, to the emperor, and to any other unprejudiced judge. From this solemn protestation came the famous name of Protestants, which the Lutherans soon adopted; and, subsequently, the Calvinists, and other Reformed churches. They also protested against contributing anything towards the war against the Turks till after the exercise of their religion was free in all Germany. The next year the emperor held the Diet of Augsburg.
6. The First Diet of Augsburg was called June 1, 1530, by Charles V, to reunite the princes about some matters of religion, and to join them all together against the Turks. The elector of Saxony, followed by many princes, presented the confession of faith called the Confession of Augsburg. The conference about matters of faith and discipline being concluded, the emperor ended the diet by a decree that nothing should be altered in the doctrines and ceremonies of the Church of Rome till a council should order it otherwise.
7. The First Diet of Ratisbon, in 1541, for uniting the Protestants to the Church of Rome. The pope's legate having altered the twenty-two articles drawn up by the Protestant divines, the emperor proposed to choose some learned divines who might agree peaceably on the articles, and, being desired by the diet to choose them himself, he named three Papists, namely, Julius Pflugius, John Gropperus, and John Eckius, and three Protestants, namely, Philip Melancthon, Martin Bucer, and John Pistorius. After an examination and disputation of a month, those divines could not agree on more than five or six articles, wherein the diet still found some difficulties. The emperor, to terminate these controversies, ordered, by an edict, that the decision of these articles should be referred to a general council, or to the national council of all Germany, or to the next diet, eighteen months after; and that, in the mean time, the Protestants should keep the articles agreed on, forbidding them to solicit anybody to change the old religion, as they called it. But, to gratify the Protestants, he gave them leave, by patent, to retain their religion, notwithstanding the edict.
8. The Second Diet of Ratisbon was held in 1546; none of the Protestant confederate princes appeared. It was therefore soon decreed by a plurality of votes that the Council of Trent should be followed. The Protestant deputies opposed, and this caused a war against them.
9. The Second Diet of Augsburg was held in 1547, respecting matters of religion. The electors being divided concerning the decisions of the Council of Trent, the emperor demanded that the management of this affair should be left to him, and it was directed that every one should conform to the decision of that council.
10. The Third Diet of Augsburg was held in 1548, when the commissioners appointed to examine some memoirs about a confession of faith not agreeing together, the emperor named three divines, who drew ap the plan of the famous Interim. SEE INTERIM.
11. The Fourth Diet of Augsburg was held in 1550. The emperor complained that the Interim was not observed, and demanded that all should submit to the council, which they were going to renew at Trent: but the deputies of duke Maurice of Saxony protested that their master had agreed to submit to the council on condition that the divines of the Confession of Augsburg not only should be heard there, but should vote also, like the Romish bishops, and that the pope should not preside; but, by plurality of votes, submission to the council was agreed upon.
12. The Fifth Diet of Augsburg was held in 1555. At this diet the "Religious Peace of Augsburg" was concluded, which regulated tie civil relations of the Evangelicals (by which term only the Lutherans were understood). According to this agreement, no state of the German empire was to be disturbed on account of its religion and ecclesiastical usages; religious controversies were to be compromised by Christian, amicable, and peaceable means; the Episcopal jurisdiction was suspended with regard to the faith and religious worship of Evangelicals; free emigration on account of religion was guaranteed. This agreement was to continue even if a religious reunion should not be effected.
13. The Third Diet of Ratisbon was held in 1557. The assembly demanded a conference between some famous doctors of both parties: this conference, held at Worms between twelve Papists and an equal number of Lutherans, was soon dissolved.