Salzburgers, The

Salzburgers, The, is a term applied in Protestant history to the evangelical inhabitants of the duchy of Salzburg, who, after ages of persecution, finally, in 1731-32, gave up their property and homes, and found refuge in Eastern Prussia. Salzburg, in the Middle Ages, was a powerful archbishopric, and its archbishop the most important prelate of Germany. It lay in the mountains in the southwest of Austria. Its population was Christianized by St. Rupert in the 6th century. The doctrines of Huss early obtained a footing, but the severe measures of archbishop Eberhard III in 1420 suppressed them, though it is probable that the good leaven still worked secretly in many hearts; for at the first dawn of the Reformation Salzburg warmly welcomed it, and many of its priests began to teach as Luther. Eminent among these was the venerable friend of Luther, Dr. Staupitz, who, in 1518, became the court preacher of the ducal archbishop of Salzburg. In 1520, however, he was silenced by the archbishop. Anothet eminent evangelical priest was Paul Speratus, who was driven into banishment. A third was Stephen Agricola, also a court preacher; after three years of imprisonment he escaped (1524), and became a pastor at Augsburg. A fourth was George Scharer, who was actually put to death for his earnest preaching of the Gospel. In 1588 archbishop Dietrich issued a decree that all non-Catholic Salzburgers should within one month either become Catholics or leave the duchy. As the most of them chose the latter, another decree was issued confiscating their lands. Under his successor a similar measure was executed in 1614. During the whole period of the Thirty-years' War (1618- 48), Salzburg was relatively quiet, and actually increased in material prosperity, while disorder and ruin prevailed elsewhere. But a tolerant archbishop was a rare exception. Accordingly the harsh measures broke out afresh under Gandolph in 1685. This was occasioned by the discovery of a rural parish which was wholly Lutheran, save that occasionally it held a public mass. All the evangelical books of this society were at once gathered up and burned, and the single choice offered of submission to Rome or exile, with loss of property and children. More than a thousand persons saw themselves forced in midwinter to leave their homes and children. Earnest remonstrances were made by Prussia and other Protestant powers against this direct violation of the provisions of the Peace of Westphalia. While this diplomatic correspondence was taking place, the archbishop died (1686). Under his two successors there was less persecution, and the Lutheran-minded among the inhabitants practiced more caution, concealing their Bibles and other books in the mountains, and resorting to secret places in the night and celebrating their simple worship, armed with axes, and with outstanding guards. But the final storm came at last, when the miserly and ambitious Leopold Anton became archbishop (1728). This man was anxious for two things to stand in high favor at Rome, and to fill his treasury. Both objects he thought would be reached by a severe course against all open or secret heresy. Accordingly he flooded his land with Jesuit spies. All heretics were at once arrested and cast into prison, and tormented with hunger and tortures. Meantime a few of the chief non-Catholics fled secretly to Ratisbon and to Prussia, in hope of effecting forcible intervention on their behalf. They were warmly welcomed by Frederick William I of Prussia, and were promised homes and protection for all who should be forced to abandon their country. But before their return the archbishop had resorted to a more extreme measure. The nonconformity of the non-Catholics was represented to Austria as rebellion, and from 4000 to 6000 troops were obtained, and then quartered on the persecuted Lutherans; and then, in order to terrify the rest into submission, some 800 of the most prominent members were violently arrested, and required within eight days to leave the country. But the effect was the contrary of what had been expected: they behaved so heroically and resolutely as to inspire the whole body of non-Catholics with a like enthusiasm. In December, 1731, they crossed the Bavarian frontier. A few days later another company of 500 followed them. By April, 1732, the number of the exiles had reached more than 14,000; and some of the best districts were almost desolated. The sole substantial help was given to the exiles by Prussia. The king issued a decree in February, 1732, requiring his officers to furnish them with money to make their journey, acknowledging them as Prussian subjects, pledging his government to see that recompense should be made for their lands, and threatening to confiscate Catholic property in his own dominions in case the archbishop did not proceed with more moderation. Denmark, Sweden, and Holland made similar remonstrances and threats in their behalf At the suggestion of George II of England a collection was taken up for the sufferers throughout Protestantdom. It amounted to some 900,000 florins. The place of refuge assigned to them was in the wilds of Lithuania. The course of their march through Nuremberg, Erlangen, Leipsic, Halle, Wittenberg, Magdeburg, Potsdam, and Berlin was almost like a triumphal procession, so great was the sympathy which their long-endured sufferings had everywhere excited. At Potsdam the old king, Frederick William, received them into the palace gardens; and, with his queen, mingled among them very familiarly, asking them questions in regard to their faith, and giving them advice for the future. He was highly gratified with them, gave them money, and, assuring them that he would treat them in the best possible manner, bade them a hearty godspeed. From Berlin the exiles took their way to Stettin, where they took ship and sailed to Konigsberg. Thence they marched by land to Lithuania, where wild lands awaited them, and which their industry speedily transformed into a flourishing colony of towns and farm houses. The number who positively settled there was over 20,000. They cordially welcomed the Lutheran pastors who were furnished to them at Berlin. The several millions of thalers which the king spent upon them proved no less a wise commercial investment than had been the case with the help given to the banished Huguenots by his grandfather, the great elector.

While Prussia profited so richly from the persecutions of these Salzburgers, the persecuting archbishop was foiled in his real, sole purpose. Instead of filling his treasury, he actually emptied it. It was only imperfectly that he could supply his deserted fields and mines with new laborers; and those whom he did obtain were, many of them, indolent and mendicant. In addition, there came upon him a debt of 11,000,000 florins for the Austrian troops which he had employed to oppress and expel his subjects. The results were an impoverished land and a heavier taxation upon the remaining Catholics, while the emigrants were entirely freed from all imposts and taxes for full ten years. Also other lands profited from this persecution. Wurtemberg, Holland, Sweden, Russia, England, and America (Georgia) received large numbers of the exiles; so that the number actually lost to Salzburg by the folly of archbishop Anton was over 30, 000. Since this asra of persecution Salzburg has held a much less prominent place in European history. The territory was secularized in 1802. In 1815 the most of it was given to Austria. In 1849 it became a separate crown land of Austria. See Gockling, Emigrationsgeschichte von Salzburg (Leips. 1734); Panse, Geschichte der Auswanderung der evangelischen Salzburger (ibid. 1827); Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 13, 346-359. (J.P.L.)

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