Tetrapolitana Confessio (also SUEVIA. and ARGENTINENSIS) is the title by which the confession of faith submitted to the Diet of Augsburg in 1530 by the four cities of Strasburg, Constance, Memmingen, and Lindau is known.
The endeavor to construct a confession which should fairly represent the views of all the sections of the evangelical party failed through the stubborn refusal of the Saxons to unite in any way with the Zwinglians of the cities, and the Strasburg deputies consequently invited Bucer and Capito to prepare a separate symbol for the use of the latter. Capito had previously prepared a sketch of the Reformed faith by order of the Council of Strasburg, and this paper became the basis of the new confession. The latter was completed by July 11, 1530, and, after having been submitted to the confederated cities and received their signatures (with the single exception of Ulm), was placed in the hands of the imperial vice-chancellor, Merkel, for transmission to the emperor.
The confession contains twenty-three articles, and is characterized by great clearness and moderation of statement, completeness, and thoroughness of elaboration. Its first article asserts the chief formal principle of Protestantism, wholly wanting in the Augustana, that the Bible is the only source and rule of doctrine. It teaches that the disciples of Christ partake of his body and blood in the sacrament in a spiritual sense only. The form of expression, however, is everywhere conformed to that of the Augustana—a feature which reveals the hand of Bucer (q.v.), who was already at work upon plans for the promotion of union among Protestants.
A reply to this confession, written by Eck, Faber, and Cochlseus, was returned Oct. 24. This Confutation was filled with perversions and insults, and was read before deputies and theologians of the four cities. A copy of this reply was denied them, but they succeeded in obtaining one, which was appended to the first edition of the Tetrapolitana, published in German by Bucer at Strasburg in 1531. A Latin edition followed a month later, in September. Bucer was compelled to publish the confession in order to put an end to false representations of its character; but his own persistent efforts in behalf of union between the Protestant churches contributed to subordinate it to the Saxon confession. In 1532 the Strasburgers consented to subscribe the Augustana, though with the express understanding that the Tetrapolitana should be regarded as their proper symbol. Finally, when Bucer was dead and Martyr (q.v.) was gone from Strasburg, a rigid Lutheranism took possession of the city. An attempted reprint of the first edition of the Tetrapolitana by Sturm in 1580 was prevented by a decree of the council. The last edition, which includes the Confutation and Apology, appeared, so far as is known, at Zweibrucken in 1604.
For the literature and editions, see Niemeyer, Collectio Confession (Lips. 1840), p. 83 sq.; comp. Baum, Capito und Bucer (Elberfeld, 1860), p. 486 sq., 595; Planck, Gesch. d. prot. Lehrbegriff (2d ed. Leips. 1796). III, 1, 68 sq. — Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.