The Thuringian city of Schmalkalden belonged to the region of Hessen during the time of the Reformation and is still today a part of the Protestant Church of Kurhessen-Waldeck. The Schmalkaldic League was formed here in 1531 as a defensive alliance of the Protestant princes against Emporer Charles V. The league met a total of seven times in Schmalkalden.
Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon participated in one of the most notable of these meetings. It was here that Luther presented the Smalcald Articles, which the Electoral Prince of Saxony had charged him to write. In sharp distinction over and against the Roman Catholic church, he used drastic words to unfold the essentials of his theology. It was the desire of Johann Friedrich von Sachsen that through these articles a unified confession might be created for the Smalcald League.
The Smalcald Articles were cautiously received by the congress of princes. It unleashed a theological debate with a special focus on the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. After the meeting, the internal conflicts between the various partners increased. During this time, Emperor Charles V was preparing for a war in order to prevent the Reformation from tearing apart the empire. In the Smalcaldic War (1547), the Protestant troops lost to the emperor’s army and the league fell apart.
The Smalcald Articles found a place in the Book of Concord of the Lutheran church. The Book of Concord serves as the guiding confessional document for most Lutheran churches worldwide.