Protestant Ecclesiastical Ordinances of the 16 th Century

Project duration: 2002 - 2017

Ecclesiastical Ordinance of Elector Ottheinrichs von der Pfalz, 1556

In the territories that espoused Protestantism, the reorganisation of the Church was the task of the respective territorial authorities. It was incumbent upon the sovereign or the urban magistracy to ensure that the new doctrine was put into practice in the areas under their control. To this end they issued ordinances regulating church life in accordance with the principles of the new doctrine.

Given the close links between politics and religion in the 16 th century, ecclesiastical ordinances were not only significant for church-related issues but also had an extensive influence on the secular sphere. These ordinances not only contain regulations for church services but also provisions on appointments to the clergy and the consistory. The ordinances on marriage and the poor list regulations were designed to enhance social discipline.

The edition of the Protestant ecclesiastical ordinances of the 16 th century draws upon the editorial work undertaken by the Erlangen jurist Emil Sehling. His edition, which was initiated as early as 1902 and continued with interruptions until 1980, encompasses ordinances for territories in central, northern and eastern Germany, Bavaria and the Electoral Palatinate. Although the Research Unit has only been in existence since 2002, it has already issued eight volumes on Württemberg, Baden, the cities of the empire in south-west Germany, the Palatinate, Strasbourg and territories and imperial cities in Hesse.

The next stages of the edition are devoted to the Alsatian imperial cities, the historical territories in the modern-day states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein and as a special volume the Protestant ecclesiastical ordinances in Transylvania (Siebenbürgen). The edition is planned for completion in 2016.

Chair of the Commission

Prof. Dr. Peter Graf Kielmansegg

Head of the Research Unit

  1. Prof. Dr. Gottfried Seebaß (2002-2006)
  2. Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Eike Wolgast (2006-2017)


  • Dr. Sabine Arend (2002-2016)
  • Dr. Thomas Bergholz (2002-2008)
  • Dr. Ursula Machoczek (2007)
  • Dr. Martin Armgart (2008-2010)
  • Dr. Gerald Dörner (2008-2017)
  • Karin Meese M.A.(2017)


Emil Sehling (Hg.), Erlangen

  • Volume I and II Sachsen und Thüringen nebst angrenzenden Gebieten (1902/04)
  • Volume III Brandenburg, Ober- und Niederlausitz, Schlesien (1909)
  • Volume IV Preußen, Polen, Pommern (1911)
  • Volume V Baltische Länder, Mecklenburg, Lübeck, Lauenburg, Hamburg (1913)

Institut für evangelisches Kirchenrecht der EKD (Hg.), Göttingen

  • Volume VI/1; VI/2 u. VII/1; VII/2, 1 Niedersachsen (1955/57/63/80)
  • Volume VIII Hessen I: Landgrafschaft bis 1582 (1965)
  • Volume XI, XII, XIII Franken, Schwaben, Altbayern (1961/63/66)
  • Volume XIV Kurpfalz (1969)
  • Volume XV Baden-Württemberg I: Hohenlohe (1977)

Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften (Hg.), Heidelberg

  • Volume VII/2, 2 Niedersachsen (2016)
  • Volume XVI Baden-Württemberg II: Württemberg, Baden u. a. (2004)
  • Volume XVII/1; XVII/2 Baden-Württemberg III/IV: Reichsstädte (2007/09)
  • Volume XVIII Rheinland-Pfalz I: Zweibrücken, Veldenz, Sponheim u. a. (2006)
  • Volume XIX Rheinland-Pfalz II: Wild- und Rheingrafschaft, Leiningen, Wied u. a. (2008)
  • Volume XX/1 Elsass I: Straßburg (2011)
  • Volume IX Hessen II: Landgrafschaft ab 1582, Waldeck, Solms, Frankfurt u. a. (2011)
  • Volume X Hessen III: Nassau, Hanau-Münzenberg, Ysenburg (2012)
  • Volume XX/2 Elsass II: Hanau-Lichtenberg, Colmar, Mülhausen, Weißenburg u.a. (2013)
  • Volume XXI Nordrhein-Westfalen I (2015)
  • Volume XXII Nordrhein-Westfalen II (2017)
  • Volume XXIV Siebenbürgen (2012)
  • Volume XXIII Schleswig-Holstein (2017)