Originally the monastic church of All Saints’ (Allerheiligen) Benedictine Abbey, the first church building of 1049 was replaced by a new one consecrated in 1103/4. This important Romanesque building of the Hirsau School was converted into a provost church by the last abbot, Michael Eggenstorfer, in 1524. Following the 1529 introduction of the Reformation, altars, images, and other sacral items were removed, include the regionally well-known “Great God of Schaffhausen”, a monumental wooden crucifix. Since then it has remained a place of worship in the Reformed Church.
The town’s Gothic church was built in the 14th century at the same location that Schaffhausen’s first church was built in the 10th or 11th century. Shortly before the Reformation, it was expanded to include two side naves as well. The reformers Sebastian Hofmeister and Johann Konrad Ulmer were both active there. The main pastors at St. Johann, the Münster, and the hospital all ran the church. The pastor at St. Johann was the head (antistes) of the Schaffhausen church, dean of the pastoral college, and president of the synod. The church also served as a gathering place for political occasions.
Sebastian Hofmeister’s birth house
Sebastian Hofmeister, reformer of Schaffhausen, was born in 1494 as the son of a wainwright in the house known as Haus zu den Drei Bergen at Unterstadt 44. Hofmeister joined the Franciscans at an early age and was sent to study in Frankfurt and Paris. He served as a lecturer beginning in 1520 at the Franciscan abbeys in Zurich, Constance, and Lucerne. It was in Lucerne that Hofmeister was accused of heresy, and he returned to Schaffhausen in 1522 to begin reforming the church there. He was expelled from the town three years later, when the council associated him with the winegrower upheavals and was accused of having ties to the Anabaptists. Even after the Reformation was introduced in 1529, he was still denied return to Schaffhausen and died in Zofingen in 1533.
When Reformed Protestants began to be persecuted in France after the 1685 revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which had guaranteed tolerance in the country, Schaffhausen became an important waystation for Huguenots fleeing to Germany. In 1687, the town of around 5000 residents permitted as many as 9000 refugees of faith to stay there temporarily. A plaster medallion of a fleeing Huguenot or Waldensian under the protective hand of God continues to serve as a reminder of this period. It can be seen on the ceiling of the “Grosses Haus” at Fronwagplatz. A publicly accessible copy of the medallion can also be viewed at the entrance to the town’s archive, located on Krummgasse.
Museum zu Allerheiligen (All Saints)
The museum has prepared a thematic exhibition of its cultural history collection for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, focusing on the background and effects of the movement. The exhibition, is presented as a tour through the museum through the eyes of Hans Stockar (1490-1556), a Schaffhausen councilor and merchant of wine, horses, and salt. He wrote a report of his pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1519 as well as a history of Schaffhausen from 1520 through the introduction of the Reformation in 1529. This era of turmoil and changes in values is impressively illustrated there with a combination of objects from the museum’s collection and selected items on loan, including the oldest copy of Hans Stockar’s chronicles.
The Schaffhausen Library has in its inventory two printed writings by the first reformer of Schaffhausen, Sebastian Hofmeister, Ein treüwe ermanung an die Eidgnossen (“A Faithful Admonition to the Swiss”) and Antwort uff die ableinung doctor Eckens (“A Response to the Refutation of Doctor Eck”). Within the Schaffenhausen Church Ministerium one can find the expansive written legacy of the town’s second reformer, Johann Konrad Ulmer (1519-1600), including his catechism, hymnal, worship order, several theological works, and pastoral writings for a broader audience, in addition to seven-volume collection of letters and documents, which is currently being digitized. The exhibition in the library displays a selection of the local collections, including the famous six-language Plantin Bible, which the Schaffhausen Town Council purchased in 1578 upon Ulmer’s advice.
There were many peasant uprisings in various places at the time as in 1525 when the Schaffhausen winegrowers could not afford to pay their required fees due to a poor harvest caused by bad weather. They were also supported by local fishermen. The participants in the uprisings did not only demand better tenant agreements, higher wages, and the annulation of taxes, but also the introduction of the new faith. On August 9, 1525, the Council began to put down the rebellion violently. Representatives from Basel and Rottweil were there to mediate, and the winegrowers put down their weapons.
After the Anabaptists were expelled from Zurich in response to all their demands, including replacing infant baptism with adult baptism, many headed for the Klettgau region. Nearly all of Hallau is said to have become Anabaptist. The Löhningen land parish demanded social reforms. Sebastian Hofmeister seemed at first to sympathize with the Anabaptists only to distance himself from them later. The Council fought vehemently against the Anabaptist movement and Hofmeister was exiled from the town. A Merishausen pastor, who supported the Anabaptists, was removed from office. The Anabaptists managed to remain in Schleitheim for over 150 years despite heavy admonitions and penalties. They were ultimately forced to emigrate, leaving first for Moravia, and later for Bohemia and the Palatinate.
Schaffhausen was first officially mentioned in 1045, when King Henry III granted Count Eberhard of Nellenburg minting privileges in “Scafhusun”, one of the fundamental privileges for medieval towns. In 1080, Eberhard’s son, Count Burkhard of Nellenburg, granted Schaffhausen All Saints’ Benedictine Abbey, which had been founded in 1049, with all rights that went with it. The abbot became the official town ruler but passed on the business of ruling to the Schutzvogt, another local official. A town council was mentioned for the first time in 1272. Political leadership was shifted in the 13th century from the abbey to the nobility and wealthy merchants. In 1372, a major fire burnt down what seems to be large portions of the town. In 1501, Schaffhausen became the 12th member of the Swiss Confederacy.
In 1529, the Schaffhausen Council decided to introduce the Reformation to the town and obtained a large quantity of goods from the abbey along with rights and obligations. The mass was abolished to be replaced by a sermon-based service. All facets of church life would be changed in the years to follow.
The Schaffhausen church was in need of reform at the beginning of the 16th century. The main ideas of the Reformation came to Schaffhausen and were warmly received by the people thanks to the writings of Martin Luther and the Protestant preaching of the Franciscan Sebastian Hofmeister, who was accused of heresy and exiled from Lucerne. Hofmeister implemented worship reform and a new charity order, and ensured that “all variety of ceremony and bedazzlement”. In spring 1523, Hofmeister wrote to Zwingli: “Christ is being accepted here with the greatest desire, thank God.” Social unrest grew among the Anabaptists, who had been expelled from Zurich, along with protesting winegrowers and fishermen. Sebastian Hofmeister was the target of suspicions of sympathy with the Anabaptists and the rebellious winegrowers, and was expelled from the town. The Council’s attitude toward the Reformation vacillated over a period of several years. The Small Council maintained a conservative political stance even in religious matters. The Grand Council was more pro-Reformation but had less power than the Small Council. The Reformation was ultimately introduced by the Council on September 29, 1529, Michaelmas Day. Political concerns won out in the end: Power in the church and in the political arena shifted once Bern and Basel joined the Reformation. The decision was therefore made for the Reformation without a reformer in light of the lack of prominent theologians. The mass was abolished while altars and images were removed, include the regionally well-known “Great God of Schaffhausen”, a monumental wooden crucifix. The Council then introduced a Reformation order and all facets of church life were changed. This would all take its time, however. The competent and judicious work of the “second” Schaffhausen reformer, Johann Konrad Ulmer, from 1566 through his death in 1600, raised the profile of the church and provided it with stability.
Sebastian Hofmeister, reformer of Schaffhausen, was born in 1494 as the son of a wainwright in house known as Haus zu den Drei Bergen at Unterstadt 44. Hofmeister joined the Franciscans at an early age and was sent to study in Frankfurt and Paris. He served as a lecturer beginning in 1520 at the Franciscan abbeys in Zurich, Constance, and Lucerne. It was in Lucerne that Hofmeister was accused of heresy, and he returned to Schaffhausen in 1522 to begin reforming the church there. He was expelled from the town three years later, when the council associated him with the winegrower upheavals and was accused of having ties to the Anabaptists. Even after the Reformation was introduced in 1529, he was still denied return to Schaffhausen and died in Zofingen in 1533.
Johann Konrad Ulmer
Johann Konrad Ulmer was born in Schaffhausen in 1519 and studied with Calvin in Strasbourg and with Luther and Melanchthon in Wittenberg, where he received his magister degree. He went on to work in Lohr on the Main as the reformer of the small County of Rieneck. In 1566, he was called to the Schaffhausen Münster to serve as the pastor there. By 1569 he already was named dean and antistes of the Schaffhausen church, which he remained until his death in 1600, making critical contributions to the renewal of church and school in the town, while maintaining close ties with Reformed sister churches in Switzerland and abroad. Ulmer was one of the greatest scholars among the Swiss theologians of the time and is rightfully considered to be the second reformer of Schaffhausen.
Timeline with the most important information
1529 The Schaffhausen Council decides to introduce the Reformation. The mass is abolished to be replaced by a sermon-based service. A new church order was implemented and church life changed.
1501 Schaffhausen joins the Swiss Confederation.
1519 Zwingli begins tenure at Zurich’s Grossmünster, begins with preaching and interpreting Gospel of Matthew.
Around 1520 Luther’s writings gain notice in Schaffhausen. A reading group is led by the town physician Johannes Adelphi.
1520 The last abbot of the All Saints’ (Allerheiligen) Benedictine Abbey, Michael Eggenstorfer, sends monks to Wittenberg; correspondence; links to Zwingli.
1522 Sebastian Hofmeister arrives in Schaffhausen and introduces Protestant preaching and worship reforms. The Reformation gains an increasing number of followers.
1523 First Zurich Disputation: Council decides that Zwingli was to continue preaching the Gospel.
1523 Hofmeister’s Eine treue Ermahnung an die Eidgenossen (“A Faithful Admonition to the Swiss”) printed in Basel.
1524 Segments of the people of Schaffhausen view themselves as Protestant. “All variety of ceremony and bedazzlement” is eliminated. The Council reacts hesitantly.
1524 All Saints’ (Allerheiligen) Benedictine Abbey is converted into a provost church.
1525 Anabaptists expelled from Zurich arrive in the Schaffhausen region.
1525 Protests of the winegrowers and fishermen in Schaffhausen.
1525 Hofmeister and his colleague Sebastian Meyer are expelled from Schaffhausen.
1526 Disputation of Baden: Zwingli is to be refuted with the help of the renowned theologian Johannes Eck. Schaffhausen is represented by the schoolmaster Heinrich Linggi and Magister Ludwig Oechsli. Hofmeister also takes part in the dispute and composes a rebuttal of Eck’s theses.
February 24, 1527 Schleitheim Anabaptist Confession, composed by Michael Sattler: “Brotherly association of numerous children of God, composed of seven articles”.
November 13, 1527 First Anabaptist sentenced to death in Schaffhausen: Hans Rüegger (beheaded)
1528 Bern declares for Reformation.
1528 The Small Council of Schaffhausen rejects the introduction of the Reformation in two votes.
April 14, 1529 A second Anabaptist, Jakob Schuffel, is sentenced to death.
1529 In the First Battle of Kappel, Schaffhausen acts as a mediator. Battle is undecided, ending in communal meal or “Milk Soup of Kappel”.
September 29, 1529 (Michaelmas Day) Schaffhausen declares for the Reformation and “Christian Federation”.
1529 Abolition of the mass, removal of altars, images, and the regionally well-known “Great God of Schaffhausen”, a monumental wooden crucifix at All Saints’ Church.
1529 Schaffhausen Reformation Order is introduced.
1531 Reformed lose the Second Battle of Kappel, Zwingli is killed.
1532 First synodal memorial
1536 The two quarreling pastors, Burgauer (St. Johann, who was a clear supporter of Luther’s views) and Ritter (Münster), are sent into retirement by the Council. Their positions are filled by others.
1560 Anabaptist settlements near Schleitheim razed upon the order of the Council.
1566 Schaffhausen Church subscribes to Second Helvetic Confession.
1566-1600 Johann Konrad Ulmer called to Schaffhausen as the town’s second reformer.
1680 Last Anabaptist leaves Schleitheim.