In Memmingen, reformatory endeavours were already noticeable at a very early stage. The decisive figure was Christoph Schappeler (1472–1551), incumbent of the preacher’s position at Saint Martin’s church. From 1521, he would preach the new doctrine. After a disputation, a theological discussion, the city council allowed the gradual introduction of the Reformation in early 1525. However, the council was initially rather cautious and did not yet introduce a new order of worship.
Memmingen is also of great importance for the Peasants’ War (1524/25, in some areas until 1526), the “Uprising of the Common Man”. With this turn of phrase, historian Peter Blickle describes the fact that not only peasants, but also the much broader “non-ruling population” took part in the conflicts. Among them were craftsmen, townspeople and in Tyrol and Thuringia also miners.
In 1525, associations of Upper Swabian peasants and craftsmen met in the imperial city and adopted with the “12 Artikel” (Twelve Articles) and with a “Bundesordnung” (Federal Order) important programmatic writings. Christoph Schappeler played a major role in this development.
But already in 1525, the Swabian Confederation, an association of the imperial estates, suppressed the revolts. It occupied Memmingen and tried to re-catholicise the city. However, it was only successful over a short period of time. The teachings of Luther and especially those of the Swiss reformer Huldrych Zwingli (1484–1531) meanwhile were so strongly rooted in the population and in the city government that the council helped the Reformation to a breakthrough from 1527 onwards.
Same as Lindau, Constance and Strasbourg, Memmingen did not join the “Confessio Augustana” in 1530, but followed the so-called “Confessio Tetrapolitana”. In 1531, the city joined the Schmalkaldic League, a Protestant defence alliance against the Catholic Emperor Charles V (Roman king 1519–1556, emperor from 1530) and his allies.