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The town of Mühlberg, located in the south of today’s federal state of Brandenburg, belonged to Saxony until 1815. In the Reformation era the Duchy of Saxony was ruled by the sworn opponent of Luther, Duke George the Bearded, who advocated a reform of the Catholic Church but rejected Martin Luther’s radical theses. It was not until his death in 1539 that the Reformation was introduced to Albertine Saxony.

The convent priory has been a modern museum of the Reformation since 2015 (Photo: Christian Geyler)

Defeat of the Schmalkadic League

The Battle of Mühlberg represents a deep caesura in the developments of the Reformation. It was here that Emperor Charles V recorded a devastating victory over the Protestant Imperial States that had formed the Schmalkadic League led by Electoral Prince John Frederick of Saxony. The electoral prince was taken prisoner and lost large swathes of his territories to Duke Moritz of Saxony, an ally of Emperor Charles. The Schmalkadic League was dissolved. The battle paved the way for the Peace of Augsburg of 1555, which established the co-existence of the confessions.

This event determining the course of the Reformation forms the focal point of the museum “Mühlberg 1547”, which opened in April 2015. The exhibition is mostly dedicated to the Battle of Mühlberg and its consequences. Its main feature is a media display depicting the events from three different perspectives.

On the trail of the Reformation

Traces of the Reformation can still be felt in Mühlberg/Elbe today and form the background to a tour of the town. The freely accessible urban exhibition marks important sites of the Reformation, such as the former Cistercian convent, which has been well preserved as an enclosed complex with its impressive convent church, abbess’s house, refectory, gatehouse and priory. Other sights are the thirteenth-century palace, the Saxon post milestone, the new town market and the sixteenth-century town hall.

Rathausplatz (Town Hall Square), Mühlberg/Elbe (Photo: Christian Geyler)