Huldrych Zwingli Biography


Birthday: January 1, 1484 (Capricorn)

Born In: Wildhaus, Switzerland

Huldrych Zwingli was a Christian pastor and a leader during the Swiss Reformation. He was a humanist who was greatly influenced by the works of Erasmus. He was preacher, who emphasized on reformation of the Catholic Church. He believed that traditional customs like fasting during the time of Lent, and celibacy of the clergy were dated and required change. He published several manuscripts criticizing the corrupted hierarchy and showed his disapproval of using images at churches. He was the one who introduced the ritual of communion and replaced Mass. The Anabaptists were against the teachings of Zwingli, which led to their mistreatment. The teachings of Zwingli became widely known across the Swiss Confederation. While people welcomed the change, many cantons preferred remaining Catholic, which caused a rift in the confederation on religious grounds. The Battle of Kappel saw the defeat of the Zwingli alliance by the Catholic cantons. He fought and died during the battle.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Ulrich Zwingli

Died At Age: 47


Spouse/Ex-: Anna Reinhart (m. 1522)

mother: Margaretha Zwingli

siblings: Andew Zwingli, Anna Zwingli, Bartholomew Zwingli, Catherine Zwingli, Claud Zwingli, Henry Zwingli, James Zwingli, John Zwingli, Wolfgang Zwingli

Born Country: Switzerland

Pastors Swiss Men

Died on: October 11, 1531

place of death: Kappel am Albis

Cause of Death: Killed In Action

Notable Alumni: University Of Basel

More Facts

education: University of Basel

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Childhood & Early Life
Huldrych Zwingli was born in the village of Wildhaus in Switzerland on January 1, 1484. His parents were farmers and had nine children of which he was the third born.
Ulrich, his father, also helped with local administrative work as an Amtmann or local magistrate. Huldrych’s early education was under the tutelage of his uncle Bartholomew, who was a clergyman in Weesen.
When Huldrych was ten, he moved to Basel to study Latin from Magistrate Gregory Bünzli and also continued his education. He lived in Basel for three years and moved to Bern for a while to live with Henry Wölfflin.
He was encouraged by the Dominicans in Bern to become a member of their religious order and perhaps even began as an amateur which his family did not approve of.
He moved from Bern and took admission in the University of Vienna in 1498; however, he had to reapply again in 1500 as he was expelled the first time.
He studied in Vienna till 1502, and then attended the University of Basel and graduated in 1506 with a Master of Arts degree.
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Huldrych Zwingli was appointed as a priest in 1506, in Constance and on September 29, 1506, he conducted his first Holy Mass in his village Wildhaus.
He learned theology in his early days and was ordained as a pastor in Glarus and remained there for ten years.
He became active in politics in Glarus when the people of Glarus were deployed as soldiers in Europe. At the same time, the Swiss Confederation indulged in invasions with the Habsburgs, French, and the Papal States.
He sided with Roman See and Pope Julius II awarded him with a yearly monetary benefit. He was a cleric during the engagements in Italy and also during the Battle of Novara in 1513.
The Swiss defeat during the Battle of Marignano changed the sentiments of people who now sided with the French rather than the Pope.
Huldrych Zwingli was stuck in a conundrum and moved to Einsiedeln, a small town in Schwyz. He published ‘The Ox’ (1510) and ‘The Labyrinth’ (1516) during this time, where he criticized the mercenary service and proposed a unified Swiss Confederation.
While in Einsiedeln, he detached himself from politics and immersed in higher studies and continued his pastoral duties. He studied Greek and Hebrew languages, and had a vast collection of books and resources.
He was influenced by the idea of humanism and often swapped ideas and letters with Swiss humanists. He was also much inspired by the works of philosopher Erasmus.
He was so inspired by his work and thoughts that he even met Erasmus in Basel in 1516, and his sermons often contained traces of Erasmus' influence.
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Huldrych Zwingli was known for his teachings and writings by 1518, and his association with the humanists helped him to become a people's priest (Leutpriestertum) in Zurich. He was elected on December 11, 1518, by the canons.
Beginnings of Reformation
Huldrych Zwingli began preaching immediately after being appointed in Zurich and began to present Gospel passages. In 1518, he was also appointed as the Grossmünster (Great Minster) even though there were several who opposed this decision.
The position held no real income or power in the religious hierarchy, but it provided him with the opportunity to preach. He often elucidated his understanding of the New Testament and coupled it with relatable examples.
In August 1519, severe plague broke out in Zurich, and Zwingli almost died suffering from it. The following year his brother too passed away, which strengthened his views on life and its spiritual and theological aspects.
In 1520, he started talking about the "true divine scriptures" in his preaching, after he was granted permission from the governing council.
Zwingli's sermons instigated a rebellion against traditional customs like fasting during Lent and celibacy required by the clergy, which led to Swiss Reformation.
His teachings had become popular among the people and he began preaching at the Oetenbach convent even though several locals opposed his teachings. However, he got himself approved by the bishop to continue his work.
Huldrych Zwingli faced harsh criticism in Switzerland as well as abroad by as his teachings and work became known to the Lutherans everywhere.
A group of radicals in Zurich were anxious and were discontent with the Zwinglian program. They advocated that the tithes be abolished and the state should be separated from the church.
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In January and March 1525, negotiations took place between the Zurich council, the heads of Anabaptist group, but their outcome was not concrete.
In February, rebaptisms were done, which initiated the spread of propaganda across Zurich.The council retaliated by arresting the leaders of the group.
Zwingli discussed his theological views on the movement in his work "On Baptism" (1525), where he emphasized on the importance of water baptism. He also dedicated several tracts to baptism, which was compiled as ‘Tricks of the Catabaptists’(1527).
Family & Personal Life
The church held the stance that celibacy of the clergy was to be maintained. However, Huldrych Zwingli opposed the idea and requested the bishop, along with other humanists, to discard this custom.
Huldrych Zwingli secretly married Anna Reinhart and they even lived together. The public wedding ceremony was held on April 2, 1524, while Anna was pregnant. Their first child was born three months after the wedding. They together had four children, Regula, William, Huldrych, and Anna.
Death & Legacy
Huldrych Zwingli's idea of reformation was acknowledged and applauded by the people who were desperate to be removed from under the dominant control of the Catholic Church.
This unrest in the political climate culminated in two factions, the Catholic and the Protestant cantons.
In 1531, the Catholic cantons ambushed the Protestants who were severely outnumbered in the Battle of Kappel. The battle did not last long, and on October 11, 1531, Huldrych Zwingli was killed at the battlefield.
Even after his death, his work was carried on by his apprentice Heinrich Bullinger and John Calvin.

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