Huldrych Zwingli's Reformation: Changes in religious and social customs in sixteenth and seventeenth century Zuerich and its environs

Rosmarie Sunderland, Fordham University


Before the Reformation the calendar of the Catholic Church and its connected liturgical ceremonies affected most customs and traditions in the every day life of the people. In part one of this study, using calendars, missals, orders, statutes, maps, songs and illustrations from late Medieval sources, a rich and colorful calendar has been compiled showing Pre-Reformation religious ceremonies, customs and traditions in Zürich. Part two shows how during the Zwinglian Reformation the Medieval Church calendar was discarded with the intention of obliterating customs and traditions that were not considered to belong to the early Church of the Apostles. The removal of the Mass and the calendar of saints reduced the number of popular feast days from about fifty to five, a decrease that was not entirely acceptable to the people. Part three analyzes the fate of the remaining traditions and the altered way of life for the people of Zürich. Understanding the prevailing Pre-Reformation traditions is therefore essential to realize the impact of these changes in everyday life. Because of Zürich's independence in its own affairs, the magistracy was able to alter the meaning of the calendar established by the Medieval Church, but its participation in the Confederation prevented it from abandoning the daily use of the old calendar. Much more needs to be learned before the impact of the Reformation on the laity can be fully understood. The compiled calendar of feasts and ceremonies in this dissertation will serve as a basic tool for further studies. In addition to the textual content of the paper, the Copp and Murner calendars in the appendices are of particular interest since they have not been translated into English before. Although many Church related Pre-Reformation documents did not survive the Reformation in Zürich, the possibilities for finding more material, especially in the Catholic cantons, are good.

Subject Area

European history|Religious history

Recommended Citation

Sunderland, Rosmarie, "Huldrych Zwingli's Reformation: Changes in religious and social customs in sixteenth and seventeenth century Zuerich and its environs" (2000). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9964576.