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Truber, Ungnad & Vergerio

Territorial Churches in the Habsburg/Ottoman Borderlands


Benjamin Esswein

Truber, Ungnad & Vergerio: Territorial Churches in the Habsburg/Ottoman Borderlands provides a critical study of Lutheran reformers in Krain, formerly a province along what is now the Croatian/Slovenian border, and acts as a case study for the rest of the Habsburg-Ottoman borderlands. Focus is given to the Austrian Habsburgs, benefactors to the reformers, who sought to adopt Johannes Brenz’ Lutheran «territorial church» model that would provide the Habsburgs the means to expand their hegemony over the region for decades.

During this time, there were three individuals who were integral in establishing this movement: reformer and Bible translator Primus Truber, Lutheran diplomat Peter Paul Vergerio, and Austrian nobleman Hans Ungnad, the latter of whom played a central role in transmitting Slavic translation of Biblical and Evangelical texts into Krain through his personal network, which continued to help grow the Habsburg sphere of influence and contributed to their larger goal – keeping the Ottomans out.

All three men established networks of support including notable moderate Catholics and Swiss Reformed, relying on their networks integrally to spread their faith and financially support them. The use of the Lutheran «territorial church» model signifies an attempt to establish a Lutheran confession and church regulation in Slovenian and Croatian lands by making them loyal to the regional reformer responsible for instilling Godly virtue and the true faith.

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Chapter 2: Primus Truber & Hans Ungnad


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The following chapter demonstrates the functional relationship between the preacher and translator Primus Truber and his noble benefactor Hans Ungnad.1 These men enjoyed good relations with each other despite some significant differences. Ultimately, it can be shown that Ungnad was the lynchpin that held the borderlands printing press and the Evangelical mission’s effort in place. Besides his efforts in gathering funding for the press, Ungnad’s network of contacts in Austrian lands granted the endeavor significant access through these land and support on a local level. Truber would rely on this network in more than one way when the time came for the distribution of materials. Ungnad’s efforts to spread Evangelical literature into the borderlands deliberately targeted several areas where Truber’s translations would have the greatest impact.

The borderlands printing project in Urach, as one of the first attempts at Evangelical missions in Europe, played a decisive role in the interactions between the Protestant Germanic princes and the inhabitants in Krain. The significance of this printing endeavor is evident through the plethora of Biblical literature it produced. The translators worked to translate and print the Bible into Slovenian, Croatian, and Hungarian, while other languages, such as Italian and Polish were considered (some Italian literature was eventually ← 69 | 70 → added). The funding of a project that included such a diverse set of languages speaks to the princes, translators, and reformers unified vision in reaching the entire region,...

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