In October 1529, the German Protestant prince, Count Philip of Hesse, presided over a meeting at Marburg Castle that had an important influence on the development of Protestantism. The purpose of the conference was to eliminate the differences between the two religious reformers - Luther and Zwingli - on the doctrine of the Eucharist, and then to achieve the purpose of Protestant unity. Therefore, the Marlborough Conference, which reflected the balance of power among the religious factions in Europe at that time, was destined to be a crossroads in the development of Protestantism.
Martin Luther was the initiator of the German Reformation movement in the 16th century and the founder of Protestant Lutheranism. November 1, 1517 was Halloween in the West, on this day the reformer Luther nailed his "Ninety-Five Theses" to the door of the All Saints Church in Wittenberg. This move quickly set off a religious revolution in Europe against the rule of the Roman Catholic Church, marking the beginning of the European Reformation. Luther's doctrine of "justification by faith" also spread in Europe. While Luther was leading the Reformation centered in Saxony in northern Germany, in Switzerland, Zwingli was leading another Reformation centered in Zurich. Although the theological doctrines advocated by the two reformers were basically the same, there were differences in their understanding of the Eucharist. The disagreement centers on how to understand the phrase "this is my body." From 1526 to 1528, two reformers published numerous pamphlets arguing about the Eucharist. The debate intensified and might even jeopardize the development of Protestantism.
Since the Reformation, Germany has been divided into two opposing camps - two factions can be described as tit for tat in their attitude towards the Reformation. The Reformers struggled and won at the Imperial Parliament of Speyer in 1526. The council passed decrees recognizing the legal right of Protestant princes and cities to establish local churches and to reform public liturgy. But at another Imperial Council of Speyer in 1529, Roman Catholics regained the upper hand, and the Kaiser declared: "by the absolute power of the Emperor", repealing the decree of 1526 by which the Lutherans established their local churches, It is stipulated that only Catholics can be trusted in the empire. In order to express their dissatisfaction, the six princes who supported Luther and the representatives of the 14 free cities read a document called "Protest" at the meeting. Since then, the new sect has been called "Protestant". Afterwards, the electoral district of Saxony, Hesse and the cities of Strasbourg, Ulm and Nuremberg concluded a "secret special treaty". In the name of the Word of God, they swore to protect each other if attacked, whether from the Swabian League, the Imperial Privy Council, or the Emperor himself. Arguably, in a common opposition to Roman Catholicism, Protestant princes and cities began to unite by forging political alliances.
At this time, the Protestant prince Hesse Philip proposed to unite two Protestant centers to strengthen the Protestant power. Because he believed that theological differences were the main cause of the division in Protestantism, and Lutheran theologians had blindly exaggerated these differences. Therefore, he hoped that the Lutherans and the Swiss could sit together, understand each other, and eliminate theological differences. So he invited Luther and Zwingli to Marlborough Castle for talks. Luther was originally reluctant to attend the meeting, but was forced to attend due to external pressure; however, Zwingli was eager to meet Luther and immediately responded to the meeting.
The Council of Marlborough began on 3 October 1529 and ended on the 5th. Luther was accompanied by Melanchthon, and Ciwingli was accompanied by Okrampadius to the meeting. The conference was divided into two stages. The first stage was the preparatory meeting, in which Luther debated with Okrampadius; Cwingli and Melanchthon debated. The second stage is the formal debate. Luther and Zwingli debate in the halls of Marlborough Castle. There is still the same table that the debate participants sat around at that time. Luther and Zwingli's doctrinal debate over the Eucharist revolves around the understanding of "this is my body." During the argument, Luther wrote the words "This is my body" with chalk on the table in front of him, and said at the same time: "I believe the original meaning of this sentence, if anyone does not believe it, I will not argue with him but To refute it." And Zwingli devoted all his energy to contesting the doctrine of "ubiquity." The two argued for a long time around these two points. Finally, at the urging of Hesse Philip, Luther and Zwingli signed the Marburg Confession. The creed includes 15 theological articles, 14 of which are signed by both Luther and Zwingli. Only on the last point, concerning the relationship between the Eucharist and the bread and wine in the Eucharist, there is no agreement. It can be said that this meeting did not completely eliminate the theological differences between the two reformers, nor did it achieve the purpose of Protestant unity. Therefore, the question of religious differences was handed over to the Kaiser to be resolved.
In 1530 the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V decided to convene the Augsburg Reichstag to discuss the issue of arming against the Turks, and at the same time hoped to put an end to the religious divisions that had divided Germany "in a fair, reasonable and courteous manner". The Lutherans submitted the "Augsburg Confession" to the Imperial Parliament to illustrate their doctrinal principles; while Zwingli submitted the "On the Faith of Zwingli" to illustrate his doctrinal principles. In this way, the differences of the Protestant denominations were exposed before the Kaiser, thus providing an opportunity for the Catholics to fight back against the Protestant denominations. In Switzerland, the five forest cantons loyal to Catholicism formed an alliance and, with the support of Austria, attacked the alliance of Protestant cantons such as Zurich. Tswingli called on the Protestant states to expand their coalition to fight. In October 1531, the reformists were defeated at the Battle of Capel, and Ciwingli was killed, and his body was burned by the Catholics.
The Marlborough Conference was the first opportunity for the unification of Protestant forces, but the breakdown of the conference not only prevented the reform movement led by Luther and Zwingli from converging, but also deepened the division of the reformists and weakened their strength. Since then, Catholics have begun to suppress the Reformation movement, and the Protestants have been in a state of crisis. Since then, modern Europe has entered an era of religious wars that lasted for centuries. For the Protestant cause in modern Europe, the Marlborough Conference, which originally brought an opportunity for unification, unfortunately became the beginning of a crisis.