Dr. Louis J. Reith

Vimeo video made available by the Concordia University ITC department.

Early last year, the southwest German state of Baden-Württemberg and the Stuttgart Landesmuseum celebrated the 500th anniversary of the birth of their Landesvater [Father of his Country], Duke Christoph of Württemberg (1515-1568).  Unlike the more famous Saxon Elector Frederick the Wise or Landgrave Philip of Hesse, Duke Christoph still remains relatively unknown, despite his strong leadership as a promoter of the Lutheran Reformation in German territories. Christoph spent the first twenty years of his life in exile, serving in the rival courts of the most powerful rulers of Europe, Emperor Charles V in Vienna and King Francis I in Paris, while his father, Duke Ulrich, was banished from his lands in 1519 by the Swabian League. With military assistance from Philip of Hesse. Ulrich recovered his patrimony in 1534. Christoph, his son and heir, after publicly converting to his father’s Lutheran faith, succeeded him in 1550 as the head of government. During the next eighteen years of his rule, Duke Christoph firmly set in place the institutions that established the Lutheran religion in his lands, by means of the “Great Church Ordinance” of 1559 and numerous other ecclesiastical and state ordinances, under the theological supervision of the Swabian religious reformer Johann Brenz. Through shrewd “marriage diplomacy” on behalf of his eight daughters, Christoph established a close network of German Lutheran territories that ultimately prepared the way for the adoption of the Formula of Concord in 1580, under the  leadership of Tübingen University Chancellor Johann Andreae.

 Louis Reith SMDR. LOUIS J. REITH is a retired rare book librarian and historian of the Renaissance and Reformation who now lives in Seward. He has served as theological cataloger at Concordia Theological Seminary (Ft. Wayne, IN), cataloger at East Carolina University (Greenville, NC), rare book cataloger at St. Bonaventure University, a Franciscan institution (Allegany, NY), and rare book cataloger at Georgetown University, a Jesuit institution (Washington, DC), from 1985 to 2013. He has just completed six courses in the Czech language sequence at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and will take two additional semesters of “independent study” in Czech during the 2016/2017 school year. Reith has also concluded a two-year project to catalog the Link Library special collections. He serves as substitute organist in the Lincoln and Seward area and is a member of the Executive Board of the Lincoln Lutheran Choir. He also is Secretary-General and member of the Board of Directors of SVU, an international society for the promotion of Czech and Slovak studies, and serves on the Board of Directors of The Embassy Series (www.embassyseries.org) in Washington, D.C.

Reith is a graduate of St. Paul’s High School and Junior College (Concordia, MO) (1954-1959), Concordia Senior College (Ft. Wayne, IN) (B.A., 1961), Concordia Seminary (St. Louis, MO) (M.Div., 1966), Washington University (St. Louis, MO) (M.A., 1967), and Stanford University (Ph.D., 1976); he attended the Universität Tübingen, Germany (1969-1974), and holds a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) (1976). His areas of scholarly research include the Lutheran Reformation in Germany and Central Europe, modern German intellectual and cultural history, history of printing, and the history of Czechoslovak music and culture. He has published articles and book reviews in several journals, including American Historical Review, Church History, Cresset Magazine, Kosmas: Czechoslovak and Central European Journal, and the Sixteenth Century Journal.