FRANKFORT RECESS (or AGREEMENT; called also Frankfort Book, Formula pacis Francofordianœ): A document signed Mar. 18, 1558, aiming to compose the disputes between the strictly orthodox Lutherans with Matthias Flacius (q.v.) as their leader and the Philippists (q. v.) who adhered to Melanchthon. The gulf between the two parties had been widened by personal quarrels between the two Saxon lines, the Ernestine line as protector of Flacius and the Albertine line as protector of Melanchthon, also by the rivalry of the University of Wittenberg and the newly founded University of Jena, which took side with Flacius. The Evangelical estates tried to settle the conflict by appointing a convention at Frankfort in June 1557, but it did not come about. The Consultation of Worms (Aug.-Dec. 1557; see Worms) proved ineffectual since the princes did not appear. When Ferdinand I. was proclaimed emperor in Frankfort in Mar., 1558, the Electors Ottheinrich of the Palatinate, August of Saxony and Joachim II. of Brandenburg induced Count Palatine Wolfgang of Zweibrücken, Duke Christopher of Württemberg, and Landgrave Philip of Hesse, to take a personal part in consultations over the settlement of the disputes. The negotiations took place on the basis of a recommendation of Melanchthon, which was approved and made the basis of an agreement signed by the above-mentioned estates. The introduction of the recess attempts to refute the reproaches of the Roman Catholics that the Evangelicals disagreed among themselves. It was stated that they did not intend to set up a new confession, but rather to adhere to the pure doctrine as laid down in the Bible, the three principal creeds, and the Augsburg Confession with the Apology. They thought it advisable, however, to discuss some points of controversy on the basis of the Augsburg Confession: (1) justification; man is justified by faith alone. (2) Good works; new obedience is necessary in the justified. (3) The sacrament of the body and blood of Christ; Christ is really present in the Lord's Supper. (4) Adiaphora; minor ceremonies may be used or omitted without sin and detriment. Then follows a number of resolutions upon which the princes had agreed; new controversies should not be divulged, but examined by the consistories and superintendents; no theological treatises should be printed without having gone through the hands of the censor; the publication of libelous treatises should be strictly prohibited; consistories and superintendents should be instructed to depose from his office any one who taught or acted in disagreement with the confession; the old differences should be forgiven and forgotten to make possible an agreement of all Evangelical estates on the basis of this recess; the other estates should be invited to join the recess.


The recess was received differently in various places. For some the real presence of Christ was not taught with sufficient emphasis. Others censured the recess because heresies were not specially noted and condemned. Others again complained because secular princes had assumed the right to decide on ecclesiastical doctrines without the consultation of theologians. But the strongest opposition came from Jena and Weimar. In Weimar Amsdorf at the order of John Frederick of Saxony attacked the recess, and in Jena Flacius wrote two replies, which seem to have been circulated in manuscript only--Refutatio Samaritani Interim, in quo vera religio cum sectis et corrupte lis scelerate et perniciose confunditur, and Grund and Ursach, warum das Frankfurter Interim in keinem Weg anzunehmen. The same arguments were used by the theologians whom John Frederick of Saxony asked in 1558 to reply to the invitation of the six princes to join the recess. They were answered by Melanchthon at the order of the electoral court, in a treatise entitled Responsum Melanchthonis de censura formulœ pacis Francofordianœ, scripta a Theologis Wimariensibus (Sept. 24, 1558, in CR, ix. 617 sqq.). John Frederick did not succeed in gathering the opponents of the recess in Magdeburg; but on the other hand, the purpose of the recess to settle the controversies was not attained.