Hans Riesser

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Hans Riesser (right, in front of him the city arms) at the Reichstag in Augsburg in 1530

Hans Riesser (* around 1490 in Heilbronn , † around 1554 in Heilbronn) was Mayor of the imperial city of Heilbronn from St. John's Day (June 24), 1528 to 1552 . With the abolition of masses in the Kilian's Church under Riesser, the Reformation was practically complete there. He represented the city in the religious controversy that followed and during the Schmalkaldic War , but was removed by the council in 1552 during the Augsburg interim .


Hans Riesser came from a middle-class family, he learned the job of sieve like his father, who died young. Hans' mother was still alive around 1511. Hans probably attended the Latin school in Heilbronn , at least his knowledge of Latin is documented. At the latest in 1512 he married Barbara Winter called Meng. In 1512 he was elected to the Council of Heilbronn and held various offices there. In 1522 he was also a judge.

In the Peasants' War of 1525, Riesser made a significant appearance for the first time when, after the Weinsberg bloody deed in April 1525, he was sent as a council representative together with community representative Konrad Spölin to the peasant camp near the neighboring town of Weinsberg to negotiate with the rebellious farmers. As a result of these negotiations, the city of Heilbronn opened the gates to the peasant army. When, after the Battle of Böblingen in May 1525, a new group of farmers threatened to gather near Weinsberg, Riesser and former mayor Hans Berlin were the Heilbronn envoy in Stuttgart to the Swabian Confederation , whose help was sought against the farmers.

Riesser was related by marriage to the Heilbronn reformer and pastor at the Kilian's Church , Johann Lachmann , and possibly through him came to Reformation ideas. When exactly this change took place is unknown. In November 1526 he was already taking part in reformatory activities.

In June 1528 he replaced the very old and old-believing Conrad Erer as one of the city's two mayors. In accordance with the circumstances at the time, Riesser was in future mayor for one year from Midsummer Day of an even year. Riesser's election meant the breakthrough for the Protestants in Heilbronn. Just four days after Riesser's election, the city council decided to allow the Evangelical Last Supper in Kilian's Church . In October 1528 Riesser also became Vogt over the imperial town of Böckingen .

In the spring of 1529 the representatives of the Protestant cities had to defend their faith at the Reichstag in Speyer . The representatives of the emperor and the areas that remained Catholic pressed for an end to the religious division in the empire. Only a shared belief, they thought, could hold the empire together. Therefore, the representatives of the emperor prepared a Reichstag resolution, according to which the evangelicals in particular should be forbidden the Lord's Supper. The representatives of the cities, for Heilbronn Hans Riesser, filed a protest on April 20, 1529 against the imminent majority decision of the Catholic parties, because "everyone else has it in things that concern God's honor, the salvation of our soul and bliss, to stand before God for oneself and give an account; Here nobody can steal from personal responsibility with reference to associations or resolutions of a minority or majority. "

Riesser also represented Heilbronn at the meeting of the protesting cities in Schmalkalden in November 1529 , when there was talk for the first time of an "understanding", that is to say, a union. On July 14, 1530, Heilbronn, again represented by Riesser, joined the Augsburg Confession at the Reichstag in Augsburg . At the renewed meeting of the Protestant cities in Schmalkalden in December 1530, Riesser was again the city representative who was present at the establishment of the Schmalkaldic League , which wanted to renounce Emperor Charles V and his ideas of a unified church. Heilbronn did not become a member of the federal government for the time being.

The abolition of the mass in Kilian's Church and thus the implementation of the Reformation in Heilbronn was signed by Riesser on December 8, 1531. In January 1532 he made concessions in maintaining old-faith rites, probably also under pressure from the Heilbronn barefoot monks and clan nuns, who had obtained a bid letter from the Supreme Court to keep their monasteries. Riesser represented Heilbronn on several other important days of negotiations. After the Heilbronn council had decided to join the Schmalkaldic League in 1538, Riesser again brought the message to Schwäbisch Hall. Presumably Riesser was also the envoy for the admission of the city into the federation in Eisenach in 1539. Riesser took part in the Hagenau Religious Discussion in 1540 , in 1541 he was a representative at the city council in Esslingen and in 1543 he led the final negotiations for the renewal of the city ​​clerk Gregorius Kugler 1536 expired alliance of the imperial city with the Electoral Palatinate in Heidelberg.

When in 1546 the Emperor began a successful campaign against the Schmalkaldic League and the city of Heilbronn threatened to be the target of an Imperial attack, sought a delegation of Heilbronner Council consisting of town clerk Kugler, Mayor beak and mayor Peter Feurer the emperor in Rothenburg and Hall and gave him control of the city. Despite a symbolic submission of the citizenship during the presence of Charles V in Heilbronn at the turn of the year 1546/47 and the presentation of honorary gifts, Charles V insisted on the recognition of a unified Catholicism with the Augsburg interim . As a means of pressure, he stationed Spanish occupation troops in Heilbronn from March 1548.

Riesser, who had supported the Reformation so far, finally bowed to the Augsburg interim on the advice of the town clerk Kugler, who was with Ambrosius Becht as negotiator with the Kaiser in Augsburg, whereupon the Spaniards withdrew from the city on July 2, 1548. From July 8, 1548, Catholicism reigned again in all Heilbronn churches, until the Augsburg Interim became obsolete through the Passau Treaty of 1552.

When Emperor Charles V issued a new constitution for the city of Heilbronn in 1552, it strengthened the power of the patricians . In future, Riesser was not allowed to continue serving on the council, as was his son of the same name, who had been a member of the council since 1532. Two other council members close to Riesser had to promise their loyalty.

Riesser died shortly after his removal from office between January 1552 and January 1554. Riesser and his wife Barbara had at least six sons and four daughters, but the family in Heilbronn already went out in 1607. The mayor's lion coat of arms was later replaced by the descendants of a 1632 immigrant goldsmith Hans Ulrich Riesser, who were possibly descendants of Hans Riesser's son Alexander.

In Heilbronn today, Hans-Riesser-Strasse is named after the city's first Reformation mayor.


  • Moriz von Rauch : Johann Riesser, Heilbronn's Reformation Mayor (contribution from 1929). In: From the Heilbronn city history . Historical Association Heilbronn, Heilbronn 1988