Internal family strife seems the best way to go, have some Austrian and Spanish Habsburgs fight it out and have the Austrian Habsburgs win control of the HRE.
As I understand it large parts of Austria proper were Lutheran at one.
Have the Spanish Catholic Habsburgs maintain control in Iberia and Italy and have the Austrians come out in top in Germany, the Austrian archdukes are never going to recieve the tacit approval of the pope to be crowned emperor anyway least of all if the Spanish Habsburgs are occupying Italy and with so many electors already becoming Protestant the Austrian Habsburgs would have very little reason to hold onto Catholicism from a practical stand point .
Such an unfolding of events would please the French greatly.
 
What if instead of Charles V someone else is elected Emperor (they have a falling out with the Fuggers who dont give money for the election or support someone else maybe?)? Someone hostile to the Habsburgs but still catholic? Like Francis of France? The Austrian Habsburgs would be interested in siding with the anti-emperor protestant states? - maybe so much so that they decide to join them?
 
I think a protestant Austria might have a big problem with a strong catholic spain and his empire, but not at all withe the HRE. Of course the strategic relations with Spain could colapse. With the HRE could be a solution. The austrian Habsburg might chose. Sorry my english.
 
I think a protestant Austria might have a big problem with a strong catholic spain and his empire, but not at all withe the HRE. Of course the strategic relations with Spain could colapse. With the HRE could be a solution. The austrian Habsburg might chose. Sorry my english.
The Austrians might what?
 
basically what he means, is that the Habsburgs will have to choose a German or a Spanish empire, not being able to have both. An easier way would be to make spain not have a union with austria
Well Austria was always the junior partner in the relationship with Spain, so apart from Charles V, no one had both. As for the relationship between both, once bloody mess, which was the period of Reformation and Counter-Reformation settles down, things can normalize. Heck Austrian archduchesses could be used as proxies by Spain to strengthen ties with Protestant states.
 
It breaks the Habsburg encirclement.
Only to be replaced by an unwanted French hegemony of the continent. Spain and Austria-Burgundy allied for a reason. England even then, liked to switch sides to keep a certain balance.
No just like Protestant England at times joined forces with Catholic France or the Habsburgs, so ITTL will Austria and Spain join forces only to counter the French threat ITTL. That's dictated by politics not religion, even Charles V was able to do so.
 
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What if instead of Charles V someone else is elected Emperor (they have a falling out with the Fuggers who dont give money for the election or support someone else maybe?)? Someone hostile to the Habsburgs but still catholic? Like Francis of France? The Austrian Habsburgs would be interested in siding with the anti-emperor protestant states? - maybe so much so that they decide to join them?
The Fuggers and Habsburgs were already pretty tied up by this point. Moreover don't underestimate a certain degree of nationalism, the Habsburgs were a native dynasty, Francis was a foreign monarch. IOTL the Luxembourgs were elected as a native, albeit pro-French dynasty. IMHO it's more like, if another German candidate gets more funds to bribe more Prince-Electors.
 
It actually always puzzled me why Charles V didn't see an opportunity in Lutheranism to cement his power. The Habsburgs were embroiled for centuries in conflicts with the Papacy over the Investiture Controversy and Habsburg Emperors saw the Pope as a threat to their political power. So why didn't Charles simply acquited Luther at Worms, accepted Lutheranism based on "The Pope is a phony political ruler who thinks he can dictate his will to the royal houses of Europe, let's abandon the subservience to him and form a Germany where the Emperor does not rely on the Pope crowning him"? And I know, his other holding of Spain was strongly Catholic and it would be pretty hard to wrest control of it from the Catholic clergy, but I don't think it was the main reason for his choice. If someone has a more exhaustive explanation.
 
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It's probably not the only reason, but "because of concerns about his soul" is probably a significant reason in here. Rudolf and his descendants seem to have identified as and certainly presented themselves as devout Catholics, not super-cynics who didn't care about such things. Conflicts with the Pope were not over whether or not Catholicism was legitimate or not, after all.

This apart from any other problems with suggesting dissolving the Holy Roman Empire and abandoning the imperial title in favor of hoping to somehow becoming "Emperor of Germany" once the smoke clears.

Not to say you can't have a Protestant Habsburg, but it's probably not going to be via just acquitting Luther in a blatantly cynical (to say the least) act.
 
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Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
France was Catholic, why would this please them?
For the same reason France supported the Danish and Swedish involvement in the Thirty Years War. Religion was one thing, but in international politics France's sole focus during the 16th and 17th centuries was breaking the Spanish-HRE Hapsburg block. Everything else was secondary and excusable.
 
Not to say you can't have a Protestant Habsburg, but it's probably not going to be via just acquitting Luther in a blatantly cynical (to say the least) act.
But what if it isn't cynical? That is, what if we have a religious-philosophical POD, in which some ATL Nth party reformer advocates for Luther, or rather for reformism in general, on grounds that appeal both to the Habsburg interest and their sincere faith?

Something like a meta-Anglicanism, but not one that is so crudely direct as to flatter an Emperor with becoming a Caesar-Pope, but rather perhaps something that strikes the Habsburg clan as cuttingly and a bit mortifyingly true, say along lines of a highly sophisticated analysis that makes the case that the Catholic Church was always really a councilar thing, with great decisions being made not by decree of some anointed successor of Peter on Earth, but rather by many leaders of the Church gathering together in council and arriving, by a combination of reason guided by the Holy Spirit, at the truth--and it just so happened that such figures as Constantine and the better Popes had the piety and wit to recognize and endorse this truth when it was made plain by such a dialectical process.

So--such a reformer would be asking the Emperor and his dynasty and allies to recognize that corruption had been confusing and blinding the Curia for some time, and it was time for the Emperor to do his duty, not as some kind of incarnation of caesaro-papism or a Christian caliph, but as the commander of the secular arm of Christian society, to reform the universal church's institutions.

Such an apologist might not be welcomed by Luther himself, or other reformers, as their advocate, even if they do save their bacon at trial, because they would not be in complete and perfect agreement with either Luther, or Calvin, or any other particular reformer on every particular--but they would be arguing that views that might contain some errors should nevertheless be aired and their sincere holders respected, to the degree that they agree not to wreck the entire Christian system anyway, as part of the councilar dialectic whereby the Church is guided to the truth insofar as sinful and fallible mortals can grasp it.

Could there have been a reformer who could have presented this thesis, or something like it, so as to give faithful Habsburg lords confidence that in heeding at least some of Luther's points and agreeing that major reforms in Rome were needed, reforms the established Curia would resist, they are in fact doing their duty as Christians in general and in particular in the role God has set them in in the world? And thus join in a reformation that would not be strictly speaking Lutheran as such, but would include Luther as an admittedly imperfect and contentious guiding mind? and perhaps, involve a certain degree of "due process" in refraining from cracking down hard on various other heterodox views labeled "heretical" OTL? Of course the Church OTL did have its due process of sorts, I am talking about a broadening of range of tolerance on the theory that we mortals on Earth see through a glass darkly and so Christians should be slow to accuse one another of wickedness when possibly it is just a matter of different imperfect approaches to a grander truth than humans have yet learned to understand.

So absent such a reframing, perhaps the Habsburgs would have been faithless and cynical to turn on their mother Church just for expedience--but it might not necessarily be that they would conclude all Protestant reformers were in fact in error, if some ATL figure were to make the right case.
 
Could there have been a reformer who could have presented this thesis, or something like it, so as to give faithful Habsburg lords confidence that in heeding at least some of Luther's points and agreeing that major reforms in Rome were needed, reforms the established Curia would resist, they are in fact doing their duty as Christians in general and in particular in the role God has set them in in the world? And thus join in a reformation that would not be strictly speaking Lutheran as such, but would include Luther as an admittedly imperfect and contentious guiding mind? and perhaps, involve a certain degree of "due process" in refraining from cracking down hard on various other heterodox views labeled "heretical" OTL? Of course the Church OTL did have its due process of sorts, I am talking about a broadening of range of tolerance on the theory that we mortals on Earth see through a glass darkly and so Christians should be slow to accuse one another of wickedness when possibly it is just a matter of different imperfect approaches to a grander truth than humans have yet learned to understand.

So absent such a reframing, perhaps the Habsburgs would have been faithless and cynical to turn on their mother Church just for expedience--but it might not necessarily be that they would conclude all Protestant reformers were in fact in error, if some ATL figure were to make the right case.

That seems easier to make work. I'm not sure if OTL Charles would have accepted it, or who could have made it,but I defer to those more savvy on the Reformation (and Charles specifically) than me.

Some rulers did find Protestantism convincing OTL, after all.

But I don't see any version of Charles being keen to set up an "Empire of Germany" in this period. That this reformer's take should be the (small o) orthodox take on Christianity is one thing, but abandoning the concept of the Holy Roman Empire - I can't picture it in these circumstances.
 
With a pod after 1521, how can we get the Archduchy of Austria become majority Protestant? Would the local Hapsburgs decide to convert or was there an otl Protestant house to take their place? Would they remain united with Bohemia or were the Hussites too different to reconcile and they still try to separate under denominational differences? Would this Protestant Austria still rule Germany or would control move to the North?
As the majority of the population of Upper and Lower Austria was already Protestant, the options for the Hapsburgs would be kind of limited. They'd either have to embrace Protestantism ( a few of them actually did), or launch a Spanish-style Inquisition (which was also done) to extirpate Protestantism before it became too powerful. Assuming that more members of the Hapsburg family converted to Protestantism, one of the first things they would have to do is rewrite their geneaological 'history' to possibly include Martin Luther (if they could claim Julius Caesar and the Trojans as ancestors, this wouldn't be any different-or any more false-than what they've already done). Of course, this would likely sever their links to their Spanish kin, who would scoff at the idea of marrying their nieces/cousins/uncles/sisters now that they're "heretics". It would, no doubt give the Austrian Hapsburgs a more decisive advantage later on as many of the other German families (Hohenzollerns, Wettins, Welf) would have gone Protestant by the time the Hapsburgs had fully converted, thus offering a larger pool of fresh genes and reducing the chances of inbreeding (though not entirely eliminate it). Austria would also be a more potent factor in the rise of Prussia in the eighteenth century, though how German unification happens (or even if it happens) would depend on a few factors. While balance-of-power and nationalism did play a large part in the Austro-Prussian rivalry (even taking into account their brief alliance against Revolutionary/Napoleonic France) it was also to a degree religion that played a role. Remove this factor and there's no telling how the course of later German history would've evolved.

On a side note, the loss of Hapsburg relatives to marry would likely mean that the Hapsburgs' cadet branch in Spain would in all likelihood survive. How long is uncertain, though its likely Charles II would be somewhat healthier and be better able to sire offspring who could then continue the Catholic branch. But considering the Spanish obsession with "limpieza de sangre" (purity of blood) It's also just as likely that the Spanish line would go extinct with Charles II as they would be unwilling to marry anyone who was a) not Catholic and b) not Hapsburg. A succession war could still occur and the French Bourbons could still win the Spanish crown, but without a Catholic Austria to contest the succession, the other possible contender might be the Wittelsbachs.
 
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