|A popular Salzburger song was known as the Loinbacher, or Loinpacher. The original lyrics were set
to the tune of what was supposed to be the Catholic devotional melody promoting veneration of the
Virgin Mary, "Vater hoch im Himmels Throne". It was sung at Catholic Corpus Christ celebrations.
Partly in jest, however, the lyrics were often mischievously replaced by words which were more
palatable to yodeling Protestants who paraded in the celebrations. Probably some Catholics laughed
too, because for two centuries Catholics and Protestants in these areas actually got along quite well,
and intermarriage was quite common between the two religious groups. In fact, on various occasions,
Catholics stood up and complained about the ill-treatment of the Protestants.
Normally, the misappropriated lyrics went undetected by the university-educated priests from other
regions who didn't fully understand the rough local dialect. However, when the choir of Hofgastein,
thinking they were safe from prying ears due to their position in the rear of the parade, sang it in the
June, 1730 Corpus Christi procession, someone ratted them out and there was an inquiry. One choir
member even admitted that it made the crowd laugh uproariously. As a consequence, the choir was
initially disbanded and its members were forced to say the rosary in unison after every Sunday mass.
It came back to bite them in 1733 when the case was reopened. Five members were henceforth
exiled and four others were banished for three years, after which they could return only to a Catholic
territory which would vouch for them. Only one member was granted clemency, an 85 year old man.
Two members, the brothers Leyerer, sneaked back to their valley a few months after their exile and
filed appeals begging for mercy and reaffirming their belief in Catholicism, even bringing with them a
recommendation from the parish priest. Firmian granted a rare appeal to one brother, Matthais,
whose wife and children had meanwhile acquired the pox in his absence and were gravely ill. The
other brother's appeal was denied. Wolfgang, the denied brother, returned and tried again later since
his Catholic wife and children had remained behind, and again was denied.
|There are several theories as to the origination of the poem. Some said it was written by a poetic
Pongauer named Loinbacher, and another explanation is that it derived its name from the Peasant
leader Martin Laimbauer whose birthname was Martin Aichinger. Laimbauer was a Protestant
preacher and mystic who led a regional Protestant uprising of about 300 insurgents from 1632 -
1636. He became a hero to Protestant farmers. Laimbauer and his followers drank sacramental water
for protection at their religious gatherings, and he wrote songs for these meetings.
He preached in secret meetings first in the spring of 1632, but from 1635 he led his supporters in
open ritual processions with up to 700 participants accompanied by drum, pipes and fiddle music as
well as with firearms and a flag. Laimbauer dressed in green with a white hat with a red feather in his
own square coach. Soon, when soldiers were on top of them, they would disappear for a time, then
reemerge in another procession somewhere else. In April of 1635 at Gusen, the military attacked but
he was able to fend them off and vanish underground with his entourage. At Pentecost in 1636,
Laimbauer held another open procession and an army of 2700 soldiers were mobilized whose
vanguard Laimbauer bested again. Two days later at Gusen, he was again attacked by the troops and
again successfully fended them off.
Laimbauer and his followers finally fled with 300 loyal women and children to a hamlet on the
Frankenberg River and to the tower of a dilapidated church on the Frankenstein mountain in June of
1636. Aichinger and his faithful believed strongly that last minute support from a mythical army of
60.000 would be coming to their rescue. It didn't. The battle lasted about 3 hours, and the
government troops only won because they burned down all of the houses in the mountain town along
with the church on the hill in an unprecedented massacre in which almost all of the faithful, including
the women and children, were killed. The few survivors were plucked from the pile of corpses found
at the church and driven like cattle to Linz where Laimbauer, his four year old son, and six of his
faithful were dragged to the main square in Linz. They were first tortured with glowing tongs, then
decapitated. Laimbauer's burned and mangled body was then piked as a deterrent to the public.
A British diplomat, Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, was visiting at the time and bore witness to
this brutal execution. In his authentic travel report, there was a copper engraving of the event. Two
flags of Laimbauer are in the Upper Austrian National Museum, and a remaining wall of the former
church on the Frankenstein mountain is dedicated to the memory of the gruesome massacre.
This was not an isolated incident, There were consistent struggles for human rights during this period.
The most fanatical persecutors of the Lutherans in Austria were the ex-Protestants who became
Catholic again after being influenced by the zealous Jesuits. Lutheran born Melchior Klesl was a
born-again Catholic who was proclaimed Bishop in Vienna in 1602 and later elected to Cardinal. He
organized the persecution of Austria´s Protestants and ordered the removal of Lutheran ministers,
closure of churches and burning of Protestant books. With help from Jesuits, he ordered bloody
reprisals against Protestants.
Ulrich Hackl, another equally fanatical reborn Catholic, was one of the most successful supporters of
the Counter- Reformation. Yet another infamous ex-Protestant swayed back to Catholicism by
Jesuits was Adam Graf Herberstorff. As they rode across Austrian lands, they closed and destroyed
Protestant churches, burned Lutheran books and banished the Lutheran ministers. Protestant city
councils and judges were replaced by Catholics. Sometimes even Protestant cemeteries were
vandalised. In May of 1625, angry Lutheran peasants appeared in front of Frankenburg castle,
demanding such restrictive orders be retracted. The Bavarian commander promised them amnesty
and invited them to hold talks. He had their leaders throw dice ("the Frankenburg Dice Game"), and
hung 17 out of the 26.
This betrayal caused 40,000 peasants of Upper Austria to take up arms.Under the leadership of
Stefan Fadinger and Christoph Zeller, they took control of the towns of Wels, Steyr, Freistadt and
Kremsmünster. On May 21, the peasants defeated a force commanded by Count Adam von
Herberstorff and about 600 soldiers fell in battle. Between 8,000 and 10,000 peasants laid siege to
Linz, the capital of Upper Austria, but failed to take the city. In August, Imperial forces began a
counteroffensive. Both rebel leaders died in combat; the rebellion was crushed in November 1626 by
Bavarian General von Pappenheim.
|THE SALZBURG EXILES