Among these reformed congregations, besides those of the Recollect Augustinians, the most significant was the Augustinian Observant Congregation of Saxony (in Germany).
As had happened in Italy, Spain, and France, reform began as early as the fifteenth century in the four German Augustinian provinces that had existed since 1299.
Johannes Zachariae O.S.A. of Eschwege, a Provincial of the Order in Saxony and a professor of theology at the University of Erfurt, began a reform in 1492.
Andreas Proles O.S.A., prior of the convento of Himmelpforten near Wernigerode, strove to introduce the reforms of Father Heinrich Zolter in as many Augustinian monasteries as possible.
Proles, aided by Father Simon Lindner of Nuremberg and other zealous Augustinians, worked assiduously until his death in 1503 to reform the Augustinian communities in Saxony, even calling in the assistance of the secular ruler of the region.
As the result of his efforts, the German, or Saxon, Augustinian Observant (Reformed) Congregation, recognized in 1493, comprised nearly all the important convents of the Order of Saint Augustine in the four German provinces of the Order of Saint Augustine.
Johann von Staupitz O.S.A
., his successor as vicar of the Augustinian observant congregation of Saxony, followed in his footsteps. Staupitz had been prior of the Augustinians at Tubingen, and then at Munich.
He then had taken a prominent part in founding the University of Wittenberg in 1502, where he became a professor of theology and the first dean of that faculty.
Even after the public outbreak of the Protestant Reformation in 1517 Staupitz entertained friendly sentiments towards Martin Luther
O.S.A., looking upon his proceedings as not being heretical but as being directed only against ecclesiastical abuses.
By 1519, however, Staupitz gradually changed his impression of Luther and turned away from his theology.
Staupitz resigned his office of vicar-general of the Augustinian German observant congregation in 1520, and soon afterwards transferred to the Order of Saint Benedict.
Father Wenzel Link O.S.A., a preacher at Nuremberg and a former professor and dean of the theological faculty at Wittenberg was elected his successor.
Link, however, shortly afterwards cast his lot with Luther, whose views were endorsed at a chapter of the Augustinian Saxon province held at Wittenberg in January 1522.
In 1523 Link resigned his office, and this virtually ended the German observant movement of the Order of Saint Augustine.
The German Augustinian observant communities that remained faithful to Rome then affiliated with the Lombardic observant congregation of the Order in northern Italy.
For a general coverage of the effects of the Protestant Reformation upon the Augustinian Provinces in Germany, click here