Martin Luther, The Reformation and Why Not?

The common and popular media would have you believe that 500 hundred years ago today Martin Luther invented the Reformation. Naturally being the common and popular media this is somewhat inaccurate. As a dedicated and serious historian (See “A True History of These Isles Vol. 1 (Prehistory to 1216 CE-ish)”, available on Amazon Kindle $0.99/£0.99- terms and conditions apply) it therefore falls upon myself to ensure the correct application of facts and a fair interpretation of both Luther and the events.

Luther’s Early Life

Martin Luther was born 10th Nov 1483in Saxony into an industrious family; he had several siblings. His father insisted he become a lawyer. He seems to have had a typical education as he referred to his time in school as being both ‘purgatory and hell’, while his university (at Erfurt) was a ‘beer and whorehouse’. Despite this he received a Master’s Degree in 1505. As his father was still stuck on the idea of his son being a lawyer Martin Luther was sent back to Erfurt to study just the law. He didn’t like it and felt there was more to Life, so took to philosophy, but on encountering Reason and Logic felt he might be slipping back into Law. He concluded the only way to be worthwhile and content was to encounter God

A Dramatic Event

On the 2nd Jul 1505, or so the records state, while walking in a field or riding on a road, he was struck by lightning, but survived. Not wishing to have that such a close encounter with God, as yet, weary of people inferring there were many other reasons why a student would be lying confused in a field and also not wishing to risk a repeat experience he became a monk.

How Things Were Done

At this time a large portion of Central Europe was supposed to be ruled by The Holy Roman Emperor. As was the custom of the time he divided his time between fighting the French while arguing with any pope as to who had the final say in things. In the meantime various princes, dukes, counts etc fought or sued each other, while suppressing peasants who rebelled or worse took the nobles to the courts. It was a good time for mercenaries and lawyers (Be fair, you can see Luther Snr’s point of view).

Luther in Conflict with The Church  

At this time the Church had become very indulgent by making a rule which said you could do what you liked as long as you said you were sorry and paid a large amount of money to the Church. Luther thought this unfair upon the poor people and showed his displeasure by writing a version of the Bible in a very common language called The Vernacular while in 1517 (31st Oct) also by nailing to the door of a church a work of nine-five reasons why he was right. The Church authorities acted swiftly.

In 1521 he was summoned to a church court. Here, he defended his case with great eloquence for three or five days and then confused everyone by saying he had nothing to say and was going to stand there. Despite this clever and dramatic move The Church authorities said Luther was incorrect and thus an hysteric. They then condemned him to the terrible punishment of a Diet of Worms.

The Peasant’s Official Revolt

Because Luther had been saying the Church was too wealthy and not Religious enough he had gathered a following. On hearing the news of the cruel sentence passed on him The Poor People were so outraged by this vile treatment that they rose in official rebellion (instead of their normal rowdy behavior). This started in 1524, a peasants’ council was formed and in was agreed to upgrade the rebellion into a war. This ended in 1525, because the authorities could massacre better than peasants could massacre large armies.

The peasants however were good at wrecking churches, monasteries, and being not educated also libraries. Luther was disgusted with this and told them they should concentrate on praying, being rude to bishops and but listen to their rulers.

This was well-received by many of the nobility.

Luther’s Private Life

During this turbulent time people were daring to think the unthinkable. This can be typified by the case of twelve nuns at a convent in Brehna, Saxony who were fed up of being nuns. On hearing of this Luther in a spirit of gallant manliness smuggled them out in herring barrels on the 4th April 1523. The Church authorities may have thought something fishy was going on but possibly shrewdly deduced he’d end up in a pickle. He and one nun Katharina von Bora did however fall in love and marry, thus allowing all clergy to marry. When Katharina found out he’d been living on hard bread and sleeping in a mildewed bed (or maybe the other way around) she soon sorted him out, Luther learning the great value of the phrase ‘Yes Dear’

Luther and The Reformation    

Several bishops and affiliated lesser nobility had tried to have Luther massacred but more sympathetic nobles kept hiding him. When the authorities realised he wasn’t arguing with them, but only the bishops and rowdy peasants it became safe for him to come out of hiding. The first thing he had to do was to tell people to stop listening to people who were not reading The Bible but just having visions as you never knew where they’d got those visons from. He wisely then set up his own church to ensure more Bible reading and singing of hymns.

In Later Years

Luther had a family, his own church and a reformation, however in later years he also suffered with many types of ill-health which made him short-tempered, and sadly not amusingly irascible but down right unpleasantly rude. Being a typical man when admonished by his wife on this score he blamed someone else. This included in particular The Jews, which was very unfair because he was supposed to have read the Bible and it didn’t need much of an excuse for the population to pick on Jews. This outlook of his may have led to a case of Terminal Stupidity as he died in 1546. Normal and balanced people do not subscribe to these later views and wish he’d just to stuck more wholesome pastimes in his retirement such as tending to a garden or annoying bishops.

Luther’s Legacy

It can be argued that because of Luther there are a lot more ways of being Christian than there used to be. As long as people don’t hurl insults or objects at each other over the matter then this is no bad thing.

Foot-Note

The author wishes it to be known this article is originally based on a post of some two years ago (Whimsicalities Anyone?) which is so full of inaccuracies and incorrect assumptions that is has been fully overhauled.

For more interesting views on matters historical readers may (or may not) wish to consider investing in a copy of  51vnj7ZqupL__SY346_

 

 

Available on Kindle (normal terms and conditions apply)

 

 

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