Welcome to Your Historical Compass
"The purpose of this blog is to generate discussions about historical issues. Students, enthusiasts, and friends are all welcome to join by reading and participating with comments. I hope to generate interest in history and offer help to the perplexed." Caleb Johnson
Monday, October 31, 2011
All Saints Eve
On October 31, 1517 AD, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the doors of the cathedral in Wittenburg. The theses would not have been alone, for many people posted notices on the doors. Yet, these theses stood out in one major respect, because they criticised the Holy Mother Church.
Among the many abuses listed in the theses was the sale of indulgences by church officials. Indulgences were sold to people on the basis that they could buy years out of purgatory. John Tetzel, a Dominican cleric, had launched an indulgence campaign to help pay for the building of St Peter's Church in Rome. Luther started writing criticism, not only of Tetzel, but of the many extra-Biblical practices of the church. For his criticism, Luther was summoned to Rome to answer to the inquisition. However, Fredrick, Duke of Saxony, refused to let Luther be tried outside Germany and even got Luther a promise of safe conduct to the new hearing location, Worms. At Worms, Luther was asked if he would recant his writings and works. Luther refused and after explaining why said, "Here I stand, so help me God."
Luther was condemned as a heretic, but it was too late. The printing press had distributed his work and he gained much popular support. Luther advocated the printing of the Bible in German and set to translating it himself. Meanwhile, Emperor Charles V had summoned the German princes to Augsburg to unite against Luther and suppress his teachings. The princes, however, stood up to their emperor. There they confessed their faith and refused to suppress the new teachings of the protesters, now called "Protestants." The movement grew, fueled by the media and printing press; it spread to England, Holland, Sweden, and assorted parts of Germany.
Luther is responsible in many ways for the break with the Catholic Church and the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Others would follow, but Luther's cause and resolute determination helped reintroduce Christ and the Bible to Christians everywhere.