Martin Luther: Reformer
Martin Luther was born in Eisieben, Germany, on November 10,1483, St. Martin’s Day. He was the son of Has Luther, a coal miner, and Margarethe. Martin’s parents were of the middle class and were unbending in their disciplinary acts. He attended the best schools in his region but all of them held to the barbaric discipline system of the times. This had a big impact on Martin’s personality. But he did receive some positive influence from his home environment. His parents were very pious people and brought him up to be one too. His parents also gave him a strong sense of superstition. At the age of 14 Luther went to grammar school at Magdeburg. There he got attracted to the Church and particularly the Lollards. Then in 1498 he moved to Eisenach and came in contact with a warmer church life than he was use too. He also made some important friends here including Fran Ursula Cotta. He really started going into the Church works when he attended the University at Erfurt. He was a very diligent student and quickly rose through the academic ranks. Meanwhile his father upon hearing of his son’s achievements had great hopes for him. Luther was preparing to be a lawyer to some prince or town after he received his degree in philosophy. But halfway through his training he decided to quit and take up life permanently in an Augustine monastery.
Historians speculate on why such a successful young man would want to join the monastery. Historians believe a string of events led Luther to choose the path of the Church. Being superstitious, Luther might have thought that this was god trying to get him to join the monastery. Luther made hid decision to go into the monastery during a thunderstorm. A bolt of lightening hit just a few feet away from him and threw him up into the air. He saw this as an act of god and joined the monastery. Later he and his father would look back and wonder whether it was God or the devil.
His methods of teaching were a bit unorthodox but had a natural talent for speaking to the masses that listen to him. He often used vulgar language in his classes and had liberal ideas that he preached. His vulgarity came from a few things. First of all he was constipated and often talked about it in class. He related dirt to sin and obsessive about being clean.
He like many other people of his time was driven by worries of being saved. He always felt that he did not do enough to receive salvation. He felt unworthy of receiving salvation and this left him unsure of his afterlife. He looked for ways to prove his worthiness to the Lord. He thought that no mere mortal could approach the majesty and holiness of God. There for he thought one couldn’t obtain salvation from doing many good works, but rather through faith in the almighty. This revelation of Luther’s gave him great relief. It told him that the God freely gives people his grace if only one has faith. So Luther stopped worrying about doing penance for his sins. He came to an understanding of salvation called “justification by faith”. As he meditated on his new philosophy he thought of all the ideas that would later pit him against the Catholic Church.
Luther was one of the greatest contributors of the Reformation. He posted his 95 theses on the Church door for the world to see. He was not afraid of the Church and openly spoke out against its evils. He didn’t take back his word when it was certain he could die during his appearance before the emperor at the Diet of Worms. He started Lutheranism and inspired others to speak out against the Church.
Pope Leo X was born in 1475 and died 1521. His birth name was Giovanni de’ Medici, a member of the powerful family de’ Medici. He was the son of Lorenzo de’ Medici. His father used the family riches to bribe his son’s way through the Church. Giovanni was made an Abbot at the age of 8 and a cardinal at the age of 14. Innocent VIII felt that Giovanni was too young to be entering the College of Cardinals so he made him wait for 3 years. After he entered the College of Cardinals. While he was a cardinal he refused to sell his vote to Rodrigo Borgia and consequently fled from Rome. After Rodrigo died he came back and was made Pope after Julius II. While he was a cardinal Giovanni obeyed all his fathers commands but when he was made pope he ignored them all. Leo X was the main target of Martin Luther’s protests against the Church. That was because Leo had worked out a deal with Albert of Mainz to sell indulgences in which the profits would be split 50/50. Albert hired a man named Johann Tetzel to do the selling and when Luther heard of Tetzel selling indulgences he began to think of ways to reform the church. Leo wanted to use the money to rebuild the Basilica of St. Peter’s in Rome. Leo also had a taste for fine arts and hired Pope Julius II favorites including Raphael and Michelangelo. He held lavish feasts and the feast he held to celebrate the marriage of his brother cost over 150,000 Ducats. Cardinals led by Alfonso Petrucci plotted to poison Leo and replace him with Cardinal Riario. Leo found out about the plot and had Alfonso thrown into Sant’ Angelo and tortured for names of other conspirators. Leo had Alfonso killed but didn’t kill Riario because of Riario’s many connections. At one time Leo created 31 cardinals and each position was up for grabs if the price was right.
Pope Alexander VI was pope from 1492 to 1503. His birth name was Rodrigo Borgia. His Uncle Calixtus III was pope at the time and allowed him to climb up the ranks in the church. He was made a Cardinal at age 26. During this time he had many orgies but his superiors overlooked these with some influence from his uncle. He was made vice-chancellor of the Church by his uncle and made a lot of money to finance his later exploits. His family was Spanish and many Romans hated this. The Romans eventually chased his uncle out of Rome. After his uncle was chased out Innocent VIII took the papacy much to the dismal of Rodrigo. He used his position as vice-chancellor to make wholesale distribution of pardons even for fathers who killed their daughters. When criticized for this he said “It’s not god’s wish that a sinner should die, but that he should live-and pay. From all his businesses he made himself the richest Cardinal ever next to Estouteville. After Innocent VIII died Rodrigo bribed his way into the papacy. After he was made Pope Alexander VI he built a palace between the Bridge of Sant’ Angelo and the Campo di Fiori. He had all his clothing embroidered with silk and gold. He had many mistresses and was a charmer. He was not glutinous and ate very frugal meals. He kept his body in shape and was quite a handsome man. He used his power to put many of his illegitimate sons and family members into positions of power. He unlike past popes used money instead of force to get to his ends.
Pope Urban VI was pope from 1378 to 1389. His birth name was Bartolomeo Prignano. Bartolomeo was the archbishop of Bari and an assistant to the vice-chancellor of the curia. He was responsible for seven offices in the chancery. He was a Neapolitan lawyer who worked his way into the church with out the help of a powerful family. He was part of the Pope Gregory VII group that brought the papacy back to Rome. After Gregory died during after the move from Avignon, Bartolomeo was elected Pope. After he became Urban VI the power went to his head and he became a raging-tyrant. He began excommunicating people for the smallest things. He criticized everyone including his friend the Queen Joanna. He called a meeting of the cardinals and one-by-one singled them out and criticized them for their lust for power, his immorality, and neglect of his duties. The cardinals plotted to kill Urban, but Urban offered to submit his validity of his election to the test of a council. But the new conclave did not elect him but instead Robert of Geneva. Urban then made many Italian cardinals and in effect created another church. This was the Great Schism. Robert took up the name Clement VII and prepared to invade Rome. Urban enlisted the help of a young Italian noblemen by the name of Alberico da Barbiano. Alberico had raised an army that was purely Italian. Alberico’s armies meet Clement’s and totally destroyed it. This was the first time in generations that a Italian army meet and won a battle against the Foreigners. After this Clement fled from Italy and this would have been enough to end the Great Schism. But Urban was furious that his past friend Queen Joanna would give refuge to Clement. Urban searched for a champion to over throw Joanna. He found Charles of Durazzo. Charles agreed to crusade against Joanna if he got the crown. Urban agreed to this had financed Charles’s army. Joanna saw the danger coming and chose Louis of Anjou to be her champion. But Louis came to late and Joanna was killed. Urban decided Charles was moving too slow so he rallied up his own army and headed for Naples. Relations between Charles and Urban grew steadily worse and eventually declared war on each other. Urban fled for Genoa and grew very paranoid. He killed anyone that was the least bit suspicious. Then his army left him as he could not afford to pay them anymore. On October 15, 1389 Urban died.
Life in Germany:
During the time period of the reformation life in Germany was very dangerous. A lot of new ideas were being introduced to German society and the economy wasn’t doing very well. Most of the populations were caught up in the fear of not receiving salvation. A large part of the money people earn went to but indulgences from the church or “holy relics” sold by street merchants. This sent more and more of the hard working German’s money into foreign places. The population was mostly made up of peasants who were often mistreated There were many rulers and none of them lasted for long. Germany was divided into many different parts and most of them at war with each other. The Church controlled most of the courts in Germany. The political courts during this time period were very corrupt. By 1529 Germany’s rulers were split into 3 fractions. Germany’s Rulers ether supported the Holy Roman Emperor, the Catholic Church, or the Reformation. Charles V was aware of this and called a diet to settle the matter. The assembly there passed a decree that allowed Lutheran countries to have Lutheran church services, but also required that Catholic services be followed. It also outlawed the practice of Lutheran services in all the Catholic States. The angered many of the Lutheran princes and nobles and said they would Protest this unfair decree. From this Protest came the term Protestant, or a person who protests against the Catholic Church. Charles V never seriously enforced the edict and allowed the Lutheran countries to continue their reforms. A group of Protestant Princes and Cities came together and formed the Schmalkaldic League named after they city in which the first meeting of their league was held. Also in 1530 another diet was called and the Lutheran princes decided to put their complaints in writing so they sent a scholar named Philipp Melanchuthon to what was called the Augsburg Confession. The Augsberg Confession was the systematic statement of the Lutheran belief. The Confession was written as uncontroversial as possible. Charles handed the Confession to a team of theologians to analyze and their report stated that the Church did indeed have some problems. Charles said that he would help correct the problems of the Church and that he hoped the Protestants would rejoin the Church. They did not.