Martin Luther and the German Reformation

AKG2040744Bridget Heal at History Today:

Five hundred years ago, in an obscure town in a remote part of Germany, an Augustinian friar set in train a series of events that led to the permanent splintering of western Christendom. The story of Martin Luther posting his Ninety-Five Theses against Indulgences to the door of the castle chapel in Wittenberg is a defining moment in German history. But what were the origins of Luther’s movement for religious reform? How should we understand the individuals and the events that propelled his protest from Wittenberg onto the European stage? And how can we explain the Reformation’s significance in the context of contemporary concerns?

The eldest of nine siblings, Martin Luther was born in Eisleben in the county of Mansfeld on November 10th, 1483. His origins were relatively lowly: ‘I am a peasant’s son; my great-grandfather, my grandfather, my father were true peasants’, he commented later in life. This was an exaggeration. Although his family was of peasant origin, his father, Hans Luder, had become a senior figure in the local mining industry and wanted his eldest son to study law. Luther attended school in Magdeburg and Eisenach and in 1501 he enrolled at the university in Erfurt, where he gained a master’s degree in 1505.

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