The Revolt of Martin Luther

By Robert Herndon Fife | Go to book overview
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WHEN young Martin Luther presented himself for the master of arts examination early in 1505 he had carried on studies for a minimum period of two years.1 He had attended thirty regular disputations and taken part in fifteen of them, and his moral character had been approved.2 In accord with the statutes his examination must have taken place before four masters of arts and the dean or his representative.3 His preparatory career closed amid the solemn festivities with which Alma Mater blesses her well-behaved children. On this occasion the rector of the university bestowed on Martin the coveted master's beret, and as we noted, he swore not to accept the award from any other university. The ceremony closed with the traditional feast, where the university heads and their examiners disposed of "confects and potables" at the expense of the young graduates.4

Two roads now lay open before him. He might become the head of a trivial school such as he himself had attended, or he might remain at the university as a lecturer and continue his studies. In fact, in the oath which preceded his graduation he had sworn to teach at Erfurt for a period of two years unless excused by the faculty of philosophy.5This obligation would not have prevented him from entering at the same time on preparation for a learned profession, as many a master had done before. He must have been regarded by professors and fellow students as a young man of unusual ability and promise. We have met one of the latter, Crotus Rubianus, who recalled his zeal for literary studies; and Martin's graduation as second in his class in the minimum period prescribed for the higher arts degree and at the minimum age of twenty-two point to excellent scholarly achievement. He had probably distinguished himself more by solid learning aided by a pow

The statutes provided that the graduates must present themselves for the examination at Epiphany. "Acten", VIII, II, 138, para. 79.


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