The Revolt of Martin Luther

By Robert Herndon Fife | Go to book overview

24
THE RISING TIDE OF REVOLT

"ALL Switzerland, Constance, Augsburg and a good part of Italy depend on Luther." Thus wrote the Freiburg jurist Ulrich Zasius to Konrad Mutianus at the beginning of December, 1519.1 For half a year the energetic Froben had been diligently sending out his first edition of Luther's Latin works from the Basel press. Early in the year six hundred copies had gone to France and to Spain; the book had also become widely known in the Netherlands and England, and a Pavia colleague of Froben's had undertaken to distribute it among Italian scholars.2 By February, 1519, the edition was almost exhausted, and before the end of May an augmented second edition, issued in that month, was already sought in vain on the Basel bookstalls.3 A year later Konrad Pellicanus, then guardian of the Franciscan convent in the Swiss city and later an associate of Zwingli, writes to Martin that reprints of his German writings are appearing there,4 and that brothers of the Order of St. Francis are translating his exposition of the Ten Commandments into German and making it the subject of sermons to appreciative audiences. While he does not sympathize with Erasmus's indiscriminate attacks on monasticism, Pellicanus urges Luther to persist in his criticism of its abuses.

The Swiss cleric was only one of the earlier witnesses to the widening of Luther's contacts as the spring of 1520 opened. The spread of his fame brought a rapid expansion in the circle of his correspondents, which included clerics in Constance, Ulm, Augsburg, Breslau, the East Mark, his childhood home of Mansfeld, far-away Paris, and, before summer, representatives of the knightly class. His interchanges with the humanists Crotus, Erasmus, Wolfgang Capito, and Ulrich von Hutten became active, and though unfor

____________________
1
Karl Gillert, ed., "Der Briefwechsel des Conradius Mutianus"," Geschichtsquellen der Provinz Sachsen, XVIII, 11, 256.
2
r from Johann Froben to Luther, Feb. 14, 1519, W AB, I, 332.
4
March 16, 1520. W AB, II, 65, ll. 26 ff.

-463-

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