The Revolt of Martin Luther

By Robert Herndon Fife | Go to book overview
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"I AM disturbed, Martin, disturbed at the quarrel that has been stirred up by the wretched Dominicans, who with many others are plotting against your life."1 In these words the humanist friend of Erfurt days, Crotus Rubianus, warned Martin from the Eternal City in mid-October, when chronicling the intensified attack of Luther's opponents, whose temper was now to be inflamed still further by triumphant reports from Eck. It was not long, indeed, before the machinery of the Curia, which had been halted by the diplomatic exigencies of the imperial election, was to be set again into motion against Luther and his protector, the Saxon prince.2 Just when the wheels began to move cannot be said with certainty. Cajetan was back in Rome at the beginning of September,3 and while it seems that his reception was courteous and that he continued to enjoy the confidence of the Pope, he

Movet enim me, Martine, movet controversia, quam tibi concitarunt cum multis aliis in caput tuum conspirantes Dominicistae. W AB, I, 541, ll. 11 f.
The sources for the renewal of the Roman attack have been so thoroughly explored by a number of scholars that it is not likely that new documents of importance will come to light from the Vatican collections or elsewhere. To the earliest systematic investigation, Karl G. Müller' s "Luthers römischer Prozess," ZKG, Vol. XXIV ( 1903), Aloys Schulte added important source studies in his "Die römischen Verhandlungen über Luther 1520," Quellen und Forschungen aus italienischen Archiven und Bibliotheken, Vol. VI ( 1904). Finally, Paul Kalkoff's researches, extending over a number of years, have traversed the period so minutely that the story shows few gaps. See his Forschungen zu Luthers römischem Prozess, which includes a chronological survey, and the studies "Zu Luthers römischem Prozess" published in the Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte, Vols. XXV ( 1904), XXXI ( 1910), XXXII ( 1911), and XXXIII ( 1912).

Kalkoff's tireless investigation is unfortunately marred by poor organization and tedious repetition. These are, however, minor defects compared with the partisan and subjective way in which he treats the sources. It is necessary to examine every one of these at first hand and check each of his statements in order to determine whether the basis is contemporary material or some hypothesis or interpretation of Kalkoff's which may be set forth without any reservation or indication that it is the result of his own "combination." Often these hypotheses are truly astounding. This method, which mars all of the work of this industrious and self-denying scholar, has added greatly to the difficulty of reaching objective conclusions regarding this period. Fortunately the contemporary sources, such as official documents, minutes, and various letters, are nearly all available in reliable forms.

See Kalkoff, "Zu Luthers rbmischem Prozess," ZKG, XXV, 426, n. 1.


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