The Revolt of Martin Luther

By Robert Herndon Fife | Go to book overview

27
APPEAL TO THE SECULAR CLASSES

THE Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation1 was the final step by which Luther brought his case before the bar of public opinion. Although he deals mainly with religious abuses, Martin does not now approach them as a critical theologian or an aroused preacher but as a public reformer. Historically viewed, Luther's attack is a chapter in a struggle for reform which had been going on in the Church since the thirteenth century and which did not come to an end until the Council of Trent took up the task of eliminating many of the evils he sets forth.2 Diet after diet had seen a long list of complaints of this character on its agenda. Cajetan, like many papal envoys before him, had been obliged to listen to a formidable document of gravamina when he came to Augsburg in 1518 to seek the aid of the German states in a crusade against the Turks. Immediately afterwards and in the following year Cajetan was attacked in a series of Latin dialogues by the Franconian humanist, Ulrich von Hutten,3 whose clever pen, sharpened through a dozen years of satirical practice, was now fully devoted to the cause of a national struggle against Rome.

____________________
1
An den christlichen Adel deutscher Nation von des christlichen Standes Besserung. W A, VI, 404 ff.
2
The sources for Luther's arraignment are thoroughly canvassed by Köhler in his Die Quellen zu Luthers Schrift "An den christlichen Adel deutscher Nation". For a brief résumé of the historical background, see Georg v. Below, "Die Ursachen der Reformation", Historische Bibliothek, Vol. XXXVIII ( 1917).
3
Hutten's character and historical importance have been bitterly attacked by Kalkoff in a series of investigations which also traverse the relations of Luther to Hutten. The most important are Ulrich von Hutten und die Reformation and Huttens Vagantenzeit und Untergang. A sturdy defense of Hutten has been made by Fritz Walser, "Die politische Entwickelung Ulrichs von Hutten während der Entscheidungsjahre der Reformation", Historische Zeitschrift, No. 14 ( 1928). See also Werner Kaegi, "Hutten und Erasmus", Historische Vierteljahrschrift, Vol. XXII ( 1925). Kalkoff set out to destroy the romantic figure of Hutten in David F. Strauss's biography Ulrich von Hutten. His researches have added greatly to knowledge of the field, but his views of Hutten bear everywhere the marks of bias, and the resultant historical picture is somewhat of a caricature.

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The Revolt of Martin Luther
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction vii
  • Contents xi
  • 1 - Early Days at Home and School 3
  • 2 - The Schoolboy Abroad 20
  • 3 - Early Years at the University 32
  • 4 - The Scholastic Learning 47
  • 5 - Entrance into the Cloister 66
  • 6 - The Novitiate Year 79
  • 7 - Brother Martin of the Eremites 91
  • 8 - Student of Theology 104
  • 9 - The Young Lecturer 128
  • 10 - The Journey to Rome 161
  • 11 - Professor and Preacher at Wittenberg 179
  • 12 - Interpreter of Augustine and Paul 203
  • 13 - The Final Break with Scholasticism 224
  • 14 - The Attack on Indulgences 245
  • 15 - In Battle with the Dominicans 272
  • 16 - The Hearing at Augsburg 288
  • 17 - An Attempt at Compromise 305
  • 18 - The Leipzig Disputation the Prelude 327
  • 19 - The Leipzig Disputation the Combat 349
  • 20 - The Leipzig Disputation the Aftermath 368
  • 21 - A Battle of Polemics 395
  • 22 - Humanistic Friends and Allies 415
  • 23 - Growth as Teacher and Preacher 436
  • 24 - The Rising Tide of Revolt 463
  • 25 - The Attack on the Sacraments 479
  • 26 - The Break with Rome 491
  • 27 - Appeal to the Secular Classes 507
  • 28 - The Final Break with Church Tradition 524
  • 29 - The Bull and the Counterattack 539
  • 30 - Book-Burning on Rhine and Elbe 562
  • 31 - Prelude to the Diet at Worms 587
  • 32 - The Diet in Session 614
  • 33 - Martin before the Diet 649
  • 34 - Refusal to Compromise 670
  • Conclusion 693
  • List of Abbreviations 694
  • Selected Bibliography 695
  • Index 715
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