The Revolt of Martin Luther

By Robert Herndon Fife | Go to book overview

30
BOOK-BURNING ON RHINE AND ELBE

"O WOULD that Charles were the man to attack these Satans in defense of Christ!"1 This pessimistic cry of Martin's when at last he has the text of the bull before him shows that he has now no hope of support for his cause from the young emperor, who was just in the midst of preparations for his coronation at Aachen. "Put not your trust in princes!" This warning comes from Martin again and again during the autumn days, when he must have been following the negotiations between the German princes and the imperial councilors as closely as was permitted by letters from Spalatin (now lost) and information received through the electoral officials in Wittenberg. The scene of these negotiations was Cologne, where Frederick and the other electors were awaiting the coronation festivities and anxiously taking counsel lest something hinder imperial confirmation of the "electoral capitulation" that had been a condition of their support of Charles and was now to be reaffirmed before the crown of Germany should decorate the head of the young sovereign. " 'The heathen rage,' " Martin writes, " 'and the people imagined vain things. The kings of the earth set themselves together and the princes plotted against God and against His anointed.' Here you have the office and effort of princes, kings, and bishops toward the word of Christ. . . . The affair of God is secret and spiritual. It is not a matter for the public as these are."2 It is no wonder that anyone who looks at the matter according to office and honor should cry out today, he writes Spalatin early in November,3 perhaps after receipt of a letter setting forth the political situation in Cologne. He himself commits the whole affair to God. A few days later he notes as an old story that no hope is to be expected from Charles's court.4 On November 28 Elector Frederick is back in Eilenburg,

____________________
1
Letter to Spalatin, Oct. 11, 1520, W AB, II, 195.
2
Letter to Michael Muris, October 20, W AB, II, 201 f.
3
W AB, II, 211.
4
Letter from Luther to Spalatin, November 13, W AB, II, 213.

-562-

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