Eisleben, the chief settlement in the county of Mansfeld, at the end of the fifteenth century was an aspiring city with more than 4,000 inhabitants, growing suburbs, and several churches1 (Plate I top). Martin Luther's life began and ended here. Yet, Luther was not a real Eislebener. Both his birth as well as his death in the same city instead had to do with the episodic circumstances of his life. Luther died in 1546 in the elegant house of the Drachstedt family next to St. Andrews Church while attempting to achieve a settlement between the estranged counts of Mansfeld. In St. Andrews Church he delivered his final sermons; there also he was laid out in death. Luther sometimes stayed in his order's monastery in the new part of the city at St. Anne's Church. During the Corpus Christi procession in 1515, he had one of his disturbing confrontations with Christ as judge there.2 Luther was born in a middle-class house located on Langen Gasse, today Dr. Lutherstrasse, in the Bridges Quarter (Brückenviertel), the southeast suburb (Plate I bottom). The house of his birth, which has since suffered a fire, is no longer preserved in its old condition. Yet today one can still imagine the original layout of the ground floor with vestibule, kitchen, living room, and bedroom, where presumably Luther was born. November 10, 1483, shortly before midnight, is considered the date of his birth, based chiefly on one of Melanchthon's statements.3 Neither Luther nor his mother was completely sure of the year of his birth later, however. At that time people were not always precise about such dates. Occasionally the years 1484 and 1482 are also mentioned. While 1484 can certainly be excluded as the year of his birth, a setting of the date in 1482 would remove definite difficulties in the chronology of Luther's youth, such as the four-year period of schooling in Eisenach, for which it is difficult to account, or the obtaining of the masters degree at the age of twenty-two at the beginning of 1505.4 Also because of the uncertainty over the date of his birth, Luther later had little concern for astrology and horoscopes. For him, the course of his life was one of miraculous leading. On the day following his birth, 11 November, Luther was baptized in the church of Sts. Peter and Paul, the parish church of the Bridges Quarter, presumably by the pastor, Bartholomew Bennebecher, and was given the name of the saint of the day, Martin. At that time the church
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Martin Luther: His Road to Reformation, 1483-1521. Contributors: Martin Brecht - Author, James L. Schaaf - Translator. Publisher: Fortress Press. Place of publication: Minneapolis. Publication year: 1993. Page number: 1.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.