Ecclesiastical Censure at the End of the Fifteenth Century

Ecclesiastical Censure at the End of the Fifteenth Century

Ecclesiastical Censure at the End of the Fifteenth Century

Ecclesiastical Censure at the End of the Fifteenth Century

Excerpt

The Papal Bull, Exsurge Domine, which was published June 15, 1520, condemned forty-one propositions drawn from the writings of Martin Luther, forbade the reading of his books, and called upon Christians everywhere to burn them. It threatened with excommunication every one who should support or protect him, suspended him from the priesthood, and announced his excommunication if he did not repent or recant within sixty days after the publication of the Bull in Germany. An interdict was laid, also, on any place where Luther should be, and for three days after he left.

The Bull led a checkered career in Germany, ending with its dramatic burning by Luther, outside the wall of Wittenberg.

The question arises as to the relative importance of this incident. Were excommunications and interdicts frequent at this time? What and how great effects did they have? What was the opinion generally held concerning them? Krehbiel has made an excellent study of this, covering the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, at the height of the power of the Mediaeval Church. It is the purpose of the present study to attempt to answer these questions concerning the latter half of the fifteenth century and the opening of the sixteenth-- roughly speaking, from 1450 to 1517. This period has been chosen, first, because by a comparison with conditions in the earlier period, the development of the use of ecclesiastical censures can be shown; second, because of its connection with the excommunication of Luther, as indicated above; and third, because a period of this length can be more easily studied.

But this latter half of the fifteenth century is interesting . . .

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