EARLY DAYS AT HOME AND SCHOOL
THE family from which Martin Luther sprang was of Thuringian peasant stock. It belonged to the tough and vigorous race dwelling on the north- western slope of the great ridge that cuts across central Germany from the southeast and forms a boundary line of historical importance. Many sources have contributed to the population of this rugged country. Archaeological finds in the valleys point back as far as an interglacial age. Since then waves of many migrant peoples have swept around and over the forested hills and left traces in the settlement and culture of the region. In prehistoric times the Frankish invasion halted at the western slopes, but many of this tribal group filtered through to mingle with the Thuringian stock. The racial character of the population is, as it was in the later Middle Ages and for many centuries before, of prevailingly Alpine type: stocky of figure, brown of eyes and hair and somewhat brownish in complexion, tough and elastic in body.
The village of Möhra, lying in the forest which overhangs Eisenach and its plain, was the focus of the clan of Luther, or Luder. This clan embraced a number of families. So numerous, indeed, were the Luthers that when Martin, on his return from Worms in 1521, made a visit to the home of his forefathers, he found that his relatives filled the whole neighborhood.1 Like other small peasant proprietors of the region, the Luthers were not subject to the exactions that afflicted the rural classes in southern and southwestern Germany in the later fifteenth century. Under the mild rule of the Saxon electors the Thuringian villages enjoyed a considerable measure of local selfgovernment. Nevertheless, families were large and their lives were a constant struggle for existence. Custom did not permit peasant farms to be divided, and the many sons were forced to fend for themselves.
One of these was Hans Luther, the father of Martin. As a young man he____________________