The Revolt of Martin Luther

By Robert Herndon Fife | Go to book overview

2
THE SCHOOLBOY ABROAD

IN his fourteenth year young Martin left the narrow scenes of childhood and went forth into a wider world of experience. Probably at Easter, 1496 1 he set out from the valley of Mansfeld to carry on his schooling at Magdeburg, thirty miles to the north. The largest city of the region, Magdeburg lay strategically in the valley of the Elbe and dominated the country round about as the center of a lively trade and the seat of a bishop, as well as through the prestige of its churches and schools. The departure from home must have been a great adventure for the lad, but it was quite in accord with the spirit of the times. The wandering schoolboy, an heir of the vagrant scholars of the Middle Ages, was not an unusual sight on the highways of Saxony in a day when a great wave of school reform was spreading over Central Europe. Thomas Platter's autobiography pictures the troops of youths swarming along the German roads, many of them hundreds of miles from home, seeking food from charity and lodging wherever they could. Wandering was in the blood of the later Middle Ages. Schoolboys adapted themselves to it and fitted together into a social organization like that which had grown up among another class of wanderers, the artisans of the cities. The schools too had their apprentices, their journeymen, and their master-workmen. An older boy, the bacchante, was attended by a group of satellite fags, or Schützen, who begged and stole to keep their elders in food, receiving in return protection from other boys and perhaps a crust of bread or a bit of fish from such store as they collected. As the "New Learning" brought especial fame to certain schools, large numbers of scholars were often attracted from distant parts of Middle Europe and made serious trouble for school authorities and city fathers.

A system like this involved a cruel waste of life. Martin, however, escaped

____________________
1
The date of Luther's removal to Magdeburg is a matter of some dispute. Barnikol, Luther in Magdeburg, p.4, sets the date as Easter, 1496; the early biographers, Melanchthon, Ratzeberger, and Mathesius, make it 1497, which Scheel prefers.

-20-

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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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