EARLY YEARS AT THE UNIVERSITY
THE young scholar's choice of a university fell quite naturally on the great Thuringian seat of higher studies at Erfurt. He was now in his eighteenth year, in that day a somewhat advanced age to enter academic life. Many of his contemporaries began it at fifteen, and college doors were swung open freely to lads of thirteen and even younger.1 Martin was evidently not a precocious youth, but his preparation had been solid and he had no need to avail himself of the pre-college training which the late medieval university provided for immature freshmen.2
At the opening of the summer semester in May, 1501, "Martinus Ludher ex Mansfeldt" was duly registered in the faculty of arts,3 beginning a residence in Erfurt that was to last at university and convent for nearly ten years. Even as a wandering schoolboy, Martin may have explored the streets of Erfurt more than once, for the most convenient road from his home to Eisenach led through its gates. In later days he did not always speak respectfully of the city that witnessed so many crucial phases in his life. Nevertheless, the deep impression which its size and commerce and public life made on his youthful mind did not fade with the passing of the years, and it found expression repeatedly in the Table Talk and elsewhere.
When the Mansfeld boy came as a freshman, the ancient metropolis of Thuringia might well have impressed an observant and ambitious scholar. It passed for the most populous city in the German empire, although at least four others, Nuremberg, Strasbourg, Cologne, and Liibeck, disputed the claim.4 The early biographers, confirmed by Luther's own statements, set____________________