The Revolt of Martin Luther

By Robert Herndon Fife | Go to book overview

29
THE BULL AND THE COUNTERATTACK

"I DO not know anything about Eck up to the present, except that he has come barbed, bulled, and provided with money." Thus wrote Luther to a friendly canon in Merseburg on September 28.1 It was true. The hostile Dominican had arrived in Saxony with the bull and had hastened to post it on the cathedral doors in Duke George's city of Meissen, with the observation of all the formalities required by the canon law.2 Within another week he had repeated this ceremony at the Saxon episcopal see in Merseburg and at the capital of Luther's own diocese in Brandenburg. Thence he returned to Leipzig and prepared for further publication. Spalatin was away in the Rhineland with the elector in attendance on the coronation festivities of the new emperor. This probably explains why, in spite of the fact that the text of the bull had been posted on three sides of him within a radius of fifty miles, Martin seems to have remained in ignorance as to what definite points in his doctrine were condemned until several weeks after Eck opened his campaign in Saxony.3

____________________
1
Letter to Günter von Bünau, Sept. 28, 1520, W AB, II, 187, l. 29.
2
On September 21. Kalkoff refers to Eck's letter to William, duke of Bavaria, on December 11. "Zu Luthers römischem Prozess", ZKG, XXV, 534. See also Riederer, Beytrag zu den Reformationsurkunden, pp. 109 ff.; also Joseph Greving introductory comments in "Briefmappe. Erstes Stück", RgST, XXI/ XXII ( 1912), 196.
3
The general tenor of the bull was known to humanistic circles in Western Germany by the middle of September. See Hutten's letter to the elector on September 11 from the Ebernburg, in Hutten, Opera, I, 383 ff. I cannot follow Kalkoff ( "Zu Luthers r6mischem Prozess", ZKG, XXV, 523) in assuming that Hutten was necessarily acquainted with the contents of the bull when he wrote this letter. Erasmus, especially, appears to have had inside sources of information at Rome that promptly communicated to him matters in progress at the Vatican. Aleander, papal delegate at Worms, complained bitterly to Medici of spies at the Roman court who were in contact with its enemies in Germany, so that every word of his dispatches was promptly reported back. Theodor Brieger, "Aleander und Luther, 1521"," Quellen und Forschungen zur Geschichte der Reformation, pp. 27, 41; Kalkoff, Depeschen, pp. 50, 59. He says also that the bull was printed in Germany before it had been published at Rome. In view of Luther's ignorance of the text until October 11, it does not seem at all likely that the bull had been printed on the Rhine a month earlier.

-539-

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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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