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The German Reformation:
31st October 1517 Martin Luther published the Ninety-Five Theses. These
attacked the sale of indulgences and circulated around Wittenberg and
further. These were the result of a preacher, Johann Tetzel, selling
indulgences as a passport to Heaven.
October 1518 Luther was summoned to Augsburg for a meeting with
Cardinal Cajetan, Pope Leo X representative. Luther was asked to recant his
writings and apologise. However, Luther refused to do so despite the threat
as being judged as a heretic instead it persuaded him to deny the authority
of the Pope.
July 1519 The Leipzig Debate took place. A respected Dominican Friar, John
Eck, opposed Luther's beliefs. During this debate, Luther was forced in to a
corner to deny the authority of the General Council. This debate persuaded
Luther to develop his argument that the best authority that should be
recognised is scripture alone (Sola scriptura) and faith alone (Sola fide).
1520 Luther made clear in his pamphlets that he was not just attacking
the corruptions in the Church but some of its vital teachings as well. He
denied the authority of the Pope but believed that German princes should
be in control of the Church and reform it. Despite loyal Catholics (led by
Charles V) attempting to suppress Luther and his followers he was strongly
protected by the Elector of Saxony, Frederick the Wise. Luther's pamphlets
also criticised priests as he believed that they were no more holy then the
ordinary man and could not act as intermediates between God and their
congregation. The Catholic Doctrine believed in seven sacraments: baptism,
confirmation, penance, matrimony, the Eucharist, ordination, last rites.
Luther acknowledged three: Baptism, the Eucharist and Penance. However,
he later changed it to just Baptism and the Eucharist. Luther condemned the
idea of Transubstantiation (the change of bread and wine in to the actual
body and blood of Christ). Instead he believed that Christ was physically
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He also believed that communion should be
taken in both kinds.
December 1520 Luther publically burns the papal bull in Wittenburg
April 1521 The Diet of Worms this took place in Worms, Germany. This
was an assembly that the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, decided on to
give Luther a fair hearing despite the Church's opposition. Pope Leo wished
for the Emperor to condemn Luther for his ideas.…read more
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For example, the clergy could marry but celibacy
was not condemned. However, the abuses in the Catholic doctrine were still
greatly criticized. Also, Lutheranism was firm that there were only two
sacraments, Baptism and Mass but salvation was judged by `faith alone'.
Despite how important these articles were, the Emperor declared that he
would enforce the Edict of Worms and gave the Lutherans six months to
return to the Catholic doctrine. However, Charles V position was weakened
when the Turks attacked Hungary.…read more
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Luther, the rulers of the lands should have all control over religious matters
and assert discipline. This was an attractive role for the princes.
- The Holy Roman Emperor's absence was also a factor as why Luther was so
successful. If Luther was perceived as a real threat to the Catholic Doctrine,
the Emperor would have dealt with him by force and Luther would no longer
be a risk.…read more