Success of Lutheranism


Absence of Charles V

  • Charles was the Holy Roman Emperor from 1519 to 1556
  • He should have been able to stop the spread of Lutheranism however, due to the political situation, this was not the case.
  • His answer at the Diet of Worm showed his religious sincerity.
  • He was keen to maintain the Church's undivided faith.
  • The advancement of the Ottoman Empire and the suspected siege of Vienna in 1529 meant that Charles was always away fighting.
  • There was permanent hostility between France, Spain and the Netherlands as well as a lack of funds and growing amount of debt.
  • There was a gowing power struggle between Charles and the princes as he wanted to keep them happy and on his side, but they were demanding more power; the held claim to protect Luther and argued that he was sanctioned by God.
  • Charles was largely absent from 1521 to 1529 and Lutheranism had gained much support.
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Role of the Princes

  • Prince Frederick or Frederick the Wise was one of Luther's main supporters. He was the elector of Saxony.
  • He gave Luther a home and prevented him from being arrested despite the fact that he had much to lose and little to gain from doing so. He was keen not to condemn Luther in case he was right.
  • Frederick was regarded as the outstanding ruler of Germany and a man whose judgement was to be respected. He was a powerful ally for Luther to have due to his reasoning skills and his political skills.
  • Frederick was strongly motivated by a sense of nationalism as there was a resentment towards the Pope for his Italian connections and interference.
  • John Bugenhagen was a valuable force in the spread of Lutheranism.
  • Philip Melanchlton became a chief lieutenant and disciple of Luther and balanced his passion and violent enthusiasm by acting as a conciliatory force.
  • The Church owned around 30% of the land in Germany - Luther argued against this which would mean that the land would be given to the Church.
  • Luther's own teachings in his 1520 writings suggested that the Church should only be involved in spiritual matters which would have bene very attrative to the Princes.
  • Philip of Hesse was an early supporter of Luther but his motivations were not entirely political. He was one of the first to sign the protest at the Second Diet of Speyer.
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Printed word and Luther himself

  • Luther's 95 Theses were quickly sent out to an awaiting public, ready to be analysed.
  • Pamphlets were important as it showed Luther's writing skills and his method to appeal to the ordinary reader.
  • His 1520 writings were eagerly accepted and therefore the main points of his argument could be outlined.
  • There were more than 3,000 written copies of the sermons he gave and his impact as a preacher was critically important. Sermons were delivered to those who were typically illiterate. These were the most important people as they were the ones in which Lutheranism resonated the most - cite. Peasants War.
  • His translation of the Bible was one of his greatest masterpieces - be penitent.
  • "I did nothing, the Word did everything" - he truly preached God's word and the papacy was opposing it.
  • Sermons took back control of the reform process.
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