The German Reformation: Timeline in cards

A complete timeline for the German Reformation in revision cards. Good luck!

  • Created by: Tiula
  • Created on: 18-05-11 17:09


31 October 1517

  • Luther published the 95 Theses, mainly attacking indulgences
  • although he questioned the Pope's authority to issue indulgences, he did not challenge the Church, Catholicism or the Papacy

October 1518

  • Luther met Cardinal Cajetan at Augsburg
  • Cajetan only wanted to hear Luther's recantation, but Luther wanted to discuss indulgences and persuade Cajetan that he was right
  • despite the threat of being judged a heretic, Luther did not recant

July 1519

  • The Leipzig Debate: Luther debated with von Eck, a Dominican friar
  • Luther forced to admit similarities between his views and those of Jan Hus, a confirmed heretic
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August 1520

  • In his pamphlet, Address to the Christian Nobility, Luther confirmed that secular authority was more important than religious and called for secular princes -- in particular Charles V -- to reform abuses within the church

October 1520

  • On the Babylonian Captiity of the Church was Luther's second pamphlet, in which he claimed that the Church had held its followers in a "babylonian-ish" captivity

November 1520

  • This pamphlet, Liberty of the Christian Man, spoke of Luther's views on free will and expressed his first opinions of sola fidura

December 1520

  • The papal bull Exsurge Domine was published, giving Luther 60 days to recant or he would be excommuncated. Luther burned it publicly in Wittenburg.
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April 1521

  • Luther was asked to attend the Diet of Worms, which he did once he had been given the promise of a safe passage. He confirmed that yes, he had written the works, and no, he would not recant, unless he were proved by scripture or plain reason that he were in the wrong.

May 1521

  • With Luther having returned to Wittenburg, Charles issued the Edict of Worms, making Luther an outlaw and a heretic, forbidding people from giving him aid or asylum.
  • On his way home, Luther was "captured" by Frederick the Wise in order to prevent him being captured or killed by Catholics. He was "imprisoned" in Wartburg Castle for 9 months.


  • Luther returned to Wittenburg with his newly translated German New Testament
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  • The Knights' War was a revolt by a number of German princes against the Catholic Church which was quickly crushed by Philip of Hesse and assorted others.


  • the peasants wrote the Twelve Articles of Memmingen in which they requested some Protestant ideas (e.g. being allowed to elect a pastor) and some financial (e.g. to abolish the death tax). Luther supports them in an Admonition to Peace but tells them not to rebel violently, and the princes should give them the demands
  • infuriated that they have not been granted their Twelve Articles, the peasants, led by Thomas Munzter, go to war. Luther instantly turns against them and writes "Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants", instructing the princes to fight and "cut them down".
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  • Charles V called the Diet of Speyer to deal with the problem of the Lutherans. However, he could not be present so he sent instructions that the Diet should be harsh on Lutherans, but they did not obey his wishes and were tolerant.


  • At the second Diet of Speyer, Charles was present and so it was much harsher. It reversed the decision of the first and enforced the Edict of Worms


  • Luther refused to attend this Diet
  • The Protestants signed the Augsburg confession which confirmed their doctrines
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  • Formation of the Schmalkaldic League, a defensive alliance of Lutheran princes


  • Truce of Nuremburg, at which Charles was forced to call a truce with the Lutherans because of the threat of a Turkish Invasion


  • Philip of Hesse wrote to Luther asking him if he could be part of a bigamous marriage. Luther confirmed that this could have biblical warranty, and allowed it. This undermined the Protestant cause in many ways
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  • The Catholics and Protestants tried to come to a compromise at the Diet of Regensburg. Luther did not want to compromise, but they reached an agreement over certain articles


  • Interim of Augsburg ordered Lutherans to obey Catholic doctrines, but made some concessions, for example, priests were allowed to marry.


  • The Catholics and Lutherans made peace at Augsburg.
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A brilliant timeline about the German reformation for those of you studying Early Modern History. Colour-coded and clear.

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