Why did people listen to Luther?

Luther was not the first German to express his views, people such as Jan Hus (and many others) had come before him. Why was it that they listened to Luther in 1517, and no-one before then?

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  • Created by: Tiula
  • Created on: 13-04-11 08:53

German Nationalism

National pride had been growing in Germany, which led to people wanting to support Germans against the Italian Pope.

  • Luther was German, which meant that more people wanted to listen to him than the Czech Jan Hus or other reformers
  • he was one of the people; not a rich clergyman, he was a poor monk
  • attacked the sale of indulgences: people were beginning to resent paying German money to Italy
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New inventions

New inventions meant that Luther's word got around quickly and for much less money, making it harder to be stopped by the Catholic Church.

  • the printing press. This was a new invention, invented by Gutenburg less than half a century before Luther wrote his 95 Theses. This made it so much easier for information to be passed around.
  • improved forms of transport. This made it quicker for Luther's ideas to spread from town to town
  • increased literacy rates. Okay, this isn't officially an invention, but 1500 it was estimated that 3-4% of the German population could read, which was a vast increase on previous centuries. This meant that Luther's ideas could be read and understood.
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Luther's theology

With an increased literacy rate, more people were reading and becoming distressed with the state of the Church (e.g. Christian Humanists). Luther's theology was a refreshing change:

  • Luther wanted to go back to the "pure" form of the Bible and have an accurate translation which everyone followed
  • Luther attacked indulgences and criticised the abuses within the Catholic Church, for example pluralism and absenteeism
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