Luther and the Reformation: eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 145 pages of information about Luther and the Reformation:.

Such a Diet was convoked by the young emperor for January, 1521.  It was the first of his reign, and the grandest ever held on German soil.  Philip of Hesse came to it with a train of six hundred cavaliers.  The electors, dukes, archbishops, landgraves, margraves, counts, bishops, barons, lords, deputies, legates, and ambassadors from foreign courts came in corresponding style.  They felt it important to show their consequence at this first Diet, and were all the more moved to be there in force because the exciting matter of Reform was specified as one of the chief things to be considered.  The result was one of the most august and illustrious assemblies of which modern history tells, and one which presented a spectacle of lasting wonder that a poor lone monk should thus have moved all the powers of the earth.


[11] Audin, in his Life of Luther, says:  “A monk who wore a cassock out at the elbows had caused to the most powerful emperor in the world greater embarrassments than those which Francis I., his unsuccessful rival at Frankfort, threatened to raise against him in Italy.  With the cannon from his arsenal at Ghent and his lances from Namur, Charles could beat the king of France between sunrise and sunset; but lances and cannon were impotent to subdue the religious revolution, which, like some of the glaciers which he crossed in coming from Spain, acquired daily a new quantity of soil.”—­Vol. i. chap. 25.  Again, in chap. 30, he says of the emperor:  “The thought of measuring his strength with the hero of Marignan was far from alarming him, but a struggle with the monk of Wittenberg disturbed his sleep.  He wished that they should try to overcome his obstinacy.”


For three months the Diet wrangled over the affair of Luther without reaching anything decided.  The friends of Rome were the chief actors, struggling in every way and hesitating at nothing to induce the Diet and the emperor to acknowledge and enforce the pope’s decree.  But the influence of the German princes, especially that of the Elector Frederick, stood in the way; Charles would not act, as he had no right to act, without the concurrence of the states, and the princes of Germany held it unjust that Luther should be condemned on charges which had never been fairly tried, on books which were not proven to be his, and especially since the sentence itself presented conditions with reference to which no answer had been legally ascertained.

To overcome these oppositions different resorts were tried.  Leo issued a second Bull, excommunicating Luther absolutely, anathematizing him and all his friends and abettors.  The pope’s legate called for money to buy up influence for the Romanists:  “We must have money.  Send us money.  Money! money! or Germany is lost!” The money came; but the Reformer’s friends could not be bought with bribes, however much the agents of Rome needed such stimulation.

Project Gutenberg
Luther and the Reformation: from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook