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138
LUTHER, MARTIN


life. He denounced monastic vows, a distinctive dress for the clergy, the thought of a propitiatory mass, and the presence of images and pictures in the churches. Zwilling, a young Augustinian Eremite, added his nery denunciations. His preaching stirred the commonalty. Turbulent crowds invaded two of the churches and rioted inside. The excitement of the people was increased by the arrival of three men known in history as the Zwickau prophets. Melanchthon felt himself powerless to restrain the tumult. The magistrates of the town were won over and issued an ordinance which attempted to express in legislation the new evangelical ideas. Duke George of Saxony, a resolute opponent of the Reformation, threatened to make the diet interfere. Luther became alarmed, and, not without a private hint from the elector of Saxony,1 left his retreat and appeared among his townsmen. His presence and exertions restored order, and the conservative reformation resumed its quiet course. From this time onwards to the outbreak of the Peasants' War (1 52 5) Luther was the real leader of the German nation, and everything seemed to promise a gradual reformation without tumult. The Peasants' War ended this anticipation. From one point of view this insurrection was simply the last, the most wide spreading and the most disastrous of these revolts, which had been almost chronic in Germany during the later decades of the 1 5th and earlier years of the 16th century and which had been almost continuous between 1503 and 1517. All the social and economic causes which produced them were increasingly active in 1 524 and 1525. But it is undoubted that the religious revolt intensified the rebellion of the lower classes. Luther's voice awoke echoes he never dreamt of. The times were ripe for revolution, and the message which spoke of a religious democracy could not fail to suggest the social democracy also. In his appeal to the N ability of the German N atian he had stated with severe precision the causes of social discontent. Himself a peasant's son and acquainted with the grievances under which the peasant lived, he had at various times formulated most of the demands which afterwards figured conspicuously in the Twelve Articles. The insurgents had good cause to regard him as a sympathiser. But Luther, rightly or wrongly, believed that of the two ways in which wrongs can be set right-the way of war and the path of peace-the latter is the only sure road in the long run. He did his best therefore to prevent the rising and risked his life among the infuriated peasants as readily as when he stood before the emperor and the diet. When the rebellion was at its height and Thomas Miinzer had sent forth fiery proclamations urging the peasantry “ not to let the blood cool on their sWords, ” Luther issued the pamphlet, which casts a stain on his whole life, in which he hounds on the ruling classes to suppress the insurgents with all violence. In the end the rebellion, formidable as it seemed for a few months, was crushed, and a heavier yoke was laid on the shoulders of the unfortunate peasants.

This year, 1 525, saw the parting of the ways in the movement for reform. It ceased to be national and became ecclesiastical. It divided into three separate parts. One, guided by Luther himself, ended, after a long struggle with pope and emperor, in the establishment of evangelical churches under the rule of the secular authorities of the territories which adopted the Lutheran Reformation. Another, remaining true to the principles, doctrines, usages and hierarchy of the medieval church, dreamt only of a purification of moral life, and saw its end realised in the reforms of the council of Trent. The third, gathering together the more revolutionary impulses, expanded into that complex movement 'called Anabaptism— which spread over western Europe from England to Poland and from Scandinavia to northern Italy, and endured a long and sanguinary persecution at the hands of the civil authorities in most European countries. Its strength and popularity, especially among the artizan classes, have been very much underrated by most historians.

Enders, Dr Martin Luthefs Briefwechsel, iii. 292-295; von Bezold, Zeitschrift f1Zr Kirchengeschichte xx. 186 sqq.; Barge, Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt, i. 432 sqq.

During the storm of the Peasants' War (13th of June 1525) Luther married Catherine von Bora, the daughter of a noble but impoverished family belonging to Meissen. She had been a Cistercian nun in the convent of Nimtzch near Grimma-a convent reserved for ladies of noble birth. Luther's writings, circulating through Saxony, had penetrated the convent walls and had convinced most of the inmates of the unlawfulness of monastic vows. Catherine and eight companions resolved to escape. Their relatives refused to aid them, and they applied to Luther. He entrusted the business to Leonhard Koppe of Torgau, and the rescue was safely carried out(4th of April 1 52 3). The rescued nuns found places of refuge in the families of Wittenberg burghers. The elector John of Saxony (who had succeeded his brother Frederick) gave Luther the house which had served as the Augustinian Convent. The family gathered in this three-storeyed building, with its back windows looking over the Elbe and its front door opening on a great garden, was latterly Luther and his wife, their three sons and two daughters, Magdelena von Bora, Catherine's aunt, two orphan nieces and a grandniece. At the beginning of his married life Luther must have been in straitened circumstances. He married a portion less nun. On to 1532 his salary was two hundred gulden annually (about £160 in present money); after 1532 the stipend was increased to £240 with various payments in kind-corn, wood, malt, wine, &c.-which meant a great deal more. The town added occasional gifts to enable Luther to entertain the great personages who came to consult him frequently. Princes made him presents in money. This enabled Luther to purchase from his wife's-brother the small estate of Zulsdorf. Catherine, too, was an excellent house-wife. She made the long-neglected garden profitable; kept pigs and poultry; rented other gardens; stocked a fishpond; farmed in a small way; and had her house full of boarders. Luther had a high opinion of her intelligence; she took rank among those consulted on all important occasions; in one letter to her, seldom quoted, he gives the fairest statement he ever made about the views of Zwingli on the Sacrament of the Supper,

The diet of Speyer (1526) saw Germany divided into a Protestant and a Romanist party. After much debate a compromise was arrived at, which foreshadowed the religious peace of Augsburg of 1 5 55. It was resolved that the Word of God should be preached without disturbance, that indemnity should be given for past offences against the'edict of Worms, and that meanwhile each state should live religiously as it hoped to answer for its conduct to God and the emperor. The Lutherans interpreted this to mean the right to frame ecclesiastical regulations for various principalities and to make changes in public worship. Luther busied himself in simplifying the service, in giving advice, anxiously sought for, about the best modes of organising ecclesiastical affairs. In the diet held at Speyer in 1529 a compact Roman Catholic majority faced a weak Lutheran minority. The emperor declared through his commissioners that he abolished “ by his imperial and absolute authority ” the clause in the ordinance of 1526 on which the Lutherans had relied when they began to organize their territorial churches. The majority of the diet supported the emperor in this, and further proceeded to decree that no ecclesiastical body was to be deprived of its revenues or authority. This meant that throughout all Germany medieval ecclesiastical rule was to be upheld, and that none of the reviues of the medieval church could be appropriated for Protestant uses. On this a portion of the Protestant minority drafted a legal protest, in which the signers declared that they meant to abide by the decision of the diet of 1 526 and refused to be bound by that of 1529. From this protest came the name Protestant. A minority in such a case could only maintain their protest if they were prepared to defend each other by force in case of an attack. Three days after the protest had been read, many of the protesting cities and states concluded “ a secret and particular treaty, ” and Philip of Hesse, the ablest statesman among the Protesters, saw the need for a general union of all evangelical Christians in the empire. The difficulties in the way