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How Important Was Martin Luther to the German Reformation

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Introduction

How important was Martin Luther to the German Reformation? To quote Andrew Petegree, " In April 1521, four years after he had first excited the controversies of the Reformation, Martin Luther rode away from his home town at Wittenburg to attend the Imperial Diet at Worms. For Luther this was a journey full of peril. He came to the Diet to answer for his heretical views before the new Emperor Charles V and he expected a hostile reception". This trip to Wittenburg marked the culmination of a battle that had started when Martin Luther pinned his 95 Theses condemning the sale of indulgences to the door of Wittenburg castle. This seemingly small action sparked Lutheranism, later to be renamed Protestantism and Martin Luther can be considered to have been instrumental in this happening, but would it have happened without him at the helm of the movement? Martin Luther was of course incredibly important to the movement: because he wrote the 95 theses. ...read more.

Middle

These were arguably the three most influential treatises out of all the Reformation texts, and without them the Reformation might never have occurred. However, Luther did not entirely account for the Reformation. If, at the Diet, Charles had succumbed to the pressure from many people and arrested and executed Luther, it would probably not have made much of a difference to what was to happen after it. If Luther had moved against the wishes of the Princes, in particular Frederick the Wise, the Elector of Saxony, they would have turned against Charles, and he needed their support to maintain his role as Holy Roman Emperor. There were lots of other people who were prominent in its development, and would surely, had Luther been absent, have taken over the role as the figurehead of the movement, and by the time that Luther travelled to Worms, lots of people had picked up on and started supporting his ideas. ...read more.

Conclusion

Another argument Luther was involved in with another significant protester to the Catholic religion was the Swiss reformer Zwingli. Although his "right-hand men" Melanchthon and Oecolampadius realised that co-operation with the Swiss reformer would be beneficial for the movement, Luther did not, and bracketed him with Karlstadt and the leader of the peasant revolution, Thomas Munzer, which severely offended Zwingli and ultimately created a huge division in the Lutheran movement. Overall I do not think that Luther himself was individually greatly important to the German Reformation. He was the catalyst for the timing of it, as he was the person to initiate the entire movement, but it would have taken place eventually without the 95 theses coming into existence: the work of people like Zwingli and Erasmus, as mentioned above proves that. However, he did play a very significant part in acting as the figurehead of the movement, unafraid of potential consequences, and for that he is a very big part of the history of the German Reformation. ?? ?? ?? ?? Joe Johnson History 03.11.07 Page 1 ...read more.

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