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Why was Germany such fertile ground for Luther's message?

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Introduction

Why was Germany such fertile ground for Luther's message? On 31st October 1517, All Saints Eve, Martin Luther (a monk and lecturer at the University of Wittenburg in Northern Germany) took the fateful step of nailing a sheet of 95 Theses, or arguments against indulgences, to the door of Wittenburg Castle Church. Following this simple act, there came massive repercussions; indeed, a reformation of the entire German Church followed. The news of Luther's act of rebellion spread through Germany rapidly, and caused an almost immediate response. This is surprising because the theses were written in Latin, a language in which very few of the German population were educated. Despite this, Luther had a following that ranged from the educated German nobility to the uneducated peasants. Some historians say that the peasants only supported Luther because they misunderstood his message and his grievances. However, some of Luther's grievances linked to the lower classes. ...read more.

Middle

The time that luther decided to voice his opinions, was a time of a growing sense of German nationalism. He was seen as a national hero. People saw it as a chance to have their grievances voiced. Luther was obviously not going to back down to Roman pressure, he was a strong character. In 1500, Conrad Celtis re-published a text by Tacitus called Germania. The text was about a great Germany fighting an oppressive Rome and became a bestseller. It was helped pride against foreign powers grow in Germany. Luther stood against Rome and became a folk hero. Peasants made up a majority of the population, and these were not rich or educated people. They feared economic problems, as they could not afford to buy indulgences and pay tithes. Many of the laity did not necessarily understand what Luther's message was, but he appeared to be speaking out against a large, rich Roman power, who used Germany for money and interfered in political matters that held no great importance to them. ...read more.

Conclusion

This was merely theological and intellectual exploration. Though Erasmus was Dutch and so did not suffer from the degree of papal interference as the German people, he had laid the foundations for Luther. The printing press provided accuracy and an easier way of getting news across a wide area. Luther had his 95 Theses distributed within two weeks. There were woodcuts within the pamphlets for the illiterate as well as Luther's Theses and other writings. This was an excellent way for propaganda to be published and distributed. In conclusion, it can be seen that the reason Germany was such fertile ground for Luther's message was the widespread resentment of Rome. The German people could not understand why their money was being taken away from them and their political affairs interfered with by a power they could not see. Most of Luther's supporters were peasants, and these were the people to whom money mattered the most, because they had so little of it. It would seem that the reformation was based on economic and political grounds rather than spiritual beliefs. ...read more.

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