Category Archives: German History

April 18, 1521 – 500 years ago

Martin Luther

Martin Luther defies the Roman Emperor at the Diet of Worms.

Martin Luther, the main initiator of Protestantism, defied the Roman Emperor Charles V by refusing to recant his writings. He had been summoned to Worms to appear before the Diet of the Holy Roman Empire to answer charges of heresy.

Martin Luther was a professor of biblical interpretation at the University of Wittenberg in Germany. In 1517, he wrote his 95 Theses condemning the Catholic Church for its corrupt practice of selling “indulgences” or forgiveness of sins. Luther followed up the revolutionary work with equally controversial and groundbreaking theological works, and his fiery words sparked religious reformers throughout Europe. In 1521, he was excommunicated by the pope and forced to appear before the emperor at the Diet of Worms to defend his beliefs. Refusing to recant or retract his positions:

“Here I stand, I can do no other!”

Martin Luther was declared an outlaw and a heretic by decree.
However, powerful German princes such as the Elector Alexander of Saxony protected him, gave him refuge at Wartburg Castle. From 1533 to his death in 1546, Luther served as the dean of theology at the University of Wittenberg. and by the time of his death in 1546, his ideas had decisively changed the course of Western thought.