Biography of Martin Luther: – Whether or not his doctrine is shared, Luther is an apostle or at least a prophet to some, and to others a renegade heretic. Destroyer of countless things, this man of intense and energetic convictions represents, with his conception of man as an individual isolated from God, history and the world, one of the pillars on which the Modern Age is based. Initiator of the Reformation (period of two centuries of the history of the Christianity of wide European repercussion, origin of Protestant Churches and of the Counter Reformation), Martin Luther rejected the authority of the pope and weakened the power of the Church. The abolition of purgatory, from which souls were liberated with masses, the rejection of the doctrine of indulgences, which would considerably reduce the income of the pope and, above all, the doctrine of predestination.
Biography of Martin Luther
- Born:- 10 November 1483, Eisleben, Germany
- Died:- 18 February 1546, Eisleben, Germany
- Education:- University of Erfurt (1501–1505)
- Spouse:- Katharina von Bora (m. 1525–1546)
- Tradition or movement:- Lutheranism
- Children:- Magdalena Luther, Margarete Kunheim, Paul Luther, Elisabeth Luther, Hans Luther, Martin Luther
Martin Luder was born on the night of 10-11 February 1483 in Eisleben, Thuringia, and a region dependent on the electorate of Saxony. In time and newly conquered the title of doctor, Martín would change the name Luder by the one of Luther, depriving it of Lauter that in ancient German means “clear, limpid, and pure”. He was the first-born of the nine children of Hans Luder, a miner, a son of peasants and a good catholic, and of Margarethe Ziegler, a hard-working and devout woman who instilled in her son such pitiful pity that she left deep sorrow. Both parents were poor and very severe.
At the time of their birth they hired their father in a copper mining operation in Mansfeld, and the situation of the family, which was extremely precarious, improved a little, but it was by no means buoyant. At Mansfeld Luther received many of the beatings his father’s gave him, although, in Luther’s own view, “they always wanted my good; his intentions for me were always good, they came from the bottom of his heart.” By his letters we know that he was often subjected to cruel punishments, as once his father beat him so violently that he fled from home and took a long time to forgive him in his heart, or another time his mother beat him up make him bleed from having eaten a nut without permission.
The harsh treatment to which they subjected him would make him, in the words of his friends, into a suspicious and suspicious being. The school, from the age of six, did not treat it better. The master also received whipping, fifteen in a day, as he would later tell, since “our teachers were behaving with us as executioners against thieves.” At the age of fourteen he left Mansfeld for Magdeburg to study at the Latin school, and a year later he left Magdeburg and moved to Eisenach, home of his maternal grandparents. There, in his “beloved city,” he received solid instruction from a master poet named Hans Treborio, who had replaced the whip by good manners.
On July 17, 1501, he enrolled in the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Erfurt, contradicting his father for the first time, who wanted him to study law. On September 29 of the following year he graduated as a bachelor, first degree of the university, with the number thirty of a promotion of fifty-seven names. At twenty-two he was proclaimed master of philosophy. This time he was the second of seventeen, and his father, astonished at the superiority of his offspring, stopped calling him. From that moment on, the young master would dedicate himself with determination to the study of theology and with passion to the Sacred Scripture.
On 2 July 1505 Martin Luther moved from Mansfeld to Erfurt to see his family. Halfway, lightning struck at his feet. The young man, who was extremely nervous and very sensitive, found himself at the gates of death, terrified and invoked the landlady of the miners: “Save me, dear Saint Anne, and I will become a monk!” He exclaimed. Then he saw in the sky a fantastic figure, which by the excitement of the moment could not identify. It was the first of the visions he would have throughout his life, in the most improbable and sometimes inappropriate places. Fifteen days later he appeared in the convent of the Augustinians of Erfurt to fulfill his promise, a decision that irritated his father so much that he returned to him. Without parental consent, he entered the convent. Novice first with the name of Augustine.
In 1508 his friend and spiritual counselor Johan von Stanpitz, then vicar general of the Augustinians, sent him to the University of Wittenberg to study theology and to hold a professorship at one of the many German universities ruled by the Augustinians. To study a course on Aristotelian ethics. In 1509 Luther obtained the title of Baccalaureus Biblicism, which granted him the right to practice biblical exegesis publicly. A young professor at the newly created University of Wittenberg, he would soon show signs of intemperance and audacity in his manifestations, at the same time as he felt himself pressed into his privacy by serious scruples of conscience and devastating temptations.
The forging of a thought
At that time an old Augustinian friar recommended to him the consoling reading of St. Paul, in whose study he eagerly sought to deduce from him the first seeds of his dramatic dissension with religious orthodoxy. In the Epistle to the Romans of St. Paul found an answer to his anguish about salvation, understanding that man finds his justification in the grace of God, generously bestowed by the Creator independently of his own works. Paradoxically, it was in that little reassuring idea that only faith and not merit save, an individualistic doctrine that condemns man, to a certain extent, to an abiding loneliness, where Martin Luther found a certain peace and spiritual certainty that would move him to a irreducible diatribe against the Vatican, to temper its turbulent character in a perennial battle and to found the new Protestant doctrine. His teachings soon attracted attention. He also began to preach; his eloquence would draw crowds and he would be worth the consideration of being the first preacher of the time.
In 1510 Luther made a trip to Rome in the company of another Augustinian to present to the general of his order certain complaints about the strict observance of the monastic rule. The outcome and impressions of the journey could not be more disastrous for Luther’s restless and rebellious soul. The immediate consequence was to create in him a definite aversion to Rome, to the atmosphere of corruption and relaxation of the Roman clergy, to the decline in which the whole Vatican had fallen, and to the excess of rumor and wealth which the Holy See displayed, with prelates and popes more outstanding of the material aspects than of the spiritual ones. Displeased by the spectacle, Luther became acidly critical of the spectacle of degradation that reigned in the city of the popes and less affection to the obligations attached to his state.
On his return to Wittenberg, he received a doctorate in theology on October 18, 1512, although in his work he demonstrates the great detachment he felt for the philosophy and the scholastic theology prevailing in his time. He was hardly interested in the great thinkers of the thirteenth century (Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure or John Duns Scotus), although he explored with impassioned intensity the Bible and some writings of St. Augustine of Hippo. Named also, very in spite of himself, subprior of the convent of Wittenberg, Luther began to give classes in the university in which it interpreted and studied the Sacred Scriptures, with special interest the Pauline work. At that time he finished shaping and polishing what would be his theological cornerstone, justification by faith, according to which the Christian could be saved not by his own efforts or merits, but by the gift of God’s grace, so accepted only by faith in Christ the Savior.
Luther also reached another equally important and transcendental conclusion for the future of his reformation: he had to submit completely to the Sacred Scriptures, and to reject any other interpretation from the outside. The Gospels had been directly inspired by God; no interpretation could be reliable in itself. To suspect the pope’s authority as the supreme head of the Church and as infallible person was the next step, which Luther immediately gave. It was then that he transformed his surname and began to think of himself as the “man of Providence called to illuminate the Church with a great radiance.” He had little influence at the moment. He was only, at thirty-four, an eloquent and famous professor of the University of Wittenberg who occupied important positions both in the convent and inside the order; but he felt personally responsible for the Saxon faith.
At that time he assumed the position of vicar of his district, which included the leadership of eleven convents, to which he had to add his lessons in the university and the government, the economic administration and the spiritual direction of his convent in Wittenberg. Overwhelmed with work, he even visited in just two days all the convents that were under his splint, staying in one of them barely an hour. He slept only five hours on a hard stage, although he enjoyed the pleasures of the table with the same immoderation that characterized him throughout his life. At times he would shut himself up in his cell to pray the offices seven times, and thus supplement the negligence which he had incurred during the week, which had been aggravated by his occupations.
The rebellion of indulgences
In 1513 Juan de Médicis had begun his pontificate with the name of Leo X; embarked on the construction of the basilica of St. Peter of Rome, the new pope enthusiastically promoted the sale of indulgences. Luther, who had already begun to expound his personal ideas on the foundations of faith, rose in his speeches against this practice. Scandalized by what he considered a poisoning and spiritual scourge of the simple people, he tried to warn German ecclesiastical authorities, but, finding the most absolute silence at all levels, he decided to act on his own.
Obsessively inspired by a few words of St. Augustine (“what the law asks for, faith succeeds”), he wrote his famous ninety-five theses against the sale of indulgences and fixed them with determination in the most visible site of the city, in the door of the portico of the church of All Saints of Wittenberg, 31 of October of 1517. The inflammatory theses, full of diatribes and direct attacks to the Church of Rome and to the pope, were first written in Latin, for, soon time, to be translated into German and reproduced by the press, at the same time that they spread with extraordinary speed thanks to the work of the students.
It was a declaration of war that Rome could not leave unanswered. The resonance of the event was enormous even though Luther, from the pulpit and the classrooms, tried in vain to soften the situation he had created by appealing to a traditional doctrine accepted in the Church, according to which the nullity of the indulgences to save souls, since this prerogative only competed to God. The Dominicans, in charge of the Inquisition, denounced Luther before Rome, so that the latter was ordered the following year to appear in the eternal city to answer the charges that had been made against him. Luther showed great cunning and managed to involve the political power in the dispute by asking Prince Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony.
In October 1518, Luther went to the city of Augsburg to discuss his position with the papal legate Cayetano de Vio, who had in his possession a brief of the pontiff Leo X, by which Luther had to recant publicly of its serious errors or, otherwise, be taken to Rome arrested. Under the political protection of Prince Frederick, Luther prolonged his discussion with the papal legate four days without any part yielding to their respective positions. And he not only did not retract, but also staged a fight with the cardinal. The cardinal would say: “I do not want any more deals with that animal. He has eyes that flash and arguments that puzzle. Luther hardened his position by asserting that the infallibility of the Holy Scriptures was above that of the pontiff himself.
After marching unharmed from Augsburg, Luther sent an appeal under the title of the ill-informed pope to the best-informed pope , in which he appealed to a council presided over by the pope to express his reformist ideas. From his safe retirement from Wittenberg, Luther managed to gather a kind of minor council in the city of Leipzig, held from June 27 to July 16, 1519, in which Luther stated that although the desired council did not give him the reason, would not retract , since it was subject to the only legitimate authority, that of the Holy Scriptures.
Leon X’s response was quick. On June 15, 1520, the Pope sent the Bull Exsurge Domine to Luther for the last time he was to withdraw under the penalty of excommunication. After a vacant attempt to address the pontiff to celebrate the longed-for council, Luther solemnly burned the bull together with a copy of the Corpus Iuris Canonici in the presence of students and citizens of Wittenberg (December 10, 1520), and replied to the pope with the libel against the execrable bull of the Antichrist . With such an act, Luther symbolically expressed his total rupture with the Church of Rome.
On January 3, 1521, Leo X wrote the bull Decet Romanum Pontificen , by which Luther was definitively excommunicated. Under ecclesiastical law ecclesiastical excommunication was to be carried out by the secular arm, a task which fell upon the newly elected emperor Charles V of Germany and I of Spain . The emperor took advantage of the court meeting in the city of Worms in April 1521 to quote Luther, where he was intimidated to retract, but the disgraced Augustinian monk remained stubborn in his heterodoxy, and confronted all the dignitaries imperial and ecclesiastics gathered there against him, completely convinced that the same fate awaited him as to Jan Hus .
Charles V, pressed by the unstable political situation in Germany and by the fame and predicament that the heretical monk had already acquired, merely banned the practice of the new faith and outlawed Luther and his followers. The efforts that were then made to change Luther’s opinion proved futile. On May 26, Carlos V signed the Edict of Worms; in it he ratified the banishment of banishment for Luther and ordered the burning of all his writings.
Precisely in the year before the condemnation, Luther had brought to light, in German and aided by the powerful propaganda machine that turned out to be the printing press, his three fundamental works: The freedom of Christianity , undoubtedly his best elaborated work and written, in which he clearly outlined the pillar upon which the new religion was based, salvation by faith in Christ; Appeal to the Christian nobility of the German nation , inviting the nobility to assume their role as protector of the people and to join the Lutheran cause, as well as instituting the three basic evangelical principles of Protestantism (universal priesthood, intelligibility of the Sacred Scriptures and responsibility of all the faithful in the government of the Church); and finally,The Babylonian captivity of the Church , a work intended for the theologians, in which he rigorously analyzed the process of perversion to which the sacraments had come, of which, according to him, only two remained, baptism and supper (discarding transubstantiation ). With these three works, Luther set his battle line at the same time as he laid the foundations of a future evangelical Church.
In order to protect Luther, Frederick the Wise faked his abduction and hid it clandestinely in the castle of Wartburg, in Thuringia, where the exmonge found the peace and the ideal retirement atmosphere to abandon itself to a fruitful literary activity. Luther wrote numerous letters, continued with several psalms, drafted ecclesiastical glosses, wrote a work devoted to confession, another on monastic vows, and a good many others. Moreover, in the brief year that he remained in Wartburg (from May 1521 to March 1522), Luther carried out his most important and transcendental literary production for the definitive implantation of the new faith: starting from the Greek text published in 1516 by Erasmo from Rotterdam, translated into German the New Testament. The edition would be called the “Bible of September” for having appeared in that month, and made available to the German people its version of the sacred text par excellence. The work was a success so that in the month of December had to print many more copies. Twelve years later, in 1534, he would end his project by publishing his version of the Old Testament, translated from Hebrew.
Wars and weddings
The disturbances at Wittenberg by his more radical followers, who had begun to take drastic measures on liturgical matters, such as the suppression of the celebration of Mass, forced Luther to leave his peaceful retreat from Wartburg and return to Wittenberg, where he returned to take the reins with prudence and moderation, without losing the calm, but with determination. Luther was in command of the organization of the new evangelical communities that were emerging all over Germany. From Wittenberg, Luther opened another front of struggle against the social and national liberation movements of the small nobility and especially of the peasants. The former never ceased to press for Luther to constitute a German National Church, while the latter, encouraged by the free interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures defended by Luther, sought their support to alleviate the conditions of misery and subjugation in which they lived. Their positions became radicalized to become a political issue that dragged Luther himself.
The Peasant Wars (1524-1526), led by a former Lutheran pastor, Thomas Müntzer(founder of the Anabaptist sect), were the climax of the situation of tension that had introduced in Germany the Reformation undertaken by Luther. During the course of the bloody war of the peasants against their masters, Luther failed in his attempts to appease the tempers with his pen. Although in the background he supported a large number of his claims, when the peasants resorted to violence against the whole population, Luther did not hesitate a moment to appeal to the nobles to restore the established order with arms, which provided cover to a bloody repression of peasants such as had never been seen in Germany. The conflict, which led to an indiscriminate slaughter, reduced Luther’s popularity among the most disadvantaged masses,
In 1525, in Germany in war – torn peasants, Luther strove to demonstrate the bondage of human will and wrote De servo arbitrio ( the Enslaved will ), as rebuttal to the defense of free will of Erasmo in his work De free will. It was also the year she chose to marry. By 1523 some nuns had escaped to Wittenberg, escaping from the convent of Nimchen Laz Grimma. One of them, Katharina of Bora, of twenty-six years, became the lady of Luther, in his Käte. The wedding aroused a lively revulsion, not so much for the act itself as for being carried out in moments of great desolation and death. Marriage would, however, be a success. Katharina of Bora, sixteen years younger than Luther, belonged to the little nobility and was a wise and intelligent woman who softened the exalted character of her husband and lived next to him in perfect harmony.
After his wedding the prince elector of Saxony gave him the old convent of the Augustinians in Wittenberg, where the laborious Katharina established a pension of students to mitigate in some measure its economic strictures. The students had the privilege of sharing the table with Luther, who after the collation condescended to answer his questions, as a result of which the book Dichos de mesa was born . In the convent of Wittenberg, turned into a family estate, were born one after another his six children, of who survived four: Hans, Magdalena, Martin and Paulus, who filled the preacher with joy. Doctrinally none of this should surprise; a few years before, Luther had given birth to his work Opinion on monastic orders, a vibrant exhortation to the monks and nuns to break their vows of chastity, a recommendation that was well received, to the point that not a few Augustinian religious of both sexes engaged in unions seen from orthodoxy as sacrileges.
Consolidation of the Reform
The young Luther, of medium height, who had been “so skinny and fatigued that his bones could be counted,” became fat with age and the new state. His love for the good table, and especially for beer, with which he replaced water (he was convinced that Wittenberg’s water was mortal), would make him a solid and heavy man, though he was as vivacious as ever. He was accentuated in the aggressive vulgarity he always wore and used increasingly rude and crude words. He remained irritable; he could barely control his angry and violent character. “I cannot control myself and I want to dominate the world,” he said of himself.
The new Church, which officiated the mass in the vernacular, had since 1529 its catechism written by Luther ( Grosser Katechismus and Kleiner Katechismus , the great catechism and the small catechism), his own clergy and a large number of faithful. The influence of the Reformation had extended to the north and the east of Europe, and its prestige contributed to turn Wittenberg into an intellectual center of first order. The defense of the independence of the rulers with respect to ecclesiastical power earned him the unconditional support of many princes, so that from that moment the Reformation became more a matter of kings than of ecclesiastics, just one of the things that Luther had proposed from the outset.
When he was banned from attending the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, because he was excommunicated and unable to speak with the emperor, Luther delegated the reformist defense to the person of his most beloved and prepared collaborator, the humanist Philipp Melanchthon. assistants the Confession of Augsburg , text written under the supervision of Luther that exposed the profession of protestant faith and twenty-eight points of definitive discrepancy with the catholicism. Two years later, Emperor Charles V, who had been persuaded by the struggle he had been carrying out with the Turks in the Mediterranean, had no choice but to compromise with Lutheranism by signing the Peace of Nuremberg, which established the freedom to exercise freedom and publicly the new cult in German territory.
When in 1536 Pope Paul III decided to late convene the council of Trent, Luther, arrogant and exalted, took for granted its futility by claiming the irreversible distance of both positions. To further reinforce such a dissident and uncompromising position, Luther published the Articles of Esmalcalda , in which he exposed all the divergences that had caused the separation of both churches. He placed special emphasis on the celebration of the Mass (abominable and superfluous for him) and on the role of the Pope as sole responsible for the calamitous state to which the Christian Church had arrived.
Towards 1537, the health of Luther began to break progressively and alarming for its followers. The reformer grew old and his mood became sullen. He suffered headaches, ringing in his ears, and painful kidney stones, but he refused to follow his doctor’s advice to moderate his appetite for food and drink. The death of her daughter Magdalena, in December 1542, further darkened her mood. Early in 1543 he wrote: “I can no longer write or read. I feel weak and tired of living. ” These were painful moments for Luther, suffering from a painful coronary artery injury and deep depressions caused by the resurgence of the papacy, by the Jews ‘attempt to reopen the question of Jesus’ messianism and by the resurgence of the more reformist faction radical, that of the Anabaptists.
But precisely because of this he could not afford to retire, and continued his intense activity to the death. It found forces to publish in 1545 the famous Reformation of Wittenberg that was a gentle exposition of the new doctrine. A few months later he would react violently to the spread of the rumor of his death, which he attributed to the welches (Italian and French) and denied by his Lies of Welches on the death of Dr. Luther . And in 1545, on the eve of his death, he published one of his most violent pamphlets on the occasion of the conflict that arose in the Council of Trent between the emperor and the pope: On the papacy of Rome founded by the devil. The causticity of such a fierce attack on the papacy took on even greater prominence thanks to the famous and grotesque caricatures of the pope by Lucas Cranach the Elder to illustrate the publication.
On January 22, 1546, sick and tired, the old reformer went to Eisleben, his hometown. He was to act as arbitrator in the dispute between two brothers, Albretcht and Gebhard, counts of Mansfeld, concerning the income of mines. The Saxon winter is cold and hard, and Luther had overestimated his strength. On February 18, at three o’clock in the morning, he died almost suddenly. The two doctors who attended him had hardly time to do anything and never agreed on the cause of death: a stroke, according to one; pulmonary angina, according to the other; although equally could have been anything else.
His remains were transferred to Wittenberg in a tin coffin, and the procession of the bells ringed in the procession. He was buried on February 22 in the church of Todos los Santos, under the pulpit. One year after his death, Emperor Charles V entered the city after the victory over the Protestants in Mühlberg, and forced the wife of the Elector of Saxony to give him that place in exchange for the life of her husband taken prisoner. In those circumstances the Duke of Alba, a little friend of miracles, proposed to the emperor to unearth Luther’s corpse, to incinerate it and to throw the ashes, but Charles did not consent to it, arguing that he made war against the living and not against the dead. It would have been useless indeed; after his death, his Reformation would spread throughout the world by leaps and bounds, penetrating thousands of homes and forming the way of thinking, feeling and living millions of beings.