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 The Reformation of 1517

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PostSubject: The Reformation of 1517   Tue 31 Oct 2017, 10:37

Today, the 31st October 2017, is the 500th anniversary of the day on which, by tradition, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of All Saints Church in  Wittenberg.

Whether such an event actually occurred is in some dispute, being thought by some to be an invention of Melanchthon. Regardless of whether it happened or not, Luther's protest against the sale of indulgences was reprinted, first in Latin, then by January 1518 in German. Shortly afterwards it was Europe wide.

Luther was by no means the first to complain about the practices of the Church, Wycliff, Hus and Savanarola had all previously led reformist movements. Unlike his predecessors, Luther stayed alive and thanks to Gutenberg's printing press, his ideas spread rapidly.


Traditional depiction of Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the church door:

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PostSubject: Re: The Reformation of 1517   Tue 31 Oct 2017, 10:47

1530 woodcut of indulgences being sold:

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PostSubject: Re: The Reformation of 1517   Tue 31 Oct 2017, 11:16

And a 1525 woodcut, showing how Christ's forgiveness outweighs the indulgences of the Pope:

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PostSubject: Re: The Reformation of 1517   Tue 31 Oct 2017, 14:20

At the beginning of the 16th Century, Germany was in a state of political and economic turmoil as the old feudal system was dismantled, conditions which led to the Peasants' Revolt of 1525.

wiki:
"People in all layers of the social hierarchy—serfs or city dwellers, guildsmen or farmers, knights and aristocrats—started to question the established hierarchy. The so-called Book of One Hundred Chapters, for example, written between 1501 and 1513, promoted religious and economic freedom, attacking the governing establishment and displaying pride in the virtuous peasant. The Bundschuh revolts of the first 20 years of the century offered another avenue for the expression of anti-authoritarian ideas, and for the spread of these ideas from one geographic region to another."

Luther himself was opposed to the Peasants' Revolt as a threat to the existing order. The more radical Thomas Munzter, on the other hand was an enthusiastic supporter.


The German Peasants War

Thomas Muntzer



At the time of the Peasants' War, Charles V, King of Spain, held the position of Holy Roman Emperor (elected in 1519). Aristocratic dynasties ruled hundreds of largely independent territories (both secular and ecclesiastical) within the framework of the empire, and several dozen others operated as semi-independent city-states. The princes of these dynasties were taxed by the Roman Catholic church. The princes could only gain, economically, by breaking away from the Roman church and establishing a German church under their own control, which would then not be able to tax them as the Roman church did. Most German princes broke with Rome using the nationalistic slogan of "German money for a German church".
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PostSubject: Re: The Reformation of 1517   Tue 31 Oct 2017, 14:43

Luther's tragedy was that he genuinely needed to make peace with his God. He was a desperately troubled and severely depressed man. Most of the other players in the Reformation drama were not religious in the true sense of the word: they were politicians or revolutionaries. I read somewhere that Luther was too good a Catholic to remain one, whereas Erasmus (his great opponent) was too good a Protestant (proto-atheist?) to become one.

Luther's Reformation - so Starkey suggested in his recent TV offering (still on BBC iPlayer, I think) - was the beginning of German nationalism. Not sure if that is true or not, but Starkey is the expert.
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PostSubject: Re: The Reformation of 1517   Tue 31 Oct 2017, 15:29

My own view is that the Reformation would have happened anyway, whether Luther had been involved or not.

The time and place were ripe for a challenge to Papal authority, and others were also agitating for change;



Andreas here came up with 151 theses

Andreas Karlstadt
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PostSubject: Re: The Reformation of 1517   Tue 31 Oct 2017, 15:38

Trike wrote:




My own view is that the Reformation would have happened anyway, whether Luther had been involved or not.


I agree. Wycliffe and Huss really started it all, not Luther.

There is also the famous observation that Erasmus laid the egg that Luther hatched - to which comment Erasmus retorted that Luther, broody German hen that he was, had hatched a different bird altogether. Certainly ended up with an awful lot of chickens running around headless.
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PostSubject: Re: The Reformation of 1517   Wed 01 Nov 2017, 11:03

@Triceratops wrote:
Luther was by no means the first to complain about the practices of the Church, Wycliff, Hus and Savanarola had all previously led reformist movements. Unlike his predecessors, Luther stayed alive and thanks to Gutenberg's printing press, his ideas spread rapidly.

If by stayed alive here the meaning is that he wasn't executed then John Wycliffe also stayed alive. He died of natural causes in his 60s while a parish priest in Leicestershire. That said - a generation after his death his remains were dug up and burned in a macabre, posthumous execution. So maybe it could be said that (in the eyes of the Church at least) he died a heretic's death and so differs from Martin Luther in that respect.
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PostSubject: Re: The Reformation of 1517   Wed 01 Nov 2017, 11:38

Luther was a lucky man. He was most fortunate in having Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony, as his protector. Had Frederick the Wise not "kidnapped" him, Luther would have been toast pretty soon after Worms.

Has anyone else seen the 2003 film, Luther? It's sentimental nonsense, but I enjoyed it. Here's an impossibly handsome Joseph Fiennes doing his bit with the famous theses:



And here he is composing a stirring hymn. He looks like a member of a 16th century band - Oase?





Peter Ustinov was really good as Frederick the Wise. Here he is at the Diet.


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PostSubject: Re: The Reformation of 1517   Wed 01 Nov 2017, 11:51

Here's the trailer - cracking stuff. Smile





What on earth would Luther, Karlstadt, Cajetan and the rest of them make of it all?

John Tetzel makes an ace villain, by the way.
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PostSubject: Re: The Reformation of 1517   Wed 01 Nov 2017, 12:18

But to be serious, this scene is well done - even if Luther never did actually make his famous declaration of "Here I stand - I can do no other."

Jonathan Firth is excellent as the ambitious young Cardinal Aleander:

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PostSubject: Re: The Reformation of 1517   Wed 01 Nov 2017, 12:19

I haven't seen that version Temp. Thanks for the link. There was also a film made many years ago (1960s?) which if I remember had Judi Dench playing Luther's wife. Shot in black and white and quite arthouse.
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PostSubject: Re: The Reformation of 1517   Wed 01 Nov 2017, 13:02

I knew there was some sort of punishment, that must have been it.( that was about Wycliffe , the quote box disappeared )

Re the Judi Dench film this is a film adaptation of John Osborne's 1961 stage play. With Stacy Keach as Luther and Judi as his wife:(only 10 mins, I'm afraid)



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PostSubject: Re: The Reformation of 1517   Wed 01 Nov 2017, 13:19

And from 1953, with Niall MacGinnis as Luther:

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PostSubject: Re: The Reformation of 1517   Wed 01 Nov 2017, 13:41

A post of mine was lost in cyberspace.  It wasn't anything awfully serious, just mentioning that Joseph Fiennes had been in some truly terrible TV shows ("Camelot" and "Flash Forward") and that he's in something called "The Handmaid's Tale" now but I can't judge that as I haven't seen it; but then all actors have to eat.

I also briefly mentioned the Lollard priest, John Ball, who took part in the (English) peasants' revolt, so would have predated Luther.  John Ball was executed - very nastily too - of course.
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PostSubject: Re: The Reformation of 1517   Wed 01 Nov 2017, 14:16

@LadyinRetirement wrote:
...and that he's in something called "The Handmaid's Tale" now but I can't judge that as I haven't seen it; but then all actors have to eat.


The Handmaid's Tale is a superb production - but horribly, horribly disturbing. It's a dire warning against fundamentalist Christianity - the literal reading of biblical texts. I wonder what Martin Luther and William Tyndale - heroes of the Reformation who were both so anxious that all men and women should be free to read the Bible in the vernacular - would make of it? Maybe Thomas More was right after all - letting the village idiots loose with difficult literature was perhaps not such a good idea: village idiots tend not to understand figurative language. Oh dear, now there's an uncomfortable thought for me to ponder.


https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/may/29/handmaids-tale-review-best-thing-youll-watch-all-year










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PostSubject: Re: The Reformation of 1517   Wed 01 Nov 2017, 15:11

@LadyinRetirement wrote:

I also briefly mentioned the Lollard priest, John Ball, who took part in the (English) peasants' revolt, so would have predated Luther.  John Ball was executed - very nastily too - of course.

Another time of major social unrest:

John Ball & Wat Tyler from Froissart's Chronicles:



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PostSubject: Re: The Reformation of 1517   Wed 01 Nov 2017, 15:56

Quote :
The Handmaid's Tale

I was surprised to discover recently that Margaret Atwood's book only dates from the 1980s. I had heard of the book (Mrs Vizzer was reading it a few years ago) and I had imagined that it was written in the 1960s. Coincidently I had the reverse phenomenon regarding Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (also a dystopian novel) which for some reason I had dated as being from the early 1950s only to discover that it's twenty years older than that being written in the early 1930s. Is there a term for misplacing works of literature chronologically? ('Losing one's marbles' is, of course, a possible candidate.)
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PostSubject: Re: The Reformation of 1517   Sat 04 Nov 2017, 14:27

@Vizzer wrote:
I haven't seen that version Temp. Thanks for the link. There was also a film made many years ago (1960s?) which if I remember had Judi Dench playing Luther's wife. Shot in black and white and quite arthouse.

I ordered the above from Amazon and am watching it now. It's based, of course, on John Osborne's play which I had forgotten all about.

I got it from Amazon with God's Outlaw, a film made in the 1980s, about William Tyndale - both well worth the money. I watched Outlaw last night.

The productions are too "wordy" and "stagey" by today's standards, but I think they are absolutely superb!
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