Luther's Fortress: Martin Luther and His Reformation Under Siege
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In Luther’s Fortress, acclaimed historian James Reston, Jr. describes this crucial but little-known episode in Luther’s life and reveals its pivotal role in Christian history. Realizing the danger to their leader, Luther’s followers spirited him away to Wartburg Castle, deep in central Germany. There he hid for the next ten months, as his fate—and that of the Reformation—hung in the balance. Yet instead of cowering in fear, Luther spent his time at Wartburg strengthening his movement and refining his theology in ways that would guarantee the survival of Protestantism. He devoted himself to biblical study and spiritual contemplation; he fought both his papist critics and his own inner demons (and, legend has it, the devil himself); and he held together his fractious and increasingly radicalized reform movement from afar. During this time Luther also crystallized some of his most significant ideas about Christianity and translated the New Testament into German—an accomplishment that, perhaps more than any other, solidified his legacy and spread his bold new religious philosophy across Europe.
Drawing on Luther’s correspondence, notes, and other writings, Luther’s Fortress presents an earthy, gripping portrait of the Reformation’s architect at this transformational moment, revealing him at his most productive, courageous, and profound.
father, Hans, spent his early working life deep in the copper mines of Eisleben and Mansfeld, where the groans of the mountain played tricks with men’s minds, where the danger of a mine collapse or explosion was a constant worry, and where injury and death were common. Miners of the time put their trust in the mother of the Virgin Mary, St. Anne, for it was said that she never greeted her supplicants with empty hands but always brought “mighty goods and money.” It was she who watched over miners’
penance because the Kings of England would come along and say, ‘Look, they confess as sin and error what formerly they maintained to be good and right.’ I wonder whether so clever a king keeps wearing his children’s shoes, which after all are a contradiction of the shoes a grown man wears. How can he nowadays drink wine, considering there was a time when he was sucking milk?” The verbal joust between Luther and the king left a lasting impression on the Reformer, imparting to him an even greater
on biblical law or Holy Scripture,” Karlstadt wrote, “priests, monks, and nuns who like one another can and should marry in good conscience and with God’s will and enter into the marital state without asking for dispensation or permission from Rome, which is altogether unnecessary. Such persons should give up their hypocritical lives and enter fully into real Christian life.” Karlstadt also argued that the betrothed clerics should give up their caps and cassocks as the price of marital bliss.
writer Sigismondo Tizio wrote, “It was harmful to the Church that her Head should delight in plays, music, the chase and nonsense, instead of paying serious attention to the needs of his flock and mourning over their misfortunes.” So quick had been the death of the pope that foul play was immediately assumed. Leo X’s last words advanced the rumor, since he cried out that he had been murdered. The cohorts of the French king in Rome immediately came under suspicion, as did other more ruthless,
Green, 1897. Defoe, Daniel. The Political History of the Devil. London: T. Warner, 1726. Dickens, A. G. The German Nation and Martin Luther. New York: Harper & Row, 1974. Dies Buch in aller Junge, Hand und Herzen. 2009. Catalogue for the exhibition on Luther’s translation work at the Wartburg Castle. Doernberg, Edwin. Henry VIII and Luther: An Account of Their Personal Relations. London: Barrie and Rockliff, 1961. Eisenstein, Elizabeth L. The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe. New