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Martin Luther

Martin Luther

Eisleben 1483 -
Eisleben 1546


Martin Luther (originally Luder) was born on November 10, 1483 in Eisleben. In 1498, after attending school in Mansfeld and at the cathedral school in Magdeburg, his parents sent him to the Franciscan school in Eisenach, where he received an education in music and poetry.
From 1501 to 1505 Luther studied at the University in Erfurt and received there his M.A. from the school of philosophy. After earning his doctorate, he began studying law.
Against his father's will, Luther then entered the monastery of the Augustinian Hermits (known today as the Augustinian Friars) in Erfurt, where he was ordained as a priest in 1507. Though always the zealous priest, he was constantly occupied with the question of a "merciful God."
In 1508 Martin Luther arrived at the monastic school in Wittenberg to study theology. A year later, he graduated with the title "baccalarius biblicus" (professor of the Bible) and began teaching at the University in Wittenberg.
Luther's reformist thinking began at this time, foreshadowing his later break with Roman Catholic teachings. In his lectures on the Letters to the Romans in 1515, Martin Luther already laid out his new understanding of justification through the grace of God alone. In 1517 he changed his name from "Luder" to "Luther" (basing the change on the Greek word "eleutheros" meaning "free" or "freed"), signaling outwardly his inner conversion.
In this year Luther composed his 95 Theses, which dealt critically with the sale of indulgences. As a consequence, he was denounced by Cardinal Albrecht in Rome and was put on trial for heresy in Augsburg, a trial which remained without a verdict.
During the Diet of Worms in 1521, the Pope was successful in excommunicating Luther and declaring him an outlaw. Luther found safety in the Wartburg in Eisenach, where he remained unknown as Jörg the page. There he translated the New Testament into German. Luther's New Testament was widely circulated, and, together with his translation of the Old Testament, formed the Luther Bible.

As demands for wide reaching reforms in the church and Saxon society led to unrest there, Luther was called back to Wittenberg in 1522. Martin Luther's careful words smoothed the growing waves.
The attempts to split the reformist Church from the Catholic Church were manifested in 1529 at the second Diet of Speyer. In 1525 Luther married the former nun Katharina von Bora. This was the logical conclusion of his teachings, as he rejected the vow of celibacy, demanded the dissolution of the cloisters, and no longer saw marriage as a sacrement.
In 1525, when the Peasant Revolts were closing in on Thuringia and Saxony, Luther came out against the peasants and their leader, Thomas Müntzer, who had been a pupil of Luther's. The complete German translation of the Bible appeared in 1534. Though Luther was no less active in his later years, his writings display the signs of resignation and temper in the aging reformer.
Martin Luther died on February 18, 1546 in Eisleben.