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The History of the Church 156 The Theses of Martin Luther Attached to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Saxony, 95 theses appeared on October 31, 1517. They were the work of a professor of theology of the local university, one Martin Luther. A friar, Luther belonged to the order of Augustinians, traditional rivals of the Dominicans, and it was a Dominican, Johann Tetzel, who preached Leo X’s indulgence in Luther’s diocese of Brandenburg. The debate over indulgences was an opening through which Luther unleashed a radical and overriding challenge to the church and its dogmas, calling into question the authority of the pope, purgatory, the cult of saints, confession, transubstantiation, monastic vows, and so on. As a result, he was condemned, excommunicated, and his writings burned. However, the protection he received from the Elector of Saxony allowed him to stay at liberty, rapidly amass followers, and, in his turn, burn the bulls issued by the pope. Seeking to resolve the crisis, Emperor Charles V convened a diet in Worms, to which Luther came bearing a safe-conduct. He refused to retract and, once back in Saxony, continued to preach his doctrines. Soon the nobility and rulers of Brandenburg, Hesse, the Palatinate, Franconia, Denmark, and Sweden joined the ranks of the Reformation. The breadth of the movement was such that in 1524, and then again in 1532, the very Catholic Charles V had to concede liberty of conscience in the territories won over by the new faith. Paul Thumann (1834–1908) Luther at the Diet of Worms Warburgschloss, Eisenach ...


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