1483 (10th November)
Martin Luther was born to Hans Luther and Margarethe Lindemann in Eisleben, Germany. He was the couple’s eldest son.
1483 (11th November)
Martin Luther was baptised.
The Luther family moved to Mansfeld. Luther’s father was a leaseholder of copper mines and smelters.
Martin was given a formal education. His father was ambitious and pushed his son to do well.
Martin Luther’s father became a town councillor.
Luther was sent to Magdeburg to learn grammar, rhetoric and logic.
Martin Luther attended the University of Erfurt.
Luther graduated with master’s degree in liberal arts.
1505 (late Spring)
Luther’s father wanted him to be a lawyer because it was a prestigious career. Luther duly began the training but was not happy.
1505 (2nd July)
Luther was returning to university after a visit home when a thunderstorm began. A lightning bolt struck near him and in terror he vowed to become a monk if he survived.
1505 (17th July)
Martin Luther entered St Augustine’s Monastery in Erfurt. His father was furious at the waste of his education.
1505 (15th September)
Luther was accepted as a novice monk at St Augustine’s.
1507 (3rd April)
Luther was ordained as a priest in Erfurt Cathedral.
Martin Luther transferred to the monastery at Wittenberg and began to study theology in the newly built University of Wittenberg.
1508 (9th March)
Luther gained a bachelor’s degree in Bible studies.
Luther returned to the monastery at Erfurt.
1512 (19th October)
Martin Luther became a Doctor of Theology.
1512 (21st October)
Martin Luther became Chair of Theology at the University of Wittenberg.
Martin Luther became a Doctor of Theology.
Martin Luther began to work on a theological writing entitled ‘Disputation Against Scholastic Theology’. In the work he criticised the study of theology using the Scholastic method.
Martin Luther was annoyed that the Dominican friar, Johann Tetzel, was preaching that the purchase of an indulgence would forgive sins. Luther immediately sent a letter to Archbishop Albert of Mainz, Tetzel’s superior, requesting that the preaching stop.
1517 (31st October)
Martin Luther sent a letter to Archbishop Albert of Mainz, Tetzel’s superior, requesting that the sale of indulgences stop. He included a copy of his work ‘Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences’ also known as the ’95 Theses’. The story is traditionally told that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg but this is now disputed as being symbolic rather than an actual act. Nevertheless, this marks the beginning of the Reformation
Copies of Luther’s ’95 Theses’ had been printed and circulated in several German towns.
Archbishop Albrecht did not want to lose revenue from the sale of indulgences so forwarded Martin Luther’s ’95 Theses’ to the Pope stating that the work was heretical.
Martin Luther’s ’95 Theses’ was translated from Latin into German.
Copies of Martin Luther’s ’95 Theses’ had been circulated throughout Europe.
Martin Luther was summoned to Augsburg where he was questioned by the papal legate, Cardinal Cajetan. The two disagreed vehemently on the issue of the Pope’s right to grant indulgences. Luther left the town before he could be arrested by Cajetan.
1518 (9th November)
Pope Leo X issued a papal bull which legitimised indulgences and declared Luther’s views on the subject to be against the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Luther was questioned by the papal nuncio, Karl von Miltitz.
Theologian Johann Eck staged a public debate and invited Luther to attend. Luther argued his case but Eck called him a heretic and was determined to bring hinm down.
1520 (15th June)
The Pope sent Luther a papal bull stating that unless he removed 41 sentences that were deemed heretical from his works, he would be excommunicated. He was given 60 days to comply.
Martin Luther published ‘To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation’. In this pamphlet Luther outlined the Christian priesthood and also denied the ability of the Pope to interpret the Bible.
Martin Luther published ‘On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church’. In this pamphlet Luther discusses the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church and condemns the Catholic Church and the Pope.
Martin Luther published ‘A Treatise On Christian Liberty’ sometimes referred to as ‘On the Freedom of a Christian Man’. He sent the Pope a copy of the work.
1520 (10th December)
Luther publicly burned the papal bull he had received in June.
1521 (3rd January)
Martin Luther was excommunicated by Pope Leo X for burning the papal bull he had sent in June 1520.
1521 (18th April)
Diet of Worms
Martin Luther was summoned to answer questions before Charles V Holy Roman Emperor at the Diet of Worms. Johann Eck spoke against Luther calling his works heretical. Luther refused a request to recant his writings. He was charged with heresy and excommunicated by the Pope.
1521 (25th May)
Edict of Worms
Charles V presented the results of the findings of the examination of Luther. Martin Luther was declared an outlaw. His works were banned and a warrant for his arrest was issued.
1521 (late May)
Elector Frederick the Wise allowed Martin Luther to live at Wartburg Castle. He hoped that removing him from the limelight would reduce his popularity. Luther lived in hiding in the castle.
Martin Luther wrote ‘On the Abrogation of the Private Mass’. In this work he stated that the mass should be seen as a gift from God rather than a sacrifice to him.
King Henry VIII
of England wrote ‘Septum Sacramentorum’. This pamphlet defended the Catholic Seven Sacraments against the attack made by Luther in ‘On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church’. The Pope gave King Henry the title ‘Fidei Defensor’ (Defendor of the Faith).
Luther wrote ‘The Judgement of Martin Luther on Monastic Vows’. In this work he stated that the vows made by those in holy orders were merely an attempt to gain salvation and thus were not valid.
Martin Luther wrote ‘A Sincere Admonition by Martin Luther to All Christians to Guard Against Insurrection and Rebellion’. He had been prompted to write this work after learning about revolts and disturbances by the monks of Wittenberg.
1522 (6th March)
At the request of the town council, Martin Luther returned to Wittenberg. He preached a number of sermons asking people to remember the core Christian values of love, charity, patience and freedom and to not use violence as a means to bring about change.
Martin Luther completed his translation of the New Testament into German and the book was published.
Despite Luther’s best attempts to bring about change peacefully, many of those who embraced his ideas for religious reform disagreed and revolts and unrest spread throughout Germany.
The peasants of central Germany had used the wave of protest against the established religion as a means to voice their own grievances against the upper ruling classes. They were supported by the religious reformer, Thomas Muntzer who published their grievances as ‘The Twelve Articles of the Peasants’. In response Luther wrote ‘Admonition to Peace Concerning the Twelve Articles of the Peasants’ and ‘Against the Murderous and Robbing Hordes of the Peasants’. The former work sympathised with the peasant’s grievances while the second denounced their violence.
1525 (15th May)
Peasant’s War – Battle of Frankenhausen
This battle between rebels led by Preacher Thomas Muntzer and the forces of Philip I of Hesse and George of Saxony saw the rebels defeated. Muntzer was captured and executed.
1525 (13th June)
Martin Luther married Katharina von Bora, a nun he had helped to escape from Nimbschen convent. His marriage was seen by some as a sign that clerical marriage was acceptable. The couple made their home in the former monastery at Wittenberg, the former inhabitants had either left holy orders or moved to Catholic areas of Germany.
Martin Luther published ‘On the Bondage of the Will’. This work was written as a response to Erasmus’ ‘On Free Will’.
Luther published a German Mass which he intended as an alternative to the Latin Mass, to be used by those who wanted the Mass in German.
A son, Hans, was born to Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora.
Luther and his followers introduced their new form of worship in Saxony.
1527 (10th December)
A daughter, Elizabeth, was born to Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora. She died before she was a year old.
1528 (9th October)
Luther completed ‘On War Against the Turk’. In this work Luther separates war against the Turks into secular and spiritual wars. He argues that in a secular war violence is justified but in a spiritual war violence is not justified and it should be fought by prayer.
A daughter, Magdalene, was born to Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora.
Martin Luther introduced his Large and Small Catechisms. The Large Catechism was an instructional work intended for use by pastors and teachers. The Small Catechism was intended for the people, written in simple language and easy for them to memorise.
1529 (1st – 4th October)
This was the name given to the meeting between Martin Luther, Philip Melanchthon, Martin Bucer, Johannes Oecolampadius and the Swiss reformer Ulrich Zwingli at Marburg Castle, Hesse, Germany. The theologians attempted to find common ground in order to unify the Protestant movement. Although they agreed on most points, they were unable to settle their differences over the presence of Christ during Communion.
1530 (25th June)
This was the name given to the 28 articles written in both German and Latin outlining Lutheran doctrine. The articles were presented to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V by Philip Melanchthon
Martin Luther’s health began to decline. He suffered with Meniere’s disease and had a cataract in one eye.
A son, Martin, was born to Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora.
A son, Paul, was born to Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora.
A daughter, Margaret, was born to Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora.
1534 (3rd February)
Martin Luther completed his German translation of the Old Testament. He now published his complete six-part German translation of the whole Bible.
Luther developed kidney and bladder stones which caused him great pain and discomfort. He also developed arthritis.
Philip of Hesse wanted to enter into a relationship with one of his wife’s ladies-in-waiting but felt that an extra-marital affair was sinful. When asked for his advice, Luther pointed out that many Old Testament leaders had taken more than one wife. This advice prompted Philip to make a secret marriage to the lady in question. However, the second marriage soon became public knowledge as did the fact that Luther had advised it.
Martin Luther’s daughter, Magdalene, died.
Martin Luther began to suffer from angina.
1546 (15th February)
Luther preached his last sermon.
1546 (18th February)
Martin Luther died in Eisleben, Germany.