Stories from German History - Florence Aston

Martin Luther the Reformer


0n the 10th of November, 1488, Martin Luther was born at Eisleben, the child of a poor miner who had come to that district in search of work. He himself says: "My parents were poor folks; my father a woodcutter, and my poor mother, his faithful helpmate, used to carry the wood on her shoulders that she might earn something to support us little ones."

While Martin was still a baby, his parents removed to Mansfeld, and there by industry and intelligence the father managed to earn a competence, and gain the respect of his fellow-townsmen for his sagacity, and was afterward appointed one of the town councillors.

Martin was very strictly brought up and sent early to school, and, as he was a fragile child, his father would often carry him there. But he proved so promising a pupil that Hans Luther began to be ambitious for his son, whom he sent when fourteen years of age to schools of higher education at Magdeburg and Eisenach. There the poor boy, like many another poor scholar, had to support himself as best he might by singing in the streets before the houses of richer people, and he would have fared badly had not the Burgomaster of Eisenach, Conrad Cotta, whose wife had been touched by the lad's sweet singing, received him into his household and given him lodging and food. Well housed and fed, the boy applied himself with greater vigour than ever to his studies and was soon far ahead of all his schoolfellows. Especially did he delight in music; he possessed a beautiful voice, played the harp and flute, and throughout his life loved to compose hymns, and tunes to suit the words.

At the age of eighteen he entered the university of Erfurt, since it was his father's wish that he should study law, and here it was that he made the discovery which influenced his whole future life. In the university library he found a copy of the Bible in Latin, the use of which was forbidden to the laity by the priests. The first chapter that he read was the story of Eli and Samuel, which made a lasting impression on his mind, and truly did he pray like Samuel, "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth."

Although Luther fulfilled punctiliously all the religious duties that the Church imposed upon her servants, he was not at all happy. He meditated much, prayed long, but peace never visited his vexed soul, and in the midst of this anxious uncertainty he fell seriously ill and thought to die. But in his sickness he was visited by a simple-hearted, pious monk, who told him that he felt assured he would recover his health and do mighty works to the glory of God.

So Luther grew strong once more, buoyed by the hope with which the good brother's words inspired him, and when his health was re-established he pursued his studies for another time years.

The sudden death of his friend, Alexis, in the autumn of 1504, however, apparently influenced the future of the young student. He was walking one evening with his friend near Erfurt when dark masses of black cloud rolled up and a storm burst over their heads. The two young men turned back and hastened toward the town, but when they were close to Erfurt a vivid flash of lightning struck them, casting both prone upon the ground. As soon as Luther could recover himself he sprang up, only to find that his friend, Alexis, had been killed beside him.

This sudden death made a profound impression upon Luther, and he vowed to dedicate the rest of his life to God and serve Him in a cloister as a monk The prior of the Augustine convent at Erfurt was greatly pleased with his decision, and, having written to tell his parents of the step he was taking, Martin gave a musical entertainment to all his youthful friends and entered the convent as a novice in July 1505.

His parents were much grieved when they received word of their son's choice, and Hans Luther was very angry and remonstrated with vigour. "Never," said Martin, "heard I words uttered by a mortal man which sank deeper into my heart than these remonstrances of my father."

Wounded by his parent's disapprobation, the young novice looked to prayer and study to teach him the right path, but he found at once his mistake. The Augustine brothers had no intention of allowing the novice to remain in the library at study.

"Through the town with your bag," they told him roughly. "It is by begging, not by studying, that the convent is enriched."

And Luther found himself turned into the streets to beg from door to door. Fortunately the University of Erfurt objected to one of its members being set to such degrading work, and made so strong a representation to the prior that Luther was henceforth exempted from begging, though he had to spend much valuable time in the menial work of the convent. Stanpitz, the provincial of the order, perceiving his extraordinary talents and acquirements, delivered him from the menial duties of the cloister, and encouraged him to continue his theological studies.

On the fourth Sunday after Easter in the year 1507, his novitiate ended, Luther assumed the habit of a monk and celebrated his first Mass. He then dedicated himself to the study of the Holy Scriptures and the commentaries of the early Fathers of the Church upon them, and in the next year was invited to fill the chair of the Professor of Philosophy in the University of Wittenberg, where he delivered lectures on the Logic and Physics of Aristotle. Two years were spent in this manner, during which time Luther observed the state of religion among the German burghers and the life of the German monks, and, as he observed, he was deeply grieved.

A historian named Frederick Mecum describes some of the practices and scenes in the churches of that day which would be watched by the musing young professor of Wittenberg.

"Christ," he says, "was described as a stern judge who would condemn any who did not approach Him through the saints, of which the Popes were always making fresh batches. Men must go to hell or purgatory and burn and broil there until they had done penance for their sins, or until their friends on earth had bought masses enough from the priests to save them. To the convents and priests were brought presents of fowls, geese, ducks, eggs, flax, hemp, butter and cheese. The kitchens, you may be sure, were well supplied and there was no lack of strong drinks. These were paid for in masses, which were to set to rights whatever had gone wrong in the spiritual concerns of the givers." At particular seasons of the year, but chiefly during what were called the Easter Revels, the priests would introduce jokes and anecdotes into their sermons, which were intended to amuse the people, and were often disgustingly vulgar. A preacher would suddenly cry "Cuckoo!" in the middle of a service, or gabble like a goose, or play rough tricks on some member of the congregation.

The invention of printing by John Gutenberg about the year 1440 and the translations of the Scriptures which had already been made, together with the revival of ancient learning, were producing a generation of thoughtful men, who, like John Huss and Martin Luther, could not acquiesce in such a state of things. But the long period that intervened between these two reformers shows the state of apathy and ignorance into which the mass of the people were sunk and the deadening influence of the Church upon them.

Saddened and vexed at the state of religion in his own fatherland, Luther turned his face toward Rome, to gain from the very fount of faith the strength which his thirsting soul needed.

In 1510, accompanied by a friend, he set off on foot by way of Heidelberg, Swabia and Bavaria, and pressed on with eagerness till he saw the pinnacles and towers of glorious Rome on the plain beneath him. The two monks fell on their knees at the sight and prayed with deep emotion. "Hail, holy Rome!" cried Luther, "thrice hallowed by the blood of the martyrs spilt within thy walls," and in a spirit of great humility and devotion they entered the city.

Anxious to perform all the duties enjoined upon pious pilgrims to the holy city, they visited the churches, honoring the relics of many saints and martyrs. They even caught sight of Pope Julius II, but were somewhat surprised to see him on horseback at the head of a troop of soldiers. Indeed Julius is reported to have said of himself that he ought to have been Emperor, and that the Emperor of Germany, Maximilian I, should have been the Pope Maximilian himself deemed not highly either of his own character or of that of his Holiness, since he once exclaimed to his Court: "Eternal God I How would it fare with the world if Thou hadst not a special care over it whilst under such an emperor as I, who am only a sorry hunter, and under so wicked a pope as Julius II l "

A closer acquaintance with the monks and priests of Rome only served to fill Luther with horror and disgust. "Gross, ignorant asses," he called them, realizing that they were even more brutally stupid and callous than his brethren of Germany, and the wickedness of their lives and sinfulness of their mocking behaviour when celebrating Mass grieved his heart which was by nature simple and loving. After a fortnight Martin Luther turned his back on Rome, shook off the very dust from his sandals and set his face homeward, with a great resolve in his heart.


In 1518 a new pope ascended the throne of Saint Peter, Leo X, a man without religious principles but an ardent admirer of art. Leo was anxious to employ the famous painter, Michael Angelo Buonarotti, to decorate the beautiful church which he meant to erect, but for this he needed much money, which he sought to raise by an unrestricted sale of indulgences.

Ever since the Crusades had ceased the popes had declared that those who came to Rome during the year of jubilee should have as much indulgence as those pilgrims who had been to the sepulchre of Christ itself. At first the jubilee was celebrated every hundred years, but it was gradually shortened to fifty, then to thirty-three, and even twenty-five years, and the pilgrims brought enormous sums of money in offerings to the Church.

As Leo required still more, knowing that comparatively few people could make a pilgrimage to Rome, he issued indulgences, by which, in return for a sum of money, forgiveness could be purchased, not only for sins already committed, but for those which the buyer intended to commit in the future 1) ?> The indulgences were sold by wandering monks, and they were brought to Germany by a certain Tetzel, an eloquent preacher, but a man of infamous character. He entered the towns with great pomp, riding in a splendid chariot, with bells ringing, music sounding, and surrounded by a great procession of priests, monks, nuns and students. He usually proceeded to the chief church in the city, erected *before the altar a cross of scarlet bearing the arms of the Pope, and, after a spirited discourse from the pulpit, offered his indulgences for sale. Tetzel, however, was only one of many. A monk even more shameless than himself carried about a feather which he said had been molted from the wing of the Archangel Michael, and, happening to lose his feather, borrowed a truss of hay instead, saying that it was taken from the manger in which our Lord was born.

With such tricks they imposed upon the ignorant poor and extorted from them their hard-won money; but the more thoughtful people were indignant, although they dared not act, since the mummery was all performed under the sanction of the Holy Father at Rome.

The monks themselves did not care, for, as wrote Frederick Mecum, the historian quoted before, "in this town of Gotha were fourteen canons, forty parish priests, thirty Augustine 'monks, two begging friars and thirty nuns. They were all held to be pious and holy folks, who were earning heaven for us: nevertheless they led such scandalous lives that nothing in the world could be worse, yet they could not be checked or punished, because they were only subject to the jurisdiction of the Pope."

When Tetzel arrived at Wittenberg, Martin Luther lodged a protest against his wicked practices before the Bishop of Bavaria, but, since he refused to interfere, Luther resolved to take matters into his own hands and appeal to the common-sense of his countrymen.

On the 81st October 1517 he affixed to the great door of the castle church in Wittenberg ninety-five reasons by which he proved that pardon for sin could only be obtained by repentance and not by expenditure of money. This challenge is known as the 'Ninety-five theses,' and it spread like wildfire through Germany, since Luther's reasons had been the secret conclusions of many a thinking man for years, although he was the first who had boldness enough to put his convictions into words.

Luther was summoned at once to appear at Rome, but the Emperor Maximilian was only too pleased to insult the Pope, and the Pope had to content himself with sending a cardinal to argue with him.

The cardinal was a narrow-minded man, who refused to give Luther a patient hearing, and broke up the meeting in great wrath, exclaiming: "I will have nothing more to say to that beast, for he hath deep-seeing eyes and strange speculations in his head." He related to the Pope a very one-sided version of the interview. In June 1520 the Pope published a bull or decree condemning Luther as a heretic. Any man who read his works was to be ex-communicated, any man who already possessed them was to burn them, and, unless Luther himself confessed his errors and burnt his books within sixty days, he was to be excommunicated and all princes were called upon to deliver him up to punishment.

In Rome his works were publicly burnt, but at Erfurt the students snatched copies of the bull from the book-sellers' shops and threw them into the river, while Luther himself assembled the professors and students of Wittenberg outside the city gates, and in their presence solemnly consigned the Pope's bull to the flames.

Martin Luther


From that time we may consider that Luther had broken from the Roman Catholic Church and appeared before the world as a reformer.

The Emperor Maximilian was succeeded in the year 1519 by his grandson, Charles V, King of Spain.

The German Icings had been wellnigh ruined by their efforts to keep Italy as well as Germany under their sway. The alliance of the Pope with their enemies had contributed to their downfall, and their position had been continuously weakened by their failure to render their office strictly hereditary. Bribes of privileges to the electors had been a constant drain upon the Imperial resources, with the result that Germany had fallen apart into many practically independent states.

About a century and a half after the death of Rudolph of Habsburg, the Electors began to choose their emperors from the Habsburg family. From 1488 to 1806 only two emperors were chosen who were not members of this line, but the Habsburgs were more interested in adding possessions to their own family estates than in maintaining the dignity of the Empire as a whole.

Spain has hitherto played little part in the story, but by a series of royal marriages it happened that a great part of Western Europe was brought under the control of one ruler, Charles V of Spain. He inherited Burgundy, Spain, Austria and part of Italy. No such empire had existed since the days of Charlemagne. To mention a few of his most important titles, he was Duke of Brabant, Margrave of Antwerp, Count of Holland, Archduke of Austria, Count of Tyrol, King of Castille, Aragon and Naples, and of the vast Spanish possessions in America. At sixteen years of age the lad was brought from the Netherlands, where he had been born and reared, to live in his Spanish dominions. This was in the year 1516. Three years later he was chosen Emperor of Germany.

He had never been in that country, never learned its language, and became its ruler at a time when the teachings of Luther were causing religious and political distraction. His first visit to Germany was made in the year 1520, and he summoned a diet at Worms, the most important business being the consideration of the case of Martin Luther, a university professor accused of writing heretical books.

Charles knew that the German princes would scarcely welcome him as their Emperor, since he was a foreigner yet far too powerful to be ignored. He tried, therefore, to gain their favour and also that of the Pope, by promising to hear Luther when he should next hold his parliament or diet in the city of Worms, and expressed confidence that the heretic would soon be crushed.


When Luther was summoned to appear at Worms many of his friends tried to persuade him not to go, lest he should be assassinated on the way by fanatics, or burnt to death like John Huss. But Luther was determined to be present. "If there were as many devils in Worms as there are tiles upon the roofs of the houses, nevertheless I will go through them and make my confession openly," he cried, and he stood up in his chariot as he approached the city and sang the famous hymn, the words and tune of which he had composed a few days previously, Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott  (A sure Fortress is our God).

The Emperor's own herald preceded him, many horsemen rode behind, and thousands of the inhabitants accompanied him to his lodging. He himself described the sensation which his entry caused in the following words:

I rid into the city in a little close carriage, my face covered with my hood, and all the folk came together to see the monk Doctor Martin; and so I came unto Duke Frederick's lodging and thereby was Duke Frederick mighty sorry that I had come to Worms at all."

When called to the diet, Luther was not allowed to explain his views clearly to those assembled, but the Emperor called upon him to recant forthwith. This he refused to do, so he was commanded to quit the city within twenty-one days, or at the end of that time any man might seize his person.

Luther was now under the ban of the Church and of the Empire, but his courage had astonished and delighted the German nobles. The old Duke Eric of Brunswick sent him a silver flagon full of his own favourite Eimbeck beer as soon as he reached his lodgings, members of the Diet called on purpose to encourage him, and it was reported that 400 knights were present in Worms, followers of Franz von Sickingen, himself a zealous supporter of the Reformation, who had pledged themselves to defend his person.

Luther's period of safety being so short, to keep him under protection the Elector of Saxony resolved to take him prisoner himself. Martin was told of the plan, and as soon as he approached the town of Eisenach on his homeward journey, three horsemen sprang from a wood and stopped his coach. No one but the captive knew what was meant when they placed him on horseback and told him to consider himself their prisoner.

He was then conducted to the Wartburg, a castle belonging to the Elector of Saxony, situated on a high hill a few miles from Eisenach, where he arrived at eleven o'clock at night and was introduced to the warder as 'Squire George,' not one of the inhabitants of the castle knowing who he really was. In this solitary castle, which he called his 'Patmos,' Luther devoted himself to study and began his famous translation of the Bible into German.

Ten months later he emerged for a week and preached in the university town of Wittenberg against certain followers of his own, who were violently tearing down altars and crucifixes, for Luther, although so firm and bold, was a gentle man, and knew that violence was not the way to win men to Christ He was highly strung and imaginative, and not above the superstitions of his age, and strange stories are told of happenings during his residence in the Wartburg. He often thought that he saw visions in his solitude, but the most wonderful of all was the appearance of the devil in person one day as Luther was working at his translation of the Bible. The astonished monk seized the inkstand and hurled it at the intruder, who vanished with a cry of wrath, and to this day the ink-stains are shown on the wall of his cell.

Another time he imagined that he saw a large black dog lying on his bed, which vanished as soon as he knelt and prayed. As far as bodily comforts went, Luther was well provided. He had plenty of food and good clothes, dressed like a country squire, wore a gold chain and had long hair and a beard. He went hunting whenever he wished.

The Elector of Saxony, Frederick the Wise, continued to protect Luther and asked him to provide for the churches of that country a simple prayer-book and collection of hymns, both in the German tongue. This he did, and also drew up a long and a short catechism for the instruction of children.

Luther continued sadly grieved by men whose zeal for reform led them into foolish extravagance. A certain weaver named Klaus Storch founded the sect of the Anabaptists, who taught that people should not be baptized until they were grown up, and being expelled from his native city, he came to Wittenberg, where Luther emerged once more to destroy his influence. One of their number, named Thomas Munzer, preached not only against the Pope but against Luther himself, and he raised a rabble of German peasants, miserable, downtrodden serfs almost as ignorant as animals, who sacked castles and murdered nobles until they were cruelly beaten in war and put down by their lords.

Luther was very tender with such poor, misguided people, and the good Elector Frederick would not put one of his own rebellious serfs to death. "Perhaps," he wrote, "these poor people have had only too much reason for revolt. Alas I the poor are too much oppressed both by their temporal and spiritual lords!"

After the execution of Munzer, one of the princes behaved with the greatest brutality to his widow, and was sharply rebuked by the bold Luther for his conduct. "A very knightly, noble deed, truly!" he wrote to him, "to treat thus a miserable, forsaken, helpless woman! What shall I write to such swine? The Scripture calleth such men 'beasts,' but we must suffer them, because through them God seeth fit to plague us." On the 5th of May 1525 Luther's kind patron, the gentle Elector Frederick, died, and he died sadly, fearing that violence and greed would take the place of the true spirit of reform. "If it were God's will," he said as he felt himself growing worse, "I would gladly die. I no longer see either truth, or love, or faith, or anything on earth."

Just before his death he sent for his servants. "Children," he said, "if I have offended any one of you, let him pardon me for the love of God, for we princes often give pain to poor folk, and that is ill done." After his death his physician truly said of him: "He was a child of peace, and in peace he departed."

When the princes of Germany, who had hitherto looked upon Luther as a dangerous man, heard how he preached that kings were appointed by God and that servants should obey their masters, they looked upon the Reformation as a means of breaking free from their allegiance to both Pope and Emperor, since they applied his teaching to their own subjects and not to themselves. They made a bond called the Evangelical Alliance, and the doctrines of Luther spread all over Germany and into Scandinavia, and it is significant that the farther away their lands were from the Emperor's seat, the more princes there were who supported the Reformation.

These Lutheran princes drew up a protest against the state of the Church and laid it before the Emperor, and it was because of this protest that Lutherans were first called 'Protestants.'

The doctrines of Luther spread even into the monasteries and nunneries, and in the year 1528 nine nuns of Nimpsch, who were unable to bear the convent life any longer, persuaded two citizens to release them by carrying them away in empty barrels. Their plan succeeded, and when the nine helpless ladies presented themselves before Luther at Wittenberg, he welcomed them kindly and found them homes among his friends. Within two years they were all married, Luther himself marrying the handsome and nobly born Catherine von Bora, and thereby shocking terribly the Roman Catholic world, but delighting old Hans Luther, who had lived to see his son freed from the monastic life of which he had so strongly disapproved.

Luther was very happy with his wife and the four children who were born to them, for he was a man of affectionate disposition and made a very loving husband and father.

One of his little girls died while still a child, which was a great sorrow to him. Bending over her as she lay in her little bed, he asked: "Magdalene, my little daughter, thou wouldst willingly remain with thy father here, but gladly goest to thy Father yonder?"

"Yes, dear father, as God wills it," answered the little maid, and the poor father was glad of her answer, although he turned aside in bitter pain. "She is so very dear to me," he said piteously.

While away on a journey he wrote as follows to his little son Hans:

"Grace and peace in Christ to my heartily dear little son. I see gladly that thou learnest well and prayest earnestly. Do thus, my little son, and go on. When I come home I will bring thee a beautiful fairing.

"I know a pleasant garden, wherein many children walk about. They have little golden coats, and pick up beautiful apples under the trees, and pears, cherries and plums. They dance and are merry, and have also beautiful little ponies, with golden reins and silver saddles. Then I asked the man whose the garden is, whose children those were. He said: 'These are the children who love to pray, who learn their lessons and are good.' Then I said: 'Dear man, I also have a little son; he is called Hanschen Luther. Might not he also come into the garden; and also his little friends, Lippus and Jost, and when they come, may they eat such apples and pears and ride on such beautiful little ponies, and play with these children? '

"Then the man said: 'If he loves to pray, learns his lessons and is good, he also shall come into the garden; and also his little friends, Lippus and Jost. And when they all come together, they also shall have pipes, drums, lutes, and all kinds of music, and shall dance and shoot with little bows and arrows.'

"And he showed me there a fair meadow in the garden prepared for dancing.

"There were many pipes of pure gold, drums, and silver bows and arrows. But it was still early in the day, so that the children had not had their breakfasts. Therefore I could not wait for the dancing, and said to the man: 'Ah, dear sir! I will go away at once and write all this to my little son Hanschen, that he may be sure to pray and to learn well and be good, that he also may come into this garden. But he has a dear Aunt Lena; he must bring her with him.' Then said the man: 'Let it be so; go and write him thus.'

"Therefore, my dear little son Hanschen, learn thy lessons, and pray with a cheerful heart; and tell all this to Lippus and Jost too, that they also may learn their lessons and pray. So shall you all come together into this garden.

"Herewith I commend you to the Almighty God; and greet Aunt Lena, and give her a kiss from me. Thy dear father,


To animals also his love flowed warmly forth, and he was sure that God would receive them into His bright heaven. "Fear not, Hanslein," he said one day to his little dog, which stood regarding him with faithful, intelligent eyes, "thou too shalt have a little golden tail."

Once while watching two little birds in his garden, which took wing and flew away on seeing him, he cried: "Ah, dear little birds, do not fly away. I wish you well from my heart if you could only trust me, though I own we do not thus trust our God."


In the year 1580 the Emperor Charles V held another German diet, this time at Augsburg, and once more tried to crush the Protestant religion, which had increased beyond belief since the Diet of Worms, nine years before, when Luther had first done battle for his faith. Luther himself did not go to Augsburg, as he was still under the ban of the Pope and the Empire, but the Protestant princes asked his chief friend, the saintly and gentle Melanchthon, to draw up a confession of their faith to be read aloud at the diet.

This explanation of the faith was approved by Luther and consisted of twenty-eight articles, twenty-one of which agreed with the doctrines of the Roman Catholic faith, and the remaining seven showed the reasons for separation.

The Emperor was anxious to suppress the 'Confession of Augsburg,' as the document was called, therefore he would only consent to its being read in a small chapel of the Bishop's palace which could barely hold 200 persons; he also commanded that the assembly should be held at three o'clock in the morning!

By this means he hoped that very few people would be able to hear the real views of the Protestants. But his plan was frustrated, for the great heat necessitated the opening of the windows and doors of the chapel, and an enormous crowd thronged outside at every entry. The Chancellor of Saxony then took the Confession and read it aloud in such a ringing voice that it was heard clearly by at least a thousand persons.

At first Charles was very angry and issued a proclamation condemning all the Protestant doctrines and their adherents, but when he found that the princes banded themselves together, and were even ready to fight for their religious liberty, he left them in peace to worship as they liked, so long as they would help him in his wars with the Turks which then engaged all his attention.

Meanwhile the Reformation was spreading in Switzerland, under the leadership of a man named Zwingli Like Luther, he had studied the Scriptures diligently, more particularly the Epistles of Saint Paul, which he is said to have known by heart.

A Franciscan monk had been sent to Switzerland to sell indulgences, just as Tetzel had visited Germany for the same purpose, and Zwingli had opposed him. War against the Roman Catholic Church having thus been declared, Zwingli swept away the abuses in the churches even to the forms of services themselves, aiming at a simplicity like that of the early Christians. His doctrines were much the same as those of Luther, except that he denied the real presence of Jesus Christ in the bread and wine of the Holy Communion, whereas Luther always maintained that the consecrated elements really changed into His body and blood.

This difference unfortunately kept the two reformers apart, but a meeting was arranged between them, and although they could not agree upon this point, they conceived a great admiration for one another, and each acknowledged the good work done toward the reformation of religion by his fellow-worker.

The reformation in Switzerland soon led to war between Swiss Protestants and Catholics, in which Zwingli was killed in 1581, but his work was continued in Geneva by a Frenchman named John Calvin, who drew up a plan of church government for the Swiss, from which they were called Calvinists or followers of the Reformed Church. Unfortunately the Lutherans and Calvinists quarrelled bitterly and hated each other almost as much as they had hated the Roman Catholics before.

But the years were passing on, and the brave Martin Luther was growing an old man, and was bowed with painful and incurable disease. He was in urgent need of rest, yet when one prince after another sent to him to ask his advice, he felt that he could not refuse to labour in the cause of Jesus Christ. So in the year 1546 he went to Eisleben on the invitation of the Count field, writing to a friend on his departure: "A man old and cold and rotten and one-eyed writeth unto thee I who had thought that I might now be suffered to rest in peace, am as much overwhelmed with writing and speaking, and doing and settling, as if I had never written, or spoken, or done, or settled anything in my life before."

In Eisleben Luther preached four times, although much worn out with his journey, but he was never to preach again. On the 14th of February he wrote to his wife: "To the hands of my kind, loving housewife, Catherine Luther von Bora, at Wittenberg, these. Grace and peace in the Lord! Dear Kate, we hope this week to be at home again, if God will. God bath shown great mercies here, for my lords have made all smooth, so one may by this understand that God is a hearer of prayer. We eat and drink like lords hem, and are waited upon bravely—and all too bravely: enough to make us forget you at Wittenberg. My old complaint cloth not trouble me now. We wait God's pleasure. To Him I commend you."

Two days later he was taken so ill with asthma and sharp pain in the chest that he took to his bed, feeling convinced that the end was approaching.

"Oh, my heavenly Father!" he prayed, "God eternal and most merciful, whom I have known, whom I love, whom I honour as my dear Saviour and Redeemer, whom the godless persecute and shamefully entreat and revile, take my poor soul unto Thyself."

Through the night he lay, occasionally murmuring words of prayer, and at two o'clock in the morning of the 17th February 1547 be folded his hands, drew a deep breath and died.

Count Mansfeld wrote to tell Luther's patron, the Elector of Saxony, of his death, to which the Elector replied with some asperity: "I have received with a deeply grieved and troubled spirit the news of Doctor Martin's death. I desire that you will allow his body to be conveyed to Wittenberg, that it may be buried in the castle church there. I cannot help adding, I could have wished that you had not worried the old worn-out man with your troublesome affairs."

When the body of Luther was removed to Wittenberg, bells were tolled in every village and town through which it passed, and men, women and children accompanied it on its way. Count Mansfeld travelled with it as far as the gate of Wittenberg, where it was met by the professors of the University, the town councillors, and citizens. School children preceded the coffin, singing Luther's own hymns, and it was followed by his wife and two sons and many friends.

Amid cries and lamentations the body of the great reformer was buried in the castle church by the side of the good Elector Frederick the Wise, and in a Latin oration Melanchthon spoke to those present of the good services rendered to the Christian Church by Martin Luther, who had given his life to oppose the enemies of God, and fallen worn out in the service of His children.

After Luther's death the Emperor Charles V spent some years in breaking up the alliance of Protestant princes, but this caused him much trouble and many skirmishes in the field. It terminated in the Peace of Augsburg of 1555.

By this peace an extraordinary agreement was made-namely, that all subjects were free to follow the religion of their ruler, and if they did not like his faith they might emigrate to the domains of some prince of whose faith they did approve. If a prince changed his religion, the whole country was enjoined under cruel penalties to do the same.

Charles was much grieved at being obliged to allow the Protestants of Germany freedom of worship, and cruelly extirpated any signs of heresy in his own Spanish dominions. In his reign was founded the famous order of the Jesuits by a certain Spanish monk named Ignatius Loyola. This order took as its motto the words, Ad majorem Dei gloriam  (To the greater glory of God), and its chief aim was to consolidate the Roman Catholic Church, and stamp out all traces of heresy. It increased enormously in numbers, is in existence at the present day and is chiefly valuable for its splendid missionary work among the heathen.

In the year 1588, tired out and growing old, Charles V abdicated, leaving Spain, the Netherlands, Naples and his South American colonies to his gloomy and bigoted son, Philip II. Austria, Hungary and Bohemia he gave to his brother, Ferdinand I.

This done, Charles retired into a convent with twelve domestics only, and lived in a tiny suite of six rooms, small and bare as the cells of the ordinary monks. He laid aside his grandeur and ambition, living the simple life of an ordinary gentleman, cultivating his little garden, riding through the woods on the only horse he possessed, and, when confined to the house, amusing himself with the construction of docks and little mechanical inventions.

He attended Mass often, spent long hours in prayer and penance and many acts of piety. A strange and morbid idea was to celebrate his own funeral before he died. He ordered his tomb to be erected in the chapel belonging to the monastery, and himself followed the procession of monks wrapped in his shroud, and was then solemnly laid in his coffin in the choir. The service for the dead was chanted, holy water was sprinkled on the coffin, and afterward everyone retired, leaving the Emperor lying there alone. He then arose and withdrew to his apartments, but the awful sentiments inspired by the occasion; and the fatigue he had endured were too much for him, and the next day he was seized with a fever of which he died.

So perished the great Emperor Charles V, leaving to his son, Philip, the task of extirpating Protestantism root and branch, by the tortures and fire of the Great Inquisition. All the might of Rome, nevertheless, was destined to fall before the onward march of the Reformation, in the cause of which the Germans were soon to shed their blood in their hundreds and their thousands.