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zum Inhalt springen Martin Luther © Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt

Fun Fact

Before he became a monk, Luther was well on his way to becoming a lawyer. He had earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees in the shortest time possible.

What happened when?

A timeline of Luther's life

1483

November 10: A son is born to Hans and Margerethe Luther (also called Luder) in Lutherstadt Eisleben; he is baptized "Martin" on November 11 in the Church of St Peter and St Paul.

1484

The family moves to the village of Mansfeld-Lutherstadt.

1498

Martin Luther starts school in Eisenach.

1501

Luther goes to study law at the University of Erfurt.

1505

Caught in a terrible storm in Stotternheim (near Erfurt), Luther vows to become a monk if St. Anne saves him. Surviving the storm, he gives up his career as a lawyer and joins the Augustinian order at the monastery in Erfurt.

1507

Luther celebrates his first mass on May 2.

1508

Luther arrives in Lutherstadt Wittenberg to lecture and study at the university.

1510

Luther walks to Rome, a distance of around 1,000 miles.

1517

Luther preaches against the selling of indulgences. On October 31, he nails the 95 Theses to the door of Lutherstadt Wittenberg's Castle Church. Translated from Latin into German, this printed declaration spreads like wildfire. Martin also changes his name from Luder to Luther, which may have been a Greek play on words: Martinus Eleutherios, or "Martin the Free One".

1518

Luther is charged with heresy in Rome. He defends himself in Augsburg with arguments based on the Bible rather than church doctrine. He has to flee, returning to Lutherstadt Wittenberg under the protection of Frederick the Wise (the Elector Frederick III).

1521

Luther is excommunicated and summoned to appear before the Diet of Worms (the Council of Worms, a city in western Germany). His words "I neither can nor will recant" challenged authority in a way that would change the course of history. On his journey back to Lutherstadt Wittenberg, he is 'kidnapped' and taken to Wartburg Castle near Eisenach. In reality, he is once again under the protection of Frederick the Wise. Safe in the fortress, Luther grows a beard and goes by the name of "Squire George" ("Junker Jörg"). In just 10 weeks, he translates the New Testament from Greek into German.

1522

Luther returns to Lutherstadt Wittenberg and sets off a series of theological and social reforms, such as education for all. He encourages musicians and poets to write music and hymns for church services.

1523

Luther encourages monks and nuns to leave their abbeys. One nun who followed this call was none other than Katharina von Bora, who fled to Lutherstadt Wittenberg where she would come to meet Luther.

1525

Luther marries Katharina von Bora. On December 25, Luther holds the German Mass, the very first Protestant service.

1529

Luther publishes The Large Catechism, an easy-to-understand explanation of Christian theology.

1530

The Augsburg Confession is written by Luther's close associate and friend, Philipp Melanchthon. He presents it to the Diet of Augsburg, but his arguments are rejected. However, this document was – and still is – the cornerstone of Lutheran faith.

1533

The "Klug's Songbook" ("Klug'sche Gesangbuch") is published, including songs like "A Mighty Fortress is our God", Luther's best-known and best-loved hymn.

1537

Schmalkalden hosts a grand meeting of the Schmalkaldic League of rulers and theologians; Luther presents his Articles of Faith, a summary of Lutheran doctrine.

1546

Luther dies in Lutherstadt Eisleben. His coffin is carried to Lutherstadt Wittenberg, where he is buried at the Castle Church. As recorded on his tombstone, he lived for "63 years, 2 months, and 10 days."