Last week marked the 500th anniversary of what is widely considered to be the starting point of the Protestant Reformation in Europe – the production of Martin Luther’s 95 theses in Wittenberg, Germany.
Martin Luther was an Augustinian friar who strongly disagreed with the Catholic Church’s practice of selling indulgences which claimed to reduce their purchasers’ time in purgatory after death. He wasn’t the first scholar to take issue with the practice, but his dispute led to a major upheaval – largely because he challenged the Pope in German rather than the Latin of traditional academic disputation, and because the relatively new invention of the printing press allowed his arguments to go viral across Europe.
Luther starts to feature in our records from 1518 onwards. A small selection of these records is currently on display in the Keeper’s Gallery here at Kew. Continue reading »