Prominent churchmen on the Continent and in England wrote spirited defenses of the Church against Luther’s “heresies.” People stood for hours inside churches and outdoors in churchyards to listen to sermons like the one shown at right, by John Fisher. These sermons would have been delivered with enthusiasm and fervor. Copies of Fisher’s attack on Luther are very rare, this being one of only two complete survivors.
The battle between Martin Luther and the Roman Catholic Church continued with polemical writings emanating from both camps. Attack followed attack, and others like John Fisher and Thomas More joined Henry in defense of the Church and the papacy against Lutheran heresies.
With hindsight, the irony is clear: within a dozen years, Henry VIII would break from Rome and establish himself as head of the Church of England.
Click the links at right to hear curator Arthur Schwarz talk about Henry's new title, "Defender of the Faith," and the gift thought to have been given to him by Pope Leo X.