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The Reformation

Luther's translation of the New Testament into the vernacular German was arguably the most significant work of his life. The text, written over eleven weeks while Luther was in hiding in the Wartburg castle, was to be the building block of the Reformation, for it provided lay people access to scripture. Competing interpretations of this seminal edition and subsequent translations into other European languages would buttress arguments for both persecution and toleration. Luther himself was an early advocate for the separation of church and state and for religious toleration but as the increasingly revolutionary reform movement evolved into a series of territorial churches and challenges by religious radicals, Luther shifted his position and argued for the suppression of religious dissent and social revolution.


Though hostile in intent, this image is an interesting representation of the fragmentation of Protestantism that occurred in the aftermath of Luther's split with Rome. Here Luther is depicted, with his wife Katharina von Bora, as the "Archehereticke" that nurtured that nurtured the various Protestant sectaries. 

Fridericus Staphylus. The apologie of Fridericus Staphylus. Antwerp, 1565

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