- Joy O'Toole
October 31, 2017 is the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation. The 16th century is a fascinating era of big personalities, schisms, and upheavals, many of which led to the birth of the modern world. Biographies and historical narratives bring the past to life, and many new books are being published to commemorate this crucial time in Western history.
The figure most people recognize as the instigator of the Reformation is Martin Luther. On October 31, 1517, this relatively obscure monk and scholar nailed his theses on the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany. This door served as a place to announce various academic and church affairs. Luther posted his propositions as a call to local scholars to debate various points of theology. A hundred years earlier, the debate would have probably come and gone with few repercussions.
However, conditions were ripe in Europe for Luther’s concerns to cause an upheaval. His propositions and the Church’s subsequent response led to the Protestant Reformation and the split in Christendom. This split was a large factor in the Thirty Years' War, the Huguenot Wars, Britain's civil wars, and other conflicts throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. King Henry VIII of England even used the rift as an excuse to change wives, start his own church, and reclaim church property in England to enrich the Crown.
If you’d like to read more about the circumstances, people, and conflicts that turned the world upside down, go to CRRL My Librarian: The Protestant Reformation - 1517-2017.
The photo is the Luther seal or Luther rose. It was the seal that was designed for Martin Luther at the behest of John Frederick of Saxony in 1530, while Luther was staying at the Coburg Fortress during the Diet of Augsburg.