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Martin Luther

Martin Luther

*  1483 Eisleben
† 1546 Eisleben

Martin Luther (originally Luder) was born on November 10, 1483 in Eisleben. He attended school in Mansfeld and at the cathedral school in Magdeburg. In 1498, his parents sent him to the Franciscan school in Eisenach, where he received his musical and poetic education. Luther studied at the University in Erfurt from 1501 to 1505 and received his M.A. from the school of philosophy. He began studying law after earning his doctorate. Against his wishes of his father, Luther entered the monastery of the Augustinian Hermits (known today as the Augustinian Friars) in Erfurt, where he was ordained as a priest in 1507. Though he always carried out his duties zealously, he was constantly occupied with the question of a "merciful God." Luther arrived at the monastic school in Wittenberg to study theology in 1508. He graduated the next year with the title "baccalarius biblicus" (professor of the Bible) and immediately began teaching at the University in Wittenberg. Luther began thinking in reformist terms at this time, leading to his later break with Roman Catholic teachings. Luther already laid out his new understanding of justification through the grace of God alone in his lectures on the Letters to the Romans in 1515. Two years later, he changed his name from "Luder" to "Luther" (basing the change on the Greek word "eleutheros" meaning "free" or "freed"), outwardly signaling his inner conversion. That same year Luther composed his 95 Theses, which dealt critically with the sale of indulgences. He was subsequently denounced by Cardinal Albrecht in Rome and was brought to trial for heresy in Augsburg, though the trial remained without a verdict. Luther was excommunnicated and declared an outlaw during the Diet of Worms in 1521. Luther found safety in exile in the Wartburg in Eisenach, where he translated the New Testament into German. Luther's New Testament was widely published and circulated, and with his translation of the Old Testament, completed the Luther Bible. As unrest grew in Saxony, Luther had to return to Wittenberg in 1522. Luther smoothed the growing waves with his careful words. At the second Diet of Speyer in 1529, attempts to split the reformist Church from the Catholic Church finally succeeded. Luther married the former nun Katharina von Bora in 1525, as this was the logical conclusion of his teachings, since he rejected the vow of celibacy, demanded the dissolution of the cloisters, and no longer saw marriage as a sacrement. As the Peasant Revolts were growing in Thuringia and Saxony in 1525, Luther set himself against the peasants and their leader, Thomas Müntzer, who had been a pupil of Luther's. In 1534, the complete German translation of the Bible was published by Luther. Martin Luther died on February 18, 1546 in Eisleben.