Episode 21 – The Diet of Worms Part 1

Charles V of Spain was on a very steep learning curve. Even though he was only 20 years old, he had just been voted as the new Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Including his governance of Spain, he now had the responsibilities for a vast domain that included modern day Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Northern Italy and South America.

Charles had prepared for these responsibilities for his entire life, so he felt in 1521 as ready as he could have been as he approached his first major meeting with the leaders of the Empire, set for the city of Worms, in the Rhineland of Germany. Still, he knew the princes, electors, dukes and other leaders of the would be watching him closely for any missteps as he sought to guide the empire through the treacherous terrain of medieval European politics.

Treacherous barely describes the complexity of the situation Charles had inherited from his grandfather. The pope was no friend, having done everything in his power to deny Charles the position of Emperor. The German princes were fractious and squabbling, even while the Turks were threatening the eastern edges of the empire. And in his own Spain, the commoners were rising up in revolt against the nobility.

Finally, there was this matter regarding the German monk, Dr. Martin Luther. Although Luther’s teachings were popular with the people, Charles was confident everybody would fall in line behind the pope declaring Luther a heretic. Still, to calm the leadership of the German states, and to get them to finally work together against the Turks, Charles on November 28, 1520 agreed that Luther would be given a hearing at the Diet scheduled to be held in the city of Worms in early 1521.

The Diet of Worms will be dealt with through three parts. The word diet describes an assembly of the Holy Roman Empire. The first part looks at the lead up to the hearing in Worms. We especially focus on why a monk that has already been declared a heretic by the pope is being given a hearing in Germany. The second part will look at the hearing itself and Luther’s famous speech before the emperor. The final part will examine what happens after the hearing is over and how Luther is “kidnapped” and taken to the Wartburg.

Luther at the Diet of Worms, by Anton von Werner, 1877

Beer Break

Our featured beer in this episode is from Perrin Brewing in Comstock Park, Michigan. The No Problems Session IPA bursts open with aromatics of fresh citrus fruits, ripened melon and a distinctive floral bouquet.

Diet of Worms by Swashbookler

Recognitions

Thanks to Josh Yagley for the sound engineering

James Kittelson – Luther the Reformer

Scott Hendrix – Martin Luther – Visionary Reformer

Roland Bainton – Here I Stand, A Life of Martin Luther

Luther’s Works – volumes 32

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