The 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation: What it tells us about history, memory and economics!

It was on 31st Oct 1517 that Martin Luther went to the door of the town’s Castle Church and nailed to it a sheet containing 95 Theses. This was the basis of Protestantism which broke away from the teaching of Catholicism.

In this piece, Prof. Peter Marshall of  University of Warwick says history hardly panned out the way we are made to believe:

….. the image of Luther at the door has so much shaped our view not only of when the Reformation started but of what the Reformation was. Of course, we need “events”, periods and concepts (including “the Reformation” itself) to organise our knowledge and understanding of the past. But all too easily they become timetabled stops along the fixed tramlines of historical development.

Luther in 1517 was no “Protestant”. He was a reformist Catholic friar. His theses on indulgences are in some ways surprisingly unradical, articulating the unease many thoughtful churchmen felt about the practice. Only later, through a combination of political circumstances and Luther’s own theological radicalisation, did a breach with Rome become irreparable. At no stage can it be considered “inevitable”.

Anniversaries are by definition commemorative and retrospective occasions. But we should use them to ask searching questions and interrogate old verities, not just to remind ourselves of what we think we already know.

Read the whole thing.

In another piece, three economists say that the reformation just changed Europe:

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