Ohio 7th Grade World History/Martin Luther

Martin Luther (was originally named Martin Luder) was born on November 10, 1483 in Eislenburg, Germany. He worked as a monk, teacher and a reformer. Luther’s father, Hans Luther, was determined to make his son a lawyer so he sent Luther to a school in Mansfeld. In 1498, he went to University of Erfurt to study law. During his time at the University, there was a lightning storm which made him decide that he should become a monk.

Painting of Martin Luther

Despite his family’s and friend’s efforts to persuade Luther not to, Luther entered the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt in 1505. There, he studied the life of a monk: to fast, pray and work. He woke up at three in the morning and prayed. A monk’s life was hard. They were only given one meal a day in the winter and two in the summer. They were not allowed to talk during meals. They donated to people, made clothes, prayed, took care of sick people, provided shelter and helped people in times of need.

Martin Luther first became a reformer when he believed that the Church was doing things wrong. The Church was making people pay money for their sins to be forgiven (indulgences), the Pope was too involved in politics, and the Church had too much money. To protest against these doings, he found followers and made his own, the Lutherans. Luther’s idea spread quickly throughout Germany with the print press.


Illustration showing the selling of Indulgences.

Indulgences were documents given by the pope that excuses people from the sins that he or she had committed. It was like buying your way into heaven. Also indulgences could be used to reduce the time he or she spends in purgatory. Martin Luther wanted to change how the church was handling the sins of other people. So Martin Luther wrote the 95 theses. The 95 theses were the 95 complaints of the Catholic Church. At first no one followed him but then many people started to follow him. These people that followed him were called Lutherans. Martin at first didn’t want to form a new church, but ended up making the Lutheran Church.

The 95 Theses

Print of the 95 thesis.

With the idea of protesting against the Catholic Church, Luther made his list of complaints or things he didn’t like about the church known as the 95 Theses.

Exsurge Domine is a papal bull by Pope Leo X to the opposition of the 95 Theses. The Exsurge Domine stated asked that 41 would be removed from the Theses. Pope Leo X gave Luther sixty days to remove 41. When Luther did not remove them by the time the 60 days were over, Pope Leo X excommunicated him on January 3, 1521.