The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Luther and the 'empire of the daws'

German Lutherans offer tours as part of educational ministry

Horses' hooves clang on the cobbled street, part of a procession of more than 300 equines and about 200 people on their way to Coburg, Germany. Just over the horizon, the towers of the castle come into view. As the travelers pass the Spital Gate, Martin Luther says to his friend Philipp Melanchthon, "I just wish I could come with you to Augsburg."

<BR><BR>Martin Luther spent six months
Martin Luther spent six months in 1530 at the Veste Coburg while under imperial ban — while others attended the Diet of Augsburg.

But he can't. He was declared anathema (cursed by ecclesiastical authority) in January 1521 after burning the papal bull. Shortly after, he was placed under the imperial ban. His life in danger, he could be imprisoned or even burned as a heretic. Nevertheless, Luther wants to attend the Diet in Augsburg. His liege lord has prohibited this, demanding that he stay in Coburg.

Nearly 500 years later, retired pastor Rainer Axmann explains this scene to tourists.

"It was April of 1530 when Martin Luther, Philipp Melanchthon, Justus Jonas and the Duke of Saxony with his entourage arrived at Coburg," Axmann tells his audience. "[Without Luther], the others traveled on to Augsburg to attend the Diet, which had been convened by Charles V. Martin Luther stayed behind and spent six months at the castle."

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