Sunday, October 14, 2007
What is the True Edict of Worms?
The Edict of Worms was the decree issued on May 25, 1521 at the Diet of Worms by the Holy Roman Emperor, Emperor Charles V, declaring Martin Luther an outlaw and a heretic and banning his literature. It also made it a crime for anyone in Germany to give Luther food or shelter.
The Papal nuncio at the Diet, Girolamo Aleandro, drew up and proposed the fierce denunciations of Luther that were embodied in the Edict of Worms, promulgated on May 25. These declared Luther to be an outlaw and banned the reading or possession of his writings. It permitted anyone to kill Luther without legal consequence. The Edict was a divisive move that distressed more moderate men, in particular Desiderius Erasmus.
Despite the agreement that he could return home safely, it was privately understood that Luther would soon be arrested and punished. To protect him from this fate, Prince Frederick seized him on his way home and hid him in Wartburg Castle. It was during his time in Wartburg that Luther began his German translation of the Bible. The edict was temporarily suspended at the Diet of Speyer in 1526 but then reinstated in 1529.
When Luther eventually came out of hiding, the Emperor was preoccupied with military concerns, and because of rising public support for Luther among the German people, the Edict of Worms was never enforced. Luther continued to call for reform until his death in 1546.