Martin Luther and Witches

Jara zajimawe! Sehr interessant! Very interesting!

I was once asked if I had any documentation for the quote in my book that Luther had supervised the burning of witches in Wittenberg. (Remember, I was citing the work of another scholar.) An old Concordia friend sent me the link below. Of course, after 500 years it’s hard to know the exact truth, but it seems that the truth may lie somewhere in-between. So, maybe although Luther didn’t actually light the fire himself, one might argue that his approval of the same was tantamount to actually carrying out the act.

It reminds me of Henry II’s famous (infamous?) remark “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?” Several of his knights took him literally and murdered Thomas á Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170.

Luther and witches

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

[During his time there were individual persecutions, for example the burning of four alleged witches in Wittenberg. At that time, however, the Reformer was not in Wittenberg, and he never uttered a word about the case. Luther himself held an aggressive sermon against witches in 1526. Within five minutes, his parishioners in Wittenberg heard him say five times that witches must be killed. He justified his opinion with the Second Book of Moses in the Bible: “Thou shall not suffer a witch to live.”]

On a humorous concluding note, as a long-time teacher, I’ve worked under some Machiavellian female chairpersons. It makes me wonder if they maybe aren’t witches. LOL. I’m reminded of what people said about Livia Drusilla, the scheming wife of Caesar Augustus: “When she was a little girl, she was bitten by a poisonous snake – and the snake died.”


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