German Men of Ideas: Martin Luther (1483-1546)

"I am more afraid of my own heart than of the pope and all his cardinals. I have within me the great pope, Self."

Field of Study: Priest, theologian, firebrand.

Revolutionary Insight: His 95 Theses questioned the culture of church indulgences (donating money to guarantee salvation). It evolved into a critique of Catholic corruption and a rejection of papal infallibility, sparking the Protestant Reformation. Luther's views spread quickly, thanks to the recent invention of the printing press.

Controversy Quotient (0 to 5): (5+) Excommunicated by Pope Leo X and declared heretic/ outlaw by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1521; ordained as a monk in 1507, but married in 1525; late in life spouted virulent, violent anti-Semitic views.

Little Known Fact: Met his wife, Katherina von Bora, while abetting her escape from a Cistercian convent; smuggled her (and other nuns) out in a wagon filled with herring barrels.

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