Author Archives: Matthew Phillips

Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms

On April 14, 1521 Martin Luther wrote the following words in a short letter to Georg Spalatin from Frankfurt-am-Main: I am coming, my Spalatin, although Satan has done everything to hinder me with more than one disease.  All the way … Continue reading

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The Special Function of History

“Now the special function of history, particularly in relation to speeches, is first of all to discover the words actually used, whatever they were, and next to establish the reason why a particular action or argument failed or succeeded.  The … Continue reading

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A Virgin Shall Conceive

“Perhaps at the time the angel came, she was holding [the text of] Isaiah in her hands; perhaps she was then studying the prophecy which declares: Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and his name will be … Continue reading

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How Students Deceive Themselves

“For the first step in learning is the capacity to doubt, nor is there anything so inimical to learning as the presumption of one’s own erudition or excessive reliance upon one’s own wits: the one takes away our interest in … Continue reading

Posted in Learning, liberal arts, Pietro Paulo Vergerio, Renaissance, teaching | Leave a comment

The Perversity and Ingratitude of the World

“For the perversity and ingratitude of the world is so great that it often repays evil to those who have deserved good from it and sometimes even treats them very rudely; on the other hand, it elevates and honors the … Continue reading

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Delusion Makes You Happy

“If Folly is any judge, that man is the happiest who is most thoroughly deluded.  May he remain in that state which comes from me alone and is so widespread that I doubt whether there can be found one person … Continue reading

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Burning the Bull

“Greetings.  On December 10, 1520, at nine o’clock in the morning, all the following papal books were burned in Wittenberg at the eastern gate near the Church of the Holy Cross: the Decretum, the Decretals, the [Liber] Sextus, the Clementines, … Continue reading

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The Origin of Indulgences

A close reading of Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses demonstrates that he was calling into question not only the doctrine of indulgences but also the late medieval sacrament of penance. Luther focused on the interior nature of repentance instead of sacramental penance … Continue reading

Posted in Crusades, Martin Luther, medieval, Peter Abelard, Reformation | 2 Comments

Defy Everything: Martin Luther in 1520

“Let us…commit the affairs of men to God in faithful prayer, and be calm.  What can they do? Will they kill [me]?  Will they revive [me] again in order to kill [me] again? Will they brand me [me] a heretic?  … Continue reading

Posted in Martin Luther, Reformation, theology | 1 Comment

Fortune Grows Cruel

“Fortune began to grow cruel and confuse everything.  Men who had easily endured hard work, dangers, uncertainty and adversity found that leisure and wealth, things desirable at other times, were a burden and the cause of misery.  And so, at … Continue reading

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