Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church on 31 October 1517 is among the most famous events of history. It inaugurated the Protestant Reformation, and has for centuries been a powerful symbol of freedom of conscience, and of righteous protest against abuse of power. In 2017, it is the focus of world-wide celebrations. But did it really happen?
In this Tea Time Talk, Peter Marshall reviews the evidence, and concludes it probably did not: Luther’s theses-posting is a myth. Yet if this is so, the incident becomes more not less significant. How did a ‘non-event’ end up becoming an iconic episode of the modern historical imagination, as well as the defining moment of what came to be known as ‘the Reformation’?
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