Portrait of Martin Luther as a monk of the Order of the Hermits of St Augustine. Probably by Hans Baldung Grien. The woodcut was first used in a Lutheran pamphlet of 1520.
Martin Luther (1438-1543) was an Augustinian monk, priest and university lecturer by the time he wrote the 95 theses that made his name.
He is responsible for the early years of the Reformation that resulted in the split of Western Christianity into the Catholic and Protestant Churches.
By 1525, more than 280 of his tracts had been printed, with around two million copies circulated in total.
Luther timeline for 1483-1529
10 November 1483:
Martin Luther born in Eisleben.
Luther attends the University of Erfurt.
2 July 1505:
Caught in a thunderstorm, Luther vows to become a monk.
17 July 1505:
Enters monastery of the Augustinian Hermits in Erfurt.
Lecturer for moral philosophy at Wittenberg until end 1509. Continues to study divinity.
19 October 1512:
Receives doctoral degree.
Becomes professor of biblical theology.
Reformation breakthrough: discovery of Pauline understanding of divine righteousness.
31 October 1517:
Posts 95 theses on the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg (uncertain dating).
Theses have been circulated all over Germany.
Theses in German translation become the first bestseller of the Reformation: 24 reprints and two translations in two years.
7 July 1518:
Luther is summoned to Rome, but his patron, Elector Frederick III of Saxony, manages to get Luther's case moved to German soil.
Diet of Augsburg.
Interrogation of Luther by Catholic theologian and papal legate Cajetan.
15 June 1520:
Leo X issues a bull that threatens Luther with excommunication.
Luther pens and publishes his major Reformation texts.
10 December 1520:
During burning of books in Wittenberg Luther adds his copy of the papal bull and canon law books.
3 January 1521:
Leo X excommunicates Luther with the bull 'Decet Romanum Pontificem'.
17-18 April 1521:
Luther appears at the Imperial Diet in Worms. Refuses to recant.
4 May 1521:
Luther is taken into protective custody by Elector Friedrich III near Eisenach on his way home from Worms. He stays in Wartburg Castle until 3 March 1522.
26 May 1521:
Edict of Worms places Luther and his followers under imperial ban.
Luther translates the New Testament into German in 11 weeks. Thirteen authorised editions printed within one year. Half a million copies sold during Luther's life time.
27 August 1526:
Imperial Diet at Speyer. Execution of the Edict of Worms left up to individual sovereigns.
15 March to 22 April 1529:
Second Imperial Diet at Speyer re-instatesd the Edict of Worms. Lutheran princes and cities protested and gained the name Protestants.
Key texts by Martin Luther feature in the display 'The Reformation: What was it all about?' at the National Library from 19 October to 10 December 2017.