On This Day, Jan. 28, 1521 – Diet Of Worms Opens to Deal with Martin Luther
“The third kind consists of those books which I have written against private individuals, so-called; against those, that is, who have exerted themselves in defense of the Roman tyranny and to the overthrow of that piety which I have taught. I confess that I have been more harsh against them than befits my religious vows and my profession. For I do not make myself out to be any kind of saint, nor am I now contending about my conduct but about Christian doctrine. But it is not in my power to recant them, because that recantation would give that tyranny and blasphemy and occasion to lord it over those whom I defend and to rage against God’s people more violently than ever.”
– Martin Luther
1521 – The Diet of Worms began.
Diet of Worms opened with a papal brief requesting Charles V to do his duty, arrest Martin Luther, and stamp out the Lutheran heresy. In fact, the two papal representatives, and in particular Jerome Alexander, informed the Germans that:
If ye Germans who pay least into the Pope’s treasury shake off his yoke, we shall take care that ye mutually kill yourselves, and wade in your own blood.
The emperor didn’t know what to do. He was a loyal Catholic to the end. Thirty-four years later, he would resign his multiple crowns to die a monk. He needed the pope’s support, but he was also grateful to Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony and a Luther supporter, who had declined a nomination to be ruler of Germany, securing Charles’ election.
He was also not stupid. Carrying out a strong action against Martin Luther could ruin his leadership in Germany, especially since he was king of Spain before he was king of Germany. When he tested the waters at the Diet of Worms by recommending harsh action against Luther, the Estates of Germany resisted him, and he backed off.
But Luther went gladly to the Diet of Worms, anxious to defend his doctrines. He was all the more encouraged by the support of his friend, Philip Melancthon, a brilliant and able scholar. He told Philip that if he were put to death, he would be comforted, for he knew that Philip could defend the truth better than he.
Martin Luther spent 10 days traveling the 300 miles from Wittenberg (near modern Berlin) to the Diet of Worms (south of Frankfurt), where he knew his life would be in danger. 106 years earlier, John Huss (or Jan Hus), considered by all involved a predecessor of Luther, had been burned at the stake despite a similar promise of safe passage.
Luther, though, would not be turned aside. “I shall go to Worms,” he said, “though there be as many devils as tiles on the roofs”
1547 – England’s King Henry VIII died. He was succeeded by his 9 year-old son, Edward VI.
1788 – The first British penal settlement was founded at Botany Bay.
1807 – London’s Pall Mall became the first street lit by gaslight.
1871 – France surrendered in the Franco-Prussian War.
1878 – The first telephone switchboard was installed in New Haven, CT.
1878 – “The Yale News” was published for the first time. It was the first, daily, collegiate newspaper in the U.S.
1902 – The Carnegie Institution was established in Washington, DC. It began with a gift of $10 million from Andrew Carnegie.
1909 – The United States ended direct control over Cuba.
1915 – The Coast Guard was created by an act of Congress to fight contraband trade and aid distressed vessels at sea.
1916 – Louis D. Brandeis was appointed by President Wilson to the U.S. Supreme Court, becoming its first Jewish member.
1922 – The National Football League franchise in Decatur, IL, transferred to Chicago and took the name Chicago Bears.
1935 – Iceland became the first country to introduce legalized abortion.
1945 – During World War II, Allied supplies began reaching China over the newly reopened Burma Road.
1958 – Construction began on first private thorium-uranium nuclear reactor.
1965 – General Motors reported the biggest profit of any U.S. company in history.
1980 – Six Americans who had fled the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran, on November 4, 1979, left Iran using false Canadian diplomatic passports. The Americans had been hidden at the Canadian embassy in Tehran.
1982 – Italian anti-terrorism forces rescued U.S. Brigadier General James L. Dozier. 42 days before he had been kidnapped by the Red Brigades.
1986 – The space shuttle Challenger exploded just after takeoff. All seven of its crew members were killed.
1994 – In Los Angeles, Superior Court Judge Stanley Weisberg declared a mistrial in the case of Lyle Menendez in the murder of his parents. Lyle, and his brother Erik, were both retried later and were found guilty. They were sentenced to life in prison without parole.
1998 – In Manilla, Philippines, gunmen held at least 400 children and teachers for several hours at an elementary school.
Source: On-This-Day.com; christian-history.org