On This Day, Jan. 3, 1521 – Martin Luther Excommunicated for Heresy
1521 – Pope Leo X excommunicated Martin Luther for heresy.
Ordinarily, those condemned as heretics were apprehended by an authority of the secular government and put to death by burning. In Luther’s case, however, a complex set of factors made such punishment impossible. The new German king (and Holy Roman emperor), Charles V, had agreed as a condition of his election that no German would be convicted without a proper hearing; many, including Luther himself, were convinced that Luther had not been granted this right. Others noted various formal deficiencies in Exsurge Domine, including the fact that it did not correctly quote Luther and that one of the sentences it condemned was actually written by another author. Still others thought that Luther’s call for reform deserved a more serious hearing. A proposal was therefore circulated that Luther should be given a formal hearing when the imperial Diet convened in Worms later in the spring.
Understandably, the papal nuncio Girolamo Aleandro, who represented the Curia in the Holy Roman Empire, vehemently rejected this idea. His position was clear: a convicted heretic did not warrant a hearing. The Diet could do nothing other than endorse the ecclesiastical verdict and bring the heretic to his deserved judgment. Charles shared Aleandro’s sentiment but realized that the idea of giving Luther a hearing enjoyed widespread support in Germany.
Charles’s adviser Mercurino Gattinara, mindful of the need for good relations with the estates (the three main orders of society—clergy, nobility, and townspeople), repeatedly urged the emperor not to issue an edict against Luther without their full consent. Gattinara’s caution was justified, because in February the estates refused to support an edict condemning Luther’s writings and instead urged that, in view of the restlessness of the commoners, Luther be cited to appear before the Diet “to the benefit and advantage of the entire German nation, the Holy Roman Empire, our Christian faith, and all estates.” Charles acceded, and on March 6, 1521, he issued a formal invitation to Luther to appear before the estates assembled in Worms.
Charles’s apparent surrender was perhaps the only acceptable resolution of the matter; even Aleandro could easily convince himself that Luther’s citation was in the best interest of the church. If Luther recanted, the problem of his heresy would be removed; if he did not, the estates could no longer refuse to endorse formal action against him.
1496 – References in Leonardo da Vinci notebooks suggested that he tested his flying machine. The test didn’t succeed and he didn’t try to fly again for several years.zooba
1777 – The Battle of Princeton took place in the War of Independence, in which George Washington defeated the British forces, led by Cornwallis.
1815 – By secret treaty, Austria, Britain, and France formed a defensive alliance against Prusso-Russian plans to solve the Saxon and Polish problems.
1823 – Stephen F. Austin received a grant from the Mexican government and began colonization in the region of the Brazos River in Texas.
1825 – The first engineering college in the U.S. , Rensselaer School, opened in Troy, NY. It is now known as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
1833 – Britain seized control of the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic. About 150 years later, Argentina seized the islands from the British, but Britain took them back after a 74-day war.
1868 – The Shogunate was abolished in Japan and Meiji dynasty was restored.
1888 – The drinking straw was patented by Marvin C. Stone.
1924 – English explorer Howard Carter discovered the sarcophagus of Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings, near Luxor, Egypt.
1925 – In Italy, Mussolini announced that he would take dictatorial powers.
1938 – The March of Dimes was established by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
1947 – U.S. Congressional proceedings were televised for the first time. Viewers in Washington, Philadelphia and New York City saw some of the opening ceremonies of the 80th Congress.
1951 – NBC-TV debuted “Dragnet.”
1953 – Frances Bolton and her son, Oliver from Ohio, became the first mother-son combination to serve at the same time in Congress.
1957 – The Hamilton Watch Company introduced the first electric watch.
1959 – Alaska became the 49th state.
1961 – The U.S. severed diplomatic relations with Cuba.
1962 – Pope John XXIII excommunicated Cuban prime minister Fidel Castro.
1967 – Jack Ruby died in a Dallas hospital.
1973 – The Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) sold the New York Yankees to a 12-man syndicate headed by George Steinbrenner for $10 million.
1980 – Conservationist Joy Adamson, author of “Born Free,” was killed in northern Kenya by a servant.
1988 – Margaret Thatcher became the longest-serving British Prime Minister in the 20th century.
1990 – Ousted Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega surrendered to U.S. forces, 10 days after taking refuge in the Vatican’s diplomatic mission.
1993 – U.S. President George H.W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in Moscow.
1995 – WHO reported that the cumulative total of officially reported cases of AIDS had risen to 1,025,073 in 192 countries as at the end of 1994.
2000 – Charles M. Schulz’s final original daily comic strip appeared in newspapers.
2004 – NASA’s Spirit rover landed on Mars. The craft was able to send back black and white images three hours after landing.
Source: On-This-Day.com; Britanica.com