Christian Travelers Guides

Christian Travelers Guides

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Magdeburg where Luther began high school

Magdeburg is not high on most ­people’s list of places to visit in Ger­many. The town was extensively damaged by wartime bombing and is only slowly recovering from 40 years of Communist neglect. Never­the­less, anyone interested in German history or the Reformation has to visit this historic city.

Magdeburg in 1572
 Originally a trading center, Magdeburg is first mentioned in 805. Later the town became the site of a famous Benedictine monastery built by Emperor Otto I, the Great (912 – 73) in 937. It was elevated to an archbishopric in 968 and played an important role as a center for evangelism in Eastern Europe.

As a powerful and rich member of the Hanseatic League, which was a confederation of free trading cities, the city prospered. Its people welcomed the Reformation as early as 1524.

General Johann Tserclaes Count Tilly (1559-1632)

Almost a century later, Imperial Catholic armies under General Johann Tserclaes Tilly (1559-1632) stormed the city on May 20, 1631, after a six-month siege. At the time of the attack, the defenders were engaged in discussions about a possible surrender. They were taken by surprise and quickly overwhelmed after a fierce battle that lasted a few hours. The city fell, and Tilly retired to the cathedral to say Mass as his troops went on the rampage. A fire started and within hours destroyed the entire city, except for the cathedral and one other church. Over 30,000 people perished in the carnage and the fire.

News about the fate of Protestant Magdeburg was seized upon by the Swedish King  Gustavus Adolphus (1594-1632) and Protestant propagandists as an example of “Catholic barbarity” and quickly spread throughout Europe. Thus, the destruction of Magdeburg became the 17th-century equivalent of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan and the fate of the Jews in Auschwitz
To be continued …
Gustavus Adolphus (1594-1632)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Mansfeld – Where Luther Grew Up

About ten miles north-west of Eisleben is the small town of Mansfeld which is  where Martin Luther grew up. His parents moved from Eisleben to Mansfeld when he was six months old. As a result he received all of his earl education in the town before moving away to study first in Magdeburg and later in Eisenach.

Mansfled was founded in the late tenth century and is mentioned in records dating back to 973 when it was paird with the town of Leimbach. A dispute settled by Emperor Otto II between the Archbishop of Magdeburg and the Archbishop of Fulda gave the area to Magedeburg.

In 1229 the town became the residence of the Dukes of Mansfeld after the area became important dues to rich copper deposits in the area. In 1884 Hans Luder, who changed his name to Luther, moved to Mansfeld with his family. There he prospered as a result of his business dealings in the copper smelting business.

The residence of the Dukes of Mansfeld
Later Martin Luther liked to say that he was of peasant stock and that his father was a miner. This was technically correct and no doubt the way the family talked about things. But, in reality his father rose well above the position of a miner to enter the growing middle class.

When the Luthers first left Eisleben it was approximately a three hour walk to reach Mansfelf. Today it takes about fifteen minutes by car. 

The town is overlooked by the ruins of the residences of the Dukes one of which is a dilapidated youth center. Currently it is undergoing renovation and promises to be an interesting place.

The family home of the Luther family where Martin Luther grew up

 In the town itself one can visit the family home of Luther as well as his old school. Both are clearly marked. There is also a fascinating fountain with a statue of the young Luther. 

The Luther fountain near his old school and the local church he attended