The Diet of Worms (1521) was an imperial diet (assembly) of the Holy Roman Empire convened by Emperor Charles V. It was held in the Heylshof Garden in Worms, then a Free Imperial City of the Empire. An imperial diet was a formal deliberative assembly of the entire empire. This is most memorable for the Edict of Worms, which addressed Martin Luther and the effects of the Protestant Reformation. Other imperial diets took place at Worms in the years 829, 926, 1076, 1122, 1495, and 1545, but unless otherwise qualified clearly, the term “Diet of Worms” generally refers to the assembly of 1521.

In June 1520, Pope Leo X condemned 41 of Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses but also gave Luther time to recant. In response, Luther publicly burned the papal bull and refused to renounce his propositions.  Although the emperor should have arrested and executed Luther, the intervention of Luther’s prince, Elector Frederick III the Wise of Saxony, led to the decision that he would appear before an audience in the Diet under the safe conduct of the emperor. WORM DIET: DEFINITION AND SUMMARY

When you hear the word ‘diet’, you probably think of counting calories and restricting food intake. It’s understandable that you might be a bit concerned about connecting the word “diet” with “worms.” However, in the case of this lesson, an imperial diet has nothing to do with food; instead, it is basically a formal assembly or council meeting, sort of like a parliament. So we’re definitely not talking about eating worms!

Throughout the Middle Ages, the Holy Roman Empire frequently held diets to decide important political and religious questions. Remember, during this time, politics and religion were very intertwined. Imperial diets were held periodically in various cities. Heads of state, princes, royalty, and church leaders typically participated.

The Diet of Worms of 1521 was an imperial diet (remember, an assembly) of the Holy Roman Empire. The diet took place in Worms, Germany (pronounced ‘Vurmz’, hence the name).

The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V chaired the meeting. The diet issued the Edict of Worms, which basically prohibited anyone from harboring Martin Luther or providing him with assistance. The edict declared that Luther should be caught and punished as a heretic. The Diet of Worms in 1521 was a turning point in the Protestant Reformation.

The main events of the Diet of Worms related to Luther took place from April 16 to 18, 1521. On April 16, Luther arrived in Worms. Dr. Jeromee Schurff, a Wittenberg professor of Canon Law, would act as Luther’s lawyer before the Diet.

On April 17, the imperial marshal Ulrich von Pappenheim and the herald Caspar Sturm came for Luther. Pappenheim reminded Luther that he was only to speak in response to direct questions from the president, Johann Eck. Eck asked if a collection of books was Luther’s and if he was willing to revoke the heresies from him. Dr. Schurff said, “Please have them read the titles.” WORM DIET: DEFINITION AND SUMMARY

The Council of Constance fathers rejected John Huss’s proposal.
Through the negotiations with his prince, Frederick III, Luther had received a letter of safe conduct to and from the audience. After his dismissal, he left for his house in Wittenberg. However, fearing for Luther’s safety, Frederick III sent men to stage a roadside attack and kidnap Luther, hiding him in the Wartburg Castle. WORM DIET: DEFINITION AND SUMMARY

The papal nuncio to the diet, Girolamo Aleandro, drafted and proposed Luther’s denunciations that were embodied in the Edict of Worms, promulgated on May 26. The edict declared Luther an obstinate heretic and prohibited the reading or possession of his writings.

It was the culmination of an ongoing struggle between Martin Luther and the Catholic Church for reform, especially regarding the practice of giving for indulgences. However, there were other deeper issues that revolved around both theological concerns:

On a theological level, Luther challenged the absolute authority of the Pope over the Church by holding that the doctrine of indulgences, as authorized and taught by the Pope, was wrong.
Luther held that salvation was by faith alone (sola fide) without reference to good works, almsgiving, penance, or the sacraments of the Church.
He also rejected all church beliefs and dogmas not found in Scripture, challenging church authority (sola scriptura). WORM DIET: DEFINITION AND SUMMARY
To protect the authority of the Pope and the Church, as well as to uphold the doctrine of indulgences, church officials convinced Charles V that Luther was a threat and persuaded him to authorize his condemnation by the Holy Roman Empire. Luther wrote and translated the New Testament into German while imprisoned in Wartburg Castle. WORM DIET: DEFINITION AND SUMMARY

What did Luther say at the Diet of Worms?
I cannot and will not retract anything, as it is not safe or right to go against my conscience. God help me. Amen.

What happened at Luther’s trial at Worms in 1521?
Although the emperor should have arrested and executed Luther, the intervention of Luther’s prince, Elector Frederick III the Wise of Saxony, led to the decision that he would appear before an audience in the Diet under the safe conduct of the emperor.

Who protected Luther after the Edict of Worms?
In a crucial period for the early Reformation, Frederick protected Luther from the Pope and the Emperor and detained him in the Wartburg after the Diet of Worms (1521), which placed Luther under imperial ban.

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