October 30th 1517: Martin Luther Causes Shit for the Catholics (originally titled ’95 problems but God aint 1′)

Martin Luther

Martin Luther

So the story of the birth of Protestantism may not immediately stand out as a typical ‘Tudor’ story, but it’s good to understand it’s roots when we examine Henry VIII’s actions / ego. It all kicked off with a bright young thing named Martin Luther, (not to be confused with the ‘I have a dream’ martin Luther king, thought he was named after our Martin Luther, albeit indirectly). Our Martin Luther lived in Germany in the early 1500’s, where he was a friar and Doctor of theology. He single handedly managed to rain such a shit storm on the Catholic Church, that a new religion was born out of the aftermath.

It all started when Luther decided enough was enough. Luther, being a catholic friar himself, had noticed that the Catholic church had started to take the absolute piss by abusing their power and place in society, to exploit the good citizens of Germany for their own financial gain. The priests had been selling ‘indulgences’ – certificates printed by the Catholic church which absolved the dead from their sins and released them from purgatory. Since the priests were quick to tell the public that their dead relatives were being tormented in purgatory and their souls were lost, the good people were shelling out the last of their savings to line the pockets of the greedy priests and ensure their loved ones found their way to heaven.

The priests selling indulgences

The priests selling indulgences

Martin Luther wasn’t having this shit anymore, so set to work to put things right. He decided that the good people of Wittenberg should be enlightened, and introduced to the actual contents of the bible. Prior to this the church had been manipulating the people’s faith for their own gain: mass was conducted in Latin, the bible was written in Latin and the citizens spoke German. With the fear of God instilled into them from the Church, who were they to question the word of the priests? After all they were being given direct orders from Gods representative on Earth…The Pope, and who would challenge him? Martin Luther, that’s who!

On October 30th, 1517, Luther got all badass and nailed a pamphlet to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church. On it were 95 points regarding the catholic teachings which he wanted to raise for debate with academics and priests. He had written it in Latin, (the language of academics at the time), with the intention of it a) being taken seriously as an academic document and not propaganda, and b)not being accessible to the public prior to scrutiny.


ML causing shit

Luther was called up to debate the pamphlet, (which is now called the ‘95 Theses’), with a small assembly of academics and religious figures, amongst which was the Cardinal Thomas Cajeton. Luther and Cajeton argued relentlessly over the pamphlet for days, until they met a stalemate as neither would back down. This was all well and good for the cardinal, but in 1520, Luther was called to answer to Pope Leo X in order to recant. He didn’t obviously, (after all he had some fair points), so the Pope decided to excommunicate him for being a right pain in the arse, causing trouble and ultimately exposing the Catholic Church for the extortionists they were. Luther, who had always been a religious man, now found himself branded a heretic.

Luther found himself narrowly avoiding execution thanks to a man named Frederick III of Saxony. This dude whole heartedly supported Luther, so used his political power to take Luther into his protection. The Roman Emperor Charles V, ordered that Luther’s work be burned but didn’t manage to pursue his execution as he had some other shit to be getting on with.  Luther used his time in hiding to translate the New Testament form Latin into German, thus allowing all and sundry access to its actual teachings. This took 10 years, it’s fair to say most would’ve sacked it off by this point but Luther persisted until it was complete.

Luther’s time in hiding had made him more and more bitter about the Catholic Church. He had now branded the Pope as the Antichrist, and had also turned his attention to scrutinising the Jewish and Islamic teachings. Upon leaving, he found that the German  people now demanded a political and religious change. They  public had embraced his work and a revolution had broken out, this was partly thanks to the introduction of printing press which lead to an increase in books available to the German people, all clueing them up about the crooked ways of the church. These protests were politically driven and lead to fighting firstly across Germany and then throughout Europe. Nobles supported the cause of the newly rising ‘Lutheranism’ religion, funding revolts and spreading the word.

And what was Luther’s reaction to this? Probably not what you’d expect. He was pissed off to shit and called for the fighting to stop.  He was after all a man of God and a seeker of peace, and not quite the medieval version of Richard Dawkins that you would be forgiven for confusing him with. He did however continue to lead the reformation via more peaceful means, and taught around Germany until his death in 1546.

So that’s it, there you have it: The start of the religious reform in Europe, the protests against the church leading to the birth of Protestantism, and the gateway opening for Kings to use a new religion as a key to power. And what of Martin Luther? He had always questioned the celibacy thing with the catholic religion so now decided that since it didn’t really apply to him anymore he would have a crack with the ladies. He married an ex nun and the pair had a bunch of kids. He died at the ripe old age of 62, and was buried in Wittenberg Castle Church, which I think is a boss place for him to be buried.

Martin Luther's death (apparently)

Martin Luther’s death (apparently)

Of course, all of this had a massive impact on Tudor England: At first Henry VIII furiously sided with the Catholic Church against the ‘venomous’ Luther, so much so that Pope Leo X  gave him the title of ‘Fidei defensor’ or ‘Defendor of the Faith’. But like the little cockweasel he was, Henry soon threw his dummy out of the pram and when he was refused a marriage annulment from the Catholic Church in order to legitimately bend it up Anne Boylen, Henry soon changed camps.

I often wonder what Luther would think of Henry, exploiting the new religion for his own gain. Surely Henry became a parody of Luther’s antichrist? Afterall, Henry reinstated himself as the head of the church, taking the money and the power that came with it, and he too used religion to exploit the people. I’m not sure a man who’s brain is in his bell end should have had so much power, but he did and for the next 500+ years politics and religion have caused fighting and unrest in the UK. Well done Henry, ya massive tit.

As for me, coming from a family who half are catholic and the other half protestant I find the subject very interesting. Just for the record I don’t really believe in either: I do like the freedom that comes with Protestantism and the fact that there isn’t gold shit everywhere with the pretense that the church isn’t wealthy, but I also like the smell of the mass incense and free communion wine so what can you do?!

If you found this tudorial interesting, you may also enjoy me having a ramble about how the Tudor’s concealed their controversial religious views. You can find it here: https://thetudorials.com/2015/10/22/how-did-people-hide-and-share-their-religion-in-the-tudor-times/

How did people hide and share their religion in the Tudor times?

a typical priest hole: its not what your thinking

This was a question I was asked to do a video for. To be honest I found it really hard to answer; there is just so much to explain. Anyway, apologies for the rambling chat and gormless expressions, but hope you enjoy it regardless. Because I’m good to you too, below is a link to a blog about the Harvington Hall Priest holes, a good read if you’re interested.
How Tudors Hid their religion

Priest holes of Harvington Hall

The Revolution House, Derbyshire

Thomas Cranmer: Lover, bishop, martyr, badass.

2nd July 1489 – Thomas Cranmer is born


Ive always thought of Thomas Cranmer as a bit of an obscure Tudor, in that he did a lot to shape the country during Henry VIII’s reign and yet never seems to take much of a centre stage despite his importance. He was born in 1489 under the reign of Henry’s dad, Henry VII (they liked the name Henry back then), and rose to fame as the archbishop of Canterbury before being executed by Henry’s daughter Mary at the ripe old age of 67 for the crime of heresy, (I always think it hardly seemed worth executing anybody above 50 in Tudor times as being left to the ravages of old age was probably a far shittier punishment).

Thomas was born to parents of minor gentry and sent off to University in Cambridge to become a priest. However before qualifying, he fell in love and married his first wife Joan so the University kicked him out, (the Catholics didn’t like married priests, but priests were allowed to take a mistress….I don’t get it either).  Anyway within the year Joan died during childbirth and the University, being the understanding bunch that they were, reinstated Cranmers fellowship allowing him to qualify as a priest and eventually a ‘Doctor of Divinity’, which has to be up there amongst the best titles ever. Eventually Cardinal Woolsey (the Popes right hand man in England), came sniffing about for bright young Cambridge scholars to work in Spain as ambassadors to the Pope and Cranmers name cropped up, so off he went.

Meanwhile, Back in England in the 1520’s, Henry VIII was growing fed up with his first wife Katherine. She had not only failed to produce an heir (how selfish), but she had also produced a long list of miscarriages and still born babies. The king was now shitting himself that he would have no heir so turned his attentions to the idea of a new wife to chuck out some boys. In order to do this he needed an annulment (to get around the problem of divorce shitting on the face of the Pope). In order to get an annulment Henry needed a good lawyer,( just like every corrupt noble), and he figured it might be a good move to find somebody from the clergy willing to justify Henry’s actions  to the Pope. Henry chose Thomas Cromwell as his lawyer, and in 1527 he interviewed Thomas Cranmer and decided he was exactly the man he needed to get him out of his 24 year marriage. The men became good pals and decided between them that Henrys marriage contradicted a passage in the bible which stated that you must not marry your brother’s wife. They added evidence to this claim stating that the marriage was cursed and the failure to produce a male heir was proof (they neglected to mention henry’s syphilis). This did not stick in the slightest and they were told by the Pope that it was basically tough shit. He chose to marry Katherine and to abandon her would be an act of heresy and result in excommunication.

In 1532 Thomas found himself in Rome as the ambassador to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, Katharine’s nephew. He was not happy about the annulment either. Anyway, whilst following Charles around Europe, Thomas met his second wife Margarete. He loved her so much that he decided to sack off celibacy (its shit anyway) and his vows to the church and marry her anyway. Shortly after this he got a letter from henry VIII ordering him to return to England to become the Arch Bishop of Canterbury. This was a bit of a fucker for Thomas so he decided that he would hide his wife in exile.

Back in England Henry was still trying desperately to get his annulment from his wife (it went on for 6 years). In 1532 he dropped a massive bollock by getting Anne Boleyn knocked up, (he had promised to marry her in order to bed her, so now the need for divorce was greater than ever). In January 1533 Henry secretly married Anne (and did not tell Cranmer till 2 weeks after, possibly so as not to piss him off whilst working on the annulment bullshit and also so he didn’t get into a hot mess for being a fat arsed bigamist). Anyway all was good when Cranmer came through for Henry in May of the same year, declaring his marriage void.

As you can imagine this did not fly with the pope, so henry went to Cranmer again for help. The two decided they would sack off Catholicism and invent a new religion where Henry could be boss and Cranmer could re-write Holy passages which basically allowed Henry to do what he wants and be thought of as equal to the Pope (in that he was the head of the church of England as the pope was the head of the Roman catholic church).

Cranmer remained faithful to Henry and a load of other less interesting stuff happened: Henry executed Anne after just 3 years of marriage, got remarried to a bird called Jane who gave him his heir and died in the process. He also married Anne of Cleeves and decided he didn’t like her so Cranmer helped the king ditch her only to go  forward to marry a girl of 19, (when he was 49 like a dirty old bastard), called Katherine Howard. Katherine was his ‘rose without thorns’…his words, and he was besotted with her, giving her wealth beyond her wildest dreams and bragging about all the sex they had been having (imagine the poor girl having that fat oink writing on you with his old body and stinking, ulcerated leg. Not exactly a turn on).

Being a girl of 19 in a court full of hot young lads, It didn’t take long for Katherine’s eyes to wander and they fell upon the youthful face of Thomas Culpepper (member of the Kings privy council). They began an affair and it also came out that she had shagged a couple of dudes before she had met the king and not quite been the virgin he had taken her to be. Nobody wanted to tell the king of his new wife infidelities so the job was handed to Cranmer. Cranmer, being the brave, fearless man he was, slipped a note informing the king of all Katherine’s shenanigans under his chair at mass. The king upon finding this note was most pissed off and decided to send wife number 5 to the block at the tender age of 19.

The execution of poor Katherine Howard

The execution of poor Katherine Howard

When Henry VIII died in 1547, Cranmer was all about Protestantism. He gave so few fucks about what the Catholics thought that he almost seeming only purpose went out of his way to piss them off. Under the Reign of the boy king Edward VI, who was also a big fan of Protestantism, (after all it had assisted his dad in binning off 2 wives prior to knobbing his Ma and spawning the sickly lad), Thomas Cranmer was allowed to run wild. He was given free reign to the changed he though necessary to the church in order to make it a bit less catholic and also write two books of prayer.

When Ed died Thomas supported his successor, the protestant ‘nine day queen’ Lady Jane Grey. The thought of Lady Jane inheriting the throne pissed loads of people off. Edwards sisters, (Princess’ Mary and Elizabeth), had both been declared bastards by Henry and moreover, if Mary (who’s turn it was next) inherited the throne she would try and make the country Catholic again…she was having none of Edward Protestant bullshit. Likewise, Edward wasn’t about to risk the Catholics coming back and the Pope laying some smackdown on his country or losing the gold looted from the monasteries some years earlier by his Dad, so he did the sensible thing and named their cousin Jane as the next sovereign.

Long story short, Mary went fucking mental, rallied an army, marched on London like a banshee, told Jane she would be spared if she converted to Catholicism, Jane told her to cock off so was totally executed. This meant Mary inherited the throne of England and Cranmer swiftly ran out of allies.

And so to poor Thomas’ end. Mary was a psycho bitch. She fucking HATED Protestants and loved nothing more than torturing, hanging and setting fire to them. Thomas Cranmer being the King of the Protty’s now found himself in deep shit. Mary had Cranmer arrested and put on trial for the crime of heresy, he was told that if he recanted all would be OK, so he did. He basically told the court that Protestantism was crap and Catholicism was amazing, but they did not believe him, (can’t think why), so Cranmer was sentenced to death.

Upon his death took back his recantation, stating that the Pope was the antichrist and that he had cleared his conscience before his death, basically stating that because he had nothing to loose he was going to let the world know his thoughts about the catholic reign. He was then tied to the woodpile with chains and set alight. Thomas then did something totally fucking awesome and shoved his first recantation (the one which said he now likes Catholics), into the fire first, held it there whilst the paper burnt (and his hand with it), and said ‘this unworthy right hand’, before being consumed by the flames.


After surviving Henry VII, HenryVIII, Edward VI and Lady Jane Grey, Thomas was executed by the hand of Mary I at the ripe old age of 67.

Thomas Cranmer…religious badboy.