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wrote his old teacher Beatus Rhenanus: Within a short time six of the nuns were “I have no other news to write except that taken in charge by relatives or friends, a few days ago a wagon landed here full while three of them remained in Wittenand loaded down with vestal virgins, asberg, two sisters finding a home with the they call them, who desire as much to Cranachs, and Katharine von Bora with marry as to live. May God provide them the family of a prominent lawyer, Philip husbands, that they may not in course of Reichenbach. Katharine was
a girl of time fall into worse evils !"
considerable spirit, and apparently held As Luther had helped the nuns to her head high. When she reached Witescape, he felt responsible for their wel- tenberg a former student, Walter Baumfare, and put them up temporarily in the gärtner, son of a patrician family of Wittenberg cloister, already emptied of Nuremberg, was visiting Melanchthon. most of its monks.
He and Katharine Immediately after
speedily fell in love, their arrival, he
and it was hoped wrote Spalatin of
a match could be his plans for them,
arranged between expressing the hope
them; but he rethat he could find
turned home in homes for some of
June, and perhaps them and husbands
because of the obfor others. At the
jections of his family same time he asked
to his marriage with for money to sup
an escaped nun, the port them until they
affair was broken off. were properly dis
Nearly a year and posed of, for he was
a half later Luther too poor to help them
still hoped they himself. Luther's
might yet marry and colleague Amsdorf
wrote Baumgärtner: also wrote Spalatin:
“If you wish to keep
von Not nine, but twelve,
Bora, make haste benuns escaped. Nine
fore she is given to of them have come to
another who is at us. They are beautiKATHARINE VON BORA, THE WIFE OF
hand. She has not ful and ladylike, and
yet conquered her all are of noble birth From a medallion made in 1540 and now in the
love for you, and I and under fifty years
church at Kieritzsch.
should certainly reof age. The oldest of
joice to see you joined them, the sister of my gracious lord and to each other." Whether Baumgärtner reuncle, Dr. Staupitz, I have selected, my dear plied to this letter, we do not know. At any brother, as your wife, that you may boastrate, nothing came of it, though Luther, of your brother-in-law, as I boast of my and Katharine, too, for that matter, reuncle. But if you wish a younger one, you mained his friends as long as they lived. may have your choice among the most beau- The new suitor referred by Luther tiful of them. If you desire to give something was the theologian Casper Glatz, rector to the poor, give it to them, for they are of the Wittenberg University. Not finddestitute, and deserted by their friends. I ing him to her liking, Katharine refused pity the creatures. They have neither shoes him, and in March, 1525, when the nor clothes. My dearest brother, I beg, if wealthy bachelor Amsdorf, then pastor of you can get something for them from the the city church in Magdeburg, was visitcourt, you will supply them with food and ing Luther, she begged him to urge the clothing. You must make haste, for they are latter not to force her into a marriage in great poverty and anxiety, but very patient. which was distasteful to her. At the same I wonder indeed how they can be so brave time she naïvely assured him that while and merry when in such distress and want. she was unwilling to marry Glatz, she
would take either Amsdorf himself or von Schönfeld, as he remarked years afterLuther, if she were asked. Amsdorf, feel- ward. But Katharine's suggestion seeming no inclination to marry either then or ingly had its effect. He began to regard later, passed the information on to Luther, her in a new light, and within a few
who began to think of Katharine, ap- weeks had made up his mind to marry her parently for the first time, as a possible himself. She was not beautiful, as her wife for himself.
existing portraits abundantly show, but He had not been attracted by her at Erasmus once spoke of her, probably on first. She seemed over-proud. And if he the authority of Wittenberg friends, as had been in a mood to marry at the time, wonderfully charming, and she was at any he would have preferred her friend Eva ratc a girl of strong character and unusual
gifts. She was highly thought of in Wit- Spalatin not to marry, and so incur tributenberg, where she was known among her lation of the flesh, in April, 1525, he young companions by the name of Katha- wrote him: "Why do you not proceed to rine of Siena, and the best people in town get married? I am urging others with so were her warm friends. When the exiled
many arguments that I am myself almost King Christian of Denmark was visiting persuaded; for our enemies do not cease to Lucas Cranach in the autumn of 1523, he condemn this way of living, and our wisepresented her with a gold ring which she acres daily laugh at it.” A few days later prized as long as she lived. She was cer- he wrote again, in a jocular vein: tainly no ordinary girl, and her remark to Amsdorf shows her own appreciation of
So far as my marriage is concerned, about the fact.
which you write, do not be surprised that I Luther himself had for a long time been
do not marry, celebrated lover as I am. gradually growing accustomed to the Rather wonder that I who write so much thought of marrying. One after another about marriage, and have so much to do of his followers had renounced his priestly with women, am not already a woman myor monastic vows and taken a wife, and self, to say nothing of taking one for a wife. he had been repeatedly urged to do the But if you desire me for an example, behold
For I like. Others were putting his principles I have given you a most signal one. into practice; why should he hold back?
have had three wives at once, and loved It was hoped he would marry a wealthy them so ardently that I have lost two of woman of some prominent family, and them, who have taken other husbands. The more than one eligible young lady was
third I scarcely hold on my left arm, and warmly recommended to him by his am perhaps about to lose her, too. Tardy friends. In the summer of 1521 he wrote
lover as you are, you dare not be the husSpalatin, from the Wartburg: "Good band even of one wife. But take care lest God! will our Wittenbergers give wives it happen that I, with a mind strongly set even to the monks? But they shall not against marriage, yet anticipate your most force a wife on me!” In his Church imminent espousals, for God is accustomed Postil of 1522, after attacking the monas- to do what you least hope. Joking aside, tic vow, he remarked: “I hope I have I say this that I may induce you to do what come so far that by God's grace I can you have in mind. remain as I am. At the same time, I am not yet over the mountain, and do not ven
On the fourth of May, in a letter to ture to boast of my continence.” We hear
the Mansfeld councilor John Rühel conno further references to the matter until cerning the riotous conduct of the peasNovember, 1524, when he wrote Spalatin: ants, he remarked in passing: “If I can I thank Argula for what she writes me
manage it, to spite the devil, I will yet concerning my marrying. I do not wonder
marry my Käthe before I die, if I hear at such gossip, for all sorts of reports are
that the peasants go on as they are doing. circulated about me.
I hope they will not take from me my
Thank her in my name, and tell her I am in God's hands, a
courage and my joy.” On the second of creature whose heart He is able to change bishop of Mayence, urging him to marry
June he wrote an open letter to the Archand change again, to kill and make alive
and turn his dominions into a secular prinevery hour and moment. But so long as I
cipality. The next day he sent a copy of am in my present mood I shall not marry. Not that I do not feel my sex, for my heart
the letter to Rühel with a note in which
he said: is neither wood nor stone; but my inclination is against marriage, for I am in daily If his Electoral Grace should again ask, as expectation of death and of punishment I have heard he has, why I also do not take suited to a heretic. I will not on this ac
a wife, when I am inciting every one else to count set bounds to God's work in me, nor
do it, tell him I am still afraid I am not will I rely upon my own heart. But I hope clever enough. But if my marriage would He will not let me live long.
be an inducement to his Grace, I should be
ready to set him the example, for I have Although in 1521 he had admonished already had it in mind, before departing this
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