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gifts. She was highly thought of in Wittenberg, where she was known among her young companions by the name of Katharine of Siena, and the best people in town were her warm friends. When the exiled King Christian of Denmark was visiting Lucas Cranach in the autumn of 1523, he presented her with a gold ring which she prized as long as she lived. She was certainly no ordinary girl, and her remark to Amsdorf shows her own appreciation of the fact.
Luther himself had for a long time been gradually growing accustomed to the thought of marrying. One after another of his followers had renounced his priestly or monastic vows and taken a wife, and he had been repeatedly urged to do the like. Others were putting his principles into practice; why should he hold back? It was hoped he would marry a wealthy woman of some prominent family, and more than one eligible young lady was warmly recommended to him by his friends. In the summer of 1521 he wrote Spalatin. from the Wartburg: "Good God! will our Wittenbergers give wives even to the monks? But they shall not force a wife on me!" In his Church Postil of 1522, after attacking the monastic vow, he remarked: "I hope I have come so far that by God's grace I can remain as I am. At the same time, I am not yet over the mountain, and do not venture to boast of my continence." We hear no further references to the matter until November, 1524, when he wrote Spalatin:
I thank Argula for what she writes me concerning my marrying. I do not wonder at such gossip, for all sorts of reports are circulated about me. Thank her in my name, and tell her I am in God's hands, a
creature whose heart He is able to change and change again, to kill and make alive every hour and moment. But so long as I am in my present mood I shall not marry. Not that I do not feel my sex, for my heart is neither wood nor stone; but my inclination is against marriage, for I am in daily expectation of death and of punishment suited to a heretic. I will not on this account set bounds to God's work in me, nor will I rely upon my own heart. But I hope He will not let me live long.
Spalatin not to marry, and so incur tribulation of the flesh, in April, 1525, he wrote him: "Why do you not proceed to get married? I am urging others with so many arguments that I am myself almost persuaded; for our enemies do not cease to condemn this way of living, and our wiseacres daily laugh at it." A few days later he wrote again, in a jocular vein:
So far as my marriage is concerned, about which you write, do not be surprised that I do not marry, celebrated lover as I am.
Rather wonder that I who write so much about marriage, and have so much to do with women, am not already a woman myself, to say nothing of taking one for a wife. But if you desire me for an example, behold I have given you a most signal one.
have had three wives at once, and loved
them so ardently that I have lost two of them, who have taken other husbands. The third I scarcely hold on my left arm, and am perhaps about to lose her, too. Tardy lover as you are, you dare not be the husband even of one wife. But take care lest it happen that I, with a mind strongly set against marriage, yet anticipate your most imminent espousals, for God is accustomed to do what you least hope. Joking aside, I say this that I may induce you to do what you have in mind.
On the fourth of May, in a letter to the Mansfeld councilor John Rühel concerning the riotous conduct of the peasants, he remarked in passing: "If I can manage it, to spite the devil, I will yet marry my Käthe before I die, if I hear that the peasants go on as they are doing. I hope they will not take from me my courage and my joy." On the second of bishop of Mayence, urging him to marry June he wrote an open letter to the Archand turn his dominions into a secular principality. The next day he sent a copy of the letter to Rühel with a note in which he said:
If his Electoral Grace should again ask, as I have heard he has, why I also do not take a wife, when I am inciting every one else to do it, tell him I am still afraid I am not clever enough. But if my marriage would 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
life, to enter the married state, which I regard as commanded by God.
Ten days later, on Tuesday, June 13, he and Käthe were married in the cloister, in the presence only of Jonas, dean of the castle church; Bugenhagen, the city pastor; Apel, a colleague of the law faculty; and the town councilor Lucas Cranach and his wife. In a letter written the next day to Spalatin, who was at the time in Torgau, Jonas announced Jonas announced the event, speaking of the mingled emotions with which he had witnessed it, and added: "To-day he gave a small breakfast. fitting service I suppose will be held in due time, when you also will be present.' Two days later Bugenhagen wrote Spalatin: "Malicious talk has brought it to pass
that Dr. Martin has unexpectedly become a husband. After a few days we have thought these sacred nuptials should be celebrated before all the world by a public ceremony, to which you also without doubt will be invited."
Accordingly, a fortnight later, on the twenty-seventh of the month, a service was held in the city church, and a weddingfeast was given in the cloister, Luther's father and mother, with a large circle of friends, being present. A few extracts from the invitations sent out for this occasion are worth quoting for the light they throw upon the mood he was in and the motives prompting him to marry.
To Rühel and two other Mansfeld councilors he wrote:
What an outcry, dear sirs, I have caused with my book against the peasants! All is forgotten that God has done for the world through me. Lords, priests, peasants, and everybody else are now against me, and threaten me with death. Well and good, since they are so mad and foolish, I have determined before my death to be found in the state ordained of God, and so far as I can to rid myself entirely of my former popish life, and make them still madder and more foolish, all for a parting gift. For I have a presentiment that God will one day give me His grace. So, at my dear father's desire, I have now married, and have done it in haste that I might not be hindered by these talkers. A week from Tuesday I purpose giving a small party, which I want you as good friends to know about, and I
The report is true that I married Katharine suddenly that I might not be compelled to hear the noisy talk customary on such an occasion. I hope I shall still live for a little while, and this last service I did not wish to refuse my father, who asked it of me. At the same time I wished to confirm what I had taught by my deed, for I find so many pusillanimous despite the light of the gospel. Thus God has willed and done. For I am not passionately in love, but I esteem my wife. And hence to celebrate my marriage I shall give a banquet next Tuesday, when my parents will be present. I want especially to have you here; wherefore I now invite you, and beg you will not stay away if you can possibly help it.
To Marshal von Dolzigk:
Doubtless you have heard the news of my venture upon the sea of matrimony. Although it seems strange enough to me, and I can hardly believe it myself, the witnesses are so positive that I am obliged in honor to credit them. I have therefore undertaken, with my father and mother and other good friends, to set a stamp upon the affair and make it certain by a banquet to be given next Tuesday. I beg that, if convenient, you will kindly support me with venison, and will be present yourself and help seal the affair with joy, and do whatever else the circumstances demand.
To Leonard Koppe:
Suddenly and unexpectedly God has taken me captive in the bonds of holy matrimony, so that I must confirm it with a banquet on Tuesday. That my father and mother and all my good friends may be the merrier, my Lord Katharine and I beg you will send us as soon as possible, at my expense, a keg of the best Torgau beer you can find. I will pay all the costs. I would have sent a wagon, but I did not know whether I could find what I wanted. For it must be sea
soned and cool, that it may taste well. If it is not good, I have determined to punish you by making you drink it all yourself. In addition, I beg that you and your Audi will not stay away, but will appear in good spirits. Bring with you Master Gabriel and his wife, if you can do it without expense to him, for I well know he is almost as poor as I am.
Luther's marriage raised a great hue and cry. The union of a renegade monk with an escaped nun, violating as it did their own personal vows, and ecclesiastical and civil law as well, seemed to many to throw a sinister light upon the whole reformation movement. Now, they declared, the significance of the Reformation was revealed to all the world, and it was clear what Luther had had in mind from the beginning. Satirical attacks appeared in great numbers. Slanderous tales were spread about him and his bride. Even many of his friends were thrown into consternation, and feared he had dealt a death-blow to the cause. The lawyer Jerome Schurf, when he heard the report that Luther was contemplating marriage, remarked: "If this monk takes a wife, the whole world and the devil himself will laugh, and all the work he has accomplished will come to naught." Others, though wishing to see him married, regretted that he had chosen Käthe rather than some woman of wealth and position. The time, too, seemed to almost everybody particularly inopportune. His prince and supporter, the Elector Frederick, had died only a month before, and all Saxony was still mourning him, as Luther was, too, for that matter. Moreover, the peasants' war was not yet ended, and the whole country was in an uproar. In these circumstances many not unnaturally felt as though the great re
former's mind and heart should have been full of other things than marriage.
But Luther, as usual, was unmoved by the criticisms of his friends and the attacks of his foes, and never regretted what he had done. His reasons for the step were many. The varying accounts he gives of them are doubtless all true to the facts. His motives were complicated, as might be expected, and he could not himself have analyzed them fully. He had long believed and taught that marriage was higher than celibacy, and the conviction had been forcing itself upon him that he ought sometime to put his principle into practice, and thus bear public testimony to his own attitude and give his followers the benefit of his example. He had at first no personal inclination to the step. He had had very little to do with women, and was so absorbed in his great work that marriage was the last thing he cared for. But the unhappy experiences of the spring of 1525 led him to believe the end of the world, or, at any rate, his own death, imminent, and he began to think it time to marry, if he was ever to do so. His naturally belligerent temper, excited to an unusual pitch at this time, also urged him
The more his enemies raged against him, the more he loved to provoke them. Many men in his position, Melanchthon for instance, would have avoided all unnecessary grounds of offense; but Luther was of a different type. Though he would do nothing his conscience disapproved, he was glad enough when his deeds offended those opposed to him. As he often said, he never felt so confident he was right as when they denounced his conduct.
It is not surprising, the situation being what it was, that Katharine's suggestion to Amsdorf should find him in a receptive mood. To marry a nun would only make his testimony the stronger and the hostility of his opponents the more bitter. As if all this were not enough, he visited his parents in Mansfeld late in April, and was impressed with his father's eager desire that his oldest son, now finally freed from his monastic bonds, should marry, as he had wished him to do long years before. To please him thus became an added motive for the step. And it may be he felt he owed something to Käthe herself, whom he had assisted to escape from the convent, and for whom he had failed as yet to find a
husband. Perhaps he was thinking of this when he once remarked that he married his Käthe out of pity.
When he came to an understanding with Käthe we do not know. He probably met with no obstacles from her after he had decided to press his suit, and his courtship, it may fairly be presumed, was brief and matter of fact enough. Neither he nor Käthe was violently in love. Her willingness to accept either him or Amsdorf shows that her own heart was not deeply engaged, and Luther himself no doubt correctly described his feelings toward her in the letter to Amsdorf already quoted. But a protracted engagement was the last thing he desired. Constantly under the eyes of the whole world as he was, with enemies and friends observing his every movement, he naturally wished the matter concluded as speedily as possible. Years later he remarked, "It is very dangerous to put off your wedding, for Satan gladly interferes and makes great trouble through evil talkers, slanderers, and friends of both parties. If I had not married quickly and secretly, and taken few into my confidence, every one would have done what he could to hinder me; for all my best friends cried, 'Not this one, but another.'"
Melanchthon, who was kept in the dark until the wedding was over, was almost beside himself with annoyance. On the sixteenth of June he wrote the following characteristic letter to an intimate friend:
On the thirteenth of June, without in forming any of his friends of his intention, Luther unexpectedly married Von Bora. The customary ceremony took place in the evening. Bugenhagen and Lucas the painter and Apel alone being invited to the feast. You will perhaps wonder that in this unhappy time, while good and right-minded men are everywhere sore distressed, he does not sorrow with them, but rather, as it seems, là es voluptuously and tarnishes his reputation, when Germany specially needs his wisdom and strength. I suppose it has happened in this wise. The man is very accommodating, and the nuns tell upon him and plotted against him with all their wiles. Perhaps his much association with them though le à bonerable and high-minded. softened or even infamed him. In this way be seems to have tallen into this untimely
alteration of his mode of living. But the rumor that he misbehaved with her beforehand is an evident lie. Now the deed is done, you ought not to take it ill or find fault with it. I suppose marriage is a natural necessity; and the married life, though humble, is at the same time holy and more pleasing to God than celibacy. Because I see that Luther himself is in somewhat low spirits and disturbed over the change, I try as earnestly and wisely as possible to encourage him, for he has as yet done nothing deserving to be called unworthy or inexcusable. I still have evidences of his piety, and so cannot condemn him. Besides, I should prefer to have him humble rather than exalted and lifted up. The latter is dangerous not only for the clergy, but for all other men as well. For success becomes the occasion of evil thoughts, not only, as the rhetorician says, to the foolish, but also to the wise. Then, too, I hope his marriage will make him more sober, and lead him to give up the buffoonery we have often blamed him for.
Luther evidently understood his friend, and had good reason for not taking him into his confidence. But despite Melanchthon's impatience at the event, he was soon reconciled to the new order of things, and became a stanch friend and warm admirer of Frau Käthe.
Luther himself, though not at first deeply in love, grew very fond of his wife, and cherished her warmly to the end of his life. We have only a few of the many letters he wrote her. They contain no particular endearments beyond the greeting "Meine herzliebe Käthe" in one case, and the signature "Dein Liebchen" in others. But they show clearly the good terms on which husband and wife lived and the sympathy and understanding they could count upon from each other. In the summer of 1526 he wrote a friend: "Kathe sends greetings, and thanks you for thinking her worthy of such a kind letter. She is well, by the grace of God, and is in all things more compliant, obedient, and obliging than I had dared to hope.-thanks be to God-so that I would not exchange my poverty for the wealth of Cross Some years later, reterring to his marriage, he remarked: "It has turned out well. God be thanked! For I have a pics and true wite, on whom
her husband's heart can rely." To Käthe herself he once said: "Käthe, you have a pious husband who loves you. You are an empress." And on other occasions he declared he held her dearer than the kingdom of France and the dominions of Venice, and even loved her better than his own life. To be sure, he did not think her perfect. He recognized her faults as well as his own.
He was hot-tempered,
and she had a quick tongue, and often hard words passed between them. But despite such temporary ebullitions, they lived for the most part on good terms, and he found her congenial despite the great difference in their temperaments and interests.
The following words throw a flood of light upon the experiences of his married life:
Ah, dear Lord, marriage is not an affair of nature, but a gift of God. It is the sweetest and dearest, yes, purest life. It is far better than celibacy when it turns out well; but when it turns out ill, it is hell. For though all women as a rule know the art of taking a man captive with tears, lies, and persuasions, and are able to distort everything and employ fair words, nevertheless, when truth and faith, children and fruits
of love, are there, and marriage is regarded
as holy and divine, then it is indeed a blessed state. How eagerly I longed for my dear ones as I lay deadly ill at Schmalkalden! I thought I should never again see wife and
children here. How I mourned over the separation! I am convinced that the natural longing and love a husband has for his wife and parents for their children are greatest of all in those who are dying. Now that I am by God's grace well again, I cherish my wife and children so much the more. No one is so spiritual as not to feel such inborn love and longing. For the union and communion of man and wife are a great thing.
Luther's ideas about woman were not modern. She was the weaker vessel, he maintained, and was made to be subject to the man. Her true life was in the home. The faithful, obedient, and efficient wife fulfilled the highest ideal of womanhood. The eloquent description of a virtuous woman in the thirty-first chapter of Proverbs he regarded as valid for his own time and all times. Of the so-called emancipation of the sex he knew nothing, and
would have been entirely out of sympathy with it, had he heard of it. But he performed an incalculable service in dignifying married life and ascribing to it a sacredness above the career of monk or nun. Instead of a temptation to a less perfect way of living, as woman was too commonly represented by the religious teachers of the middle ages, he saw in her one ordained of God to be the companion and helpmate of man, and in their union, not in their separation, he found the ideal life. Religion had been making too much. of the abnormal. Luther's greatest service to the modern world lay in his recognition of the normal human relationships as the true sphere for the development of the highest religious, as of the highest moral, character.
Luther's marriage took place in the cloister where he had lived ever since he came to Wittenberg. Here he and Käthe. made their home for the rest of their lives. It was a roomy building, and had accommodated at one time as many as forty monks. While Luther was at the Wartburg, its inmates, under the influence of his teaching, began to renounce monasticism and to return to the world. He himself had no inclination to follow their
example. Writing to Link in December, 1521, he said: "Do thou meanwhile continue with Jeremiah in the ministry of Babylon, for I also will remain in this
habit and rite unless the world become another."
The exodus went on steadily until in 1523 only Luther himself and the prior Brisger remained in residence. Although criticized and laughed at both by enemies and friends for not putting his own principles into practice, and turning his back upon the monastic life, he continued for a long time to observe the monastic rules and to keep up the required devotions. But gradually one after another of the traditional ceremonies and practices fell into abeyance, until finally the building ceased to be a monastery in aught but name. At the same time the traditional monastic hospitality was still maintained, and the place was overrun with escaped monks and others temporarily in need.
In 1523, Luther laid off the monastic dress when in the convent, but continued to wear it in public, "to strengthen the weak and to spite the pope," as he re