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The Vow of Martin Luther *

This is the year when everything changes for Martin Luther. He has graduated from the University of Erfurt with a master's degree and has entered immediately into law school. His father has picked his path and as he returns home for celebration, his father speaks of arranging a marriage. Seeing his future before him with every day looking much like the next, he flees from his family to a monastery. Along the way a thunder storm rises up and a lightening bolt strikes. He is so frightened he shouts, "Help, dear Saint Anna! I will become a monk!" He knows that if he doesn't act soon he will lose his resolve so he sells his law books, gives a farewell dinner for his friends and enters the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt. He is 21 years old. By the time he is 34 he will change the Western World. [1] [2]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
For those unfamiliar with the significance of Martin Luther, initially he will lead Church reform called "The Reformation." By tradition he will nail his list of demands on a Wittenberg church door. It's inspiring, but that was only one account. Other accounts were more sedate. Unfortunately, the Church will disagree with Martin Luther, excommunicate him and the Protestant Movement will come into being. You might find this difficult to believe but despite all the commotion and bad feelings this is going to create, Christianity is going to become a whole lot better overall because of Martin Luther and the many who will follow. Hang in there. Eyes on the prize.

Poland's Golden Liberty and Silver Serfdom

The King of Poland agrees to a limited democracy for every Polish noble. The Act of Nihil Novi requires the king to be elected like a president and the commonwealth will be made up of all the nobles, each granted equal legal status. A parliament will be held every 2 years. A bill of rights that has already been negotiated with the king is now in force. Religious freedom will be granted in the future. It's not exactly the Constitution of the United States but it is considered the beginnings of a modern democracy. [3] [4] [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Now for the bad news. Only 10% of the population will have these freedoms with no path for the peasants to ever find those democratic freedoms for themselves. This will lead to a "second serfdom" imposed on the peasants by the nobles. Thus, even though we can take heart that certain critical ideas are being introduced here, there is still a long way to go. In the 20th century, some people will look back on this Golden Liberty and call it the "Jewish Liberty" as if the Jews were somehow part of these special privileges. This is a modern invention and possibly antisemitic. Jews held a special status in the Middle Ages but don't mistake "special" for "better". In the military your sergeant might assign "special duty" for you but that usually doesn't translate into anything good for you.

Bermúdez Discovers Bermuda

Juan de Bermúdez is on a supply run on his ship, the Garza. On his way to Hispaniola he spots an island which will eventually carry his name... Bermuda. He will return a few years later and drop off some pigs so that they can breed on the island. Ever the supply officer, his intent is to provide an easy food source for passing sailors. [6]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Basic logistics can be dangerous work but Bermúdez is not exactly the great explorer of the western world either. Nevertheless, there are a lot of features to find out there and supply ships making runs from A to B are finding their fair share. Three years ago a Portuguese supply ship found Guanabara Bay, a massive bay which they mistook as the mouth of a great river. They called it Rio de Janeiro. [7]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1505, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Martin Luther: The Man and His Work (PUBLIC DOMAIN BOOK), The Century Company, 16-17. “Luther's life was full of startling and unexpected crises, and the first and most startling of them all came in the summer of 1505, after he had been a law-student for only a few weeks. He had just been home for a brief visit. His progress in his work had been all that could be desired, and his parents pride and hope were higher than ever, when suddenly, to the consternation of everybody and to the wrath of his father, who was already thinking of an honorable marriage for him which should still further improve his prospects, he threw it all up and went into a monastery. The immediate occasion of this extraordinary step was a terrific thunder-storm which overtook him just outside the town when he was returning from his visit home. In mortal dread of death, he threw himself on the ground, crying to the patron saint of the miners, to whom he had often turned in seasons of distress: "Help, dear Saint Anna! I will become a monk."” 
  2. Martin Luther - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 20 January 2015. “During a thunderstorm, a lightning bolt struck near him. Later telling his father he was terrified of death and divine judgment, he cried out, 'Help! Saint Anna, I will become a monk!'”
  3. Krzywoszynski, Przemyslaw (December 2012) (JOURNAL). The Origins of Religious Liberty within Modern Democracy: Some Remarks on Poland's 'Golden Freedom'. Annales UMCS, Politologia. 19. Poland: The Journal of Maria Curie-Sklodowska University. http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/curie.2012.19.issue-2/v10226-012-0016-8/v10226-012-0016-8.xml. Retrieved 21 January 2015. "In this paper, I consider the Polish nobles' democracy as an example of religious tolerance in theory and practice that functioned in the time of violent and brutal religious wars in Western Europe. This case is interesting in many aspects, as it also constitutes an example of one of the first democracies in which religious freedom and freedom of expression were key elements.". 
  4. Golden Liberty - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 21 January 2015.
  5. Nihil novi: Facts, Discussion Forum, and Encyclopedia Article. AbsoluteAstronomy.com (2015). Retrieved on 21 January 2015. “Nihil novi is often regarded as initiating the period in Polish history known as 'Nobles' Democracy,' which was but a limited democracy as only males with titles of nobility were able to participate (the nobility constituting some ten percent of the Republic's population, nevertheless a higher eligible percentage than much of Europe).”
  6. Juan de Bermúdez - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 21 January 2015. “Garza”
  7. Guanabara Bay - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 21 January 2015.

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