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Nuns in a Barrel ... Risking Everything for Reform *

Martin Luther is now getting requests. He receives a letter telling him how much they agree with his call for reform and asking for help with a special problem. He calls on a friend who is a city councilman and merchant who makes regular deliveries to the local convent. As the merchant pulls away from the convent, his wagon holds 13 barrels, each of which weigh about the same as a nun and smelling like herring. One of those nuns is named Katharina von Bora and she will one day become the wife of Martin Luther. [1]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
It is obvious that the people are ripe for the message of Reform. Things don't fall apart this fast in a world where communication is limited to letters and pamphlets sent by wagon down muddy roads to towns with a literacy rate so low it would make the average modern high school drop out seem like a tireless scholar. Yet... there are people willing to carry a message they consider more important than their mortal lives. This year Johann Esch and Heinrich Voes will become the first to be burned at the stake for becoming adherents of the Reformation. Martin Luther will write a hymn to these martyrs entitled, "A New Song Shall Now Be Begun." [2]

The Chinese Get Portuguese Cannons

The Chia-ching Emperor of China receives multiple breech-loading culverins as a gift. It's not clear who exactly is giving this gift, but a culverin is a type of cannon, from the smallest portable cannon weighing about 80 pounds to massive brutes on ships. These cannons are Portuguese in make, and the Emperor is delighted. His engineers will copy this design and in the years to come they will buy Portuguese arquebuses [ARK-keh-buses]. The Portuguese are competitors with the Chinese in the market place but there are some goods that the Chinese must have and they will get them from Portuguese. [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
It is going to be a love-hate relationship. The Chinese want the Portuguese goods and the Portuguese want Chinese goods, yet the Chinese just won't be able to stop themselves from placing restrictions on trade even to the extent of building separate market places and using price controls. It won't work but they will do it over and over again, in some cases even leading to armed conflict with the Portuguese. [5]

The End of the Kalmar Union

Remember the Stockholm Bloodbath? King Christian the 2nd of Denmark invited the Swedish rebels to work things out and he worked it out by killing them or imprisoning them. Well... the chickens have come home to roost. The son of one of the rebels has taken the throne of Sweden and he's going to keep it for a good long time. King Christian had acted in bad faith and now he has lost a critical member of Kalmar Union. There is no Union now. [6]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The new King of Sweden is Gustav the 1st of the House of Vasa. The House of Vasa will be around for a very long time and will produce Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, a critical leader in the 30 Years' War of the next century... perhaps one of the greatest generals of all time. [7]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1523, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Katharina von Bora - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 18 February 2015. “On Easter eve, 4 April 1523, Luther sent Leonhard Köppe, a city councilman of Torgau and merchant who regularly delivered herring to the monastery. The nuns successfully escaped by hiding in Köppe's covered wagon among the fish barrels, and fled to Wittenberg.”
  2. Martin Luther Lyrics – A New Song Shall Now Be Begun « ConradAskland.com. conradaskland.com (1523). Retrieved on 18 February 2015. “On July 1, 1523, the infant Reformation saw executed in the Brussels market place Heinrich Voes and Johann Esch, two Belgian Augustinian monks and followers of Luther. Since wandering minstrels and their ballads served as the mass media of the day, Luther wrote this first hymn of the Reformation as a ballad recounting the martyrdom of these witnesses.”
  3. China: A History. HarperPress. ISBN 9780007221776. “The 'breech-loading culverins presented at the Ming court in 1522' were a gift from the Portuguese; and Portuguese arquebuses were acquired in the 1540s by the Japanese, who copied and greatly improved them.” 
  4. Jiajing Emperor - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 18 February 2015.
  5. 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created (BOOK), Knopf. ISBN 9780307265722. 
  6. Gustav I of Sweden - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 18 February 2015. “Initially of low standing, Gustav rose to lead the rebel movement following the Stockholm Bloodbath, in which his father perished. Gustav's election as King on 6 June 1523 and his triumphant entry into Stockholm eleven days later meant the end of Medieval Sweden's elective monarchy as well as the Kalmar Union.”
  7. Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 18 February 2015.

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