A Diet of Worms… (1)

On the 18th of April 1521 Martin Luther stood before Emperor Charles V during the Imperial Diet held at Worms in Germany. The Emperor had summoned Luther for what would be his ‘most dramatic public event of his career.’ Luther had already been threatened with excommunication by Pope Leo X. Now he was facing the fury of the Roman Catholic Emperor. Given a pledge of safe conduct from the Emperor (i.e. the promise to protect Luther in order for him to appear at the Diet) Luther held in close memory the pledge of safe conduct given to Jan Hus almost 106 years earlier. Hus too had questioned the infallibility of the pope and despite the promise of safe conduct was burned at the stake at the Council of Constance. Hus’s last words were reported to be that they can burn the goose (His name means goose in Czech) but in 100 years a swan will come that they could never kill. This swan—or so it was inferred—was now standing before the Holy Roman Emperor hoping to have the opportunity to argue his case from Scripture.

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