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A History of the Reformation (Vol. 1 of 2)

Aleander claimed all the credit for this change


documents in the _Reichstagsakten_ reveal not only that there was a decided difference of opinion between the Emperor and the majority of the Estates about the way in which Luther ought to be treated, but that the policy of the Emperor and his advisers had changed between November 1520 and February 1521. Aleander had found no difficulty in persuading Charles and his Flemish councillors that, so far as the Emperor's hereditary dominions were concerned, the only thing that the civil power had to do was to issue an edict homologating the Papal Bull banning Luther and his adherents, and ordering his books to be burnt. This had been done in the Netherlands. They had made difficulties, however, about such summary action within the German Empire. Aleander was told that the Emperor could do nothing until after the coronation at Aachen (October 1520);(195) and in November, much to the nuncio's disgust, the Emperor had written to the Elector of Saxony (November 28th, 1520) from Oppenheim asking him to bring Luther with him to the Diet.(196) At that time Luther had no great wish to go to the Diet, unless it was clearly understood that he was summoned not for the purpose of merely making a recantation, but in order that he might defend his views with full liberty of speech. He was not going to recant, and he could say so as easily and clearly at Wittenberg as at Worms. The situation had changed at Worms. The Emperor had come over to the nuncio's side completely. He now saw no need for Luther's
appearance. The Diet had nothing to do but to place Luther under the ban of the Empire, because he had been declared to be a heretic by the Roman Pontiff. Aleander claimed all the credit for this change; but it is more than probable that the explanation lies in the shifting imperial and papal policy. In the end of 1520 the policy of the Roman Curia was strongly anti-imperialist. The Emperor's ambassador at Rome, Don Manuel, had been warning his master of the papal intrigues against him, and suggesting that Charles might show some favour to a "certain Martin Luther"; and this advice might easily have inspired the letter of the 28th of November. At all events the papal policy had been changing, and showing signs of becoming less hostile to the Emperor. However the matter be accounted for, Aleander found that after the Emperor's presence within Worms it was much more easy for him to press the papal view about Luther upon Charles and his advisers.(197)

On the other hand, the Germans in the Diet held stoutly to the opinion that no countryman of theirs should be placed under the ban of the Empire without being heard in his defence, and that they and not the Bishop of Rome were to be the judges in the matter.

The two months before Luther's appearance saw open opposition between the Emperor and the Diet, and abundant secret intrigue--an edict proposed against Luther,(198) which the Diet refused to accept;(199) an edict proposed to order the burning of Luther's books, which the Diet also objected to;(200) this edict revised and limited to the seizure of Luther's writings, which was also found fault with by the Diet; and, finally, the Emperor issuing this revised edict on his own authority and without the consent of the Diet.(201)

The command to appear before the Diet on April 16th, 1521, and the imperial safe conduct were entrusted to the imperial herald, Caspar Strum, who delivered them

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