Student Question

Why did Luther's Ninety-five Theses significantly affect public faith in the Catholic Church?

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There are three main reasons for the huge impact of Luther's work throughout Europe, which ushered in the Protestant Reformation. First, Luther took advantage of a relatively new technology, the printing press. The rapid growth of this technology, especially in the 16th century, allowed the quick dissemination of his work throughout Europe. Luther also quickly translated his theses from Latin into German, so they could be read and understood by a wider audience. Second, people in Europe had already begun to grow tired of papal corruption and some of the questions Luther raised, such as why the pope didn't finance his lavish building projects out his own wealth, resonated with the common people. Third, Frederick, the elector of Saxony and Luther's ruler, objected to the fact the pope was selling indulgences in Saxony to finance building projects in Rome, taking money out of the province that Frederick felt was needed there. Therefore, Frederick supported Luther against the pope. In sum, technology, a preexisting climate of discontent and the support of a powerful prince allowed Luther's ideas to spread. 

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