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Luther and Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms (1521)

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B. Emperor Charles’ Response

The morning after Luther’s second appearance Emperor Charles V assembled the rulers and stated his own position.

You know that my ancestors were the most Christian Emperors of the illustrious German nation, the Catholic kings of Spain, the archdukes of Austria, and the dukes of Burgundy, who all were, until death, faithful sons of the Roman Church. Always they defended the Catholic faith, the sacred ceremonies, decretals, ordinances and holy rites to the honour of God, the propagation of the faith and the salvation of souls. After their deaths they left, by natural law and heritage, these holy Catholic rites, for us to live and to die following their example.

I am therefore resolved to maintain everything which these my forebears have established to the present, especially that which my predecessors ordered at the Council of Constance and at other councils. It is certain that a single monk errs in his opinion which is against what all of Christendom has held for over a thousand years to the present. According to his opinion all of Christendom has always been in error. To settle this matter I am therefore determined to use all my dominions and possessions, my friends, my body, my blood, my life and my soul. It would be a great disgrace for you and me, the illustrious and renowned German nation, appointed by privilege and singular pre-eminence to be the defenders and protectors of the Catholic faith, as well as a perpetual dishonour for both us and our posterity, if in our time not only heresy, but the suspicion of heresy and the degradation of the Christian religion were due to our negligence.

After the impertinent reply which Luther gave yesterday in our presence, I declare that I now regret having delayed so long the proceedings against him and his false doctrines. I am resolved that I will never again hear him talk. He is to be taken back immediately according to the arrangements of the mandate with due regard for the stipulations of his safe-conduct. He is not to preach or seduce the people with his evil doctrine and is not to incite rebellion. As said above, I am resolved to act and proceed against him as against a notorious heretic, asking you to state your opinion as good Christians and to keep the vow given me.

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