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12 - What Is an Incunabulum?

Book Printing and the Reformation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 August 2022

Johan Fourie
Affiliation:
University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
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Summary

On 31 October 1517 a thirty-three-year-old priest in the small German town of Wittenberg wrote a letter that would change the course of history. Addressed to the bishop of his parish, Martin Luther’s letter complained about the Roman Catholic Church’s selling of indulgences, the practice by which the Pope would grant remission from the punishment of sin. The more Luther read the Bible, the more he became convinced that it was not by performing good deeds that one obtained salvation, but by faith alone through God’s grace. It was wrong to claim, he argued in the Ninety-Five Theses contained in the letter, that indulgences could absolve buyers from eternal punishment and grant them salvation.

These indulgences were, of course, a valuable source of income for the Church, especially at a time when Pope Leo X planned to rebuild St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

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Chapter
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Our Long Walk to Economic Freedom
Lessons from 100,000 Years of Human History
, pp. 65 - 70
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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  • What Is an Incunabulum?
  • Johan Fourie, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Book: Our Long Walk to Economic Freedom
  • Online publication: 30 August 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009228503.013
Available formats
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  • What Is an Incunabulum?
  • Johan Fourie, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Book: Our Long Walk to Economic Freedom
  • Online publication: 30 August 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009228503.013
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • What Is an Incunabulum?
  • Johan Fourie, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Book: Our Long Walk to Economic Freedom
  • Online publication: 30 August 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009228503.013
Available formats
×