Fortress Press

Luther's Rome, Rome's Luther: How the City Shaped the Reformer

Luther's Rome, Rome's Luther

How the City Shaped the Reformer

Carl P. E. Springer (Author)


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This book reconsiders the question of Martin Luther's relationship with Rome in all its sixteenth-century manifestations: the early-modern city he visited as a young man, the ancient republic and empire whose language and literature he loved, the Holy Roman Empire of which he was a subject, and the sacred seat of the papacy. It will appeal to scholars as well as lay readers, especially those interested in Rome, the reception of the classics in the Reformation, Luther studies, and early-modern history.

Springer's methodology is primarily literary-critical, and he analyzes a variety of texts--prose and poetry--throughout the book. Some of these speak for themselves, while Springer examines others more closely to tease out their possible meanings. The author also situates relevant texts within their appropriate contexts, as the topics in the book are interdisciplinary.

While many of Luther's references to Rome are negative, especially in his later writings, Springer argues that his attitude to the city in general was more complicated than has often been supposed. If Rome had not once been so dear to Luther, it is unlikely that his later animosity would have been so intense. Springer shows that Luther continued to be deeply fascinated by Rome until the end of his life and contends that what is often thought of as his pure hatred of Rome is better analyzed as a kind of love-hate relationship with the venerable city.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506472027
  • eBook ISBN 9781506472034
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 292
  • Publication Date July 13, 2021


"Springer's masterful craftmanship in English combines with his mastery of Latin literature and historical data to present the reformer's life and the fascination of the 'eternal city' in a lively fresh experiment in cultural history."

Robert Kolb, Concordia Seminary

"Luther's Rome, Rome's Luther is a masterpiece of Renaissance/Reformation scholarship."

R. Alden Smith, Baylor University

"Springer revises the half-truth of Luther's hatred of Rome by retelling the story of the reformer's visit to the city and his lifelong engagement with its associated culture, literature, and traditions. This is an essential work for intellectual historians."

Andrew Weeks, editor, The Forgotten Reformation