Charles V, the Duke of Alba, and Martin Luther

July 14, 2014

Battle of Mühlberg 1547 and imprisonment of elector Johann Friedrich of Saxony. The pictorial report focuses on the end of the Battle of Mühlberg and the capture of the elector. On the right scenes from the five-year captivity are shown.

Battle of Mühlberg 1547 and imprisonment of elector Johann Friedrich of Saxony. The pictorial report focuses on the end of the Battle of Mühlberg and the capture of the elector. On the right scenes from the five-year captivity are shown.

When the Protestants refused to accept the decrees of the Council of Trent, Charles V resolved to wage war, defeating them in the battle of Mühlberg on April 24, 1547. The duke of Alba was the commanding general of his troops. Having entered Württemberg, the Emperor asked to see the tomb of Luther, the friar who had stirred up the Protestant revolt.

Don Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, III Duke de Alba Painted by Titian

Don Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, III Duke de Alba Painted by Titian

As the sovereign read the grave’s inscription, the duke of Alba whispered in his ear:

“—The man should be disinterred, burnt, and his ashes spread to the wind.”

But Charles V replied:

“—Leave him alone. He has already met his Judge. I wage war on the living, not the dead.”

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Nair Lacerda, Grandes Anedotas da História (São Paulo: Cultrix, 1977), 74. (Nobility.org translation.)

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 402

 

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