On May 4, 1521, as Martin Luther was making his way home to Wittenberg from the Diet of Worms, he was abducted by a mysterious group of armed, masked riders. His traveling companions feared the abductors were either under authority from the Emperor Charles V or from the Roman Church itself. Since Luther had just been condemned by both the Pope and the Emperor at the Diet of Worms as a heretic, their fears were probably justified.
In fact, Luther had been taken by soldiers of Elector Frederick of Saxony, who rushed him in secrecy to Frederick’s own Wartburg Castle in Eisenach. Luther’s whereabouts was kept a secret for almost a year. Even a few letters sent to friends by Luther during this time never identified his location. While much is unknown about the reasons for Frederick’s actions, it clearly was intended to protect Luther, since the dual condemnations against him at the Diet made him a wanted man with a price on his head. It is also unclear if Luther was initially a part of this plot. Whether he was or not, he made good use of his eleven months in hiding.Continue Reading