TO KING HENRY VIII. OF ENGLAND
This letter was written by request of the fugitive King Christian of Denmark. September 1, 1525. Grace and peace in Christ our Lord! Most Serene King. Although I might well fear to write your Majesty, having deeply offended you through my little book hurriedly written at the instigation of people unfriendly to your Royal Highness, still I am impelled to do so by your natural goodness of heart, which I hear daily praised, and also knowing that your Majesty, being aware he is mortal, will not keep an undying enmity, and over and above, I am informed by trustworthy people that the little
book against me, so far beneath the dignity of the King of England, issued under your Majesty’s
name, was not really written by you, as those crafty sophists dare affirm. They surely do not know the danger of thus dishonouring your royal name, and bringing into notice that monstrosity, hated of both God and man, the Cardinal of Eborack, the destroyer of your Majesty’s kingdom. And through shame I can scarcely raise my eyes towards you for having been swayed by such wicked people against so mighty a potentate, compared to whom I am a very worm. Further, contemptible as I am, still I am prompted to write, because your Majesty was well disposed to the gospel to begin with, which news was a very evangelium to my heart, that is, tidings of great joy. Therefore, I throw myself at your Majesty’s feet with my writings, entreating forgiveness for the sake of Christ’s sufferings, and to be told how I have offended you, even as Christ commanded us to forgive one another. And in the next place, if your Majesty be agreeable, I shall issue another book to the honor of your name in contradiction of the last. For, although I am a mere nobody compared to your Majesty, still I feel it would be no injury to the gospel, nor to the glory of God, were I to write on gospel subjects to His Royal Grace of England. God grant that He may perfect in you the good work He has begun, so that you may obey the gospel with all your heart, and shut your ears to those poisonous tongues and soft- spoken hypocrites who decry Luther as a heretic. But rather say, “What ill can Luther teach when he only maintains that we attain to everlasting blessedness through faith in the Son of God, who
suffered, died, and rose again for us, as the Gospels and apostles’ writings testify ?” For this is the corner — stone of my doctrine, after which I teach brotherly love and obedience to the powers that be, and crucifixion of the flesh, as Christ taught. So what is wrong in such doctrines? One must wait and listen, and then judge. Why should I be condemned without being refuted? I would also punish the tyranny of the bishops, who twist the articles of our Christian faith, meantime striving after dividends, pomp, sensuality — nay, even kingdoms, principalities, etc., — so that no one can wonder that even the common man sees and condemns it. Let them repent, that they may not be hated and
punished. Your Majesty must see for yourself how many Princes in Germany, as well as town councils, and highly intellectual people, are unwilling, God be praised, to permit the gospel doctrines which I have brought to light to be condemned. Would to God that Christ may class you among this number. Is it any wonder that the Emperor and some Princes rage against me? ( Psalm 2:2).
Is it not almost a miracle when a king or prince loves the gospel? Oh, how I long to be able to rejoice over such a miracle in your Majesty! Would that God, before whom I write this, would endue my words with power, so that the King of England may, ere long, become a devoted disciple of the Lord Christ and a confessor of the gospel, and also Luther’s most gracious lord. Amen. If it please your Majesty, I await a favourable answer.
Your Majesty’s obedient, MARTIN LUTHER .