2017 marks the 500-year anniversary of Martin Luther's posting his 95-Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, which, more than any other event, ignited the Protestant Reformation. Luther was truly the Giant of the Protestant Reformation. Without his fierce determination, it is difficult to imagine how the sixteenth-century Reformation would have taken hold in Germany---or anywhere else in western Europe, for that matter. And Katharina von Bora, second only to Luther himself, was the most influential individual of the German Reformation. That's exactly what I say in this book, subtitled: The Unconventional Life of Katharina von Bora
(a play on words here, un-convent; she did, after all, escape the convent). Indeed, her escape which has sometimes been summed up as a midnight caper was anything but that: 12 nuns who had taken vows of silence planned with tight-lipped outsiders to carry out a capital crime---the kidnapping of nuns.
Due to very serious physical and mental afflictions, it is doubtful that Luther could have carried out the Reformation without his very strong and competent wife, Katie. She was a shrewd business woman who ran the Black Cloister monastery like a Holiday Inn; she bought farms; raised crops, cattle, swine and poultry; she planted gardens and vineyards, brewed beer, served as a midwife and was mother of six biological children and several orphans.
Before all that came heart-pounding romance---though not with Martin Luther. Words were whispered and a promise was made, that is until Jerome returned home to visit his well-heeled parents and told them he would be marrying an impoverished run-away nun. Her marriage to Martin at age 25 was no romance at all; he was a brutish man who, by his own account, had not changed his sweaty, smelly bedding for more than a year. She was determined to change him, and she did. His friends and colleagues thought her to be a domineering woman, but Martin adored her, and she him.
It's an absolutely amazing story. You'll come to esteem and love this incredible woman who has been all but forgotten in the annals of history.
Here is what the Library Journal
Apart from a few historical scraps, we know very few
details about the life of Katharina von Bora (1499–1552), wife of Protestant
reformer Martin Luther. With this account, independent scholar Tucker (From
Jerusalem to Irian Jaya) has two aims: to provide a fuller expression of
Katharina, and to explain why so little of her history is left to us. Tucker
accomplishes the former by reviewing letters to or about Katharina and
interpolating from the lives of her contemporaries, such as reformation
supporters Katherine Zell, Argula von Grumbach, and Renée of Fererra. The
result is something of a historical cameo of Katharina and her times, if not a
full biography. This prompts Tucker’s second question and the tentative
conclusion that Katharina was ignored because she did not fit the mold of a
pious wife. VERDICT Tucker’s thoughtful exploration of Katharina von Bora
provides those curious about the Protestant Reformation and women’s studies a
sympathetic view of a neglected life.—JW