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Martin Luther

Martin Luther was a catholic priest and professor at the University of Wittenberg. In the Middle Ages the church sold indulgences, granting forgiveness for people’s sins. Luther disputed the Pope and the church’s right to waive other punishments than those the clergy themselves had imposed. Sins against God could be forgiven by God alone.

In 1517 Luther hung his 95 theses concerning indulgences on the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral. After this event, many people joined Luther in his protest against the Catholic Church. This marked the beginning of the Reformation.

Martin Luther
Martin Luther

Norway becomes Lutheran

The archbishop was the Pops foremost representative in Norway, and he tried to defend the interests of the Catholic Church in the country as best possible. King Kristian III on the other hand, appointed reliable Danish noblemen in key positions in Norway. He could therefore force through the reformation by removing and replacing the catholic bishops and the archbishop with new Lutheran bishops.

With the archbishop gone, Norway was without a powerful and strong leader. The Norwegian political independence from Denmark was therefore considerably reduced. Norway was now essentially a province of Denmark until the dissolution of the union in 1814.

The resistance of the Archbishop

In the 1420’s, the archbishop built a modern fortress on Steinvikholmen island in the Trondheim fjord. Because of the increasing pressure from the monarchy, this fortress would function as a stronghold since the Archbishops Palace had several faults as a protective fortress.  

In 1537, king Kristian III sent a large military force to Norway to besiege Steinvikholmen. The archbishop’s forces was inferior, and he had to flee to the Netherlands to seek support there from the Holy Roman Emperor who was a catholic. However, he did not find support there, and died in exile in 1538. Steinvikholmen had to surrender, and the reformation was thus completed in Norway.