Did Luther throw his inkpot at the devil?

Wartburg Castle in Thüringia is know as Martin Luther’s refuge. Also for the very productive time which he spent there, amongst many other things, translating the New Testament in German, albeit with lots of help of the Vulgate.

Martin Luther’s room at Wartburg castle.

The wooden panneling and possibly the footstool are original or date from that period. This is also the spot were Luther allegedly threw his inkpot at an apparition of the devil. The inkmarks on the wall are no longer visible as pilgrims scraped them off over the years. Today theologians spiritualize Luther’s words about fighting Satan with ink. They prefer to read this as fighting Satan by translating the Bible and personal books and letters which advocated the Reformation. This may be true, but it also remains a fact that centuries of Lutheran believers, up to and including the age of even Goethe, had very different ideas and tradition about this.

Less know is the fact that in the 19th century this castle served as a cultural centre of the Enlightenment, particularly in the deistic worldviews progressed into subjective romanticism. Goethe was inspired at the Wartburg. Liszt and Wagner had a profound influence. Its concerthall saw one of the first performances of Wagner’s Tannhaüser, which full title is “Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg“, referring to the medieval minstrel battle of the likes of Ofterdingen and Wolfram von Eschenbach. King Ludwig of Bavaria was so impressed with this hall that he ordered his architects to create a copy, as a result the concert hall in his famous Neuschwanstein castle is actually based on Wartburg’s.

Concerthall of Wartburg, Christmas 2023

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