Rather than the 95 Theses inviting a simple, local academic debate, Luther’s students translate the complaints into a dozen languages. Within three months, thanks to Gutenberg’s printing press and the new pan-European postal service that went into effect in 1516, 18,000 copies are now flying across the Holy Roman Empire.
The protesting professor’s seditious writings are the talk of Europe. He is summoned to a series of inquisitions, ending with a Papal Bull of Excommunication. Gathering around a winter fire by the city walls and surrounded by students, Luther promptly burns the Bull. There is now no turning back.
The Pope demands Luther be sent to Rome in chains. Elector Frederick, pleased with the sudden popularity of his university and unwilling to surrender his protesting professor, arranges for the trial be held in city of Worms - far from the Pope’s grasp.
Luther rides to his destiny in an ox cart, playing his lute and singing along the way. Crowds amass. Some jeer. Most cheer. At the Diet of Worms, Luther is condemned a heretic before his judge, the 21-year-old Emperor, Charles V of Spain.
Promised safe passage back to Wittenberg, Luther is kidnapped by Elector Frederick and hidden at Wartburg Castle for his own protection. When he returns to Wittenberg to guide the movement, he reconciles with his parents, marries a nun, and lives to a ripe old age under the protection of Elector Frederick.