The 16th century marks the beginning of the Modern Age. In the transition between the Middle Ages and the modern world, a series of completely new developments occurred almost simultaneously: the invention of printing, the discovery of the New World, gunpowder, a new way of keeping time (mechanical clocks), of experiencing it, and the relationship with money (“time is money!”), the development of banking, insurance and, above all, a new awareness of the identity and dignity of the human person. Some particular facts, right at the beginning of the century, attest to this: the Diet of Worms in 1521 and the way in which Charles V planned the unity of the Empire, that is, of Europe; the Reformation and Ignatius of Loyola; the circumnavigation of the world thanks to Magellan; the emergence of new relationships between citizens and the prince, between the faithful and the Church.
Charles V and Luther at the Diet of Worms
On April 17 and 18, 1521 – 500 years ago – Charles V and Martin Luther met at the Diet of Worms: the emperor, the secular arm of the Church, had summoned him to question him and, if necessary, carry out the excommunication of the Church. In the presence of the princes, Luther was asked to acknowledge the views published in his name and to disavow them. Luther acknowledged them, but refused to retract them because some were based on Holy Scripture and others concerned the abuses of Rome that were affecting the Christian world. Therefore, he would not recant anything unless he was shown by the word of God where his errors lay: in which case “he would be most ready to recant any error.”