2015 National special Exhibition: Luther and the Princes

May until October 2015

National special Exhibition: Luther and the Princes

Exhibition of the Dresden State Art Collections in Torgau


Already two years before the 500th jubilee of Luther´s theses, a great National Special Exhibition takes place in Torgau. In 1515, pope Leo X had proclaimed an indulgence that was to save believers from purgatory against a certain fee. In Luther´s geographical surroundings, the Dominican monk Johann Tetzel from Saxon Pirna used this as a means to gather money for the construction of St. Peter´s Basilica and for the debt relief of his mighty sovereign, Cardinal Albert of Mainz. This animated Luther to protest and lastly to write his theses, which he sent to this very Cardinal. The National Special Exhibition deals with the political history of the Reformation between 1515 and 1591 but also looks at the effects of Protestantism to this day. It takes place in different historical buildings in Torgau, the political centre of the Reformation, with its almost unchanged appearance. Among the exhibition venues are Schloss Hartenfels Castle, the former residence of the Saxon electors, the former electoral chancery, the administrative seat of the Electorate of Saxony, and the superintendenture, where the Torgau Articles were written by Luther and his fellow campaigners. Schloss Hartenfels is at the heart of this exhibition. During the lifetime of Luther´s first guardian, Elector Frederick the Wise, began the expansion of the castle as electoral residence. His brother and successor, Elector John the Steadfast, already resided in Torgau. His eldest son, Elector John Frederick the Magnanimous, finally completed the expansion. This is how the "marvelous staircase”, the Große Wendelstein, was built between 1533 and 1536, which still puzzles today´s architects. For the National Special Exhibition not only exhibition rooms in the wing on the town side are used but also the former electoral chambers, the room of mirrors at the "Großer Wendelstein” and the castle church, which was dedicated in Luther´s presence, the world´s first newly – built Protestant church. The exhibition shows paintings, weapons, amours, coins, documents and other exhibits, all of these impressively demonstrating the mutual influence of Reformation and politics. While the Electors were protecting Luther, his ideas are reflected in the self – display of the sovereigns and their understanding of rulership. Also the anti – reformationist reaction of the Catholic side is a part of the exhibition.   

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