#BlogTour ~ Katharina Luther: Nun, Rebel, Wife by Anne Boileau #Extract

I’m delighted to be on the blog tour today because it’s Publication Day for this interesting looking book. You can see an extract below.


Katharina Luther: Nun, Rebel, Wife

On 31st October 1517, Martin Luther pinned ninety-five theses on the Castle Church door, Wittenberg, criticizing the Church of Rome; they were printed and published by Lucas Cranach and caused a storm. Nine young nuns, intoxicated by Luther’s subversive writings, became restless and longed to leave their convent. On Good Friday 1523 a haulier smuggled them out hidden in empty herring barrels.

Five of them settled in Wittenberg, the very eye of the storm, and one of them – Katharina von Bora – scandalised the world by marrying the revolutionary former monk. Following a near miscarriage, she is confined to her bed to await the birth of their first child; during this time, she sets down her own story. Against a backdrop of 16th Century Europe this vivid account of Katharina von Bora’s early life brings to the spotlight this spirited and courageous woman.

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Clink Street Publishing (4 Oct. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1911110616
  • ISBN-13: 978-1911110613

Purchase Here

About the Author

 Anne Boileau (also known as Polly Clarke) lives in Essex. She studied German in Munich and worked as interpreter and translator before turning to language-teaching in England. She also holds a degree in Conservation and Land Management from Anglia University and has written and given talks on various aspects of conservation. Now she shares, writes and enjoys poetry; her work has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines; she has also won some awards, including First Prize with Grey Hen Press, 2016. She translates modern German poetry into English with Camden Mews Translators and was Chair of Suffolk Poetry Society from 2011 to 2014.

From Chapter 19 – The Good Book

Luther is thrilled because he and his translation team have completed the Pentateuch and it has been printed and bound at Lucas Cranach’s printworks. He brings it to Katharina in her bedroom, as she settles down for the midday rest.
The great bell in the church tower was just striking one – the midday meal had been served and cleared away and I had climbed up slowly to our room for my rest. My body was growing heavy and I felt very tired. March had been cold and this winter seemed to have gone on far too long; I felt like hibernating. But we women have to keep going, whether or not we are pregnant or with small children to care for. I was just settling into bed when the door creaked open; my husband came in sideways, pushing it with his shoulder, holding a rectangular parcel wrapped up in blue linen. With an almost reverential gesture he laid it before me on the bed.

He was grinning like a small boy.
“Go on. Open it,” he said.
“Is it what I think it is?”
“Probably. Unwrap it. It’s for you.”

Gingerly I untied the blue cloth tape and folded back the linen. It lay before me, glowing; the most beautiful book you could imagine, bound in brown vellum; on its spine, in gold letters, PENTATEUCH and HISTORICAL BOOKS. I opened the frontispiece, and saw the elaborated title, scrolled about with pictures:
Herein in the German Language are compiled the following Books from the Old Testament, translated from the Hebrew by Dr Martin Luther.
Illustrated by Lucas Cranach. Printed by Melchior Lotther and Published by Lucas Cranach, Wittenberg 1525.
I turned the pages one by one, marvelling at their beauty and precision. I saw woodcuts of animals, birds, trees, Adam and Eve. I saw the bold clear print, on the fine paper from Milan; I smelt the odour of well-cured calfskin.

“Well? What do you think?”
“It’s wonderful, Husband. Quite wonderful.”
“And the binding? How do you like the binding?”
“It’s very fine. How many have been bound like this?”

“Only four. One for you and me; one for the Town Church; one for the Elector and one for my Father and Mother. The other volumes will be shipped without binding.”
“And it’s just in time for the Frankfurter Book Fair. They must be so relieved to have got it out in time!”
“They are. The whole team are taking the afternoon off to celebrate, having completed the stitching. The boys are packing them up for shipment. Barbara’s arranging a feast for Thursday night, they’ve already killed a fat weaner and the butcher’s preparing it.”
The book filled me with awe. New books always do, especially when it’s one of Martin’s. With the printing press it is possible for my husband to write an essay, a sermon, a pamphlet, or even to say something at mealtimes – his words are always noted down by Rörer– and within a few days it can be printed and distributed throughout the civilised world. He said once at supper “I fart today and they smell it in Rome tomorrow!” (He can be very vulgar, my husband.)

Most of what he writes is in Latin, intended for academics, clerics, philosophers, theologians; his readers are all over the world: Avignon, Rome or Lucca, Seville or Toledo, Oxford, Paris, Ghent or Elsinore. Whatever he writes is pounced on, printed, published and distributed within a few weeks. For this reason, more and more printers are setting up shop here in Wittenberg. They recognise a good market and want to take advantage of a famous name and a famous place.
I had in fact seen the five books already, published separately, but now they were beautifully bound together in one edition, called the PENTATEUCH. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

“Surely the power of the word will win over the power of the sword,” said Martin. “Pray God the peasants will not misconstrue the message again, and use it as an excuse to go on the rampage. They heard Saint Paul’s letter to the Galatians: ‘For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.’ But they were deaf to the next part, where he warns them to use the freedom wisely: ‘only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. … If you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another’.


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