Lutherhaus Martin Luther’s House Museum
A majestic building of the prior of the Augustinian priory on the Collegienstrasse street adjoining the market square in Wittenberg became home to Martin Luther (1483–1546) in 1508, two years after he had taken the monastic vow.
Due to the developments of the Protestant Reformation, the catholic monastery was abandoned. In 1524, Elector Frederick the Wise of Saxony, conveyed the building in the courtyard of the monastery to Martin Luther for his private use, and in 1538, it was donated to him by Frederick’s successor, Elector Johann the Steadfast. The church reformer lived in the building with his family. In 1525, he broke the celibacy and left the Order when he married Katharina von Bora, with whom he had six children.
Nowadays, the Lutherhaus is a museum site dedicated to the history of the Reformation. A portion of the exhibition is dedicated to Martin Luther, featuring his personal belongings, portraits, and a genealogic tree of his family. One of the halls was opened as early as 1655. The Reformation Museum was opened to the public in 1883. The Museum boasts 20 thousand ancient publications and seven thousand manuscripts associated with Luther’s activities.
Peter visited the house on October 3/14, 1712 and wrote his name with a chalk on a wooden door casing in one of the rooms. Over time, the Tsar’s sign manual was put into a metal frame and became one of the attractions in the Luther’s House Museum. The stain that allegedly appeared on the wall after Luther had aimed an inkwell at the devil appearing to him was shown to Peter. However, the story of the inkwell is a legend. The earliest version of a typologically similar story about the contention between a monk scholar and the devil is found in a treatise written by German lawyer and theologian Johann Georg Gödelmann in 1591.
Neither Luther himself, nor any of his closest followers ever mentioned any incident with an inkwell. However in his Table Talks, Luther admits that he often saw limbs of the devil who played mean tricks on him. But those things happened in the period between December 1521 and March 1522, when Luther was hiding out from the chase by the papacy and a threat of execution in the Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, Thuringia and when he was working hard to translate the New Testament into German.
Over time, the story of the stain began to be linked not only to the Wartburg, but also to Wittenberg which is closely connected with Luther’s life, as well as to the Veste Coburg, a fortress in Bavaria which was his shelter in 1530. A “Luther’s room” with an ink stain on the wall is found in each of the three: Wartburg, Wittenberg, and Veste Coburg. The same stain was shown to Peter I in the Wartburg. The Tsar examined the stain and wrote on the wall, “The ink is fresh and this is all nonsense.”
The Lutherhaus Museum, including its library and study, is on the list of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites.