Five hundred years ago…

The year is 1517; the place, Wittenberg, Germany. It is an age of anxiety. Poverty, hunger, and political unrest are widespread; periodic plagues kill untold thousands; public executions attract enormous crowds. Fearing death, the devil, and the agonies of purgatory, crowds of people seek absolution through pilgrimage and penance. Smelling an opportunity, Jakob Fugger, a powerful Augsburg banker, collaborates with the Vatican in the sale of indulgences, paper certificates purporting to grant the buyer a waiver from postmortem punishment for sins.

Born in 1483 in Eisleben, Germany, Martin Luther has received a Master of Arts degree at the University of Erfurt, and then dropped out of law school to become a monk. A pilgrimage to Rome has only intensified his brooding doubts and fears. Now, after years of frustrated seeking, the young monk has just broken through to the bold new insight that will define his life mission: faith, not works, absolves sins; salvation is ours through God’s grace alone.

Taken from Renegade, Andrea Grosso Ciponte and Dacia Palmerino’s new graphic biography, this sample chapter depicts Luther’s first forays into the conflict that would define the sixteenth century.