Martin Luther and the Reformation in Latvian texts of the 19th century

Keywords: Martin Luther, Reformation, Latvian literature
Language: In Latvian

The abolishment of serfdom, the successful realisation of the peasants Enlightenment, the reform of education, the establishment of the first teacher seminars and the gradual economic strengthening in the first half of the 19th century increased the self-confidence of Latvians and created the necessary preconditions for the movement of New Latvians and the national awakening. To strengthen the awareness of being Latvian and to consolidate the Latvian society in the building process of the nation, much efforts were paid to the modernization of language, the evaluation and research of Latvian national culture as well as the reconstruction of the history of the nation.

The article is dedicated to an episode in the Latvian history — the age of Reformation and the personality of Martin Luther. It discusses the changes of the interpretation of those events beginning with the first Latvian texts in the 16th century till the 19th century. The author concludes that the changes and variety of interpretations depend on the nationality of the authors and on the time span when the texts are written. German parsons discuss the Reformation as an important and absolutely necessary event in the spiritual life of Latvians becoming true Christians. The Latvian authors tend to interpret Luther as a supporter of education stimulating the cultural flourishing of the nation. In the second half of the 19th century, the number of discussions and publications of the books on the history of Latvians increases. Due to this Latvian literature feels free to re-read the period of Reformation and the term ‘Reformation’. The image of Martin Luther appears in Latvian trivial literature. Those tendencies are connected closely to the process of secularisation of Latvian society, the flourishing of Latvian literature and the growing self-confidence and sense of creative freedom of Latvian writers.