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This page has information for educators and their students regarding sample lessons, essay contests and resources on Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation.
  • The 500 Year Story of the Protestant Reformation-Digital Exhibit
  • Protestant Reformation Contests
  • The Reformation Challenge and Super Quiz
  • World and AP European History Lessons
  • Renaissance Time Line
  • Diet of Worms Papers, 1521
  • Interpretive Readings from Historians
  • Common Core Standard - Lessons
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Digital Exhibit: The 500 Year Story of The Protestant Reformation

This is a large file and we recommend to Save it and download to your computer or mobile device. You need PowerPoint to view it.

PDF Exhibit: The 500 Year Story of the Protestant Reformation

Contact us at 908 233-8111 or for information about hosting the exhibit at your location. (It is Free)

Reformation Art Contest Results - 2016 (Grades K-2)

Anchor by Antonio (Trinity Lutheran School, Hicksville, NY)  "I chose the anchor because I love to fish with my grandpa and Jesus fed people with fish."

Bleeding Heart by Angelina (Trinity Lutheran School, Hicksville, NY)   "I chose the Bleeding heart because it is a symbol about Jesus and how He died for our sins."

Reformation Essay Contest Results 2016 - "To what extent does Martin Luther represent the Renaissance?"

(Finalists announced around January 25, 2016)

Contest Resources

Bibliographic Resources on the Renaissance and Reformation

Resources for Essay Interview

OnLine Resources on the Renaissance and Reformation

Timeline of Renaissance and Reformation - Events

Project Wittenberg

Reformation Essay Contest Results - 2016

High School Honors Division 
First Place: - $500 - HanKyeol Chang (Princeton High School) (with a $5,000 scholarship to Concordia College - New York)
Second Place: - $250 - Abhinav Tekulapally (West Windsor Plainsboro South High School)

Reformation Essay Contest Results - 2015

University Division ($500): Marol Feickert (Concordia University)

High School Honors Division ($500): Alexandra Harris (Ramapo High School) (with $5,000 scholarship to Concordia College - New York)

High School Division ($500): Abhinav Tekulapally (West Windsor Plainsboro South High School)

Reformation Essay Contest Results - 2014

Video of Our Awards Program

University Division:

First Place - $500 - Marol Feickert (Concordia University)

Second Place - $250 - Brian O'Neil (Montclair State University)

High School Honors Division:

First Place - $500 - Alexandra Harris  (Ramapo High School) (with $5,000 scholarship to Concordia College - New York)

Second Place - $250 - Angelo Ferrara (Ramapo High School)

Third Place - $100 - Omolara Uthman (Ramapo High School)

High School Division:

First Place - $500 - Virginia Jiang (West Windsor Plainsboro South HS)

Second Place -$250- Abhinav Tekulapally (West Windsor Plainsboro South HS)

Third Place - $150 - Pavan Hemanth (West Windsor Plainsboro South HS)

World History Lesson Plans

The Leipzig Debate (AP/Honors level)

The Leipzig Debate Podcast/Video (7 minutes) (Transcript of the historic debate)

The 95 Theses Video (11 minutes) (Educational video from the perspective of Martin Luther)

Dinner with Charles V

An interactive lesson on the problems the new young emperor, Charles V faced in 1520 - Turks, Luther, Peasant unrest, etc.

The Renaissance Quiz  - Level 1 (10 multiple-choice questions)

The Reformation Quiz - Level 1 (10 multiple-choice questions)

AP European History Lesson Plans

AP European History Lesson Plans

The Leipzig Debate Podcast/Video (14 minutes) (Transcript of the historic debate)

The 95 Theses Podcast/Video (11 minutes) (Includes perspective of German historian Henrik von Treitschke)

Renaissance Time Line - Important People

(Dates represent a two-year period of time)


Michelangelo completes sculpture of “David”                                                                                               
Aldus of Venice invents italics and establishes an Academy to study Greek classics                                                
Sondra Botticelli “Mystical Nativity”                                                                                                           
Albrecht Durer paints his third “Self Portrait”


Bellini paints “Baptism of Christ”                                                                                                                       
Peter Henlein makes the first watch in Nuremberg                                                                                               
Construction begins on Henry VII chapel in Westminster Abbey


Raphael paints “Marriage of the Virgin”                                                                                                           
Lorenzo Lotto paints “Allegory of Chastity”                                                                                              
John Colet becomes Dean of St. Paul’s Churchin London                                                                                   
John Knox born (Leader of Reformation in Scotland)
Leonardo DaVinci begins painting the “Mona Lisa”


Leonardo DaVinci completes painting the “Mona Lisa”                                                                                   
St. Francis Xavier born                                                                                                                                    
Bramante begins to build St. Peter’s                                                                                                           
Raphael paints “Madonna di Casa”                                                                                                                       
Albrecht Durer paints “Adam and Eve”                                                                                                                                                                                      


Ariosto writes “Cassaria” (comedy)                                                                                                            
Michelangelo begins to paint the Sistine Chapel                                                                                               
John Calvin born (Reformed church)                                                                                                           
Albrecht Durer paints “Little Passion”                       


Sondra Botticelli died                                                                                                                                    
Desiderius Erasmus publishes Praise of Folly                                                                                               
Titian paints “The Gypsy Madonna”                                                                                                           
Schlick composed “Spiegel der Orgelmacher und Organisten                                                                                    
Matthias Grunewald begins the Isenheim altar                                                          
Albrecht  Durer paints “Adoration of the Trinity”


Raphael completes portrait of Pope Julius II                                                                                                           
Michelangelo finishes painting the Sistine Chapel                                                                                               
Erhart Deglin publishes “Liederbuch zu vier Stimmen”                                                                                    
Machiavelli writes “The Prince and “La Mandragola”
Erasmus publishes Praise of Folly


Thomas Wolsey made Archbishop of York                                                                                                           
Titian paints “The Tribute Money” and “Flora”                                                                                               
Bramante died                                                                                                                                               
Anne of Cleves born (4th queen of Henry VIII)


Thomas More publishes Utopia                                                                                                                       
Ullrich von Hutten named “King of Poets” by Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I


Leonardo DaVincidied                                                                                                                                   
Magellan begins circumnavigation of the globe.


Raphael died
Magellan killed in the Philippines


Christian II deposed in Denmark
Frederick I becomes new king of Norway & Denmark                                  
Pope Adrian VI died from the plague after only one year as pope                                                                       
Anthony Fitzherbert publishes first book of agriculture.


William Tyndale translates the New Testament into English                                                                                    
Lorenzo Lotto paints “Portrait of a Young Man”.                 


Albrecht Durer paints “The Four Apostles”                                                                                                           
Nicolai Machiavelli died                                                                                                                                   
Baldassare Castiglione writes “The Courtier”                                                                                                
Adrian Willaert named maestro at St. Mark’s Venice                                                                                               


Albrecht Durer died                                                                                                                                   
Henry VIII presents his reasons for a divorce from Catherine of Aragon.


Women appear on the stage in Italy                                                                                                                      
Lorenzo Lotto paints “Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery”                                                                       
Gemma Frisius introduces longitude as a measure of time                                                                                   

Diet of Worms Papers

Personal Letters of Martin Luther following his excommunication and ending with his "kidnapping" by friends who provided for his safety at the Wartburg Castle (December 1520-April 1521)

Interpretive Readings from Historians

Princes and Peasants (Peasants Revolt) - Dr. Robert Kolb

Commentary on Matthew 4:17  - Hank Bitten

Luther uses the evidence in Matthew 4:17 in Thesis #1 of his 95 Theses to explain repentance.

Larvae Dei   - Dr. Anthony Steinbronn

The Masks of God

God's Word

The Church - Chapter 3

The Church - Chapter 4

Luther's Thesis

Anfechtungen  (Luther's Spiritual Trials)  - Rev. Richard Bucher

A Developing Christian's Life (Excerpt from Martin - God's Court Jester) - Rev. Eric Gritsch

The Doctrine of Vocation    (Luther's views on our calling in life, work, and family) Gene Edward Veith, Patrick Henry College

The Common Core Standards for Literacy, Research and Writing

The lesson plans, essay contest questions, and documents (on this page and on our Historical Documents page) support what students need to demonstrate with reading, critical thinking, research, and writing.

Teaching the Common Core in World History:  Critical Thinking  (by Hank Bitten)

The Protestant Reformation - Perspectives of Luther, Erasmus, and Charles V

Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claims. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.8

Determine the factors that led to the Reformation and the impact of European politics. (NJCCS 6.2.12.D.2.b)

Classroom Activity: Classroom resources, documents, and podcasts are available at

Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses.  Students should read the first five theses statements by Martin Luther about sins and repentance and then discuss the questions below supporting reasoning and critical thinking.

1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” [Matthew 4:17], he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

2. This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.

3. Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortifications of the flesh.

4. The penalty of sin remains as long as the hatred of self, that is, true inner repentance, until our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

5. The pope neither desires nor is able to remit any penalties except those imposed by his own authority or that of the canons

Critical Thinking Questions

1.     Should the structure of Luther's statements be considered as a thesis, hypothesis encouraging inquiry and discussion, or biased statements?

2.     What do you think is Martin Luther’s purpose in writing these first five statements?

3.     Should any of these statements encourage a political response (for or against) by the emperor (Maximilian I) to take a stand against Luther?

4.     Does Luther appear consistent or confused in his claims about repentance as a lifestyle of believers?

5.     Is the evidence of Matthew 4:17 sufficient for Luther’s statement? (“From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Matthew 4:17)

6.     How is the sale of indulgences by the Roman Catholic Church relevant to these statements by Martin Luther in his Ninety-five Theses?

After discussing these questions, have students read the excerpts below to analyze three perspectives:

Perspective of Luther:

“I shall prove this thesis according to reason. Since Christ is the master of the spirit, not of the letter, and since his words are life and spirit [John 6:63], he must teach the kind of repentance which is done in spirit and in truth, but not that which the most arrogant hypocrites could do openly by distorting their faces in fasts and by praying in streets and heralding their giving of alms.[Matthew 6:16]”  (Luther's Explanation to Thesis #1)

Critical Thinking Question:Does this statement reflect the changes in thinking from scholasticism when the Holy Bible was considered as the source of truth to the testing of a hypothesis based on human reason and debate?

Perspective of Erasmus:

Erasmus, in his Praise of Folly (1509), described indulgences as "the crime of false pardons".   He wrote, "The Court of Rome has lost all sense of shame. [...] I see that the very height of tyranny has been reached. The Pope and Kings count the people not as men, but as cattle in the market!"

Erasmus used the texts in the Holy Bible, to explain sin and a person’s relationship with God. John 14:15 says: "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Again in John 15:7 "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."

Erasmus emphasizes the word, “If”to indicate that people have a free-will to make choices about sin and repentance.

Erasmus uses the evidence in Romans 9:18 to illustrate the free will of choice by Egypt’s pharaoh at the time when the Hebrews (Jews) were enslaved in Egypt. "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will, he hardens" To interpret this passage, Erasmus turns to Jerome, who says, "God hardens when he does not at once punish the sinner and has mercy as soon as he invites repentance by means of afflictions." God's hardening and mercy are the results of what man does. God has mercy "on those who recognize the goodness of God and repent…." Also, this hardening is not something which God does, but something which Pharaoh did by not repenting.

Critical Thinking Question: How does Erasmus (a contemporary of Luther) interpret the sale of indulgences and the need for repentance in the passages in the Holy Bible and his book, Praise of Folly?  (Praise of Folly was written eight years before Luther posted the Ninety-five Theses. does Erasmus agree or disagree with Luther?

Perspective of Emperor Charles V:

A third perspective for students to critically analyze is the statement by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.  This statement was written four years after Luther posted the Ninety-five Theses.

"I see that we can scarcely get anything from Christ's ministers but for money, at bishopping (sic) money, at marriage money, for confession money - no, not extreme unction without money! They will ring no bells without money, no burial in the church without money; so that it seemeth that Paradise is shut up without money. The rich is buried in the church, the poor in the churchyard. [...] The rich man may readily get large indulgences, but the poor none, because he wanteth money to pay for them."  Charles V (The Reformation Dawnby Franklin Verzelius Newton Painter, p. 165)

Critical Thinking Questions:  How did the controversy over the sale of indulgence in the area of the German states impact the decisions of the young (age 19)new ruler of the Holy Roman Empire?

In the year 1521, what are the advantages and disadvantages of Charles V in making a decision about how to handle the developing crisis between the Protestants and the Roman Catholics. How should Charles V respond to Luther's position on Thesis #5 about the power of the pope? The Turks are also threatening to invade the eastern territory.  Pope Leo X depends on the support of the rulers of France and the Holy Roman Empire and Charles V needs the support of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church!

Should Charles V...

1.      Support Martin Luther as a citizen of his empire?

2.      Support Pope Leo X?

3.      Take a neutral position?

Model Essays for High School Students:

The following research papers were written by Olivia Facini, our high school intern.  They are presented as an example of a short research paper that supports the research and writing expectations of the Common Core Standards.

The Impact of the Protestant Reformation on Renaissance Art

Laypeople Who Forwarded the Protestant Reformation

The Common Core Standards for Writing in History/Social Studies 6-12 require students to:

1. Introduce a topic and organize information making important connections.

2. Include graphics, figures, tables, images to support comprehension.

3. Use research to answer a question, solve a problem, or broaden inquiry into a subject.

4.Integrate relevant information from multiple sources, avoid plagiarism, and maintain the flow of ideas.

5. Write a discipline specific essay or paper using data and evidence to support claims and counterclaims.