Katharina von Bora

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Katharina Luther (von Bora)

Also Known As: "Katharina von Bora"
Birthplace: Lippendorf, Germany
Death: December 20, 1552 (53)
Torgau, Leipzig, Saxony, Germany
Place of Burial: Torgau, Leipzig, Saxony, Germany
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Ritter Hans IV. von Bora and Anna von Haugwitz
Wife of Dr. of Theology Martin Luther
Mother of Johannes Luther, II; Elisabeth Luther; Magdalena Luther; Martin Luther, Jr.; Paul Luther and 1 other

Occupation: nun
Managed by: Tobias Rachor (C)
Last Updated:

About Katharina von Bora

For an interesting discussion on Katharina's ancestry see http://www.von-bora.de/CvB_Graphics.pdf

In historischen Romanen und Erzählungen findet sich neuerdings die Darstellung, dass sie in Hirschfeld bei Nossen geboren worden sei, und dass ihre Eltern ein Hans von Bora zu Hirschfeld und eine Anna geborene von Haugwitz gewesen seien.[7] Beide sind historisch nicht nachweisbar.[8] Trotzdem wird der alte Taufstein aus der Hirschfelder Kirche, der heute im Kreuzgang des Freiberger Domes steht, mit ihr in Verbindung gebracht.[9]

Tatsächlich war Katharina wohl die Tochter des nur 1505 sicher belegten Jhan v. Bora auf Lippendorf und seiner ebenfalls nur 1505 erwähnten Ehefrau Margarete aus einer bislang unbekannten Familie (German Wikipedia)

Katharina von Bora, one of 12 nuns Martin Luther had helped escape from a convent two years earlier. Katharina was 26, Luther 41 years old. Ironically, the couple’s first home was a former monastery, a gift from John the Constant. They would have six children, four of whom lived to adulthood.

Katharina was an avid gardener, cattle breeder and competent Lady of the house and her and Martin led a happy life together. Many of Luther's circle of friends and supporters were dismayed by his marriage.

The Luther's lived in the Augustinian monastery, a bustling and happy home. They had many houseguests and boarders, including students and widows who would provide some much needed income, in addition to Luther's modest income, towards the running of the household.

Luther would sometimes jokingly refer to her as Lord Kate' because of her bossy and commandeering motherly ways, though no doubt it was necessary at times.

Luther's sisters' six children would live with them after her death. Katharina von Bora was born in 1499, the daughter of an impoverished nobleman. In 1504 she went to the convent school of the Benedict order in Brehna (near Halle) and entered the convent of Nimbschen (near Grimma; only in german) in 1508. In 1515 she took her vows and became a nun at the soonest possible date. Easter of 1523, Katherina fled with 11 other nuns from the convent in Nimbschen to Wittenberg and found shelter with the family of Lucas Cranach the Elder.

She developed feelings for Hicronymus Baumgärtner, a student at the Wittenberg University and the son of a Nuremberg patrician family. His parents sent for him, and even Luther's attempts at negotiations failed. She was then courted by pastor Glatz, a lecturer from Orlamünde but she refused him. She supposedly told Nikolaus von Amsdorf that she wanted to marry Luther, but Luther would rather marry Ave von Schönfeld, another former nun from Nimbschen. 
On June 13, 1525 Katharina got engaged and married to Luther; the wedding celebration took place on June 27, 1525. 

Philipp Melanchthon is quoted as having said: "Unexpectedly Luther married Bora, without even mentioning his plans to his friends..." in 1525.

Henceforth, Katharina Luther put the household in order, used the monestary's right to brew beer, leased land for gardening and bred cattle.

On June 7, 1526 Martin and Katharina's first son, Johannes (Hans), was born, on December 10, 1527 a daughter, Elisabeth, was born, but died after 8 months; the daughter, Magdalena, born on May 4, 1529, died at age 13. In 1531, 1533, and 1534, their sons, Martin and Paul, and daughter, Margarethe were born. All living descendants of Martin Luther come from Margarethe's line. 

Katharina fled from the Smalkaldian War in 1546 to Dessau and then to Magdeburg. She died on December 20, 1552 in Torgau where she had fled to get away from the plague in Wittenberg.

Wikipedia: Katharina von Bora, referred to as "die Lutherin" (January 29, 1499 – December 20, 1552), was the wife of Martin Luther, German leader of the Protestant Reformation. Beyond what is found in the writings of Luther and some of his contemporaries, little is known about her. Despite this, Katharina is often considered one of the most important participants of the Reformation because of her role in helping to define Protestant family life and setting the tone for clergy marriages. Origin and family background[edit] Katharina von Bora was daughter to a family of Saxon landed gentry.[1] According to common belief, she was born on 29 January 1499; however, there is no evidence of this date from contemporary documents. Due to the various lineages within the family and the uncertainty towards Katharina's birth name, there were and are diverging theories about her place of birth.[2][3] Lately, however, a different view upon this matter has been proposed: that she was born in Hirschfeld and that her parents are supposed to have been a Hans von Bora zu Hirschfeld and his wife Anna von Haugwitz.[4] Neither can be historically proven. It is also possible that Katharina was the daughter of a Jan von Bora auf Lippendorf and his wife Margarete, whose family name has not been established. Both were only specifically mentioned in the year 1505.[5] Life as a nun[edit] It is certain that her father sent the five year old Katherina to the Benedictine cloister in Brehna in 1504 for education. This is documented in a letter from Laurentius Zoch to Martin Luther, written on October 30, 1531. This letter is the only evidence for Katherina von Bora's time spent within the monastery.[6] At the age of nine she moved to the Cistercian monastery Marienthron (Mary's Throne) in Nimbschen, near Grimma, where her maternal aunt was already a member of the community.[7] Katharina is well documented at this monastery in a provision list of 1509/10.[8] After several years of religious life, Katharina became interested in the growing reform movement and grew dissatisfied with her life in the monastery. Conspiring with several other nuns to flee in secrecy, she contacted Luther and begged for his assistance. On Easter eve, 4 April 1523, Luther sent Leonhard Köppe, a city councilman of Torgau and merchant who regularly delivered herring to the monastery. The nuns successfully escaped by hiding in Köppe's covered wagon among the fish barrels, and fled to Wittenberg. A local student wrote to a friend: 'A wagon load of vestal virgins has just come to town, all more eager for marriage than for life. God grant them husbands lest worse befall."[9] Luther at first asked the parents and relations of the refugee nuns to admit them again into their houses, but they declined to receive them, possibly as this was participating in a crime under canon law.[10] Within two years, Luther was able to arrange homes, marriages, or employment for all of the escaped nuns—except for Katharina. She first was housed with the family of Philipp Reichenbach, the city clerk of Wittenberg, and later went to the home of Lucas Cranach the Elder and his wife, Barbara. Katharina had a number of suitors, including Wittenberg University alumnus Jerome (Hieronymus) Baumgärtner (1498–1565) of Nuremberg and a pastor, Kaspar Glatz of Orlamünde, but none of the proposed matches resulted in marriage. Finally, she told Luther’s friend and fellow reformer, Nikolaus von Amsdorf, that she would be willing to marry only Luther or him. Marriage to Luther Martin Luther eventually married Katharina on June 13, 1525, before witnesses including Justus Jonas, Johannes Bugenhagen, and Barbara and Lucas Cranach the Elder.[11] There was a wedding breakfast the next morning with a small company, but two weeks later, on June 27, they held a more formal public ceremony which was presided over by Bugenhagen.[12] Von Bora was 26 years old, Luther 41. The couple took up residence in "The Black Cloister" (Augusteum), the former dormitory and educational institution for Augustinian friars studying in Wittenberg, given as a wedding gift by the reform-minded John Frederick, Elector of Saxony, who was the son and nephew of Luther's protectors, John, Elector of Saxony and Frederick III, Elector of Saxony.[13] Katharina immediately took on the task of administering and managing the vast holdings of the monastery, breeding and selling cattle, and running a brewery in order to provide for their family and the steady stream of students who boarded with them and visitors seeking audiences with her husband. In times of widespread illness, Katharina operated a hospital on site, ministering to the sick alongside other nurses. Luther called her the "boss of Zulsdorf," after the name of the farm they owned, and the "morning star of Wittenberg" for her habit of rising at 4 a.m. to take care of her various responsibilities. In addition to her busy life tending to the lands and grounds of the monastery, Katharina bore six children: Johannes (Hans) (1526–1575), Elizabeth (1527–28) who died at eight months, Magdalena (1529–42) who died at thirteen years, Martin Jr. (1531–1565), Paul (1533–1593), and Margarete (1534–70); in addition she suffered a miscarriage in 1539. The Luthers also raised four orphan children, including Katharina's nephew, Fabian.[14] Throughout Luther's writings, one can obtain a sense of Katharina's wit and personality, as seen in this exchange: Martin Luther said, "The time will come when a man will take more than one wife." [Katharina] responded, "Let the devil believe that!" The doctor said, "The reason, Katie, is that a woman can bear a child only once a year while her husband can beget many." Katie responded, "Paul said that each man should have his own wife." To this the doctor replied, "Yes, 'his own wife' and not 'only one wife,' for the latter isn't what Paul wrote." The doctor kidded for a long time and finally the doctor's wife said, "Before I put up with this, I'd rather go back to the convent and leave you and all our children."[15] After Luther's death: When Martin Luther died in 1546, Katharina was left in difficult financial straits without Luther's salary as professor and pastor, even if she owned land and proprieties, and also the Black Cloister. She was counselled by Martin Luther to move out of the old abbey and sell it, after his death, into a much more modest quarters with the children who remained at home, but she refused.[16] Almost immediately thereafter, Katharina had to leave the Black Cloister on her own at the outbreak of the Schmalkaldic War, from which she fled to Magdeburg. After her return the approach of the war forced another flight in 1547, this time to Braunschweig. In July of that year, at the close of the war, she was at last able to return to Wittenberg. After the war the buildings and lands of the monastery had been torn apart and laid waste, the cattle and other farm animals were stolen or killed. If she would have sold the land and the buildings, she could have had a good financial situation. As it was, economically, they could not remain there. Katharina was able to support herself thanks to the generosity of John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony and the princes of Anhalt.[citation needed] She remained in Wittenberg in poverty until 1552, when an outbreak of the Black Plague and a harvest failure forced her to leave the city once again. She fled to Torgau where her cart was involved in a bad accident near the city gates, seriously injuring Katharina. She died in Torgau about three months later on December 20, 1552 at the age of fifty-three and was buried at Torgau's Saint Mary's Church, far from her husband's grave in Wittenberg. She is reported to have said on her deathbed, "I will stick to Christ as a burr to cloth."[citation needed] By the time of Katharina's death, the surviving Luther children were adults. After Katharina's death, the Black Cloister was sold back to the university in 1564 by his heirs. Hans studied law and became a court advisor. Martin studied theology, but never had a regular pastoral call. Paul became a physician. He fathered six children and the male line of the Luther family continued through him to John Ernest Luther, ending in 1759. Margareta Luther, born in Wittenberg on December 17, 1534, married into a noble, wealthy Prussian family, to Georg von Kunheim (Wehlau, July 1, 1523 – Mühlhausen, October 18, 1611, the son of Georg von Kunheim (1480–1543) and wife Margarethe, Truchsessin von Wetzhausen (1490–1527)) but died in Mühlhausen in 1570 at the age of thirty-six. Her descendants have continued to modern times, including German President Paul von Hindenburg (1847–1934) and the Counts zu Eulenburg and Princes zu Eulenburg und Hertefeld.

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Katharina von Bora's Timeline

January 29, 1499
Lippendorf, Germany

In historischen Romanen und Erzählungen findet sich neuerdings die Darstellung, dass sie in Hirschfeld bei Nossen geboren worden sei, und dass ihre Eltern ein Hans von Bora zu Hirschfeld und eine Anna geborene von Haugwitz gewesen seien.[7] Beide sind historisch nicht nachweisbar.[8] Trotzdem wird der alte Taufstein aus der Hirschfelder Kirche, der heute im Kreuzgang des Freiberger Domes steht, mit ihr in Verbindung gebracht.[9]

Tatsächlich war Katharina wohl die Tochter des nur 1505 sicher belegten Jhan v. Bora auf Lippendorf und seiner ebenfalls nur 1505 erwähnten Ehefrau Margarete aus einer bislang unbekannten Familie
(German wikipedia)

June 7, 1526
Eisleben, Germany
December 12, 1527
Eisleben, Germany
May 4, 1529
Eisleben, Germany
November 9, 1531
January 29, 1533
Wittenberg, Kursachsen, Hl. römisches Reich, Deutschland (Germany)
December 17, 1534
Wittenberg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany
December 20, 1552
Age 53
Torgau, Leipzig, Saxony, Germany
December 21, 1552
Age 53
Saint Mary's Church, Torgau, Leipzig, Saxony, Germany