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Thanks to the printing press, Luther's '95 Theses' and his other writings spread quickly through Europe.In January 1521, the Pope Leo X excommunicated Luther.Luther did not give them to the people, although he did send copies to the Archbishop of Mainz and to the Bishop of Brandenburg.
Luther's primary concerns surrounded indulgences that the Roman Catholic Church was selling.
The church sold indulgences as a fundraising campaign commissioned by Pope Leo through a Dominican priest, Johann Tetzel, in Germany.
On 31 October 1517, he published his '95 Theses', attacking papal abuses and the sale of indulgences.
Luther had come to believe that Christians are saved through faith and not through their own efforts.
Martin Luther was born on 10 November 1483 in Eisleben. Luther studied at the University of Erfurt and in 1505 decided to join a monastic order, becoming an Augustinian friar.
He was ordained in 1507, began teaching at the University of Wittenberg and in 1512 was made a doctor of Theology.
In 1510 he visited Rome on behalf of a number of Augustinian monasteries, and was appalled by the corruption he found there.
Luther became increasingly angry about the clergy selling 'indulgences' - promised remission from punishments for sin, either for someone still living or for one who had died and was believed to be in purgatory.
Whether Luther actually nailed his theses to the church door is widely debated.
Scholars agree that he, at the very least, would have mailed the document to the pope, the Archbishop of Mainz, friends and other scholars.