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Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk

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Their revolutionary marriage was arguably one of the most scandalous and intriguing in history. Yet five centuries later, we still know little about Martin and Katharina Luther's life as husband and wife. Until now.

Against all odds, the unlikely union worked, over time blossoming into the most tender of love stories. This unique biography tells the riveting story of two extraordinary people and their extraordinary relationship, offering refreshing insights into Christian history and illuminating the Luthers' profound impact on the institution of marriage, the effects of which still reverberate today. By the time they turn the last page, readers will have a deeper understanding of Luther as a husband and father and will come to love and admire Katharina, a woman who, in spite of her pivotal role, has been largely forgotten by history.

Together, this legendary couple experienced joy and grief, triumph and travail. This book brings their private lives and their love story into the spotlight and offers powerful insights into our own twenty-first-century understanding of marriage.

320 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2017

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About the author

Michelle DeRusha

7 books148 followers
A Massachusetts native, Michelle DeRusha moved to Nebraska in 2001, where she discovered the Great Plains, grasshoppers the size of Cornish hens ... and God. She writes about finding and keeping faith in the everyday at http://michellederusha.com, as well as for the Lincoln Journal Star and The High Calling.

She's mom to two bug-loving boys, Noah and Rowan, and is married to Brad, an English professor who reads Moby Dick for fun.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 165 reviews
Profile Image for Louise.
1,672 reviews302 followers
March 31, 2019
Intrigued by what I thought to be the strange courtship of the Luther’s’ I took this book from the library shelves. I had envisioned some romantic raid on the convent, maybe preceded by some secret love notes, maybe some snuggling in the cart on the way to safety… or maybe it was love at first sight in the cart, with Luther driving the team of horses. We don’t know how it happened, but none of these ideas is remotely true.

Through Katherina’s story, De Rusha presents the life in cloister schools and in convents. She describes the curriculum, the regimentation and who was there and why. Here and throughout the book there is information on the state of women who were not considered citizens without marriage. For some women convent life was the only option. DeRusha shows how nuns were more successful in fighting the closing their convents than males in closing monasteries because they had no place else to go. There are quotes from misogynistic writers, who make sexism sound refreshing.

Martin Luther, 17 years her senior, was destined to be a lawyer to help his father’s mining business, but he made a vow to St. Anna who saved him from a storm that he would be a monk. There is a bit on his self-denying life as a monk and change to reformist thinking.

Several years after posting his theses (2017 is its 500th anniversary) followed by writing about the anti-Christian aspects of monastic life, the convent raid took place. It is not known how or why this particular convent was chosen, (here the book is at odds with other sources, digested in Wikipedia) but we know it was successful. 9-12 nuns were quietly smuggled out and taken 21 miles to safety

Then came the problem of what to do with the liberated women. Only 2 families of these daughters agreed to take them back. DeRusha documents Luther’s role in finding them husbands. He was quite successful until it came to Katharina. Two years after the raid, she proposed (!) and he accepted.

Their married life is documented with Katharina working day and night to provide for their family and the “guests” at their “borrowed” estate (a former monastery). You see Luther’s reliance on Katharina and there is some documentation of her participation in theological discussions. Their love for their children is shown through their letters regarding the loss of their teenage daughter.

This is a short successful book for documenting not just this unusal marriage but the tenor of the times. It shows the highly discriminatory world Katharina faced.

The death of Martin Luther and the aftermath needed a bit more information. How helpful was their 20 year old son? Did any of of Luther’s entourage help her?

The short and pithy book is footnoted. There are some b&w images but no index. It will be of interest to those interested in the role of women in the middle ages.
Profile Image for David Frye.
Author 1 book4 followers
February 7, 2017
Some authors display courage in their choices of topics, others by the frank honesty of their self-disclosure, and others by daring to traverse terrain through which many writers have traveled before them. Michelle DeRusha, through her work on Katharina & Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk, falls into the third category. If one were to pick the historical figures to whom the most linear feet of library shelves have been devoted, then, in some order near the top of the list, one would name Jesus, Martin Luther, and Abraham Lincoln.

This year marks the quincentennial of the Protestant Reformation, sparked by Martin Luther’s decision to propose reforms of various practices of the Roman Catholic Church. In the five hundred years that have elapsed since 1517, the consequences—both intended and unintended—of that watershed event have touched most facets of modern Western civilization.

But who was Martin Luther, the man at the center of the debate? This book’s novel and distinctive answer reframes this often-asked question. The author makes a quick and convincing case that one cannot understand the event or the man without grasping the character of his life. And one cannot understand his life without coming to appreciate his marriage. Finally, one cannot understand his marriage without getting to know Katherina von Bora, the former nun with whom Martin, the ex-monk, forged the first marital partnership that one could call a modern, Western marriage.

The reader of Katharina & Martin Luther will turn its pages eagerly as the portrait of the couple comes to life. Martin’s life and thoughts persist in copious, written records, making the challenge in sketching his contribution one of selection. On the other hand, the author’s work creates a kind of biographical–paleontological portrait of Katharina. It’s as if the author has found a scattering of shards—only eight letters from Katharina’s hand survive—and reconstructs the woman’s life from those shards and from judiciously selected studies of the lives of sixteenth-century women generally and women religious particularly.
The delight in reading this book comes in the experience of watching the portrait of the relationship take shape and then comparing the couple’s marriage with contemporary relationships. The experience is like seeing the echoes of the faces of grandparents in the still-changing features of their grandchildren. While Katharina & Martin Luther is a biography, amply researched and documented, the author has found a way to vivify her findings and the book’s subjects by telling their shared story and drawing out its implications. This approach makes the book become a page-turner.

The celebrations and dissections of the Reformation, arguably one of the most significant historical events of the last millennium, will only increase in number as the year proceeds. If you want to begin your journey to appreciate this event’s influence on modern society and your own daily life from a place grounded in history and blooming with insights, then Michelle DeRusha’s Katharina & Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk is an excellent place to start.

Note: The author included me in a team of readers who received copies of the book before its release.
Profile Image for Deidra.
Author 2 books50 followers
February 7, 2017
Only eight letters remain that were written by Katharina von Bora, the woman who would become Martin Luther’s wife. There wasn’t much information to go on as Michelle DeRusha set out to introduce us to this woman who worked beside her husband—a man who, in many ways, saw her as his equal—during a time of transition and, what some might consider, upheaval, in the church. But Michelle has made the story come alive! Do not be fooled into thinking this is some dry, dull, historical piece that you’ll have to slog through. With rich detail and a truly delightful cadence, Michelle sets the story of this runaway nun and renegade monk into an historical context and presents the players as people you will come to know and appreciate as their story unfolds.

This year marks the 500th Anniversary of the day Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the church, ushering the Reformation. It’s easy to look at an act such as that, at a time such as the one we’re in now, and wish we had some of that gumption; some of that pluck. But Martin and Katharina, as you’ll see in the book, were ordinary people, with ordinary concerns and cares, hopes and fears, who simply did they best they could with the time they were given. For those of us who dream of modern-day revolutionaries, this book is the perfect historical examination of the extraordinary results of faithfully living out our ordinary days, with fidelity, a good sense of humor (we can thank Martin for some of the chuckles in these pages), a great deal of resourcefulness, and a sliver of faith.
Profile Image for Gretchen Ronnevik.
Author 1 book90 followers
December 15, 2022
I read this book for research purposes, but honestly, it was a page turner. First off, I want to point out how incredibly well researched this book was. The footnotes are frequent, the bibliography impressive, and the notes on her research are illuminating. She sometimes compares interpretations of events by different historians, but honestly this book is incredibly balanced.

Some of the books on Katharina Von Bora I have read have leaned one way or another on agenda, or interpreting Katie's life and circumstances through a modern lens. What I loved about this book is that the author is constantly putting us into Luther and Katie's context, not them into ours. The amount of detail about the cloisters where they lived, the hours they kept, and the superstitions of the time shed light on decisions and attitudes that can't be seen if we are only looking at that data left behind by Luther and Katie exclusively.

I love that the author did not attempt to immortalize either Luther or Katie, but showed them honestly and with complexity of both their good and bad features. But in looking at them honesty, we see the strength between them, and that is even though they were both incredibly strong willed, they had a fierce mutual respect, even from the beginning, and those 2 strong wills were pulling in the same direction.

In addition to all of this, the writing in this book was incredibly engaging, and made it very difficult to put down. Without taking liberties, the author painted a picture of family life in all of it's chaos and even historic significance.

Not only do I recommend this book, I see myself reading it again just for fun.
Profile Image for Angie Thompson.
Author 31 books1,079 followers
August 24, 2021
This was an interesting look at the marriage of Katharina and Martin Luther and the greater context around it, both in the society of the time and in the changes being made as a result of the Reformation. The author did a good job of working with scant material and piecing together what certain things might have looked like from other period sources while keeping the distinction between known facts and possibilities clear. Though the most interesting and engaging parts for me were when we got to see them through their own words and not just conjecture about what their life might have been like.

My favorite parts had to be the chapters dealing with the Luthers' home life, as well as the awesome banter and playfulness and getting to see how their marriage blossomed into mutual love and affection from its unpromising beginning.

My one complaint would be that some of the talk on the different views of marriage and sexuality at the time (which was admittedly relevant to the topic) got a bit more--frank--on subjects like people's mixed-up views on sexual organs than I would have liked. There was also some mention of various sinful lifestyles and uncomfortable rituals of the time like needing to have a witness present at the consummation of the marriage.
Profile Image for Julia Bickford.
59 reviews2 followers
March 3, 2019
I thought this book was really interesting, but the first half was really slow and the author made a lot of guesses at what Kate’s life was like. I understand that there isn’t a lot of hard evidence about her out there, but all of the speculation got on my nerves after a while. However, I did enjoy reading the letters from Martin to Kate and learning more about their relationship and the time period. I told my friend that I would rate the first half of the book 5/10 and the second half 8/10.
Profile Image for Jennie.
247 reviews19 followers
February 7, 2017
The first thing I saw, when I opened the book was her book dedication to her dad "the most Lutheran Catholic I know" I thought I think I am going to like this book, as I have Lutheran and Catholic roots, so it gave me a chuckle!!
This book is the story of a famous couple most of us know, Martin Luther and his wife Katharina, who knew at that time in history what an impact these two made to our church and not only that, they are an example of what a marriage should be and represent. "Together, this legendary couple encountered tremendous adversity and preserved in the face of hardship. They experienced joy and grief, triumph and travail in their twenty-one years together. In short, they were human, which means they were flawed and fallible, just like the rest of us." You will read about how their unlikely union happen 500 years ago and just how "chancy" it was, as you know she was a run-away nun and Martin a renegade monk! You will feel for how she was raised and basically given away at a young age, you will cry with them at losing their child, and mourn with her when Martin died. More than that, this book is so well written, the details, the history! Michelle DeRusha, the author, keeps you from putting the book down! Michelle, did her research when she wrote this book! I love how she included so many details (living conditions, marriage customs, childbirth and raising, church history/theology). This book is so intriguing and interesting to read. I don't think I have ever read such a great biography, usually they are kind of dull, but this has life to it! So if you enjoy reading biographies, have never read a biography, or are interested in some church history from one of the most famous couples, you will want to read this book and then add it to your library.We can learn so much from them about faith, love, and life today! I have already decided this book will be future reading for my kids in our homeschool!
Profile Image for Amy Sullivan.
Author 6 books43 followers
February 9, 2017
Dear Michelle DeRusha,
Stop it. Stop making me stay up late to find out exactly what happens to Katharina after she runs away from the convent. Stop making me think of twenty-two-year-old Martin Luther promising to become a monk if St. Anne protected him. Stop making me wonder about strange wedding nights and plague victims. Just stop making history so engaging! Only teasing. Don't stop. The world needs more books like this.

Profile Image for Jenny Preston.
270 reviews5 followers
February 23, 2018
I think I would have liked to get to know the Luthers. They sound like a fun couple to have dinner with.

Unlike most biographies of the famous reformer, DeRusha directs her focus to the marriage between Katharina von Bora and Martin Luther. Beginning at the beginning, with their somewhat disappointing childhoods and cold families, DeRusha walks us through season by season of the Luthers private life. Their marriage started unpromising: she, out of options, he, seeking to put feet to his theology and charity. But in little time, they fell into true love and mutual respect, building each other up and genuinely enjoying each other's company. I appreciate this very human side of history.
Profile Image for David Steele.
Author 6 books188 followers
February 7, 2017
Michelle DeRusha, Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2017, 314 pp. $14.79

When Baker Publishing gave me an opportunity to read and review Katharina & Martin Luther by Michelle DeRusha, I hesitated. For almost twenty-five years, I have studied the life of Luther and researched the finer points of the Protestant Reformation. In 2015, I began a period of research and writing which led to the publication of my book, Bold Reformer: Celebrating the Gospel Centered Convictions of Martin Luther. So my original hesitation had nothing to do with a lack of interest. Indeed, my interest in Luther has never waned. My only question was this: Would this book add any new insight or reveal aspects of Luther's life that were previously unknown to me?

Thankfully, I decided to read the book. After only a few pages, I knew that my decision to devour this new book about Luther's life would pay rich dividends.

First, Michelle DeRusha is an excellent writer. Her writing is clearly linked to the historical data concerning Luther's life and is informed by a wealth of scholarship that she is quick to utilize.

Second, Katharina and Martin Luther is not your standard fare history book. The book reads like a novel but never sacrifices any of the historical content that readers expect. DeRusha has a gift for making history come alive and draws the reader into the setting she seeks to expose. I often found myself mysteriously transported to the Wittenberg landscape, smelling the fragrance of the countryside, or experiencing the unique tension of the Reformation. The author nicely captures the zeitgeist of the 16th century and strategically guides readers through its hallowed halls.

Finally, DeRusha skillfully presents the blossoming relationship between Martin Luther and Katharina. Despite the many challenges that this family encountered, one thing remains certain: “The Protestant Reformation would have happened without the marriage of Luther and Katharine. But Luther would not have been the same Reformer without Katharina.”

Katharina and Martin is thoroughly researched and presented in a winsome way that will no doubt attract a wide range of readers. Highly recommended!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.
Profile Image for Sunnie.
863 reviews26 followers
February 7, 2017
This book was especially fascinating to me, for several reasons. First, I am a German genealogist, and having done my own family research find connections to the Luther family through one of my lines. As a result, I too, did a lot of research on Martin Luther. I also had many ancestors from the province of Sachsen, where the book and the lives of this couple took place, who were pastors in the Lutheran church. Through my own research, I found that many of my Lutheran pastor ancestors knew Martin Luther, befriended him and experienced some of the trials of the Reformation, as did he.

So that being said, I was amazed at the amazing research that must have been required for this book. It was really so interesting to see what type of lives the monks and the nuns had and experienced. And what a remarkable and strong man Martin Luther was to so strongly work to bring about religious reform and freedoms.

A remarkable book and I feel so fortunate to have been able to read this.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for my honest review, which I have given.
Profile Image for Kathy.
3 reviews5 followers
February 7, 2017

Katharina & Martin Luther – A Book Review

Katharina and Martin Luther

I’m addicted to memoirs and biographies,and fascinated by Christian history and daring women, so I jumped at chance to review Michelle DeRusha’s, Katharina & Martin Luther, about a ‘radical marriage of a runaway nun and a renegade monk’. This well-crafted book reads more like suspense story than a historical account of two fascinating people in the Middle Ages who changed history. Michelle, a gifted writer, finds an eloquent balance in presenting facts within a well-structured, intriguing storyline that kept me wanting more as I finished each chapter. Sleepy and up way past my bedtime, I found myself reading ‘just one more page‘.

I knew some of Martin Luther’s influence on Christianity that launched the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century, including his radical rejection of the Catholic Church due to its power and corruption in seeking indulgences – getting people to purchase a free ticket from punishment of sin. I knew less about his years as a monk and his harsh asceticism, his spiritual awakening, and being excommunicated by the Pope for his unfolding conflicting theologies. I knew little about his influence on clerical marriage, marriage ceremonies as we know them today, and his high esteem for marriage and sexuality as God-appointed. I knew nothing of Katharina, little about girls women in the Middle Ages, or of this fascinating marriage portrayed in Katharina and Martin Luther — a book that opened wide the door into another world of the Middle Ages and a pivotal point in Christian history.

As a filmmaker, I appreciate Michelle’s cinematic writing bringing the reader into the heart of the 16th Century Europe, into the intimacy and immediacy of a scene such as a flickering of candlelight on the wall, a breath, and detailed sense of place and time. Although, little is known about Katharina due to scant correspondence and the fact that women weren’t even considered citizens unless married, historians believe Katharina was born in 1499 into the von Bora family of lower nobility. We soon learn she’s sent to a cloister at five-years-old, alleviating financial burdens of her father, common for many families with daughters, a practice Martin Luther later considered a disgrace.

Katharina’s early years in a Benedictine cloister were rich in education and comfort, however at 9-years-old she moved to a more austere, isolated Cistercian cloister, far from the world where she mostly lived a life of industrious silence and obedience with strict daily practices and duties that allowed little sleep. Michelle’s writing drew me into the isolation Katharina must have felt as such a young girl, sparking a quiet outrage that raised questions for me about the cloister’s oppressive spiritual practices imposed by the invisible, yet powerful ghost of the Catholic Church lurking somewhere in the backdrop.

I won’t offer too many more details because I don’t want to spoil the fun! Just to say Katharina and Martin Luther is a daring escapade of two ‘rebels with a cause‘ challenging the authority of the Catholic Church, a story of scandal and rebellion and history changing material that delights, educates and entertains. It’s also sexy in an odd, Middle-Ages sort of way, as these two heretics, a former monk and nun, break the chains of the rigid sexual ethics of the Catholic church. Readers even get to glimpse the consummation of their marriage on their wedding night!

I warmed to the industrious, strong-willed, intelligent Katharina — amazed by her talents and perseverance: planting fields, butchering livestock, catching fish, preserving foods, hauling water, chopping wood, selling cows, brewing beer, caring for an often ill Martin, concocting herbal remedies, hospitality to an ongoing stream of guests, care-taking a distressed property, being given (by Luther) all financial responsibilities, and more. I leave wondering if she was the ultimate Proverb’s woman (Proverb 31 is a woman who can do it all- She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands; She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens; She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard, etc.). Or was she more of like a slave under the patriarchal expectations of wifely duties of her time – not much different from cloister life? I’m still contemplating this question.

Martin Luther, well, at first I had mixed feelings about Mr. Luther. His outspoken, fearless tactics and clever rants against the injustices of the Catholic Church, inspire and entertain. Yet,”obstinate, rebellious and sharp-tongued”, at times he seems pompous and even irritating — which also makes for a great character, the kind of person needed take on the injustices of the Catholic Church and change history. He conformed to the belief of the time (a belief still today held today in some Christian circles), that wives and husbands have separate roles, and men are head of the household and superior as ordained by God. Martin wrote, “women are created for no other purpose than to serve men”, which made me feel more protective of Katharina– surely she was much more than a servant! Also, I felt irritated by his letters to friends during their early marriage, stating how he really wasn’t attracted to Katharina, although he esteemed her. He wrote to his friend, “I do not love my wife, but I appreciate her“, feeling only that God willed the marriage. Surely, Katharina deserved more!

Yet, DeRusha goes on to unfold a softer, more loving man who actually deeply respected women, a man fiercely in love with his wife. DeRusha asserts his seemingly misogynist rants about women in his writings, more often part of his typical playful bantering around a table with beer drinking buddies, rarely done without a feisty, outspoken Katharina joining in, holding her own, joining in the fun.

I warmed to Martin even more as DeRusha unfolds the power of his love, honor, adoration and respect of, “his Kate” –even calling her “Lord”! Many consider Martin Luther a misogynist, but his letters and life with Katharina tell a different story. DeRusha writes, “how he lived with Katharina in their day-to-day life as husband and wife was another thing entirely” — “closely bound to, and dependent on Kate”.

In the end, Katharina emerged as a powerful force in a marriage surely God-ordained, steeped in a love more rich and intimate than romantic love, an intelligent, strong-willed woman, who alongside Martin Luther, helped change Christian history.

A big kudos Michelle DeRusha, an enjoyable, enriching read and highly recommended!

Profile Image for victoria.
347 reviews1 follower
February 7, 2017
The Radical Marriage of a
Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk
By Michelle DeRusha
Forward by Karen Swallow Prior
This book was a very interesting to read not like a normal life love story as we all know and we can not find easily from the regular textbook too. A former nun named Katharina and Martin Luthers’ individual living life story of their unlikely marriage. This will be a most of love story an unique biography of the remarkable people of there legendry couple. The Author, Michelle DeRusha remind us about how the grace of Christ truly affects our life since today. I highly recommend everyone must read this book.
“ I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers in exchange for this review “
4 reviews
February 7, 2017
Loved this book more than I thought I would. DeRusha's style of writing makes Katharina and Luther's story come to life. Even though it's peppered with footnotes, it reads like fiction. If you're like me and didn't realize (or remember) there was a Mrs. Luther, you'll find her story very interesting. She was a women's libber before there was women's lib. And Martin's views on women (and marriage) were very progressive for his time. Be careful - you won't want to stop reading once you start.
Profile Image for Valerie.
3 reviews
February 7, 2017
I learned more than I thought possible about the roots of modern Christianity in this captivating book by Michelle DeRusha. Better yet, though, it was like reading a historical romance while learning about the epic shift in church and gender roles. I wish I had better words to more accurately describe how much I enjoyed this easy read that left me wishing there were more!
13 reviews
February 6, 2017
Michelle DeRusha has written an informative and fascinating book on the personal life of Katharina and Martin Luther. There were so many tidbits of information about them in this book. Such as the fact that Katharina escaped from the Cistercian Convent. Can you imagine being a rebel nun who chose to escape in those days?
Michelle's storyline maintains a fast pace drawing the reader in from beginning to end. Her style of writing is informative yet inviting and friendly. It begs the reader to ask,"What's next"!
Although there is little direct historical information about Katharina and Martin's personal life, Michelle brings Katharina to life as a real woman and equal partner to Martin. She threads together Martin and Katharina's devotion to each other and God.
The font , spacing and layout selected for this book makes it a comfortable , "easy on the eyes" read.
Anyone interested in biographies or the reformation period of history or is just wanting to read an historical account of two great lives, this is the book for you!
Profile Image for Laura.
42 reviews
February 7, 2017
I was on the book launch team and found this a fascinating read. The author brings history to life and I can imagine this story made into a movie! Her historical documentation of a runaway nun and a renegade monk whose persecutions and passions ultimately changed marriage and Christianity as we know it today is thoroughly researched. I found this book to be remarkably well documented, detailing little known facts about the history of marriage in a sometimes scandalous way! This book will appeal to a very wide audience.
Profile Image for Lori Whitaker.
11 reviews
February 7, 2017
This has been a page-turner from the beginning! Michelle's ability to weave historical information into a story is delightful. Not being one to gravitate toward history, I was enthralled with the lives of these two figures and very grateful for the impact they both have made in our society today. I cannot encourage you enough to get a copy of this treasure for your personal library. Encourage your young people to read it and get to know this couple who took incredible risks to follow God at His Word.

I received a copy of this book by the author for my honest opinion and review.
Profile Image for Marie.
14 reviews3 followers
January 23, 2019
I really enjoyed this look into the life of the Luther’s. It is important to note that the author takes liberties in drawing conclusions regarding Kate’s life—as there is very little written about her.

Reading about the lives of important people in history, church and otherwise, brings a personal perspective to their widespread impact.
Profile Image for Jeanie.
1,201 reviews1 follower
February 7, 2017
Michelle DeRusha is a Christian author who writes with excellence; I first became acquainted with her writing through her blog and her contribution to a Lenten devotional booklet in 2016. She relates a factual account of Katharina and Martin Luther in a way that is so absorbing, it is hard to put down.

Rich with historical details, the author unfolds the Luther’s stories both before and after their marriage. The author had a huge task in determining which information to use out of several shelves of books by and about Martin Luther, and to find anything at all about Katharina. Growing up, I remember learning only that Katharina had been a nun, but we learned much more about Martin Luther. One thing I don’t remember learning about are Martin Luther’s writings on Christian marriage, even though he had no plans of marriage himself. What a change Katharina made in the bold monk’s life as each of them lived out the powerful testimony the Lord intended them for!

The 1500’s was not an easy time to be a woman, nor was it a time when any specific woman, especially their feelings or thoughts, could be found. The author sketched what Katharina’s life was probably like based on facts of what a girl and woman’s life was like, and includes facts of what she learned about the spunky former nun. Girls had few choices or opportunities; women were not even citizens unless married. Coming from a titled family, certain expectations were on the life of Katharina von Bora, including marriage to a man of similar social standing. You will need to read the book to see why Katharina was sent to a convent school at the tender age of six. Could any of us today imagine being taken there to live at a tender age? Her lessons there would include preparation for marriage to a nobleman. Some of those lessons, plus what she learned about the Lord as a nun, must have helped her as Luther’s bride.

After Luther prepared the now-famous 95 theses in 1517 resulting from his in-depth study of scriptures, his life changed completely. His primary premise is that salvation is by grace alone, and he demonstrated this very different tenet of faith from what he learned as a monk. He became a noted heretic, and his life was in danger. Katharina married him in spite of those concerns; after all, she was a runaway, too!

Did you know that Martin Luther’s father had prepared him to be an attorney? Another surprising little fact is that Katharina brewed their beer, and Martin Luther sorely missed her home brew when traveling. There is a story behind these little discussed facts and many more.

The author penned a very realistic picture of Katharina and Martin Luther, one demonstrating how they were a “Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk” as the subtitle says. It is fascinating, enlightening, and a tremendous blessing to those who have followed in the Protestant faith. There is such a contrast from the lifestyles of 500 years ago to where we are today! This book, including the references and copies of interesting documents, weaves a colorful tapestry of a blessed man and the woman who relieved him of home and financial challenges so his ministry could flourish. It is not to be missed by those who celebrate our rich heritage of faith; I highly recommend it to adults of any age and older teens/ young adults.

From a grateful heart: I was given this book by the author and NetGalley and this is my honest review.
Profile Image for Linda.
92 reviews1 follower
February 6, 2017
I was given an advanced reading copy of “Katharina and Martin Luther” by Michelle DeRusha for an honest review of the book.

As a life-long Lutheran, of course I had heard of Martin Luther and his radical ideas about challenging the Catholic Church. I had heard about him pounding his 95 Theses to the Church door and being sought after for heresy. But honestly that is all I had really heard about. It was not until just a few years ago that I knew about his marriage.

To get a glimpse into his life with wife and kids instead of his life as a radical was very interesting. To read about a former monk and a runaway nun build a life together in the tumultuous times of the Reformation – that Luther started – filled in many of the life gaps in Luther’s life that are rarely talked about. Luther’s reforms are highly touted by those in the Protestant religions; his boisterous ways and acerbic demeanor are well known but to see his softer side when dealing with his wife and children was eye opening.

Sadly, not as much is known about Katharina. Since she was a woman in the 1500’s, she was considered a second-class citizen. She had very little in the way of rights of her own however, with Luther by her side along with his radical ideas, she thrived. He gave her control of the household finances, the children and the land which she grew and maintained as a financially independent estate. I think it showed that Luther gave her more credit than most women got at that time which gave him the freedom to continue writing and pursing the reformation of the Church.

The book is well written and easy to read. Some history books can be dry and difficult to read – especially when delving into small details. Nevertheless, Michelle DeRusha did a great job bringing these two very important people from 500 years ago to life. I highly recommend this book to history buffs, those who like a good romance and anyone wanting to understand Luther and the more intimate part of his Reformation.
6 reviews
February 6, 2017
I love to learn about people in history, however often times one has to wade through all kinds of jargon before gleaning anything about their personal lives. Michelle has alleviated the jargon (so we don't have to) and crafted a beautiful story of Katharina and Martin Luther.

There are many, many books wrote about Martin Luther, but not much is written about his marriage to Katharina despite the fact that Katharina was an integral part of Martin's last twenty years of life.

Neither Katharina or Martin had the ideal childhood. Martin received harass treatment at the hands of his school masters and Katharina was left at six years of age in the hands of nuns (by all accounts it's most likely that Katharina never saw her father again).

Martin Luther was responsible for helping Katharina and several other nuns to escape the nunnery. Although this was not because he was in love with her.
In order to survive Katharina needed a husband. Several attempts were made to match her with a husband, but when those attempts failed Katharina boldly stated that she would marry Luther. Martin did not want to marry, but on giving it some consideration decided he would marry Katharina.
Although their marriage did not start out with ideal circumstances over time they came to love one another very deeply. They did not have an easy life together--little money, constant threats on their lives, and hard work. Despite all the hardships on their lives they had by all accounts a happy life together.
Martin and Katharina had six children and raised many nieces and nephews as well. By all accounts the Luthers loved and cherished their children treating them with affection and kindness.
Michelle writes an intriguing story, each page compelling the reader to turn to the next. Michelle beautifully weaves the history of the time into the great Reformer life story--giving her reader a complete picture of exactly what the Luthers were up against.

What a great read. If you enjoy history or a love story in the making your going to want to rush out and pick up a copy of this book
266 reviews6 followers
February 7, 2017
Historical reading is not my reading by choice. But when an author I enjoy writes a historical book, it lands on my desk.

Katharina & Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk by Michelle DeRusha reads more like a novel than a history book. The author pulls you into the lives of this couple, weaving a compelling image of a couple who blazed their way through marriage and faith.

I so appreciated all I learned from Michelle’s extensive research and resources, even more grateful for her writing style which made this book not only easy to read but a delight to read.

Whether you agree with Luther’s theology, or not, this is a book that will be enjoyed and should be read. For in reading it, I came to discover they were not much different than any of us today. We still have struggles and commit to things for which we take “chances”. More than a theology book, this is a book that will challenge and motivate us to live with faith, love, and persistence today.

* I received a complimentary copy of this book as a member of the launch team in exchange for my honest opinion and thoughts.
February 7, 2017
“Marriage is a chancy thing!” No, this is not a quote from Dr. Phil, but from Dr. Martin Luther. In Michelle DeRusha’s new book, The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk we learn the inside story of the most unlikely union. I have read lots of books about these two, but this one captures their spirits, weaknesses and love on a very human level. With more details than I had ever known, I found myself even more interested in their lives.

Katharina and Martin Luther shaped a new religion’s views on baptism, marriage, education, and family life. Written with a storyteller/researcher’s skill, the reader is transported into the 16th century Germany. The customs, turmoil and hardships of daily life are made personal with humor and awe. Rarely has the wife of Luther, Katharina, been depicted in history books, but here we have a thoroughly strong female heroine, flawed and outspoken. Did she help shape the Reformation? #KatharinaAndLuther is a fascinating read that will enlighten your view of life 500 years ago!

Ask for it at Barnes & Noble or on Amazon.com you’ll be surprised at what you learn!
February 7, 2017
I am currently reading an Advanced Reader Copy of Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk from Baker Publishing by Author Michelle DeRusha
This book is such an amazing and fun way to peek into the 1500's behind the scenes and into the marriage of Martin Luther. I love the fact that Katharina made her own home German brew (beer). The reformation has been written about thousands of times; yet the his marriage to a runaway nun must have been the most scandalous back in the day...perhaps so much so, it hadn't been addressed or written about until now. Michelle; paints a picture of the time, and excellent story weaver. The authors research regarding a marriage turned up very little and as she researched she tapped into the letters, warm, loving letters that reveal a beautiful union.

I encourage you to purchase this book, to recommend to your local library and private schools. This is the kind of book any age would enjoy if you like history, romance and all things Lutheran.

Profile Image for Katie Andraski.
Author 2 books7 followers
February 7, 2017
Did you know that Martin Luther was married? And that his wife was a former nun who asked him to marry her? And that this was not a marriage based on passion, though deep, abiding love developed between them? Did you know that she was in danger of being tried as a witch because she was a single woman?

Or that she cooked a certain menu to respond to Martin Luther's temperament? Did you know that Martin Luther introduced our modern view of the wedding ceremony? Were you aware that Luther deferred to her judgment in their finances, and that their marriage was remarkably modern?

Katharina and Luther is a beautifully written biography that reads quickly. It also draws a fascinating portrait of the sixteenth century, and shows how Luther’s marriage enabled him to reform the Church. It is well researched. A great winter read.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Leah  Gritter.
33 reviews2 followers
February 12, 2020
To be honest, I was not expecting to enjoy this nonfiction read, but was quickly drawn in and looked forward it each time I picked it up. Historical, raw, a testimony to daily life at the time of the reformation and the impact that their marriage had not only on one of our most noted Reformers, but on marriage at large.
Profile Image for Anita Ducey.
1 review
February 9, 2017
Excellent book! “Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk” gave a vivid picture of 2 individuals whose path led to each other and to changing the course of history. It shares personal details of their lives, childhoods separated from family and risking capture, the escape to new lives. They married as virtual strangers but over time they grew to love and admire each other.
The book was extremely well written and researched. When reading you get a glimpse of what life was like at the time, and how Katharina and Martin called on their faith and each other to share their progressive thoughts.
This is a very intimate view of someone who hundreds of years later is a household name. It presents Martin Luther as very human, with doubts and fears, but with courage and the support of a loving relationship, gave Christians another way to live in faith.
Profile Image for T.H..
Author 3 books129 followers
October 7, 2017
If you never heard of Katharina, the woman beside Martin Luther, you'll be in for a real treat! These two partners were truly equally yoked in their boldness, knowledge of the scriptures, and their desire to bravely share the Gospel of Jesus. But it's the behind the scenes, the little known aspects, of this marriage that'll encourage you to understand that being a "help-mate" doesn't mean being a help-mat. Katharina and Martin exhibit the spiritually vigorous and vivacious dynamics possible for any healthy marriage under Christ. As a reader, it was interesting to know the other half of Martin Luther's life. I highly recommend adding this to your library!
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