Martin Luther’s Extraordinary Epithets & Insults

Martin Luther’s Extraordinary Epithets & Insults August 13, 2020

Some Typical Examples

Luke 6:45 (Phillips): . . . For a man’s words express what overflows from his heart. (cf. Matt 12:37)


Luther described Catholics as “the devil’s whore-church” (Grisar, IV, 288) who “stuff our mouths with horse-dung” (Grisar, IV, 321), along with hundreds of other similar denigrations unworthy to repeat save for their tragi-comic and psychological value. Here are some of Luther’s typical descriptions of various Catholics:

Crowned donkey, abandoned, senseless man, excrement of hogs and asses, impudent royal windbag, arrant fool. (Grisar, IV, 302; describing King Henry VIII)

Liar, mad bloodhound, murderer, traitor, assassin of souls, arch-knave, dirty pig and devil’s child, nay, the devil himself. (Grisar, IV, 302; describing Joachim I, Elector of Brandenburg)

Mad, bloodthirsty murderer, a blind and hardened donkey, who ought to be put to scratch for dung-beetles in the manure-heaps of the Papists. (Grisar, IV, 302; describing Hoogstraaten, a Cologne Dominican)

Stick your tongue ________. . . You are a sickly, syphilitic sack of maggots. (Grisar, IV, 304; describing Pope Leo X or another pope)

Fellow Protestant revolutionary (aka, “reformer”) Heinrich Bullinger gives telling testimony regarding Luther’s Language:

He sends to the Devil all who do not entirely agree with him. In all his fault-finding there is an immense amount of personal animosity, and very little that is friendly and paternal . . . Too many — are the preachers who have gathered out of Luther’s books quite a vocabulary of abuse, which they fire off from their pulpits . . . Through the evil example of such preachers the habit of reviling and slandering is spreading . . . and most clergymen nowadays who wish to appear good ‘evangelicals’ season their preaching with abuse and calumny. (Janssen, III, 211)


Hartmann Grisar, S. J., Luther, translated by E. M. Lamond; edited by Luigi Cappadelta, six volumes, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1917.

Johannes Janssen, History of the German People From the Close of the Middle Ages, 16 volumes, translated by A. M. Christie, St. Louis: B. Herder, 1910 (originally 1891).


(originally compiled on 6-11-91)

Photo credit: Portrait of Martin Luther (1532), by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]


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