Darkness & Daybreak

Journey through Europe (1400–1600), from the depths of downtrodden to an era of emerging hope.

When pure Gospel light first cut into clouds of uncertainty, one truth was clear:

The Reformation really did change the world.

Turmoil covered the face of Europe

during the tumultuous time leading up to Martin Luther’s birth in 1483. Chaotic unknowns defined the late Middle Ages.

Unrelenting Oceans

Traveling the seas to trade or acquire territory seemed daunting. Many brave explorers attempted this without success—often meeting their demise.

A world away

Superstitions and the unknown

Harsh Labor

Peasants and middle-class workers tried to make ends meet in the midst of unforgiving conditions, while oppressive slave markets flourished in Portugal and Africa.

During the fifteenth century, the first slaves were captured and transported from Africa to Europe and the Americas. The first European slave market was established in Lagos, Portugal, in 1444, and the slave trade brought considerable income to the Portuguese monarchy and merchant classes, not to mention a cheap labor force wherever slaves were exported. Portugal’s Prince Henry the Navigator sponsored many exploratory voyages, including the slave trade. This lucrative investment scored him 20 percent of each slave sale. By 1450, an investment in Mauritanian slaves yielded a return of up to 700 percent.

Bad, Black Air

About 75 million people died as the Great Plague, or Black Death, tore across the continent in wildfire fashion. People believed the air was potent, though later medical advances proved otherwise.

Work conditions led to peasant revolts

Left a third of Europe's population dead

Political Unrest

When the Ottomans captured Constantinople, the Byzantine Empire toppled. Trading in the East now seemed a distant dream.

Spanish Inquisition


But hope began to glimmer on the horizon

as the learned and the lowly made great progress in the areas of art, science, geography—and eventually, theology.

Printer Power

Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press (1455), the first to use movable type, transported ideas with swiftness and ease. Learning opportunities abounded like never before!

Gutenberg Bible

Beauty of Discovery

When the fall of Constantinople closed off trading routes, courageous explorers crossed the ocean—with triumph! Hidden riches were uncovered in the Americas, India, and Africa.

Into this time period’s slums and successes, Martin Luther was born on November 10, 1483, in Eisleben, Germany.

His name was just a breath on the lips of loved ones for his first decades of life.

But that was about to change.

Part II

Born to Reform

He lived from 1483 to 1546, in the full scope of history merely a spec in time …

… but few have changed the world – reformed the world - like Martin Luther did in his 62 years.