Spreading Like Wildfire: Luther’s Network and the Early Reformation
The Protestant Reformation, led by Martin Luther, was one of the most transformative periods of European (if not world) history in the second millennium. How did this movement succeed? This column offers a theory that combines relational diffusion (via Luther’s network ties) with spatial diffusion (via trade routes in the Holy Roman Empire), and substantiates this theory using data on Luther’s letters, travels, and students. Luther’s network alone does not explain the success of the Reformation, but his network in combination with the pre-existing ties created by trade routes explains much of its success.
Becker, S. O., Hsiao, Y., Pfaff, S., & Rubin, J. (2020, Nov. 27). Spreading like wildfire: Luther’s network and the early Reformation. VoxEU. https://voxeu.org/article/spreading-wildfire-luther-s-network-and-early-reformation