Christianity: Luther's Legacy

On Start the Week Andrew Marr looks back 500 years to the moment Martin Luther challenged the power and authority of the Catholic Church.

Peter Stanford brings to light the character of this lowly born German monk in a new biography.

Prior to Luther, for a thousand years the Catholic Church had been one of the greatest powers on earth, but in her study of the Italian Renaissance the writer Sarah Dunant reveals how bloated, corrupt and complacent it had become. Dunant also explores the role of the Church in the home, in a new exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Madonnas and Miracles, before the Reformation swept away such iconography.

The historian Alec Ryrie charts the rise of the Protestant faith from its rebellious beginnings to the present day, while the sociologist Linda Woodhead asks whether the defining characteristics of Protestant Britain, such as the freedom of the individual, national pride and a strong work ethic are still relevant today.

Producer: Katy Hickman

Image: Boy falling from a window, 1592 (c) Museo degli ex voto del santuario di Madonna dell'Arco.

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Available now

43 minutes

Last on

Mon 10 Apr 2017 21:30

Sarah Dunant

Sarah Dunant is a writer, broadcaster and critic.

Madonnas and Miracles: The Holy Home in Renaissance Italy is on at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge until 4 June.

In the Name of the Family is published by Virago.


Peter Stanford

Peter Stanford is a writer, journalist and broadcaster.

Martin Luther: Catholic Dissident is published by Hodder & Stoughton.

Alec Ryrie

Alec Ryrie is Professor of the History of Christianity at Durham University.

Protestants: The Radicals Who Made the Modern World is published by William Collins.

Linda Woodhead

Linda Woodhead is Professor in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion and the Director of the Institute of Social Futures at Lancaster University.

That Was The Church That Was, co-authored with Andrew Brown, was published by Bloomsbury Continuum last year.


Role Contributor
PresenterAndrew Marr
Interviewed GuestSarah Dunant
Interviewed GuestPeter Stanford
Interviewed GuestAlec Ryrie
Interviewed GuestLinda Woodhead
ProducerKaty Hickman