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June 12, 2017

Chris Waddle was a quality football player. He played for Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Marsellies and Sheffield Wednesday, and made 62 appearances for England. But say Chris Waddle to most people and they’ll immediately think of that penalty in the semi-final against Germany in the 1990 World Cup sending England out of the tournament. That’s just the way life is.

Say 'Johan Tetzel' to anyone who knows anything about the Reformation and they’ll say that he was the man who sold Indulgences in a way that caused Martin Luther to send Germany out of the Roman Catholic Church.

Tetzel, however, had had a long ecclesiastical career as a Dominican friar, taking religion to the people in the marketplaces and to...

June 8, 2017

Pope Julius II was pope while Martin Luther was making his bargain with St Anne in 1505. Some say that Pope Julius had a golden suit of armour. Whether or not this is true doesn’t change the fact that he was never happier than wearing armour and standing on a battlefield, modelling himself on a previous inhabitant of Rome, Julius Caesar. It is surprising that these were deemed suitable attributes to be pope, but then again his election was something of a stitch up. He’d been made a cardinal by his uncle, Pope Sixtus IV, keen to promote members of his own Della Rovere family.

In the 1500s, being pope was as much about dynastic politics, personal patronage and international diplomacy as anything else. The Pope...

June 5, 2017

When Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to a church door in Wittenberg five hundred years ago, he set in motion a series of events that he could never have foreseen. Like most of us, Luther didn’t really know what he was doing. At the time, he was taking issue with an ecclesiastical salesman Johann Tetzel, who was the 16th Century equivalent of a televangelist mixed with an after-life insurance broker. Tetzel was very good at the hard sell, but Luther wasn’t buying. Why not? And how did this lead to a cataclysmic schism in the church in West?

There are so many places to begin and so much to explain that St Anne is as good a place to start as any. If you’re the sort of person who likes the idea of saints, the...

May 24, 2017

If writing A Monk's Tale has taught me anything, it is that Martin Luther's 95 Theses are very hard to explain.

It is even harder if you're explaining the beginning of the Reformation to those who are unfamiliar with Christian theology, Late Medieval History or what exactly was being reformed. Martin Luther's actions on 31st October 1517 mark the beginning of the end of era. And the start of the new era. But if you don't know what era was ending, and what was beginning, it's all rather academic. Literally.

Clearly this didn't stop me from writing the live stage show, A Monk's Tale, although doing all of the above with jokes and songs was one of the biggest writing challenges of my professional caree...

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