After Luther’s departure [from the Diet at Worms](April 26), his enemies had full possession of the ground. Frederick of Saxony wrote, May 4: “Martin’s cause is in a bad state: he will be persecuted; not only Annas and Caiaphas, but also Pilate and Herod, are against him.” Aleander reported to Rome, May 5, that Luther had by his bad habits, his obstinacy, and his “beastly” speeches against Councils, alienated the people, but that still many adhered to him from love of disobedience to the Pope, and desire to seize the church property.
The Emperor commissioned Aleander to draw up a Latin edict against Luther. It was completed and dated May 8 (but not signed till May 26). On the same day the Emperor concluded an alliance with the Pope against France. They pledged themselves “to have the same friends and the same enemies,” and to aid each other in attack and defense. The edict was kept back till the Elector Frederick and the Elector of the Palatinate with a large number of other members of the Diet had gone home.
It was not regularly submitted to, nor discussed and voted on, by the Diet, nor signed by the Chancellor, but secured by a sort of surprise. On Trinity Sunday, May 26, Aleander went with the Latin and German copy to church, and induced the Emperor to sign both after high mass, “with his pious hand.” The Emperor said in French, “Now you will be satisfied.”—“Yes,” replied the legate in the same language, “but much more satisfied will be the Holy See and all Christendom, and will thank God for such a good, holy, and religious Emperor.”
There’s more than a little truth in the notion that the Princes were on Luther’s side only because they saw his reforming efforts as a chance to enrich themselves with Church lands. Indeed, it’s not at all hard to imagine that had Luther lived in an era without the greed of Princes, he would have been handed over and executed and no one would have ever heard of him. Luther’s reformation, more than any other, depended on worldliness.