It's been called the trial that led to the birth of the modern world. On June 15, 1520, Pope Leo X told Martin Luther, a German monk, that he would be excommunicated from the Catholic Church unless he recanted 41 sentences from his controversial writings, including the Ninety-Five Theses, which criticized elements of the faith and urged its reform. He did not back down; instead he continued to preach his attack against the Catholic church and specifically the Pope, saying man should not have the power to determine what is right and wrong in matters of faith. As a result of his continued defiance, Luther was excommunicated from the church on January 3, 1521.
But rather than being immediately expelled, in April Luther was given the chance to appear before the Diet of Worms, an assembly of the Holy Roman Empire held in the town of Worms, in what is now Germany. He again was offered the chance to repudiate his words, in refusal he uttered, "Here I stand; I can do no other." Luther went into hiding while the assembly debated. The following month, the members decided that Luther should be captured and turned over to the emperor for punishment. The edict, however, was never enforced. Though Luther's ability to travel was restricted from then on, his words initiated the Protestant Reformation that set the scene for religious wars that would last for more than a century.