1514, Albert Hohenzollern becomes the Archbishop of Magdeburg. At the age of twenty-three. More gold in the Pope's coffers: he also buys the bishopric of Halberstadt.
1517, Mainz. The biggest ecclesiastical principality in Germany awaits the appointment of a new bishop. If he wins the appointment, Albert will get his hands on a third of the whole of German territory. 
He makes his offer: 14,000 ducats for the archbishopric, plus 10,000 for the papal dispensation that allows him to hold all these offices.
The deal is negotiated via the Fugger bank of Augsburg, which anticipates the sum required. Once the operation is concluded, Albert owes the Fuggers 30,000 ducats.
The bankers decree the mode of payment. Albert must promote the sale of indulgences for Pope Leo X in his territory. The faithful will make a contribution to the construction of St Peter's basilica and will receive a certificate in exchange: the Pope absolves them of their sins.
Only half of the takings will go to the Roman builders. Albert will use the rest to pay the Fuggers. 
The task is given to Johan Tetzel, the most expert preacher around. 
Tetzel travels the villages for the whole of the summer of 1517. He stops on the borders with Thuringia, which belong to Frederick the Wise, Duke of Saxony. He can't set foot there. 
Frederick is collecting indulgences himself, through the sale of relics. He doesn't tolerate competitors in his territories. But Tetzel is a clever bastard: he knows that Frederick's subjects will happily travel a few miles beyond the border. A ticket to paradise is worth the trip.
The coming and going of souls in search of reassurance infuriates a young Augustinian friar, a doctor at Wittenberg University. He can't bear the obscene market that Tetzel has in motion, with the Pope's coat of arms and that papal bull in full view.
31 October 1517, the friar nails ninety-five theses against the traffic of indulgences, written in his own hand, to the northern door of Witternberg church. 
His name is Martin Luther. With that gesture the Reformation begins.
Luther Blissett, Q
This passage is vaguely responsible for about a year and a half of my work.