Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"Diet of Worms"

When I was just a kid, and I heard the phrase 'Diet of Worms', it made me giggle. Later, when I was in university and doing a course in religous history, the name 'Diet of Worms' still, even in those musty halls of academia, made me giggle. And now here, all these years later, as a middle aged man, it still makes me giggle. it's good to know some things remain unchanging.

What on earth is the Diet of Worms? Well, it's nothing to do with eating worms (a la Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me) or with what worms eat. Woms, you see, is a city in Germany. And 'Diet' here apparently means 'Reichstag'. Let's call it 'meeting'. Or 'witchtrial'. Anyway, they all met in Worms to condemn Martin Luther as a heretic for damaging the doors to a church. Blah blah blah. Let's take a moment to consider Worms.

Worms was settled by the Celts as Borbetomagus, already a name cooler than anything you've come up with in your measly life so far. It means, I plaigiarise from Wikipedia, 'settlement in a watery area'. That mutated via Latin into 'Vormatia' (less cool), whence via German to 'Worms'. It's apparently the oldest city in Germany and part of the Nibelungenlied is set there.

And of course Martin Luther was hung out to dry here. The result of the Diet of Worms was the Edict of Worms, which should be almost as cool as the Diet, nomenclaturally, but sadly isn't.
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