Little guessed the Catholic prelates the dimensions of the act which had been done. The Pope, when he saw the theses, smiled in good-natured contempt. 'A drunken German wrote them, he said; 'when he has slept off his wine, he will be of another mind. Tetzel bayed defiance; the Dominican friars took up the quarrel; and Hochstrat of Cologne, Reuchlin's enemy, clamoured for fire and faggot.
Erasmus wittily said, Luther committed two unpardonable sins: he touched the pope's crown and the monks' bellies. Such effrontery would needs raise a mighty outcry. Prierias, the master of the sacred palace, pronounced Luther a heretic. Hochstrat of Cologne, Reuchlin's enemy, clamored for fire to burn him.
But the tempest waxed fiercer and louder every day. Luther's growing influence the more inflamed his enemies. Hochstrat had induced two universities to condemn his doctrines. In sundry places his books were burned by the public hangman. Eck had gone to Italy, and was "moving the depths of hell" to secure the excommunication of the prejudged heretic.
His cause, meanwhile, was rapidly gaining friends. His replies to Tetzel, Prierias, Hochstrat, and Eck had gone forth to deepen the favorable impression made by the Ninety-five Theses. Truth had once more lifted up its head in Europe, and Rome would find it no child's play to put it down. The skirmish-lines of the hierarchy had been met and driven in. The tug of serious battle was now to come.