The journey of the Electoral Saxonian Delegation to the Diet of Augsburg in 1530 led Martin Luther – who only went as far as Coburg for safety reasons – staying again at Gräfenthal. Led by Prince Elector John, the large party didn’t stay in a guesthouse but at Wespenstein Castle, which rises high above the town. On 14 April, Martin Luther preached at the castle church and the next day at St Mary’s Church. Sebastian von Pappenheim, who was living at Wespenstein Castle at the time, began converting the castle belonging to the noble family of Orlamünde into a Renaissance residence in 1517. This meant that in 1530 he was able to accommodate his feudal lord Prince Elector John the Steadfast and his party, including Luther. Pappenheim was an advocate of the Reformation.
At the time of the Reformation, the Amt Lauenstein was held by the Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth. At the Diet of Worms Luther was convicted as a heretic, and the Emperor imposed an imperial ban on him. On the return journey he was kidnapped on behalf of the Prince Elector Frederick of Saxony and taken into protective custody at Wartburg Castle. Three electoral counsels were involved in planning the kidnapping: Georg Spalatin from Spalt, Philipp von Feilitzsch and Friedrich von Thüna, whose ancestral home was Lauenstein Castle in Upper Franconia. In 1525, the lords of Lauenstein converted to Protestantism. Approximately two kilometres south of the modern Luther Trail three coat-of-arms stones from Luther’s time can be seen marking the Bavarian-Thuringian border near Ludwigsstadt.
Today Lauenstein is the name of a well-known confectionery maker. The glass-plated factory provides an exclusive glimpse of the skill involved in creating chocolates and pralines. The parish Church of St Michael in Ludwigsstadt and the baroque-style pulpit and altar with its over-dimensional wooden figures of St Peter and St Paul is well worth a visit. The historico-cultural gravestones of Otto X von Orlamünde and Christoph von Thüna the Elder can be seen on the south of the nave.