If we go to Astrodatabank and look up the data of Martin Luther we find a straightforward entry: Martin Luther, November 19th 1483, 22:46 (greg) = 10:46 PM. Rating AA, BC/BR in hand.
That seemed to be fine until I came across Ebenezer Sibly’s collection of famous charts which includes Martin Luther’s. His data, according to Sibly, are: October 22nd 1483, 1:10PM. A mere difference of a bit less than one month! My suspicion was aroused and I tried to find out if there were any other sources to be found.
If we have a look at the publishing situation in Germany between the late 15th century and the begining of the 16th century, we will become aware that, after Gutenberg had invented the printing press in 1440, pamphlets of religious or astrological content were produced and distributed in numbers of up to 10.000 copies per pamphlet. People took a real interest in astrological predictions as everybody who was able to read could now partake in the discussions. The famous German astrologer Liechtenberger produced literature making predictions based on the great conjunction of 1484 which flooded the market. He claimed that this great conjunction of 1484 would produce a prophet – and who would be better suited for this position than Martin Luther. The only problem was that he was, according to his own words, born in 1483 and not one year later. But this did not matter to some. At the time it was claimed that there was no reliable birth certificate available, and so Luca Gaurico calculated the first, rectified, birthchart. He claimed the date of birth to be October, 22nd 1484, 1:10PM. The astrologers of Wittenberg, the German elite at the time, agreed with Gaurico’s new date, but not the time. Amongst different suggestions from other astrologers Philipp Melanchthon, Luther’s friend, suspected the time of birth to be 9:00PM.
Aby Warburg tells us in Heidnisch-antike Weissagung in Wort und Bild zu Luthers Zeit that, in the end, Melanchthon went to see Luther’s mother Margarethe to find out what the truth was. She revealed to him that the day of Luther’s birth was November, 10th. She was certain, because Luther’s Christian name derived from “St. Martin’s Day”. And she was pretty sure that the time of birth was “around midnight”, although the year remained unclear. Melanchthon would from that time on enter 1483 in the register of the deanery and the biographies.
This is as much as I could find out about the correct birth time of Martin Luther.