Frederick the Wise
|Frederick the Wise
"Time, perhaps, will show if I have been a good diviner" (Frederick the Wise, 1517)
Frederick the Wise is remembered
as the man who saved Martin Luther from the fury
of the Catholic Church.
Frederick was born in Hartenfels Castle, Torgau
in 1463, the first son of the Elector Ernst of the
House of Wettin. In 1486 he succeeded his father,
together with his younger brother John, as sovereign
of Ernestine Saxony.
He was a man of peaceful conciliation and kept his
territory out of all warfare during his reign.
In 1502 he founded the University of Wittenberg
where Martin Luther taught. During Luther's lifetime
Wittenberg was the home and intellectual centre
of the reformation movement of which the sovereign
was a reliable protector, although only active in
At a crucial period for the early Reformation, Frederick
protected Luther from the Pope and the emperor,
and took him into custody at the Wartburg castle
after the Diet of Worms (1521), which put Luther
under the imperial ban. His repertoire of diplomatic
stalling tactics stood their test; the opponents
never finding a weak point. He saw Luther as unjustly
persecuted because Luther could not be found guilty
of any real crime.
Frederick, however, had little personal contact
with Luther and remained a Catholic, although he
gradually inclined toward the doctrines of the Reformation.
Frederick, as was his habit, formed his own opinion
after exact consideration of the state of affairs
by his advisers and listening to the opinion of
a recognized expert, in Luther's case Erasmus von
Frederick died at his hunting lodge in Lochau in
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