Frederic the Wise (1463-1525)

Prince Frederic III, Elector of Saxony, always offered protection to Luther against the Pope’s terrible sentences (he was banned as an outlaw) and also the attacks of Emperor Charles the Fifth.

His protection of Luther

  • Luther in the Wartburg
    Luther in the Wartburg © S.H.P.F.

Frederic III, also known as Frederic the Wise, was the son of Ernest, Elector of Saxony and Elisabeth of Bavaria. He was born in Torgau in 1463 and succeeded his father as Duke of Saxony and Elector of the Holy Roman Empire in 1486.

In 1502, he founded the University of Wittenberg; Luther and Melanchthon both studied and later taught theology there.

Frederic the Wise played an important role when the empire was choosing a successor to Maximilian I after his death in 1519; in fact he had himself been the Pope’s candidate for the imperial throne. However, to prevent the possible success of Francis I of France, he sup-ported the election of Charles of Spain, later to become Charles the Fifth. Frederic the Wise obtained concessions from the future emperor for the German princes, who were given more responsibility in their own jurisdictions as well as in the empire itself.

Frederic the Wise defended Luther against the Pope and the Emperor Charles the Fifth. After the Diet of Worms, where Luther had to appear in 1521, he had him abducted in order to be able to keep him in the security of his castle in Wartburg.

Frederic the Wise was the first imperial prince to become protestant. He died in 1525.

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