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Frederick the Wise

 

Frederick the Wise

"Frederick the Wise" redirects here. For the Labour Party politician, see Frederick Wise, 1st Baron Wise.
Frederick III
Elector of Saxony
Landgrave of Thuringia

Frederick in a portrait by Lucas Cranach the Elder
Elector of Saxony
Reign 26 August 1483 – 5 May 1525
Predecessor Ernst
Successor John the Constant
House House of Wettin
Father Ernst, Elector of Saxony
Mother Elisabeth of Bavaria
Born (1463-01-17)17 January 1463
Torgau
Died 5 May 1525(1525-05-05) (aged 62)
Langau
Burial Schlosskirche, Wittenberg
Religion Roman Catholic

Frederick III of Saxony (17 January 1463 – 5 May 1525), also known as Frederick the Wise (German "Friedrich der Weise"), was Elector of Saxony (from the House of Wettin) from 1486 to his death. Frederick was the son of Ernest, Elector of Saxony and his wife Elisabeth, daughter of Albert III, Duke of Bavaria. He is notable as being one of the most powerful early defenders of Martin Luther,[1] Lutheranism and the Protestant Reformation, even though staying a Roman Catholic for all of his life.

Frederick III is commemorated as a Christian ruler in the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod on 5 May. His court painter since 1504 was Lucas Cranach the Elder.


Biography

Born in Torgau, he succeeded his father as elector in 1486; in 1502, he founded the University of Wittenberg, where Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon taught.

Frederick was among the princes who pressed the need of reform upon Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and in 1500 he became president of the newly formed council of regency (Reichsregiment).

Frederick was Pope Leo X's candidate for Holy Roman Emperor in 1519—the pope had awarded him the Golden Rose of virtue on 3 September 1518—but he helped secure the election of Charles V. Frederick ensured Luther would be heard before the Diet of Worms in 1521 and subsequently secured an exemption from the Edict of Worms for Saxony.

Frederick's collected many alleged relics in his castle church; his inventory of 1518's listed 17,443, including a thumb from St. Anne, a twig from Moses' burning bush, hay of the holy manger, and milk from the Virgin Mary. Money was paid in order to venerate these relics and thus escape years in purgatory.[2] A diligent and pious person who rendered appropriate devotion to each of these relics could merit 1,902,202 years worth of penance (an earthly equivalent of time otherwise spent in Purgatory, removed by indulgences).[3] Two years later, the collection exceeded 19,000 pieces.[4]

He protected Martin Luther from the Pope's enforcement of the edict by faking a highway attack on Luther's way back to Wittenberg, and hid him at Wartburg Castle following the Diet of Worms.

Frederick died unmarried at Lochau, a hunting castle near Annaburg (30 km southeast of Wittenberg), in 1525 and was buried in the Schlosskirche at Wittenberg with a grave by Peter Vischer the Younger. He was succeeded by his brother Duke John the Steadfast as Elector of Saxony.

Ancestry

See also

  • Portrait of Frederick III of Saxony

References

Sources

  • public domain: 
Frederick III, Elector of Saxony
Born: 17 January 1463 Died: 5 May 1525
Preceded by
Ernest
Elector of Saxony
1486–1525
Succeeded by
John the Constant
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