Franz Von Sickingen

1481-1523. Perhaps the most colorful among the German knights, an anachronism at the beginning of the Modern Era, von Sickingen fought for Emperor Maximilian I and supported Charles V, but lost his life in the Knight's War, or Sickingen Feud (1522-23). The decline of feudalism, the rise of national states, the importance of the burgher class because of the growth of industry and commerce, and even the impact of humanism were not understood by him, although he contended for social reform. He was a religious independent, ready to support Martin Luther. He offered Luther a haven in 1520, if he should have to leave Saxony. He gathered some troops together outside Worms at the time of the Diet (1521), but a question remains if he would have used them to protect Luther had he been hired as a mercenary to side against him. Von Sickingen was disappointed in Luther's leadership, because Luther disclaimed the use of the sword for the spread of the Gospel. Luther dedicated his book On Confession (1522) to him, and Oecolampadius served as his chaplain during 1522. As a free-booter he earned the animosity of his neighbors. In 1522 von Sickingen attacked Trier, whereupon Richard von Greiffenklau, archbishop of Trier, the elector of the Palatinate, and Philip of Hesse* combined against him. They defeated him at Landstuhl, and von Sickingen fell, mortally wounded.