Frederick III

the wise) (1463-1525. Elector of Saxony. Born in Torgau, the eldest son of the elector Ernst and Elizabeth (daughter of Albert, duke of Bavaria), he was later called “the Wise” because of his reputation for fair play and justice. He succeeded his father as elector in 1486. Before this his education had been influenced by Renaissance ideals. His court at Wittenberg was a center of artistic and musical activity: Albrecht Dürer and Lucas Cranach were patronized. Nevertheless, he was a devout Catholic, interested in the cult of relics: the catalog produced by Cranach in 1509 revealed that he had 5,005 particles.

Always insisting on the need for constitutional reform in the empire, Frederick became president of the newly formed council of regency (Reichsregiment) in 1500, but later (1519) refused to stand as a candidate in the imperial election. In 1502 he founded the University of Wittenberg. To it in 1511 came Martin Luther and in 1518 Philip Melanchthon. When Luther was required by the pope to go to Rome in 1518, Frederick intervened and had the trial transferred to Augsburg on German soil. Two years later the elector refused to execute the bull Exsurge Domine against Luther. After the Diet of Worms (1521) had imposed the imperial ban, he provided a refuge for Luther at Wartburg. There is no firm evidence that he totally accepted the Lutheran faith, but just before his death at Annaberg he received Communion in both kinds from George Spalatin,* who had acted on so many occasions as an intermediary between the elector and Luther. The latter preached at Frederick's funeral, and Melanchthon gave an oration in which he highly commended the elector's work in promoting the Gospel.

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1515- 1576. Eldest son of Duke John II of Palatinate Simmern, he received his princely education and various administrative experiences before succeeding his father in 1557. In 1537 he married Mary, daughter of Margrave Casimir of Brandenburg, who had been reared a Lutheran. Eleven years later he announced his conversion to the Evangelical cause. He opposed the Augsburg Interim (1548). In 1559 he became heir to the electorate of the Palatinate. Here not only Lutheranism but also Calvinism had found a strong foothold, and under the leadership of the Lutheran Tileman Hesshusius a controversy raged about the correct doctrine of the Lord's Supper. Frederick and his wife plunged into a thorough theological study of the question and in 1541 came to the conclusion that Article X of the Augsburg Confession* was popish. With the help of various divines Frederick supported Calvinism in Heidelberg and commissioned Ursinus and Olevianus to write the “Heidelberg Catechism”* (1563). His support of Calvinism brought opposition from Frederick of Saxony and others. A request from the princes at Augsburg in 1566 that he abide by the Peace of Augsburg (which recognized only Lutheranism or Roman Catholicism) did not turn him from his convictions. In 1570 the presbyterian form of church government was introduced in the Palatinate. Frederick aided the French Huguenots and the Dutch Calvinists. His son, Louis VI (elector, 1576-83), returned to Lutheranism.