Karl von Miltitz

1490-1529. Papal secretary and subnuncio to Germany. Born at Rabenau near Dresden of the lesser Saxon nobility, he studied law at Cologne and Bologna. In Rome from 1513 to 1518, through unprincipled maneuvering he advanced rapidly within the Curia until appointed papal secretary in 1518. He is best known for his meetings with Luther, 1518-19. Sent to Saxony with the Golden Rose for Elector Frederick, and commissioned to act only with the approval of Cajetan* (the papal legate), Miltitz precipitously decided to attempt a reconciliation of Luther with the church. By boast, misrepresentation, and denigration of Cajetan and Tetzel,* he convinced Frederick a conference with Luther would be successful. They met at Altenburg early in January 1519. Though theologically ignorant, Miltitz was a clever diplomat and secured Luther's promise of silence-unless-attacked until his complaints were heard by a German bishop-a settlement too shallow to last. Miltitz wrote to the pope, indicating that Luther was ready to recant, then journeyed to Leipzig to further embarrass Tetzel. The accord failed; Miltitz met twice again with Luther without result. His last years were spent as canon of Mainz and Meissen. He died by accidental drowning.