Frederick The Wise, Protector of Luther and Fat Groundhog
The Holy Roman Empire was always defined by the power struggles between the territorial princes, the emperor and the pope in Rome. One of those princes was Frederick III, who was also called “The Wise”. He was Grand Elector of Saxony and the founder of Wittenberg University where Martin Luther taught.
He was the prince who protected the renegade monk when Empire and Papacy wanted Martin Luther dead. Due to his influence Martin Luther was allowed to defend himself at the Diet of Worms. (The diet was the assembly of the territorial princes and the emperor. But this is a story we will tell later in our series.)
Luther’s defense failed to impress and the diet declare him an outlaw. Everybody had to kill on sight. But Frederick refused to kill Luther, but he hid him in his Wartburg castle. Having nothing to do but hide Martin Luther translated the bible in German. And that was an act that was even more church splitting than anything he had done before. Now the people could read for themselves and compare scripture to the doctrines of the church. 150 years of civil war followed.
It is Frederick political acumen that saved the fledging Reformation and allowed it to grow into a force that would have enormous impact on the faith, on Germany and the world.
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