Frederick III, Elector of Saxony, Letter (MSS 087)

Frederick III (1463-1525), also known as 'Frederick the Wise,' was born at Torgau and succeeded his father as Elector of Saxony in 1486. Frederick was among the princes who pressed the need for reform upon the German king Maximilian I in 1495, and in 1500 he became president of the newly-formed council of regency (Reichsregiment). In 1502 he founded the University of Wittenberg, where he appointed Luther and Melanchthon to professorships. Although he remained an adherent of the older faith throughout his life, he seems to have been drawn into sympathy with the reformers, probably through his connection with the University of Wittenberg. In 1520 he refused to put into execution the papal bull which ordered Luther's seizure and the burning of his writings, and in 1521, after Luther had been placed under the Imperial ban by the Diet of Worms, the elector caused him to be conveyed to his castle at Wartburg, and afterwards protected him while he attacked the enemies of the Reformation. In 1519, Frederick, who alone among the electors refused to be bribed by the rival candidates for the Imperial throne, declined to be a candidate for this high dignity himself, and assisted in securing the election of Charles V. He died unmarried at Langau, near Annaberg, on the 5th of May 1525.

This letter, handwritten in German on paper, is addressed to Samsons Schoffler zu Seyda and Mathes Pustewald and concerns the parish of Neuerdorff and the death of Rev. Wust. The letter is dated Tuesday, St. Sixtus's Day [1512].


"By God's grace Frederick, Duke of Saxony and Elector. Dear faithful sir, we have the writing and report which you have sent us regarding your man of God at Neuendorff, Rev. Wust, and of his death that it reported, and also of its other contents we are aware. Whereas you then among other things report that you have a man gifted and pious who has also a good report among men, and as he has preached for you in the past so you wish him to continue to do so to replace him who was lost last year, now therefore it is our desire that if this man according to your report really has rich gifts and is pious that he should remain your pastor paid by your parish, if you are willing so to spend the parish income. You may also use the parish income to take care of the deceased pastor's widow or orphans for such is our good pleasure.

Dated at Torgau, Tuesday, St. Sixtus' Day, [15]12.

[Postscript]: But the judgment that was passed regarding this parish income last year you wish to keep silent about it and keep it secret, etc."

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