FRIEDRICH THE WISE

1463–1525

Elector of Saxony

Frederick III the Wise was an educated person, acquainted with greatest scientists, humanists and artists of his time and writers of Antiquity. Respected by the Emperor Maximilian I, he was a proponent of state reforms.

In 1502, he founded the University of Wittenberg and did much to develop it. Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon taught in this University, starting the Reformation. Frederick defended Luther and, when the latter was condemned at the Diet of Worms, gave him a sanctuary in Wartburg. In 1519, after the death of the Emperor Maximilian I, he was offered to become an Emperor but he preferred to secure the election of Charles V, Maximilian’s grandson. Frederick did not proclaim adherence to Luther’s ideas but he permitted him to propagate them in Saxony. He died during the German Peasants’ War. His statue is a part of a great monument to the Reformation (Lutherdenkmal) built in Worms in 1868.

Albrecht Dürer received commissions from Frederick III during his whole life. He made not only a woodcut, but also a painting of the Elector in 1500.