Frederick III, Elector of Saxony

Frederick III (17 January 1463 – 5 May 1525), also known as Frederick the Wise (German Friedrich der Weise), was Elector of Saxony from 1486 to 1525, who is mostly remembered for the worldly protection of his subject Martin Luther.

Frederick III
Elector of Saxony
Landgrave of Thuringia
Elector of Saxony
Reign26 August 1486 – 5 May 1525
PredecessorErnest
SuccessorJohn
Born17 January 1463
Torgau, Electoral Saxony in the Holy Roman Empire
Died5 May 1525(1525-05-05) (aged 62)
Castle Lochau near Annaburg, Electoral Saxony in the Holy Roman Empire
Burial
HouseHouse of Wettin
FatherErnest, Elector of Saxony
MotherElisabeth of Bavaria
ReligionRoman Catholic (1463-1525)
Unclear (1525)
Signature
Portrait of Frederick III of Saxony (17th Century)

Frederick was the son of Ernest, Elector of Saxony and his wife Elisabeth, daughter of Albert III, Duke of Bavaria. He is notable as being one of the most powerful early defenders of Martin Luther.[1] He successfully protected Luther from the Holy Roman Emperor, the Pope and other hostile figures. He was led not by religious conviction but rather by his personal belief in a fair trial for any of his subjects (a privilege guaranteed by the imperial statutory law) and the rule of law. The elector had little personal contact with Luther himself. Frederick's treasurer Degenhart Pfaffinger (Pfaffinger being a German dynasty) spoke on his behalf to Luther.[2] Pfaffinger had supported Frederick since their pilgrimage to the Holy Land together.[3] Frederick is considered to have remained a Roman Catholic all his life, yet gradually inclining toward doctrines of the Reformation and supposedly converting on his deathbed.[4]

Frederick III is commemorated as a Christian ruler in the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod on 5 May.


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