Phillip Melanchthon (1497-1560)
Philipp Schwarzerdt (Greek: Melanchthon ) was born February 16 1497 in the house of his grandparents in Bretten Germany . He was the first of five children (1499 Anna 1500 or 1501 Georg 1506 Margarete and 1508 Barbara). Melanchthon's father Georg Schwarzerdt was master of armory of electoral Saxony . His mother came from the well-to-do Reuter family of merchants. His grandfather saw that young Philipp his brother Georg and two other grandsons had a strong education in Latin by hiring the tutor Johannes Unger from Pfortzheim.
At school Philipp was the best student. He went on to learn Greek under Johannes Hiltebrant. His great-uncle the humanist Johannes Reuchlin in the humanist tradition gave him the Greek name "Melanchthon."
"Your name is Schwarzerdt (German for 'black earth') you are a Greek and so your new name shall be Greek. Thus I will call you Melanchthon which means black earth." † -- Johannes Reuchlin March 5 1509
Reuchlin saw to it that Melanchthon was admitted to the University of Heidelberg at the age of twelve. About two years later in 1511 at the age of fourteen he received his BA. However the following year when Philipp applied to take the examinations for his MA the professors were hesitant to allow him to continue on the grounds that they thought the fifteen-year old could not possibly be accepted as a teacher. He did finish his studies at TŁbingen and in January of 1514 he received the MA at seventeen. He was received by the faculty of philosophy and began teaching. He also began writing which he was to continue doing for the rest of his life.
Melanchthon was greatly influenced by humanism. At the age of nineteen even the famous Erasmus of Rotterdam recognized Melanchthon's many talents and spoke highly of him:
"To what hopes does this young man or rather this boy give rise! What acumen of innovation what purity of language what mature erudition!" † -- Erasmus 1516
1497 Born in Bretten Germany
1508 Latin education in Pforzheim
1509 Student in Heidelberg
1514 Masters degree begins teaching
1517 Luther's 95 Theses spark the Reformation
1518 Professor of Greek at Wittenberg
1519 Accompanies Luther to debate at Leipzig
1520 Marriage to Katherina Krapp
1521 First edition Loci communes theologici
1522 Assists Luther in refining New Testament translation
1528 Melanchthon's Instruction to the Visitors concerning school reform
1529 Participates in the Marburg Colloquy
1530 Augsburg Confession presented to Charles V on June 25
1536 University reforms take place under Melanchthon
1546 Dr. Martin Luther dies on February 18
1547 Schmalkaldic War
1548 Interim introduced
1552 Interim ends
1555 Peace of Augsburg
1557 Melanchthon's wife dies on October 11 while he is in Worms
1560 Philipp Melanchthon dies on April 19
In 1518 the twenty-one-year-old Melanchthon was recommended by Johannes Reuchlin to Elector Frederick the Wise of Saxony for the new chair of Greek literature at the elector's Wittenberg University (founded in 1502). On August 28 he gave his first lecture on "reforming the instruction of the youth." It was the beginning of a lifelong association for Melanchthon with the university.
At Wittenberg Philipp Melanchthon studied theology under Dr. Martin Luther. In September 1519 he was granted his first degree in theology: baccalaureus biblicus . Melanchthon turned out to be a popular lecturer. And Luther who was fourteen years his senior recognized Melanchthon's remarkable abilities.
"I am asked to get married because it is thought to be an improvement of my situation. If I knew that marriage would not disturb my work and my writing I could easily decide in favor of it. For the time being however it will not happen." -- Philipp Melanchthon 1519
Melanchthon's belief about marriage did not last long. In November 1520 he was married to Katharina Krapp the daughter of the mayor of Wittenberg Hieronymous Krapp. Their marriage was to last nearly 40 years until the death of Katharina in 1557. There were four children (1522 Anna 1525 Philipp 1527 Georg 1533 Magdalena ).
Melanchthon also became involved in the administration of the Wittenberg university. In 1523-24 and 1538 he was rector. In 1535-36 and 1546-48 he was dean of the philosophical faculty. Beginning in 1555 Melanchthon gave lectures in world history. The resulting work was later published under another name.
While Melanchthon was associated with the University of Wittenberg it achieved world fame that lasted until the middle of the seventeenth century. On occasion over 2000 students would attend his lectures. He is credited with the founding of schools writing of textbooks and initiating of reforms. †† From: http://chi.lcms.org/melanchthon/ †
Other Online Resources:
http://www.melanchthon.de/e/ † (Information on Melanchthon)
http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/wittenberg-melan.html † (links to Melanchthonís works)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melanchthon (Encyclopedia Entry)
http://chi.lcms.org/melanchthon/ † (Great resources celebrating the 500 th anniversary of Melanchthonís birth)
http://www.ccel.org/s/schaff/encyc/encyc07/htm/ii.x.iv.htm (Schaff on Melanchthon)
http://www.hfac.uh.edu/gbrown/philosophers/leibniz/BritannicaPages/Melanchthon/Melanchthon.html † (A nice encyclopedia entry)
http://www.melanchthon.com/melanchthonhouse.html † (The Malanchthon House Museum )
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