World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Frederick III, Elector of Saxony

Frederick III
Elector of Saxony
Landgrave of Thuringia
Frederick in a portrait by Lucas Cranach the Elder
Elector of Saxony
Reign 26 August 1483 – 5 May 1525
Predecessor Ernst
Successor John the Constant
House House of Wettin
Father Ernst, Elector of Saxony
Mother Elisabeth of Bavaria
Born (1463-01-17)17 January 1463
Died 5 May 1525(1525-05-05) (aged 62)
Burial Schlosskirche, Wittenberg
Religion Roman Catholic

Frederick III (17 January 1463 – 5 May 1525), also known as Frederick the Wise (German "Friedrich der Weise"), was Elector of Saxony (from the House of Wettin) from 1486 to his death. 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] Lutheranism and the Protestant Reformation although he had little personal contact with Luther himself. Fredericks' treasurer Degenhart Pfaffinger (a German dynasty), spoke on behalf of him to Martin Luther.[2] Pfaffinger supported Frederick since the joint pilgrimage to the holy land.[3] He is considered to have remained a Roman Catholic all his life, yet gradually inclining toward doctrines of the Reformation.[4]

Frederick III is commemorated as a Christian ruler in the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod on 5 May. His court painter from 1504 was Lucas Cranach the Elder.

Silver Saxony coin of Frederick III, known as a Groschen, minted ca. 1507–25. Both the obverse and the reverse bear a coat of arms.


  • Biography 1
  • Ancestry 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Sources 5


Born in elector in 1486; in 1502, he founded the University of Wittenberg, where Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon taught.

Frederick was among the princes who pressed the need of reform upon Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and in 1500 he became president of the newly formed council of regency (Reichsregiment).

Frederick was Pope Leo X's candidate for Holy Roman Emperor in 1519—the pope had awarded him the Golden Rose of virtue on 3 September 1518—but he helped secure the election of Charles V. Frederick ensured Luther would be heard before the Diet of Worms in 1521 and subsequently secured an exemption from the Edict of Worms for Saxony.

Frederick collected many alleged relics in his castle church; his inventory of 1518 listed 17,443 items, including a thumb from St. Anne, a twig from Moses' burning bush, hay of the holy manger, and milk from the Virgin Mary. Money was paid in order to venerate these relics and thus escape years in purgatory.[5] A diligent and pious person who rendered appropriate devotion to each of these relics could merit 1,902,202 years worth of penance (an earthly equivalent of time otherwise spent in Purgatory, removed by indulgences).[6] Two years later, the collection exceeded 19,000 pieces.[7]

He protected Martin Luther from the Pope's enforcement of the edict by faking a highway attack on Luther's way back to Wittenberg, abducting and then hiding him at Wartburg Castle following the Diet of Worms.

Frederick died unmarried at Lochau, a hunting castle near Annaburg (30 km southeast of Wittenberg), in 1525 and was buried in the Schlosskirche at Wittenberg with a grave by Peter Vischer the Younger. He was succeeded by his brother Duke John the Steadfast as Elector of Saxony.


See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Friedrich Gottlieb Canzler; August Gottlieb Meissner (1783–1785). Für ältere Literatur und neuere Lektüre. Leipzig: Breitkopf. p. 48. 
  3. ^ Spalatin, Georg (1851). Historischer Nachlass und Briefe. p. 89. 
  4. ^ "Frederick the Wise". Devillier Donegan Enterprise. Retrieved 25 December 2013. 
  5. ^ Martin E. Marty, Martin Luther: A Life. (Penguin Lives) Paperback, 2008, p. 18
  6. ^ Borkowsky, Ernst (1929). Das Leben Friedrichs des Weisen. Jena. pp. 56–57. 
  7. ^ Geoffrey Parker; Caleb Carr et al. (2001). "Martin Luther Burns at the Stake, 1521". In Robert Cowley. The collected What if? : eminent historians imagining what might have been. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. p. 511.  


Frederick III, Elector of Saxony
Born: 17 January 1463 Died: 5 May 1525
Preceded by
Elector of Saxony
Succeeded by
John the Constant
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.