Luther's Companions

Luther's most important supporters, from Katharina von Bora to Philipp Melanchthon

By State Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

State Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

Philipp Melanchthon (1526) by Albrecht DürerOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

Alongside Luther, Philipp Melanchthon is the second great reformer from Wittenberg. Appointed as a professor of Greek at the young University of Wittenberg in 1518, the polymath became Luther's close comrade-in-arms in the Reformation. With writings such as the Confessio Augustana, he laid the foundations for the young Protestant church. As "Praeceptor Germaniae," he had a decisive influence on the German education system - until today.

Lucas Cranach the Elder (1550) by Lucas Cranach the YoungerOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

The Franconian-born artist Lucas Cranach was appointed court painter to Frederick the Wise in Wittenberg in 1505. There he not only became Luther's close friend and later the godfather of his children, but also spread the new message of the Reformation through the medium of images. Contemporaries were already amazed at the enormous productivity of his workshop, which produced over 5,000 paintings and many more prints during his lifetime. His son, Lucas Cranach the Younger, continued his father's work.

Frederick the Wise (1521) by Lucas Cranach the ElderOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

The Saxon Elector Frederick the Wise knew how to use clever tactics both to assert his political interests without resorting to war and to protect the professor at his university, Martin Luther, from persecution by the church and the empire. Despite his support of Luther's Reformation cause, he himself professed the Protestant denomination only on his deathbed. For diplomatic reasons, he had never met Luther in person.

Georg Spalatin (1742) by unknownOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

As court chaplain and confessor to Frederick the Wise, Georg Spalatin was the elector's closest collaborator, accompanying him to all imperial diets and acting as a liaison to Martin Luther. A skilled diplomat, he negotiated Luther's appearance before the emperor in Worms as well as the reformer's escape to Wartburg Castle after the imposition of the imperial ban. After the death of Frederick the Wise, he also excelled in the organization of the new Protestant church and as a historian.

Johannes Bugenhagen (1537) by Lucas Cranach the ElderOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

Luther's close friend and confessor, Johannes Bugenhagen, was elected Wittenberg's city pastor on the reformer's recommendation, and in this capacity concluded his marriage to Katharina von Bora. He baptized their children and eventually delivered Luther's eulogy. As a reformer, he developed the church orders for numerous northern German cities, helped translate the Bible into German, and crowned the first Protestant king, Christian III of Denmark and Norway.

Katharina von Bora (1528) by Lucas Cranach the ElderOriginal Source: Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

As the daughter of a lower noble family, Katharina was initially placed in a convent, from which, inspired by Luther's writings, she broke out together with eight fellow sisters and fled to Wittenberg. There, in 1525, she married Martin Luther, with whom she had six children. Her economic skills transformed the Luthers' initially precarious situation into an economically stable household. Her influence, however, was not limited to her domestic and family activities; she also assisted her husband in theological matters with witty and quick-witted answers on more than one occasion. Full of affection and respect, she called Luther "my Herr Käthe".

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