Biographies of Famous Lutherans
First posted on January 4th 2003, last revised on November 15th 2004






External Links : Biographies to the History of the Catholic Church prior to the Council of Vienna

For links on general biographical sources, go to Biographies Main Page

Ökumenisches Heiligenlexikon (ÖH), in German; concise biographies
Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL), in German, scholarly
Catholic Encyclopedia
Catherine Winkworth, Christian Singers of Germany, a site dealing with hymn singers from the 8th century to 1850
The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol.I : Aachen-Basilians, Vol.II : Basilica-Chambers, Vol.III : Chamier-Draendorf, Vol.IV : Draeseke-Goa, Vol.V : Goar-Innocent Vol.VI : Innocent-Liudger, Vol.VII : Liutprand-Moralities, Vol.VIII : Morality-Petersen, Vol.IX : Petri-Reuchlin, Vol.X : Reutsch-Son, Vol.XI : Son of Man-Tremellius, Vol.XII : Trench-Zwingli
Printed Reference : Biographies related to the History of the Catholic Church prior to the Council of Trent

Mark Greengrass, The Longman Companion to the European Reformation c.1500-1618, Harlow (Essex): Longman 1998, pp.285-326, KMLA Lib.Sign. 274.06 GB 121




Biographies of Famous Traditional Catholics



Albrecht, Archbishop of Mainz (Albert of Brandenburg), 1490-1545
Son of Duke-Elector Johann Cicero von Brandenburg. 1513 he was elected Archbishop of Magdeburg and administrator of the Bishopric of Halberstadt, in 1514 Archbishop of Mainz (in violation of canonic law which forbade one person to hold several bishoprics; he obtained a papal dispense to circumvent the regulation). This dispense came costly (1/2 million Mark), financed by a huge credit from the Fuggers in Augsburg. The credit had to be paid off, partially by the sale of LETTERS OF INDULGENCE, for instance by agents such as Domonican JOHANNES TETZEL. This sale caused MARTIN LUTHER to publish his 95 THESES and thus started the reformation. Archbishop Albrecht complained in Rome about Luther's publications, but, at the advice of Erasmus von Rotterdam, Ulrich von Hutten etc., hesitated from undertaling any steps against early Lutheranism. In 1518 he was promoted Cardinal. He became an opponent of the reformation when the latter spread in his territory, in the 1530es. In 1540 he left Halle; JUSTUS JONAS moved in and introduced the reformation there. In 1542 he called Petrus Faber, the first Jesuit in Germany, to come to Mainz.

English language biography, from Catholic Encyclopedia
German language biography, from BBKL


Alexander VI. (Rodrigo de Borja or Borgia), 1431-1503
Born in Jativa (Aragon). In 1455 his uncle was elected pope (Calixtus III). Rodrigo was elevated Cardinal Deacon in 1456, Cardinal Bishop of Albano in 1471, of Oporto in 1476. Was ordained a priest in 1468. Had several children. Was elected Pope in 1492; took on the name ALEXANDER VI. He mediated between Spain and Portugal, the result being the TREATY OF TORDESILLAS. He succeeded in his elder son being given the Duchy of Gandia (in Spain); his younger son Cesare was destined to a career in the church. Then Juan de Gandia died and Cesare pursued a worldly career. Alexander VI. is regarded the most scandalous pope in the 15th century; he is said to have died from food he had poisoned to get rid of a Cardinal.

English language biography, from Catholic Encyclopedia

Arcimboldi, Giovannangelo, 1485-1555
After the death of his wife he joined the clergy. Appointed nuncio in 1514, appointed indulgence commissioner for the Holy Roman Empire and Scandinavia. Involved in political intrigues, he had to flee Sweden; in 1522 he returned to Italy. Responsible for agents selling LETTERS OF INDULGENCE, such as JOHANNES TETZEL.

German language biography, from BBKL

Brask, Hans, 1464-1538
Elected Bishop of Linköping (Sweden) in 1513. He introduced paper to Sweden and established a printer's shop at Söderköping. He planned to connect Lake Vettern and Lake Vänern in central Sweden (which was accomplished only in the 1830es). An outspoken critic of the reformation, when the DIET OF VÄSTERAS in 1527 adopted the reformation, he left Sweden via Gotland and Danzig. He died in a monastery in Poznan (Posen). . . Go to Reformation in Sweden (at WHKMLA)

Swedish language biography, from SBH

Cajetan, Thomas (Jakob de Vio), 1469-1534
Joined the Dominican Order in 1484, was elected General of the Order in 1508. In 1519, as papal legate, he participated in the DIET OF AUGSBURG; he attempted to persuade MARTIN LUTHER to recant. He also promoted the candidacy of the King of Spain, Charles I., for Emperor. In 1523-1524 he was dispatched to Hungary. During the SACCO DI ROMA (1527) he was taken prisoner. In 1530 he advised pope Clement VII. against a divorce of Henry VIII.'s marriage with Catherine of Aragon.

German language biography, from BBKL

Clement VII. (Giulio de Medici) 1478-1534
His career in the service of the church was considerably promoted by his uncle LORENZO THE MAGNIFICENT and by his cousin GIOVANNI DE MEDICI who ruled as pope LEO X. 1513-1521. Was given the rank of Cardinal in 1513; became an influential figure at the court of Leo X. Was elected pope in 1523; feared Habsburg hegemony, leaned toward France. In 1527 an imperial army took Rome (SACCO DI ROMA); Clement VII. then pursued a more cautious policy in order not to anger the Emperor. Refused the dispense for a divorce requested by King Henry VIII. of England.

English language biography, from Catholic Encyclopedia

Contarini, Gasparo, 1483-1542
Studied theology and philosophy at the University of Padova. 1521-1525 Venetian envoy at the court of Charles V., since 1527 Venetian envoy at the papal court; involved in the peace negotiations between Charles V. and pope Clement VII. Despite Contarini still being a layman, Contarini was appointed Cardinal in 1535 and in 1536 he was called to join the commission charged with writing a draft of a reform; the reform draft criticised abuses within the church and contained suggestions for the implementation of reforms (1538). (Pope PAUL IV. in 1559 placed the reform draft on the INDEX LIBRORUM PROHIBITORUM).
In 1536 Contarini was appointed Bishop of Belluno. In 1541 he was sent as papal legate to the Diet of Regensburg, where he tried to mediate between the opposing factions. He recognized the necessity of a rejuvenation of the Catholic Church. In 1541 he justified his demand for an ethical reform of the clergy and a revision of the position of the pope. The following year, in Rome the SANTA OFFICIO was founded which suppressed any criticism; Contarini died that year.

English language biography, from Catholic Encyclopedia
German language biography, from BBKL


Eck, Johann (Johann Maier), 1486-1543
Studied in Heidelberg and Tübingen 1498-1501, then in Köln and Freiburg; was ordained a priest in 1508. Taught theology at the University of Ingolstadt since 1510. Initially a friend of Luther, he became his severest critic after the publication of the 95 Theses. Eck accused Luther of repeating the errors of the Hussitic heretics. In 1519 Eck stood up against Karlstadt and Luther in the LEIPZIG DISPUTATION. In 1520 Eck travelled to Rome and succeeded in convincing Pope Leo X. to excommunicate Luther (Bull EXSURGE DOMINE). Eck avoided a disputation to be held in ZÜRICH offered to him by HULDRYCH ZWINGLI; he stood up against Zwingli and OEKOLAMPAD in the 1526 BADEN (Aargau) DISPUTATION, in which he was declared the winner. He again missed the BERN DISPUTATION of 1528. Eck prepared a compilation of heretic sentences taken from reformers' publications in preparation of the 1530 DIET OF AUGSBURG. At the request of the Duke of Bavaria, Eck translated the bible into the Bavarian-Swabian dialect; it was published in 1537. Eck disputed with MELANCHTHON in Worms 1541.

English language biography, from Catholic Encyclopedia
German language biography from BBKL


Fisher, John, 1469-1535
Studied in Cambridge, was ordained a priest in 1491, became Bishop of Rochester in 1504. In 1527 he became chaplain to King Henry VIII. and confessor to Queen Catherine of Aragon. Refused to accept the annulment of Henry's marriage with Catherine of Aragon, was beheaded on June 22nd 1535.

English language biography, from anglican.com

Julius II. (Giulano della Rovere), 1443-1513)
A Franciscan monk, elevated to Cardinal Priest (1471) by his uncle, Pope Sixtus IV. Giulano successively held the bishoprics of Carpentras, Lausanne, Catania, Coutances, Mende, Viviers, Sabina etc. In 1474 he was consecrated Archbishop of Avignon. Holding a large number of benefices, Giulano was capable to support the arts. He fathered three children. In 1474 he was sent at the head of an army to suppress unrest in Umbria; in 1476 he was sent on a diplomatic mission to Avignon / France, in 1480 to the Netherlands. After the death of Sixtus IV. Giulano promoted the election of INNOCENT VIII (1484-1492), under whom Giulano exerted great influence. In 1493, Giulano fled to the French court; in 1494, Rodrigo de Borja was elected pope (ALEXANDER VI., -1503). An expedition King Charles VIII. of France sent to Italy to depose Pope Alexander VI. (1494), at the request of Giulano, failed as Alexander won Charles VIII. over by concessions. Giulano held his titles, but was distrusted by Alexander VI. When the latter died in 1503, and his successor died after having been in office for only 26 days, Giulano della Rovere was elected pope (JULIUS II., 1503-1513).
Julius strove to restore the authority of the popes as rulers of the PAPAL STATE. He was involved in wars against Venice and France. He hired LEONARDO DA VINCI to ornate the SISTINE CHAPEL. . . . Go to Papal State 1503-1534 (at WHKMLA)

English language biography, from Catholic Encyclopedia

Leo X. (Giovanni de Medici), 1475-1521
Received tonsure in 1482, was made abbot of a French monastery in 1483 (age 8), elevated to the rank of Cardinal at age 13 in 1489. Studied theology at Pisa 1489-1491 and in 1492 received the insignia of a Cardinal. The same year his father LORENZO DE MEDICI died; in 1494 the Medici were expelled from Florence (and Cardinal Giovanni deprived of much of the caresse that had provided so well for him). In 1511 Cardinal Giovanni was appointed papal legate in Bologna and the Romagna, by Pope JULIUS II. After the latter's death, Giovanni was elected pope; he took on the name LEO X. A true Medici, he spent much effort on the construction of ST. PETER'S CATHEDRAL; in 1514 he ordered a special indulgence to be sold, the revenue to be spent on St. Peter's Cathedral. The sale of letters of indulgence, by Dominican friar JOHANNES TETZEL, provoked MARTIN LUTHER to publish his 95 theses. Martin Luther even appealed to Leo X. to stop the practice; Leo X. in 1520 excemmonucated Martin Luther (papal bull EXSURGE DOMINE). . . . Go to Papal State 1503-1534 (at WHKMLA)

English language biography, from Catholic Encyclopedia

Loyola, Ignatius of (Don Inigo Lopez de Recalde, St. Ignatius), 1491-1556
Born in Guipuzcoa, Spain's Basque country; fiven the education of a page at the court of King Ferdinand the Catholic. After having been injured during the defense of Pamplona against the French in 1521, he received his call. In 1523 he made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem; afterward he studied. In 1528 he began collecting men around him who were similar-minded, among whom was (future Saint) FRANCIS XAVIER. In 1531 they took the vows of chastity and poverty and promised to either go to Jerusalem or devote themselves to missionary work, to work in hospitals or place themselves at the disposal of the pope. In 1543 Pope Paul III. confirmed the association, naming it SOCIETAS JESU - the JESUIT ORDER. Ignatius of Loyola would be sanctified in 1623. Ignatius of Loyola was hostile to the reformation.

English language biography, from Medieval Church

Pole, Reginald, 1500-1558
Studied at Oxford, visited Rome in 1526, though not yet ordained, was elected Dean of Exeter in 1527. Pole rejected the offer to succeed CARDINAL WOLSEY as Archbishop of York; disapproved of Henry's plan to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon, and told him so. In January 1532 Pole, with royal permission, left England for good; he established residence in Padova, Italy. In 1536 he was appointed member of the commission charged with writing a draft of a reform; the draft was published in 1538. Pole was repeatedly asked to mediate in diplomatic communication, between the Pope and the English King. Reginald Pole attended the COUNCIL OF TRENT. Edward VI. had died in 1553; Pole was sent as papal legate to England; he arrived in 1554. He advised Queen Mary, who had reformers executed (BLOODY MARY). In 1557, Pole was ordained priest, two days after consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury (in succession of recently executed THOMAS CRANMER). Died shortly after Queen Mary.

English language biography from Catholic Encyclopedia

Tetzel, Johannes, 1465-1519
Born in Prina near Dresden (Saxony). Joined the Dominikan monastery St. Pauli in Leipzig in 1480 or 1489; studied theology in Leipzig 1482-1483; since 1504 indulgence preacher, first in Livonia, since 1516 in Saxony; inquisitor, since 1502 of Saxony, since 1509 for Poland and Saxony; receibed his doctorate in 1518.
Tetzel's sale of letters of indulgence provoked MARTIN LUTHER into publication of his 95 theses (1517). Tetzel since 1518 lived in his monastery in Leipzig; in disputations (Frankfurt/Oder 1518) and in publications he attempted to defend the sale of letters of indulgence.

English language biography, from Catholic Encyclopedia
German language biography from BBKL


Torquemada, Tomas de, 1420-1498
Joined the Dominican order at young age, became councillor of Queen Isabella of Castile (from 1474). In 1483 Pope Sixtus IV. appointed Torquemada Grand Inquisitor of Castile and Aragon. Torquemada turned the SPANISH INQUISITION into what it became known for, giving it statutes (1484, 1486, 1488). Persuaded King Ferdinand to expel Spain's Jews in 1492. The number of victims killed by the Spanish Inquisition is contested; estimates range from about 2,000 to about 17,000. The Spanish Inquisition targeted Muslims, Jews and suspected heretics.

English language biography, from Catholic Encyclopedia

Wolsey, Thomas, 1471-1530
Studied at Oxford, ordained priest in 1498, enjoyed the favour of King HENRY VIII. (since 1509). In 1514 he was consecrated Archbishop of York. In 1515 he was appointed Lord chancellor of England; Wolsey was involved in English foreign policy and charged by Henry VII. to obtain papal dispense for Henry's planned divirce from Catherine of Aragon. Wolsey's failure to obtain this dispense lead to his fall in 1529.

English language biography, from Catholic Encyclopedia


Xavier, Francis, 1506-1552
A founding member of the association which in 1543 was recognized by Pope Paul III. as the JESUIT ORDER. Francis Xavier sailed in 1541 for Goa (India), where he did missionary work, which he continued 1545 in Malacca, 1546 on the Molucca Islands, 1547 in Malacca again, in Japan in 1549. Francis Xavier died in 1552 on an island off the Chinese coast.

English language biography, from Catholic Encyclopedia




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