John the Constant, Elector of Saxony (152532)

John "The Constant," Elector Of Saxony (1525-32)

one of the most zealous of the princely supporters of the Reformation, was born at Meissen, June 30, 1468. He early imbibed a love for a military life, and in several campaigns under Maximilian I, against the Hungarians and Venetians, displayed great decision and courage. When the Reformation struggle began he was already fifty years of age, but followed it up, from the very beginning, and with his son, John Frederick, soon became a follower of Luther, of whose sermons he often took notes. He bade the priests of his realm preach the gospel and administer the sacraments according to the institution of Christ. At the diet of Spires, in 1526, he openly espoused the cause of Luther, in connection with the other evangelical princes. He was threatened by a league of Catholic princes, formed at Breslau in 1528, with exile from his land and people unless he delivered up Luther and restored the old order of things. He expressed his refusal to comply by marshalling his troops, which, however, it did not become necessary to use. At the second diet of Spires, in 1529, he signed a protest against the action of the majority, which forbade all religious innovations or discussions on the mass until the convention of an ecumenical council. He acknowledged obedience to the emperor, except where it conflicted with the honor of God and the salvation of souls. At the diet of Augsburg, in 1530, his conduct was heroic. In spite of all personal annoyances he stood firmly by the side of the evangelicals. In 1531 he entered into a league of defence with the evangelical princes and cities for six years, which forced upon the emperor the religious peace of Nuremberg, July 23, 1532. He died August 16 of the same year. Luther preached his funeral sermon from 1Th 4:13-18, and Melanchthon pronounced a memorial address soon after in Latin. Luther honored him as a pious, sincere prince. John was a man of peace, and yet a good soldier of Christ. See Spalatin's Biography, in Mencke, Script. rerum Germ. 3:1003 sq.; Ranke, Deutsche Geschichte im Zeitalter der Reformation, 1-3; Gretschel-Bulau, Geschichte des sachsischen Volkes und Staates, 1:419 sq.; Plitt, Einleitung in die Augustana; Plitt-Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.; Lichtenberger, Encyclop. des Sciences Religieuses, s.v. (B.P.)

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