Mutianus, Rufus Conradus
Mutianus, Rufus Conradus a distinguished German scholar, and head of the Erfurt humanists, was born at Homburg October 15, 1471. His family name was Mudt, or Muth, but according to the literary fashion of the age he changed it to Mutianus. His parents lived in easy circumstances, and gave him a careful education. He entered the celebrated school of Alex. Hegius at Deventer, where he had for schoolfellow a youth named Gerhardus Gerhardi, who afterwards became celebrated throughout Europe as Desiderius Erasmus. Mutianus displayed so much talent at Deventer that it was predicted that some day he would be reckoned among the most learned men in Germany. When fifteen years old he entered the University of Erfurt, and in 1492 graduated as magister artium. Desirous of enjoying the best educational advantages, he then went to Italy, and took his degree as doc. jur. can. at Bologna. In 1502 he returned home, and was appointed to a very lucrative position at the ducal court of Hesse. But he soon resigned, preferring a small position at Gotha, which gave him ample time for study. He received an annual salary of sixty florins (about twenty dollars), but was so well satisfied with this modest remuneration that he could not be prevailed upon to accept another position. The inscription, "Beata tranquillitas," which he placed outside, and "Bonis cuncta pateant," which he placed inside of his house, is significant. He preferred not to publish anything except a few epigrams; but his letters, directed to his friends, are of great historic value, and show the superior critical mind of the man. They are preserved in manuscript at the Frankfort City Library, and have been in part edited by W.E. Tetzel in Supplem. historiae Gothanae (Jenme, 1704), volume 1. Mutianus was a humanist, but humanism was, in his opinion, only a means to the end. It served him as an introduction into the study of moral philosophy and theology, and, like his great contemporary, Erasmus, he placed himself in decided opposition to scholastic theology and Church abuses generally. He was one of the literary precursors of the Reformation, and as such contributed largely to prepare the minds of literary men throughout Germany for a rupture with Rome. The modest George Spalatin, jun., was an intimate friend and pupil of his; and when Spalatin was called to Wittenberg in 1508, he dismissed him thus:
"Ito bonis avibus dextro pede sidere fausto Felix optatum carpe viator iter. Aula patet, Spalatine! tibi tribuntur honores, Ito praetereant qun nocitura putas."
Mutianus came into intimate connections with the Erfurt humanists, and the Erfurt scholars visited him frequently (see C. Krause, Euric. Condus. [Hanau, 1863]), esteeming him as their head and leader. He outran his generation in thought, but lagged behind it in action. He at first hailed Luther with joy, but in 1521 he withdrew his support from the Reformers. He decided to remain in the Church of Rome, and is said to have lived in such poverty that he was obliged to beg for bread. He died on Good- Friday, 1526. It has been well said that Mutianus was a Reformer until the Reformation became a fearful reality. He was a learned, ingenious, amiable, timid, irresolute man, whose soul did not partake of the energy of his intellectual faculties. See Strauss, Ulrich v. Hutten, 1:42 sq.; 2:336 sq.; Kampfschulte, Die Universitit Erfurt in ihrem VIerhaltniss zu d. Humwalismus un.d d. Reformat. (TIrves, 1858) 1:74 sq.; 2:227 sq.