Pedersen, Christiern

Pedersen, Christiern, one of the most noted characters of Denmark and Sweden in the Reformation period, was born at Swendborg, in Denmark, in 1480. He studied in Roskilde, and, after completing his course there, he became a canon in Lund. Later he studied for several years in Paris, and upon his return to Denmark he was appointed chancellor under Hans Weze, archbishop of Lund. When the archbishop fled, Pedersen remained to take charge of the affairs of the diocese, but he was constantly suspected and persecuted by his enemies. When Soren Nordby entered Skaane, in 1525, he joined him as a faithful adherent of the legitimate king; but for this reason he was found guilty of high-treason, his goods were confiscated, and he was obliged to leave Denmark. He sought his fugitive king, Christian II, in the Netherlands, and there he spent several years advocating the cause of the Reformation. But when king Christian II was taken prisoner in 1532, and confined in Sonderborg, Christiern Pedersen was permitted to return and live in Malmo, where he is said to have acted as Jirgen Kok's secretary during the Count's Feud. The last ten years of his life he spent with a relative who was minister at Helsinge, in the northern part of Zealand. He died there, Jan. 16, 1554. He was not one of the leading Reformers in Denmark, partly because he was absent during the most important struggle, and partly because he lacked courage and force of character, and oftentimes thought the Reformers proceeded too violently. He had always loved peace and quiet, and during the most turbulent times he withdrew to his friends. Besides he was not, like so many of the friends of the Lutheran Reformation in his day, an enemy of the past, and he sought to reconcile his love of the old songs and stories of his fatherland with his love of the emancipated Gospel. During his whole life, both while he was yet a Catholic and after he had become a Protestant, he labored zealously for the enlightenment of his countrymen, and he is justly considered the founder of modern Danish literature. At Antwerp he published in 1529 a Danish translation of the New Testament and of the Psalms of David, and he was one of the main workers in the translation of the so-called Christian III's Bible, published in 1550. His principal theological works are his book on the Mass and his Book of Miracles, both of which he wrote while he was yet a Catholic. His Right Way to Heaven, On Marriage and the Bringing-up of Children, and On Study and the Education of Children are free translations from Luther. His patriotism led him to rescue from oblivion the famous work of Saxo Grammaticus, which, at the request of Christian II, he published in Paris in 1514. This work, translated into Danish by Gruntowig, is deservedly the most popular of all secular books in the Danish tongue. He fought against the absurdity of using Latin instead of Danish, and insisted that if the apostles had preached in Denmark, they would have talked Danish. By his translation of the Bible and other works he accomplished for Denmark what Luther had already accomplished for Germany. See Barfods, Fortaellinger, p. 427-429. (R. B. A.)

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