Ratze(N)Berger, Matthaeus

Ratze(n)berger, Matthaeus a physician at the tourt of the elector Joachim in the Reformation period. He took such an important part in the Protestant movement that he deserves a place here. He was born at Wangen, in Wurtemberg, in 1501. and was educated at the University of Wittenberg, where he was the constant companion of Luther; and when, by the decided part he had taken at the court of the elector Joachim, where he was court physician, he was obliged to abandon a most lucrative position and practice, he was, by the intercession of his dear school friend, made body physician of the count of Mansfield, and held this position until, in 1538, the elector John Frederic of Saxony made him his court doctor. He was also the house physician of the great Reformer himself, and frequent]y together the two friends discussed the exciting questions of the day, the physician being daily drawn closer and closer towards the earnest evangelical preacher. Ere he was aware of it, Ratzenberger was as much a student of theology as of medicine, and finally he wrote theological treatises, many of which have retained their value, and attest the unconscious influence of Martin Luther upon him. All his writings betray a desire of approval for the Lutheran position, and they are therefore valuable as an index of much that Luther thought, but never wrote himself. IHence, also, Ratzenberger's Historia Lutheri, newly edited by Neudecker (Jena, 1850), is one of the most valuable contributions to the material for Luther's memoirs. The Historica Relatio de Johanne Friderico, etc., first mentioned in Arnold's Kirchen- u. Ketzergesch., later as historia Arcana, and finally published under the title D. M. Ratzenberger's geheimne Geschichte, etc. (Altorf, 1775), is now generally regarded as a forgery of the anti-Melancthonians, and W. von Reiffenstein, of Stolberg, is supposed to have been its author (1570). After the death of Luther, Ratzenberger was one of his executors, and an editor of the German edition of the Reformer's writings published at Jena. See the Life of Luther by Seckendorf; Biographie von Andreas Poach (Jena, 1559).

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