Regius the Latinized name of Urban-Konig, a learned theologian, preacher, and writer, and also an influential promoter of the Reformation. He was born in 1490 of parents in moderate circumstances, and resident at Langenargen, near Lake Constance. At the age of seventeen he was admitted to the University of Fribourg as a student of theology, and by his application and progress won the favor of his professors; but an injudicious defence of the disputations of John Eck, later the noted opponent of Luther, led to his suspension from the university and to his subsequent removal to Basle. After a brief sojourn in Basle, he was called to the chair of poetry and oratory in the University of Ingolstadt, where Eck was likewise employed as professor of theology, and where a circle of humanists were then striving to bring the classics into honor. Regius distinguished himself to such a degree as to receive from the hands of the emperor Maximilian a laurel crown in recognition. of his services, and saw his classes grow continually. But his success was interrupted by the neglect of patrons to settle bills which he had been compelled to assume for their sons who were his pupils, so that, in utter discouragement, he became a soldier in the imperial army-a situation from which he was fortunately delivered by the interference of Eck, who secured his discharge from the army and also the payment of his debts, as well as an increased salary for the future.
Regius, however, began to dislike the studies in which he was engaged, and to manifest a growing predilection for theology. He was especially impressed with the influence of the Wittenberg reformatory movements, and found greater pleasure in the evangelical doctrines taught by Luther and Melancthon than in scholasticism. The consequence was a growing coolness between Eck and himself, which led him to seek a release from the university. The influence of John Faber, vicar-general of the see of Constance, and a book written by himself, entitled De Dignitate Sacerdotum, recommended him to bishop Hugo of Constance, and secured from that prelate the appointment of episcopal vicar in spiritualibus. A year later he was made doctor of theology (1520), and appointed preacher at the Augsburg cathedral. His evangelical attitude excited the opposition of the papal party against him, and compelled his removal; but he soon returned, and labored with great energy for the extension of the evangelical doctrines, from 1522 to 1530, by presenting them to the people in sermons from the pulpit of St. Ann's Church, and by disputations and controversial writings. Luther came to regard him as the principal supporter of evangelicalism in Suabia, while Eck charged him with black ingratitude, and persecuted him with passionate hatred and malicious cunning. It was perhaps owing to the bitterness of such experiences that he concluded to imitate the example of other Reformers and establish for himself the refuge of a home. He married Anna Weissbruick, a native of Augsburg, who sustained him faithfully while he lived, and by whom he became the father of thirteen children.
The fame of Regius had in the meantime become so extended that his counsel and aid were frequently sought even by distant cities and countries. Duke Ernest of Lilneberg, surnamed the Confessor, urged him to assist in introducing the Reformation into that territory, and Regius pledged his services to that end, removing to Celle, and assuming the functions of court preacher, He was soon appointed general superintendent over the whole duchy, and in that position was enabled, by judicious counsels and restless activity, to rapidly advance the interests of the Reformation. Two years were spent in superseding the Romish clergy and their services with an evangelical ministry and worship, iii improving the schools and gymnasia of the country, and also in establishing the infant Church on a legal foundation, and in securing the transfer of the confiscated goods of monasteries to the use of the Church and of schools. A call to return to Augsburg at this time (1532) was declined, and his life was thenceforward spent in the service of the prince and people of the duchy of Lineberg, though he took an active part in the introduction and development of Protestantism in other places: e.g. the county of Hoya, the cities of Hildesheim, Hanover, Brunswick, Minden, and Hdrter, the territory of Schaumburg, etc. He also responded to the request of count Enno for evangelical preachers by sending Martin Ondermark and Matthias Guinderich to East Eriesland. He ranks, accordingly, as one of the leading Reformers in North Germany. In 1537 he accompanied duke Ernest to the convention at Smalcald, and signed the Smalcald Articles; in 1538 he was present at the Convention of Brunswick, and in 1540 at Hagenau, where an abortive attempt at reconciliation between the papal and the evangelical parties was made, and where the king, Ferdinand, issued a decree for a religious conference at Worms. Physical inability prevented Regius from participating in the proceedings of the latter diet. A severe cold incurred on his return from Hagenau resulted in a dangerous sickness, and on May 23, 1541, he ended his useful life. The veneration of his contemporaries proved his worth.
In appearance, Regius was a man of medium height and spare and delicate figure, easy and yet resolute in his bearing, and characterized by an air of intelligence and moral earnestness. His writings breathe the same Christian spirit which belonged to his personality. They number ninety-seven different works, which were published at Nuremberg in 1562, the German in four parts, and the Latin in three. His exegetical works deserve attention on account of their practical aim, and the thoroughness and skill with which the sense of Scripture is developed in them; and, in addition, the following are worthy of note: Formulae quaedam caute et citra Scandalum Loquendi de Prcecipuis Christianoe Doctrinoe Locis (1535), which has almost reached the position of a symbolical book: — Catechismus Minor (1536), and Catechismus Major (1537), which are peculiar in that the questions are placed in the mouth of the pupil, and the answers are assigned to the teacher: — Erkldrung der wolf Artikel des christlichen Glaubens (1523 ); and others, among them several books on Church discipline, which have been often reprinted.
Literature. — The writings of Urban Regius himself contain sources respecting his life, as does also the Vita Urbani Regii, etc., written by his son Ernest. Comp. also Bertram, Ref. — u. Kirchenhist. d. Stadt Liineberg (1719); Meier, Ref. — Gesch. d. Stadt Hannover (1730); Lauenstein, Hildesheim Reformations historia (1720); Geffken, Dr. Urb. Regius, seine Wahl zum ersten Hamb. Superintendenten, etc.; Schlegel, Kirchen- u. Ref. — Gesch. v. Norddeutschl. (Hanover, 1828), vol. ii; Havemann, Gesch. d. Lande Braunschweig und Luneburg (Gotting, 1855), vol. ii; Heimbuirger, Urbanus Regius, etc. (Hamb. and Gotha, 1851); Hagen, Deutschlands lit. u. rel. Verhaltnisse in Re: — Zeitalter (Erlangen, 1841-44); Uhlhorn, Urban Regius im Abendmahlsstreite, in the Jahrb. f. deutsche Theologie (1860), vol. 5, No. 1. — Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.