Sickingen, Franz Von

Sickingen, Franz Von, a noble and heroic character, living in the early period of the German Reformation, and eminent because of the relation he sustained to that movement was born May 1, 1481, in the Castle of Ebernburg, near Kreuznach, and in his young manhood entered the armies of the emperor Maximilian, where he served until he had acquired-fame and high rank as a military leader. He was likewise engaged, however, in the less legitimate minor wars between the powerful nobles of Germany, which were then so common, though his part generally consisted in protecting the weaker party and delivering the oppressed. Like others, too, of his day, he was often guilty of unnecessary violence. In 1515 he compelled the city of Worms to receive back a number of citizens and councillors who had been banished, during a dispute between the magistrates and the public. He then turned his arms against the duke of Lorraine, and compelled the latter to purchase freedom from violence at the cost of fifty thousand florins and a month's pay to Sickingen's troops. Immunity from punishment for such offences was secured through the necessity of retaining Sickingen's skill and experience in the emperor's service. Maximilian died in 1519, and by that time Sickingen had become so important a personage that the candidates for the imperial throne Francis of France and Charles of Spain and Austria- both sought to obtain his support in their behalf. He decided in favor of the latter, and when his choice was ratified and Charles became emperor, June 28, 1519, he threw himself with enthusiasm into the service of his new lord, and was made commander of the imperial armies, councillor, and chamberlain. "As early as 1521 he was enabled to display his devotion to his new master in the field, under the command of count Henry of Nassau, in the abortive campaign against the Netherlands, when the successful defence of Mezieres by the chevalier Bayard compelled the retreat of the invading army. Sickingen's next undertaking was intended to break down the despotism of the princes and the superciliousness of the clergy. He was chosen general leader by the nobles of the Upper Rhine, and gathered an army which he employed against the archbishop of Treves, at first with some success, but ultimately to his own injury; as the protracted siege of Treves exhausted his resources and compelled his retreat, after having irritated the allied princes-the elector-palatine, the landgrave Philip of Hesse, and the archbishop-so that they followed him to his Castle of Landstuhl, near Zweibrucken, and stormed that hold. A hostile bullet had, in the meantime, given Sickingen a mortal wound, so that he died at noon, May 7,1523, while his chaplain was employed in ministering to him the consolations of religion. The hostile princes bowed reverently and repeated a Pater-noster for the repose of his soul. He left five sons, who were hindered from taking possession of their patrimony during nineteen years, when a compromise restored to them their own. His death made a profound impression through all Germany, and so startled Luther that he at first refused to credit the report of-its occurrence, though he afterwards saw in the event a display of God's wonderful and righteous judgments. See De Wette, Luther's Briefe, ii, 340, 341. v Sickingen's character was unquestionably marred by the faults of the chivalry of his time; but he was distinguished by fidelity to his pledges, devotion to his friends, courageous intervention in behalf of the oppressed. He did not receive the benefits of a liberal education in his youth, but was, nevertheless, possessed of high culture when judged by the standard of his time; and he became a zealous promoter of learning and a protector of scholars. Reuchlin ;(q.v.) found an asylum with him in April, 1519, when the hostile forces of the Suabian League entered Stuttgart, and again when the Dominicans of Cologne were persecuting him by legal process. Still more noteworthy is the fact that Ulrich von Hutten (q.v.).resided in the Ebernburg during two years, and was thus able to influence his former comrade to look with favor on the Wittenberg Reformer and his work. It was through the influence of -Hutten that Sickingen was released from the fetters of scholasticism, and enabled to. attain to a recognition of evangelical. truth. Among Sickingen's guests were Caspar Aquila, Martin Bucer, John (Ecolampadius, and John Schwebel (q.v.), besides others of inferior rank, in such numbers that his halls came to be known as "Inns of Righteousness." The result of the sojourn of so many reformatory spirits in the. Ebernburg was apparent in the reform of the religious services in all of Sickingen's castles, which work was executed, before the expedition to Treves, by CEcolampadius. Sickingen endeavored to promote the cause of the Reformation with his pen as well as with the force. of his public and private authority. A Sendschreiben (given in Munch, Fr. von Sickingen, ii, 132139) addressed to his brother - in - law - Dietrich von Handschuchsheim aims to show that the Reformation is simply a restoration of primitive Christianity, and to set forth the author's views respecting the Lord's supper, the mass, celibacy, and monasticism, the saints and images. He also wrote an Essay on the question "Whether it be advisable for the protesting princes of' the Holy Roman Empire to conclude a universal or particular treaty of peace with the pope ?" (see Jocher, Gelehrten-Lexikon, 4:569. .

See Leodius [Hubert], Acta et Gesta Fr. de Sick., in Freher, Scriptt. Rer. Germ. iii, 295 sq.; Spangenberg, Adelsspiegel, ii, 44; Sturm, Augenzeuge u. Herold bei Eroberung von Sickingen's Burgen; Seckendorf, Comment. Hist. et Apolog. de Lutheranismo (Francof. et Lips. 1692, 4to), i; Planck, Gesch. d. pesot. Lehrbes riffs, ii, 150 sq.; Munich, Fr. von Sickin.qen's Thaten, Plane, Freunde u. A usgang (Stuttg. 1827, 1828, 2 pts. [pt. ii contains the, sources]); Strauss, Ulrich von Hutten (Leips. 1858,1860, 3 pts.).

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