Utenheim, Christoph Van

Utenheim, Christoph Van bishop of Basle in the era of the Reformation, and an unconscious agent in preparing the way for that change in his diocese, was born about 1450 of an ancient and noble family, and in time became a representative of the views of Gerson, (q.v.). He was made a canon at Strasburg, and afterwards provost; became rector of the newly founded University of Basle, master, doctor of canon law, and, it is said, general of the Order of Cluniacensians. A.D. 1500 he was made administrator of the diocese of Baslen, lid in 1502 bishop. He introduced an economical administration, which enabled him to liquidate the debts of hi diocese, and in time to promote the interests of learning, but which, to some extent, offended his clergy, and caused the Council of Basle to suspect him of entertaining ambitious designs in the direction of recovering rights over the town which his predecessors had alienated for money. This dispute ended eventually in the refusal on the part of the town to pay the bishop's penny, which formed the last evidence of episcopal authority in secular matters. In spiritual and ecclesiastical matters, Utenheim also placed himself at once on the side of reform. In obedience to the directions of the Council of Basle, he framed synodal statutes and convened a synod, Oct. 23, 1503, which he addressed in words of earnest exhortation and warning, to the end that a purer life among the clergy might restore the Church to respect among the laity, aid might introduce a purer morality among the people. The statutes he had prepared were then adopted; the clergy promised to conform to them, and pledged themselves to hold two synods annually, at which reports should be rendered concerning their own conduct and the moral and religious state of the people, and measures for further improvement should be devised. This endeavor was nevertheless fruitless, because opposition and disobedience from his clergy soon appeared in measure too great for him to control; but it led to the inception of a new plan for-reforming the diocese, which has given this bishop a noteworthy place among the forerunners ofthe Reformation. In 1512 he called Capito (q.v.) to become preacher in the cathedral, and three years afterwards AEcolampadius, neither of them representatives of rigid Romanism, and both destined soon to become leaders, in the tendency away from Rome. Erasmus was also valued by the bishop, and invited (June 13, 1517) to make Basle his home; and when Luther began his work, Utenheim rejoiced in his boldness, and read his writings with avidity. So late as 1519 Capito wrote to Luther that a learned and very upright bishop had promised a refuge to the Reformer in case of need, which bishop was certainly none other than Utenheim. It soon became apparent, however, that Luther's work was causing, material damage to the bishop and bishopric of Basle, and the prelate thereupon began to take retrograde steps. He first demanded and received a coadjutor in his office. A public and notorious violation of the fast on Palm-Sunday furnished him with a desired occasion to issue a mandate forbidding the public mention of Luther and threatening punishment for all further transgressions of the law of fasting. Erasmus responded to that mandate in a circular letter addressed his the bishop, which may have restrained the latter from extreme measures, but which, nevertheless, caused his own expulsion from the town soon after Easter, 1522. It is certain that Utenheim always remained accessible to the evangelicals; but, on the other hand, he advised the Church of Zurich not to-risk-the second. disputation set down for September, 1523, and joined the association of German bishops for giving effect to the Edict of Worms. He retained the friendship of Erasmus to the last, and permitted the latter to express his views respecting the Church very frankly. Worn out with age, ill-health, and anxiety, he retired in 1024 to Brunitrut. In February, 1527, he asked to be released from his official duties, and died March 16 of that year. See Sudanus, Basilea Sacrai, etc. (Bruntrut, 1668); Ochs,Gesch. d. Stadt Basel, ch. 4, Erasmus, Vittenso, Th. Joro, etc.; Scultetus, Annales ad A. 1519; Wirz, Pelcet. Kirch. Gesch. 5, 284; Wurstisen, Basler Chroniik, p. 564; Letters of Herm. Buschl and Glareau to Zwingli (ed. Schuler and Schulthess), 7:1, 195-197; Ranke, Deutsche Gesch. im Zeitalter d. Resization,2, 518; Herzog,Leben Oekolanpacds (1. 9 sq.). Beitrage zur Gesch. c. Bels (1839), and Real-Encyklop. s.v.; also Tonjola, Basilea Selpulta Detecta, Appendix, p. 25.

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