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Philipp Melanchthon

Bretten 1497 -
Wittenberg 1560


Philipp Melanchthon (originally Philipp Schwartzerdt) was born on February 16, 1497 in Bretten. Because of the provision of his grandfather, Melanchthon received a thorough education, most notably receiving instruction in Latin by Johannes Unger from Pforzheim.
After the deaths of his father and grandfather at the age of 11, he was sent to relatives in Pforzheim. He did exceptionally well at the Latin school. Melanchthon began studying at the University in Heidelberg in 1509, receiving his first degree of B.A. only two years later. On September 17, 1512, he continued his studies at the University of Tübingen. He studied astronomy, music, arithmetic, and geometry; learned Greek, Hebrew, and Latin; read the ancient writers; and worked through the new pedagogical concepts and writings of Rudolf Agricola on logic and dialectics.
Melanchthon ended his studies there in 1514 with the title Magister. Already during his studies, Melanchthon published his first works, including his Greek grammar, which appeared in 1518 and, by 1544, had seen nineteen editions.
Luther's "95 Theses" in 1517 were an important influence in Melanchthon's work from that time forward. In 1518, Melanchthon went to the University in Wittenberg to accept the newly established chair of Greek. In his inaugural address on university reform, Melanchthon convinced not only the students and faculty, but also Martin Luther, which whom Melanchthon maintained a lifelong friendship. He earned the academic rank of baccalaureus biblicus (biblical baccalaureate) in 1519 under Luther's influence and subsequently received the position of professor in 1525.

Although this qualified him to lecture within the department of theology, Melanchthon never felt the calling to become a priest - he preferred philosophy. The University of Wittenberg received renown from all over Europe due to the teaching of Melanchthon and Luther.
In the years 1529 to 1532, he published writings on Aristotle and Cicero. He published his own system of ethics in 1538, which he revised in 1550. The first part of his teachings on man appeared in 1540, with the final version, "De anima", appearing in 1553.
In 1549, his physical work came out, in which he dealt with the Copernican world view. Melanchthon was not known only as a writer in Europe; he received much acclaim for his teaching at the University of Wittenberg, all the while holding the offices of rector and dean in the department of Philosophy. He also began lecturing on world history in 1555. Melanchthon published works on this theme under the pseudonym "Johann Carion".
The excessive workload took its toll on Melanchton's health. After years of serious illness, Philipp Melanchthon died on April 19, 1560 in Wittenberg.

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Johann Fischart - Podagrammisch Trostbüchlein. 1591
Johann Fischart
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