William Urban, Monmouth College (Il)

I. The Renaissance and Prussian Traditions

Scholars of the German Renaissance have faced problems in attempting to

explain the forms Humanism adopted in the Holy Roman Empire. To some

degree, this results from the fact that fifteenth century Germans did not find Italian

political and cultural models very attractive. Their Holy Roman Empire was not

a successor state to Rome, and many recognized this, official protestations to the

contrary. For centuries Germans had returned from Italy with feelings both of

inferiority and superiority, emotions which assured them that they were not

Italians. They called themselves Deutsch, a name with connotations of upright-

ness and honor, and they left Romanoi to the Byzantines, whom they despised for

their very lack of those virtues. Now, confronted by a growing sophistication and

arrogance in Italian society, and realizing they had lost their former military

power, their ambivalence toward Italian intellectual achievements became more

pronounced. Germans genuinely believed themselves to be more devout, more

honest, and more valiant than Italians. Why this was so is debatable, but whatever

the reason, they had ideals concerning religion and politics far removed from

reality, incompatible even with the corruption in Germany and totally irreconcil-

able with the stories they heard about the Renaissance papacy.

Among Germans the ideal state of the Renaissance era was one which

resembled the great medieval empire, not pagan Rome. Of course, this ideal state

never existed. In theory German princes voluntarily accomplished great deeds

under the inspired leadership of valiant and selfless emperors. In practice they

paid lip service to the emperor and viewed every suggestion for united action

suspiciously. Germany was not a nation, nor was the Holy Roman Empire a state.

Germany was a collection of territories, each with traditions of its own. These

traditions reflected the origin of the population, the geography, the natural

resources, and the patterns of trade of each territory. The important tradition was

JBS, Vol. XXII, No. 2 (Summer 1991) 95

96 William Urban

language, and Germans of one region did not necessarily understand the dialects

spoken by Germans elsewhere. This was part of a wide cultural diversity inside the

Holy Roman Empire. Swabians were not Saxons, and Hanseatic merchants had

little in common with Tyrolean mountaineers. Germany had little real unity-and

that was the way the princes and nobles preferred it.

If one accepts this viewpoint as a starting place for discussion, it is possible

to bypass some confusion as to what the princes wished to achieve; there was no

program, only sets of mutually contradictory ambitions. This is not to deny the

importance of unifying institutions. Such institutions did exist, and they worked

toward creating a sense of being German. First, there were the universities, most

of which had been recently founded, where intellectuals and a few princes

obtained an education in the liberal arts. Educated men saw themselves as more

alike than different. Secondly, the Reichstage (representative assemblies of

nobles and cities meeting in the presence of the emperor) and courts provided

frequent opportunities for an exchange of information and ideas among lawyers

and professors. Thirdly, the intermarriage of princely houses was usually

accompanied by an exchange of such trained personnel as companions, courtiers,

and advisors. Fourthly, the trade networks were defended by leagues of cities and

their hired protectors, the great princes. Lastly, there was immigration from west

to east, from country to city, and this development affected every class and

reminded everyone that provincial boundaries were not the end of the known

world. As a result, no territory was so distant, not even Prussian and Livonia, that

it did not have a share in the national dreams, that it did not have some wish for

a more effective unity of the German people. However, there was no group of

people so desirous of such as state that they were willing to sacrifice the slightest

bit of their autonomy to achieve it. Hence, unifying institutions did not create any

significant political unity.

The new way of thinking which made an impact on this situation was

essentially secular and logical--to create from old forms new methods of

governing, new approaches to managing the Church, and new means of raising

money. All change, however, had to be accomplished with as much deference to

tradition and accepted practice as possible. The role of Rhetoric was to persuade

the skeptical that innovations were really returns to old practices, reestablishment

of old institutions, and revitalization of ancient morality. This, in turn, required the

study of history, especially the history of the Church and its relationship to the

State. The study of the past was to put the service of the present, with practical,

secular goals, not moralistic or theological ends. Thus the humanists and rhetori-

cians of Germany in the era of the Reformation introduced what appeared to be

administrative and educational reforms, but which in reality was the seculariza-

tion of society.

While it would be polemical and incorrect to suggest this process was

occurring everywhere in Germany or even that humanists were consciously aware

of what they were doing, one might want to compare the view of the ideal Holy

Roman Empire of 1450 to that of 1525. In the former period the vision of Friedrich

Barbarossa and Friedrich II still stirred the imagination; seventy-five years later

Court of the Grandmasters 97

this was not the case. The swiftness with which the secular and ecclesiastical rulers

transformed their states into Lutheran principalities and Roman Catholic prince-

bishoprics indicate that by 1525 they had abandoned hope of reform. Now they

had reason to fear a strong emperor who might take away their usurped rights and


Even in religious reform there was a secularist tendency. Gone were the

flagellants and Beguins, having been replaced by witch-hunters seeking out those

who had sold their souls to the devil for worldly advantage or revenge. Gone were

the simonist abbots and bishops who worked for family advantage--having been

replaced by compliant, married, but impoverished clerics in the Protestant states

and, in the Catholic regions, by unmarried but definitely unchaste men who were

more prince than bishop. Gothic art was replaced by Renaissance styles, which

were later covered over by Baroque extravagance or puritanical whitewash.

Religious belief was still deep, but after the Peasant Rising of 1525, it was not

longer tied to hopes of social and political reform.

Why this change came about cannot be explained without a detailed history

of German humanism, because it was the men with a humanist education or at least

an appreciation of the advantages to be gained by employing educated men, who

advocated reforms and carried them through against much opposition. The Ref-

ormation era was tumultuous, and no two regions experienced quite the same

history. The nature of the reforms and their success or failure depended as much

upon regional conditions and traditions as upon the personalities of the men in

power at the time. Once the more the universal influences have been studied, one must

turn to regional influences to see why one region made one set of changes, and

another area others.

The Teutonic Knights in Prussia reflected this predicament of the German

people as a whole very well. They represented a traditional national viewpoint-

they had convents, churches, and hospitals throughout the Holy Roman Empire;

they drew their membership from every corner of the country; they had very close

ties to their patron, the Holy Roman Emperor; and their very name (translated

literally the German Order) emphasized their role as defenders of German

civilization and culture. On the other hand, knights stationed in Prussia and

Livonia developed regional viewpoints and demanded that their particular needs

receive priority over imperial or national projects. Their political interests were

not concerned with Italy or the Turks, but with Poles and Russians, Danes and

Swedes, the rise of civic leagues, and episcopal efforts for independence. For

knights in Prussia, unlike those in the empire, local problems outweighed national

ones. This divergence of interests was the major cause of a growing schism in the

ranks of the crusading order.

The military disasters of the Thirteen Years War had broken the Prussian

branch of the Teutonic Order in its various roles as war machine, as vehicle for

crusading, and as an effective government. The loss of the most important castles,

almost half the land possessed in 1453, and the secure land route to Germany

placed the grandmasters in an impossible and intolerable position vis-à-vis

Poland. Some change had to be made. Either new crusading goals had to be found

98 William Urban

or advantage taken of Polish difficulties to regain the lost territories or even more

radical solution taken (such as dissolving the order--as was often proposed by the

Poles). Between 1466 and 1525 each of these possibilities was explored, and in

the end the most radical was adopted.

The role of humanism in this process was to provide a new body of admin-

istrators who slowly replaced the Prussian knights in important offices and

ultimately ousted them from all posts of authority. The viewpoint of the humanists

was that of an educated middle-class elite with international training and experi-

ence. They replaced men of noble background whose lives had been dedicated to

the church, to war, and, increasingly, to personal enjoyment--beer, the hunt, and,

occasionally, loose women.

II. The Court of the Grandmasters to 1497

Grandmasters Heinrich Reuss von Plauen and Heinrich von Richtenberg

(1467-1477) possessed limited options after the Second Peace of Thorn in 1466.

The military defeat at the hands of the Prussian League and Poland had been

almost total. It was absolutely necessary to allow the economy to recover, to

organize the administration of the remaining lands, and to develop a new set of

institutional goals. To accomplish these aims they had fewer warriors than any

grandmaster in two centuries, which led them to move cautiously and make but

few changes.

Not only did these grandmasters face a strong Polish monarchy and hostile

West Prussians, but their religious order was disintegrating. The German convents

were effectively independent and the Livonian ones were demanding more

autonomy. The recruiting of members was difficult, and there were no more

crusaders. This increased the grandmasters' dependence on the gentry. Wide

stretches of the countryside were depopulated, and runaway peasants were

common. The grandmasters--who had rewarded many mercenaries of the war by

grants of land--had to give them permission to force the peasantry to work at the

wages they chose to give. Vagrancy laws were strictly enforced. The nobles did

not flourish, due to the depressed economy everywhere in eastern Europe; but they

survived-and they demanded a controlling voice in the government through the

assembly, forcing administrators to report to them rather than to the grandmasters.

The grandmasters reorganized along limited, sensible and logical lines-if

they could not recruit knights from Germany in any numbers, they would be

satisfied with a handful; they used this handful as officers, not warriors; and from

that moment on, the majority of the troops were mercenaries, led by these knights.

Never again would the grandmasters hire mercenary armies, foreign troops under

knights. This resulted in significant monetary savings, particularly when they

refrained from antagonizing the Polish king and could therefore reduce the

numbers of the standing army.

Grandmaster Martin Truchsess (1477-1489), discussed the revival of

crusading endeavors. Unfortunately, Polish encouragement of this was linked

Court of the Grandmasters 99

with a plan to take away the Prussian lands and resettle the few knights on the

Turkish frontier. Unwilling to commit institutional suicide, or even to fulfill the

terms of the Second Peace of Thorn requiring the order to accept Polish members,

Truchsess marked time, hoping that the reform movement in the Holy Roman

Empire might provide some relief from a difficult situation. His efforts at internal

reform made little headway because he had to deal with a financial rather than a

moral problem. So much of the order's income was absorbed by knights stationed

around the country in fortified convents that little was left for improving military

preparedness. Yet reform was impossible, because the commanders of the

convents could block the grandmaster's efforts to change any arrangement. The

grandmaster survived an important crises when King Casimir IV (1445-1492)

sought to appoint the bishops for vacancies in Royal Prussian. That would have

ended all hope the grandmaster had of ever recovering authority in that region, and

he spent money lavishly to frustrate Polish designs. Though he was successful, the

effort left him closer to bankruptcy than ever.

The next grandmaster, Hans von Tiefen (1489-1497), did gon on crusade

against the Turks in Moldavia as an ally of the Polish monarch Jan Olbracht (1492-

1501). However, the expedition was a disaster. Most of the equipment and many

of the troops were lost to bad weather and disease, and the aged grandmaster

himself died of illness during the campaign. Clearly, neither the policy of marking

time nor the revival of crusading seemed to be achieving results. 1

Through this quarter century humanist influence seems to have lain

dormant. Except for bursts of activity, the grandmasters were not often acting as

patrons in support of the advancement of art and architecture. They were even

drawing in the purse strings on diplomacy. Clearly valuing rhetoric and disputa-

tion far less than austerity, reserve, and patience, they spent almost nothing on

scholars. There was some evidence of the quiet presence of humanists or humanist

ideas: schools were founded in the cities-usually civic institutions rather than

those of the church; Jacob Hogenstein-friend of humanist popes and the first

procurator general to use the new handwriting-was gone, but he had left behind

a quietly functioning office which fulfilled its traditional duty and served as a

center for visiting students and delegations, and provided information about papal

affairs; Grandmaster Martin abandoned the traditional seal (the order cross and

the Virgin Mary) for one representing a female figure standing before an altar with

a tripod and feeding a snake! But humanism was more truly represented by debates

over political theory. Whether or not Plato and Aristotle were ever mentioned (one

tends to doubt it), the knights were discussing the most fundamental assumptions

about their organization and its governance. The officers were debating a plan to

reorganize the Prussian state so that all authority came directly from the grand-

master instead of being transmitted through the commanders of the convents; it

was even proposed that the grandmaster be a secular duke rather than the head of

a monastic order. These issues were discussed quietly but persistently, as best we

can tell, and apparently the example of Saxony came up repeatedly as a model for


100 William Urban

Saxony was of interest partly because the elector there had faced and

overcome some of the same difficulties faced by the Teutonic Order during the

past half-century. A relatively small state surrounded by powerful neighbors,

plagued by an insurrection of the estates between 1446 and 1451, Saxony had

become a leader in the empire by the 1480's. It was not easy to see how the elector

had accomplished this; the Teutonic Order could not simply adopt the same

reforms which had been carried out in Saxony and expect them to have the same

effect. Should, for example, a grandmaster imitate the founding of Wittenberg

University? Should he follow the Saxon reorganization of local administration by

giving each advocate (Vogt) authority over the nobles, cities, and monasteries in

his district? Neither proposal seemed practical. The former was expensive and

would not produce quick results, the latter would meet with resistance from the

estates. Although Prussian administrators did not see how they could emulate the

electors' example, they were impressed by their accomplishments. They saw that

Saxon advocates and their assistants (Schreiber or Schloesser) had created

surpluses which went into the general treasury, that limiting court hearings to three

sites had created a central administration, and that a proper use of bookkeeping

had made it possible to determine where the money was, how it was being spent,

and how much income could be anticipated. Furthermore, the use of specialists in

banking and justice as well as in the council improved the quality of advice given

to the elector.3 Those specialists, many noted, had been trained in the liberal arts,

often in Italian universities.

It was not that Germany faced a lack of qualified scholars--Italy was being

flooded by unemployed Germans. In the papal Rota, three-fourths of the officials

serving in 1471 were Germans, one-third of the notaries between 1490 and 1526

were Germans, as were almost three-quarters of the substitute notaries. There

were also many German inn-keepers, merchants, and soldiers. Such men lacked

opportunities at home and had adopted the traditional remedy of emigration.

Yet opportunities were become abundant at home, too. The increas-

ing popularity of Roman law had the effect of centralizing the administrations and

eliminating the chaotic and strangling net of local laws and customs. To devise and

supervise the new bureaucracy required administrators who were, first of all,

literate enough to understand the laws and, second willing to spend a lifetime with

books and papers. (This was not an occupation for men who loved socializing and

the hunt.) Moreover, the administrators had to know the world, whether through

experience, travel, or reading, and to delight in innovation and order--the two

words which separate the new processes from the old. Humanists were without

question the best men available for these posts-not because they loved poetry and

could discuss literature, but because their training gave them skills which could be

used in the same bureaucracies.4

Princes who observed the success of Saxony and Austria did not copy their

methods exactly, 5 perhaps because they did not understand them, but strove for

the same results along lines traditional in their territories. The knights of the

Teutonic Order, at a loss for means to achieve these results (they could not, for

example, defeat the Prussian League and tax the cities), concluded that the best

Court of the Grandmasters 101

policy might be to import a Saxon duke with his advisors and counsellors, then

support them in whatever innovations were necessary to revitalize the state.6

In addition, there was a general feeling throughout the Holy Roman Empire

that the moment had come for basic reforms. The Reichstag of 1495 had passed

a series of resolutions establishing procedures for settling legal disputes and

providing for defense. Time and experience had not yet shown how illusory those

procedures were to be. Consequently, when the general chapter of the Teutonic

Order met in 1498 to elect a new grandmaster, the knights rejected the monastic

reforms proposed by two principal leaders, Count Wilhelm von Isenburg (1460/

70-1532, the Grand Commander since 1495), and Count Heinrich Reuss von

Plauen (c. 1465-1524/37, the Quartermaster General or Trappier), and elected a

young Saxon duke who was not yet even a member of the order. Secular reform,

not religious innovation, had won the day.7

III. Friedrich von Sachsen

Friedrich von Sachsen was but twenty-five years of age in 1498 and he was

sickly-qualifications which would have removed him from consideration in

earlier eras. However, infirmities were to be expected in any great noble who

would forego his secular life and become the head of a monastic order. Vigorous,

virile men were no longer eager to make vows of chastity and poverty and even

less interested in promising unconditional obedience to superiors. This was an age

of activity, luxury, and a belief in one's own innate worth. Even if Renaissance

narcissism had penetrated wherever humanist letters prepared the way, the old

chivalric joy in life was still important. The combination of a long-existing self-

affrandizment on the part of the knights with a new secularism and self-serving

ambition resulted in further deterioration of monastic morals-members of the

Teutonic Order were become more famous for their dissipation (especially for

their drinking and whoring) and abuse of power. However, many knights were

elderly and there were fewer of them every year, facts which confirmed a popular

impression that the order was dying. Friedrich's physical condition thus seemed

somehow symptomatic of his order as a whole.

Fortunately for Friedrich, the representatives at the general chapter were

not greatly concerned about vigor. In fact, Friedrich's lack of vitality would make

it all the more possible for him to practice traditional monastic virtues without

making far-reaching reforms. This undoubtedly pleased the knights who governed

the convents and who could make administrative changes very difficult, should

they choose to oppose them. First of all, the knights were concerned about the fact

that Friedrich's mother was a daughter of Georg Podiebrad of Bohemia and that

his brother was married into the royal house of Poland. Thus, family influence

could be used to support the order's foreign policy. Secondly, he had advisors who

could reorganize Prussian along Saxon lines and restore the political greatness of

the Teutonic Order.8

How Friedrich was to accomplish these reforms was not at all clear, but the

fact that he was learned and well-travelled probably helped the knights believe he

102 William Urban

was a young man of promise. Friedrich had, in fact, received an excellent

education. At age thirteen he had acquired as tutor Paul Watt, a professor of law

from Leipzig, a layman with wide-ranging interests. Five years later the two went

to Italy, staying briefly in Bologna and for a prolonged period in Sienna. In 1495

and 1496 they were at the court of the Archbishop of Mainz, a noted humanist who

liked to assemble educated men about him. What Friedrich read and discussed in

those days is difficult to determine, as the records have been almost completely

lost, but Ovid was one of the authors later kept among his books of law. Such a

book does not appear in earlier library listings!

Friedrich repaid his tutor's care by naming him Prussian chancellor in 1499

and awarding him the Samland episcopacy in 1503. When Watt died shortly after

entering the clergy, his life was memorialized in a composition from the pen of the

Ermland canon, Johann Scultetus, who was rewarded for his effort by being

appointed procurator general and sent to Rome.

The chancellor's first interest was in establishing two new offices (Land-

gerichte) to be occupied by appointed officials who would be responsible for all

aspects of government administration and, more important, who could intervene

directly in matters of justice, shortening the slow process of litigation that had

made enforcement of the law so difficult. He was also active in reopening the

roads, disarming the peasants, and in other ways providing for law and order, the

protection of commerce and trade, and f or the improvement of agriculture. He

abolished two convents (Balga and Brandenburg) and appropriated the incomes to

his own use. With this act he eliminated two important posts which had tradition-

ally been filled by knights and correspondingly reduced the voice of the

conservative warrior-friars. Moreover, he passed sumptuary laws to limit wasteful

luxuries; the money the citizens saved by these economy measures flowed even-

tually into the grandmaster's coffers. In addition, he designed the ordinances of

1503 to revitalize the sluggish economy, to end quarrels with the bishops, and to

strengthen the role of the council in the government. These steps were so

successful in reorganizing the finances that they were followed by others in years

to come.9

Due to the fact that King Jan Olbracht of Poland experienced military

defeats in his contests with the Turks, and his brother Alexander, who succeeded

him in 1501, had to fight the Russians and Tatars as well, Friedrich feared no attack

from Poland. When Sigismund I (1506-1548) came to the throne, Poland remained

in conflict with those three dangerous enemies, causing it to become ever less a

danger to Prussia. Grandmaster Friedrich and his advisors did not fully appreci-

ate the changing situation. The opportunity was there to rise above the traditional

hostility and establish a lasting peace. Instead, they saw the Polish predicament

only as an opportunity to restructure their own government and to seek allies

among Poland's enemies. Their intent was to wage war at a later time. All they

could think about was revenge for Tannenburg and the two peace treaties signed

at Thorn. In short, they had a Versailles mentality.

As Watt reorganized the administration, he placed his men in important

posts. Some he took into the grandmaster's retinue, other he assisted in placing

Court of the Grandmasters 103

in episcopal service. He worked closely with bishops who would have mistrusted

a more traditional chancellor but who appreciated the potential advantages of the

reforms for their own ambitions. As a result of Watt's bureaucratic approach,

humanists came to dominate the administrative apparatus both in the order's lands

and in episcopal territories.

Watt's successor was Dietrich von Werthern (1468-1536), a Saxon who

had studied in Erfurt and Bologna. Though a lay lawyer, he had sufficient respect

for the tradition of celibacy not to marry while in the order's service. Neverthe-

less, he broke the clerical domination of court life and in his nine years as the prin-

cipal force behind the administration firmly established secular practices in the

government. He set a style which clearly separated the new etiquette from the old;

he even formalized this in a written description of each officer's duties.10

Von Werthern's greatest success was to gain the cooperation of the estates

and the Bishop of Ermland. His friendship with the Bishop Lucas Watzenrode was a

personal coup, because a hostile prelate in Ermland could have stirred up

opposition to the basic reforms and provoked Polish interference in local admini-

stration. Since the cities' influence had declined after 1466, the role of the

Ermland bishop who presided at League meetings necessarily grew more impor-

tant. The establishment of a twelve-man advisory council (Kammergericht) in

1507-1508 was accomplished against almost universal public objection because

the absence of grandmaster after 1507 left a vacuum of power which no one

wanted filled by a single individual. Soon the knightly and burgher estates

realized that if they each named four members and the chancellor named two

lawyers, then the two conservative-minded knights of the Teutonic Order would

104 William Urban

be a hopeless minority. Moreover, the stalemates that occurred because one estate

or the other refused to consent to legislation could now be avoided; even tax bills

were passed. Headed by Hans von Schönberg, the council was supposedly

balanced--Bishop Hiob of Pomesania and Bishop Gunter of Samland against

Grand Commander Simon von Drahe and Marshal Wilhelm von Isenburg. By

assigning important matters to this council and giving it judicial powers, von

Werthern won the support of the estates and denied the outnumbered conserva-

tives an effective check on his policies. Next, he sent the powerful Count Wilhelm

von Isenburg back to Germany on business and used a complaint by the Bishop

of Ermland to deprive von Isenburg of his offices.11 The policy of removing

enemies was thus firmly in place by 1512 when von Werther retired from the

grandmaster's employment in order to serve the Elector of Saxony.

The grandmaster approved his chancellor's program. In fact, Friedrich de-

pended on advice--he could not formulate ideas himself. He was not only weak

physically, but he was a hopelessly hypochondriac whose mental state worsened his

congenitally poor health. However, he could make decisions once he had heard a

variety of opinions and had weighed the options. Therefore, he listened carefully

to the recommendation of every important person in the administration before

making a decision. Usually he agreed with his imported humanists rather than with

the traditional council of officers or with the assembled castellans and represen-

tatives of the convents.

Most prominent among this second line of advisors was his doctor, Erasmus

Stella (c. 1460-1521), a Saxon with training in Leipzig and Bologna. While in

Italy, Stella had assisted his teacher, Giovanni Garzoni, write De rebus Sazoniae

and later (in 1518) saw that it was published in Basel. It was in Italy that he met

they young Friedrich, to whom he dedicated the book. While in Prussian Stella com-

posed a treatise on the antiquities of the country which was published in 1510 and

a book on jewelry which was printed in 1517. He left the court in 1507 but

continued to correspond with his friends there.12

Stefan Gerdt of Königsberg was one of several gifted Prussian boys who had

studied in Leipzig at the end of the previous century and gone on to Bologna.

Returning to Leipzig as a professor, he entered the Prussian service in 1509 as a

lawyer, canon in Samland, and member of the Teutonic Order. In his Saxon career

he had written poetry which praised his employers; presumably he continued this

practice for the grandmaster until his death in 1519. Unfortunately, his volumi-

nous writings had been almost completely lost.13

Sebastian von der Heide (d. 1531), better known as Miricius, had an almost

identical early career, serving originally with Bishop Hiob von Dobeneck. When

the grandmaster became ill and returned to Saxony in 1507 to recuperate, Miricius

went with him. In 1501, shortly after publishing three short Latin poems praising

Prussia, he received a Prussian pastorate whose incomes allowed him to live

comfortably in Leipzig. He remained active in the grandmaster's service, travel-

ing to Reval on diplomatic business in 1515.

A similarly short residence was the experience of Johann von Kitzscher, a

Saxon scholar who had met Friedrich in Italy and later became a well-known

Court of the Grandmasters 105

humanist. Friedrich recruited him from Pomeranian service to become procurator

general between 1508 and 1512. He thrived on hard work in the bureaucracy.14

Most important of the Königsberg-born and educated clique was Johann

Scultetus (1470-1526). One-time professor and rector at Heidelberg, he became

a canon in the Ermland chapter in the mid-1490's and dominated the regional

intellectual scene until his death in 1526. A man of peace, he sought to bring the

various Prussian governments into harmony--a goal which eluded him in the end.

He was as Erasmean figure who dominated a generation of Prussian humanists but

was unable to quiet the controversies raging through society. Unfortunately, his

poetry has been lost, for it was considered good, but his real importance lay in his

moderating influence on Grandmasters Friedrich and Albrecht.15

Another Ermland canon who worked for Grandmaster Friedrich was Georg

Prang, a native of Guttstadt in Ermland. A skilled Latinist, he was secretary to the

demanding humanist, Bishop Watzenrode, in the 1480's and 90's. As a student in

Bologna he had met the bishop's nephew, Nicholas Copernicus, and in 1501 went

to Rome to assist the energetic but unlearned procurator general, Georg von Eltz.

This defection earned him the displeasure of Bishop Lucas Watzenrode, so that

he was unable to resume his place in the Ermland chapter after his return from

Italy in 1503; instead, he took a post in the grandmaster's chancery until his death

in 1509. Prang became a model historian, the first in Prussia to abandon the

chronicle form in favor of a legal history based on the texts of treaties and of papal

and imperial grants, using a logical argumentation to pull everything together and

writing in the vernacular with the intent of reaching a popular audience. He relied

heavily on a draft manuscript by Watt, but by adding information from chronicles

he created a history out of what might have been merely a collection of documents.

Like Watt, he died too early to achieve a wider reputation in literary circles; thus

his fame remained purely local.16

Of lesser importance personally was the councilman, Hans von Schönberg

(d. 1514), whose younger brother Dietrich came to assume his duties and

ultimately to become the principal figure at court. We will hear more from him


These officials and advisors managed to achieve considerable success in

their reorganization of finances and legal administration. Such accomplishments

were made in the face of obstinate resistance on the part of knights of the Teutonic

Order, who saw each change as a threat to their traditional life style. Proverbially

addicted to drink, women, and a willful exercise of power over helpless subjects,

the castellans and their subordinates in the countryside yielded authority only

slowly and reluctantly to the grandmaster's humanistically educated advisors.

They clung to the minor posts-tax collector and justice of the peace--which

required little effort or thought but lent them local prestige. Nevertheless, Watt,

von Werthern, and their friends made important progress in limiting the

autonomy of these knights. Watt's energy, persistence, and inventiveness eventu-

ally wore down the opposition, until his officials had reduced the knights to

powerless figureheads. Unfortunately for the administrators, their efforts at grand

politics were not as happy. Prussia was too weak to affect the balance of power

106 William Urban

between Russia and Poland-Lithuania, or to assist the Livonian Order in its hour

of peril. When Livonia was threatened by Ivan the Great, the Prussians sent no

aid.17 Further reforms of the internal administration were still necessary. One can

only speculate as to what these reforms would have been, had Grandmaster

Friedrich lived; but it is likely he would have secularized the state while

maintaining monastic leadership. He might have become a prince-abbot, with the

emphasis on abbot. Prussia might well have remained Roman Catholic through

the Reformation. If so, the history of Prussia would have resembled that of the

southern German states rather than the northern ones, as was the case.

IV. Albrecht von Brandenburg

The determination of the membership of the general chapter to elect a

German duke as grandmaster regardless of his other qualifications can be seen in

their choice. The twenty-year-old Albrecht von Brandenburg was a youth unsuited

in every way to monastic life. The accident of birth provided his major asset, his

mother being Princess Sophie of Poland, daughter of King Casimir, and following

that, having a brother who ruled in nearby Brandenburg.

Albrecht had made it clear he did not believe he could live by the vow of

celibacy, whereupon it was explained that while the members would, of course,

be expected to follow it, he, as grandmaster, could be excused from the require-

ment. All he would have to give up was an orderly family life- wife, legitimate

children, heirs. That being the only sacrifice expected, he could otherwise live like

a prince, making war and peace, establishing an enjoyably social court, hunting,

whoring, and so forth. Albrecht accepted these conditions, took the vows of the

order, and became grandmaster. He brought with him a clever mind, physical

vigor, and a willingness to listen to learned advisors. The reform program was to

continue along lines advocated by the humanists.

The reforms of Albrecht were to differ in direction and intensity from those

of the previous administrations. He seemed to recognize, however dimly, that the

future lay with the absolutist states. The introduction of professional armies meant

that larger amounts of money would be required. Only by taxing the peasants and

burghers could this money be raised, which meant that the nobles had to be

elevated in authority still higher and a government bureaucracy established that

could take some of the gains from the castellans, the secular knights and the

patrician merchants.18

Albrecht's principal advisor was the "iron bishop," Hiob von Dobeneck,

Bishop of Pomesania from 1502-1521, who had acted as regent while Friedrich

was dying. He consolidated his control of the Council in 1513 by buying the

cooperation of Heinrich Reuss von Plauen, guaranteeing him the unrestricted

control of the convent, territory, and taxes of Bartenstein for his lifetime. Al-

though a Saxon, Bishop Hiob had not had much contact with the grandmaster until

Friedrich's last days; instead, he had remained at his seat in Riesenburg, admini-

stering his estates and attracting a number of learned young men to his court,

which was famed not so much for the strength of his humanist achievements, but

because of his encouragement of others.

Court of the Grandmasters 107

Foremost among his proteges was Helius Eobanus Hessius, an Erfurt

scholar who wrote a poem about the intellectual life at Riesenburg. Moreover, he

wrote several widely distributed poems, one praising life in Royal Prussia, another

contrasting the material well-being of the people with their backwardness.

Finally, in 1512, there was his famous contest with Polish poets to describe the

wedding of King Sigismund with Barbara Zapolya. In fact, he used so many

classical allusions in the wedding poem, that he had to defend himself against

charges of being a pagan (he had called on Apollo as a witness rather than Christ).

At that memorable occasion he met Johann Dantiscus. The attraction of mind and

talent was mutual. They remained life-long friends. Certainly, in the era of the

Reformation it would be hard to find two other men who in their own lives

illustrated so well the effect of the religious schism: Dantiscus remained in the

Polish service and was sent to Augsberg in 1530 to represent the cause of King

Sigismund and Albrecht of Prussia, while Hessius appeared in the delegation of

Melanchton. They were two moderates who had originally worked for maintain-

ing unity in the church, but by virtue of employment ended in opposite camps.

Hessius left Prussian in 1513, not yet famous, but soon to be one of the best-known

humanists of Germany.19 Dantiscus became bishop first of Culm and then of

Ermland. He was a formidable foe of all Protestants.

Bishop Hiob's predilection for humanists studies was not lost on his Polish

opponents. They cited Aristotle and Cicero in their carefully drafted letters and

used all their talent at rhetoric to sway him from the path of confrontation. Their

efforts failed. When the bishop died in 1521, his government had lost a war with

the Poles; his bishopric was occupied; and Lutheran ideas were spreading through

his court.20 No better proof need be given of the role of Fortuna in human affairs.

Bishop Hiob had been an advocate of tradition and stability. He had

managed but barely to maintain his offices in recent years, and now that his

presence was removed, Grandmaster Albrecht was free to move in the direction

of a complete secularization of the Prussian state, a move he hoped might resolve

the difficult matter of the order's relationship with the Polish king.

This move toward secularization was championed by Dietrich von Schönberg,

a humanist cut from the Burckhardtian pattern. Born in 1484, a student in Leipzig

and Italy, he established residence at the Königsberg court in 1515. A firm

believer in the fashionable practice of astrology, he encouraged the study of

mathematics and astronomy. As his star rose to dominate Albrecht's horizon,

Bishop Hiob saw the setting of his own.

Von Schönberg was a phenomenon. He did not hold any academic degrees,

but he impressed all listeners and readers with his abilities in Latin, French, and

Italian. An enthusiastic womanizer, he escorted Albrecht on late evening esca-

pades and did not hesitate to enter the costs of prostitutes on his expense accounts.

(Albrecht eventually died of syphilis.) He loved extravagant clothing, gambling,

and travel. He knew art and taught Albrecht what to appreciate and what to buy,

thus establishing the beginning of the Königsberg collection. All these lay

interests were easily communicated to Albrecht, who was becoming less and less

satisfied with his role as the head of a monastic order.

108 William Urban

Von Schönberg was an unabashed nepotist aw well. Just as his brother had

brought him to Prussia, he found posts in the order's service for brothers Hans the

younger and Anton. Another brother, Nicholas, entered the Church and rose to the

rank of cardinal.

It was Dietrich von Schönberg who encouraged Albrecht to seek a military

victory over Poland that would give him dominion over Royal Prussia and

Ermland. To that end he traveled to Moscow to sign a military alliance. To

persuade the Prussian estates to support the war preparations, he gave a speech to

the assembly in January of 1518, warning the representatives of all the dangers that

lay ahead unless they fought: that in the future half the members of the Teutonic

Order would have to be Poles, which would quickly lead to a tyrannical

government such as those in Poland and Lithuania; East and West Prussia would

be dominated by poverty and serfdom. His emotional appeal was successful; he,

managed to confuse the differences between those parts of Poland ruled by great

magnates in an oppressive manner and Royal Prussia, which was not misgoverned

(and would be the model for any future Polish administration). Thus, his rhetoric

overcame common sense.

The resultant war of 1519-1521 proved a disaster for the grandmaster.

Albrecht arranged for payment of the troops as best he could, but his funds were

inadequate to keep a strong army in the field; moreover, he wasted his resources

on diversionary assaults and raids. As a result, Albrecht achieved nothing and had

to sue for peace. The king granted him a four-year truce but made it clear that

within that time Albrecht would have to resolve the future of his order's relation-

ship with Poland. The Teutonic Order in Prussia would have to find either the

means to defend independence or become a part of the Prussian commonwealth.21

In the following year Albrecht attended the Reichstag in Nuremberg, where

he heard the preacher, Andreas Osiander. Many years later Albrecht called him

"his spiritual father," for at that time he learned from him the principal ideas of the

Protestant Reformation.22 He did not act on these ideas immediately. Instead, he

wrote to Luther and talked with his closest advisors; what they said in private was

known only to each other.

Albrecht's behavior was now that of a secular prince. The Brandenburg

coat-of-arms replaced the representation of the Virgin Mary. He was the second

grandmaster to have his portrait painted (Friedrich was the first), he collected

Cranach and Dürer and had his own court painter, Wolf Rieder. He corresponded

with Luther, who shrewdly deduced what Albrecht wanted him to advise: to

abandon the false chastity of celibacy and enter into the true chastity of marriage.23

Albrecht was not famed for his chastity in any case; perhaps marriage would

improve him. On the other hand, when Luther responded to the Livonian master's

inquiries on this same matter, he gave the response that the corespondent wanted

to hear: that the form was not important, so long as the spirit was sound. Walter

von Plettenberg, Albrecht's Livonian counterpart, was a chaste and honorable

warrior with no desire to found a dynasty. Consequently, the Livonian Order

remained Roman Catholic.24

Luther was a highly skilled scholar and a master of rhetoric who used all his

skills on Albrecht. The meeting of the two men in Wittenberg in the fall of 1523

Court of the Grandmasters 109

seems to have been decisive in the grandmaster's decision to introduce reforms.

Although Luther gave advice about the general direction of reform, he left

the details of implementation to others, assuming correctly that local conditions

would require regional variations. As a result, men like Dietrich von Schönberg,

who assisted Albrecht in choosing policies meeting the special needs of Prussia,

came to be of decisive importance in determining the form the Lutheran reforms

took there.

Dietrich von Schönberg did not live to introduce his proposed reforms: he

was slain at the Battle of Pavia in 1525, before the secularization of the Teutonic

Order was completed. Nevertheless, his personality had dominated the crucial

years 1521-1525, when Grandmaster Albrecht was considering various alterna-

tives to his ambiguous situation: as head of an international monastic order

Albrecht could not make peace with Poland, for the Polish monarch

would accept nothing less from a vassal than full submission; if Albrecht became

a vassal in spite of the legal complications involved, he would see his order's other

properties confiscated by enemies of the Polish king; as grandmaster he had duties

both to the emperor and the pope, who were very unlikely to consent to any change

in his status; and he had to obtain approval of the German and Livonian

masters, who were certain to refuse permission. In the absence of von Schönberg,

who had gone to Italy to speak with Charles V, Bishop Georg Polenz of Samland

persuaded Albrecht that he would be unable to become a Polish vassal as long as

he remained a Roman Catholic friar with all its restrictions on his freedom of

action, but that as a Protestant duke he could do as he wished. He could even

marry and establish a dynasty. The deadline for action was the spring of 1525,

when the four-year truce expired. Albrecht went to Cracow and swore personal

allegiance to King Sigismund, who enfiefed him with Prussia as Duke Albrecht.

Personal motives and raison d'état were thus both important in the introduction

of Lutheran reforms into Prussia.

On May 27, 1525, Duke Albrecht announced the actions he had taken to the

members of the order and the representatives of the assembly in Königsberg and

asked for their approval. When the assembly men withdrew to debate the matter,

a few knights chose to approach Albrecht and object to the proposed dissolution

of their branch of the religious order. However, Albrecht's armed retainers began

shouting, "Wir erstechen die Kreuzpfaffen" (We'll run the friar-knights through!)

and intimidated the knights into swearing the oath of allegiance along with the as-


Albrecht was now an experienced and more forceful ruler. After Dietrich

von Schönberg death, he took the direction of the state into his own hands. He

encouraged his clergy to emulate Polenz, who ceded his lands to the duke and lived

on a salary. In effect, Albrecht became his own chancellor. Though he filled the

post with capable servants, he made all decisions himself.

The secularization and centralization achieved by Duke Albrecht made him

an effective autocrat. Of course, there was no body of theory to guide him toward

the age of absolutism, and he made mistakes, such as sharing power too greatly

with his landed nobles and the burghers in the Prussian assemblies, but he learned

110 William Urban

from his errors. Though he had not read the book of his contemporary, Nicolo

Machiavelli, Albrecht seemed to have brought back some of the same principles

from his youthful visit to Italy and was just not determining their application to

the northern situation.

The actual implementation of church reform was supervised by Bishop

Polenz (1478-1550) and Bishop Erhard von Queis (d. 1529) of Pomesania, both

humanists educated in Italy. Though untrained for the clergy and technically still

laymen, they had nevertheless been confirmed in office by the pope in 1519 and

1523. They embraced the Lutheran teachings wholeheartedly and were thor-

oughly loyal to Albrecht.26 They persuaded the fifty-five members of the Teutonic

Order stationed in Prussia to accept secularization and in four days coerced the six

who refused to cooperate to abandon their sit-down strike and leave the country.

Through all this they had the fullest cooperation of the Polish government.

The most serious opposition came from Heinrich von Plauen, the

oldest and most powerful of the conservatives, who was castellan at Bartenstein.

He originally resisted the new teaching, but gave way once he was again

guaranteed the lifetime possession of his office and income. Minor nobles were

similarly won over by being granted extensive rights over the peasants on their

estates. Through confiscations of peasant holdings and acquiring rights to

supervise the daily lives of the workers, these Junkers became accustomed to ex-

ercise authority. This policy completed Albrecht's secularization of the state and

made the hitherto divided and almost powerless nobles into a united body which

would support him against future peasant and burgher complaints.27

The news from Prussia displeased the pope and the emperor, who were

nevertheless unable to change matters. The Livonian master protested but could

not send troops without denuding his border posts, and therefore he did nothing.

The German master had troubles of his own: the Great Peasant Rebellion was

sweeping through southern Germany; many of his castles and convents were being

plundered and burned. As a result, he was fully occupied with the bloody

suppression of rebel peasants, and, in 1526, resigned his office. His successor

contemplated an invasion of Prussia but ultimately abandoned the plan in the face

of tactical difficulties. Then, seizing the opportunity to become grandmaster

himself, he reorganized the Teutonic Order around the territories possessed in

southern Germany, with Mergentheim as the new administrative center.

Some objected to this resolution of Duke Albrecht's personal and political

problems, but Albrecht's officials were able to persuade or coerce compliance

with the decrees of secularization and reform. Some of the burghers and nobles

rejoiced to accept the reforms sweeping northern Germany, and those who were

hesitant did not resist long; the peasantry became overly enthusiastic, starting a

short-lived rebellion and had to be put back in place by the most violent repressive

measures. Among those who counted- the rulers of the northern lands--there

were no complaints: the former grandmaster opened marriage negotiations with

kings and dukes eager to negotiate good marriages for their daughters, and the

King of Poland gladly accepted the incorporation of Ducal Prussia into the Polish

kingdom alongside Royal Prussia.

Court of the Grandmasters 111

It would be a dire mistake to conclude that the Prussian Reformation was

the sole work of two somewhat disreputable personalities, Dietrich von Schönberg

and Albrecht von Brandenburg. The educated minority and the middle class had

been deeply penetrated by the ideas of the time and many of them were very much

in favor of the Lutheran proposals. This educated minority was sizable: between

the years 1480 and 1525 four hundred and seventy Prussian students had gone to

universities; even a few sons of nobles had been sent to Rome. Their members had

been reinforced by immigrants from the Holy Roman Empire and Poland. As a

result, there was hardly a town or cathedral without its small circle of educated

men who could knowingly discuss the news of the day, adding bits of wisdom from

their study of mankind, their travels, and their recent conversations with friends

in other population centers. Humanist attitudes had penetrated deeply into their

ways of thinking, and these were often combined with anger at what many

Germans considered to be Italian mismanagement of the Church. Moreover, a

deep pietism remained among these people who had until recently expressed their

faith by going on pilgrimages and buying indulgences; now they reacted against

perceived excesses with a thorough-going reversal of habits. Some individuals

were ready to advocate the formation of a German Church, one that would be pure,

closer to the original intent of the Apostles, and run by trustworthy, pious Teutons.

In addition, education was penetrating throughout Prussia. Libraries were

spring up. Even the Franciscan friary in Wehlau (surely the most provincial of

all possible posts) had a library of five hundred and fifteen volumes. Doctors,

pharmacists, poets, painters, and musicians resided in Königsberg. There was a

demand for a local university that ultimately resulted in the foundation of Albertus


Even though Albrecht rarely intervened personally in the reform of the

church, his toleration of dissenting ideas was of great importance. He permitted

Dutch and Silesian dissenters to settle in Prussia, allowed Anabaptists to serve as

clergymen in his churches, and even received the radical reformer Casper

Schwenckfeld as a guest. Only in 1532 did he resolve any religious disputes by

holding a debate. When the Lutherans won, he expelled their radical opponents.

But he did not persecute the dissenting communities and even invited more to

come to Prussia.29

The Reformation also succeeded in Royal Prussia, thanks to the same

classes of independent-minded burghers, canons, monks, and administrators, who

overcame all efforts to repress the new religion through education, intimidation,

and force. Although the Protestant church was not officially recognized until

1550, when Danzig, Thorn, and Elbing paid the crown 100,000 zlotys for

permission to organize a Lutheran Church, it existed semi-legally from the 1520's.

Willingness to take risks and to pay hard cash indicates a definite commitment to

the Protestant cause on the part of the citizenry. Nevertheless, just as it would be

easy to underestimate the level of intellectual life in Prussia on the eve of the

Reformation, it would be just as easy to overestimate the religious enthusiasm

behind the reforms. Although there were outbreaks of icon-breaking--when

puritanical mobs sacked churches and convents--such disturbances did not

112 William Urban

represent the feelings of those people in society who made the final decisions.

Instead, the movers of the state-priests, politicians, merchants, gentry- were

relatively conservative and cautious. They shared the surge in pietism that had

appeared in recent years, and they, too, expressed their unhappiness with impious

elements in the Roman Church--the dissolute popes, the arrogant knights of the

Teutonic Order, and sinful priests--but they did not enter into the reform move-

ment solely on the basis of religious feelings. Theirs was also an intellectual

movement, based on a conviction that the Church needed to be reduced in size and

more in affecting the behavior of the citizenry. Political administrators may have

taken the lead in advocating such changes, but many burghers and nobles

considered them worthwhile objectives, too.30

The Prussian nobles came from a variety of origin: German immigrants,

Old Prussians, and mercenary soldiers of the 1450's and 60's. Yet they had

common interests in protecting their estates through a long period of economic

trouble and took advantage of the situation to do so. Although they had once been

able to attract immigrants to fill the countryside, depopulated lands now lay un-

tended. Only by forcing the peasants into serfdom and farming the estates on a

large scale could they survive the crisis. Since they could no longer make their

wishes felt through the Assembly--now of no importance--they demanded and

achieved control of the local offices of administrator, tax collector, and justice as

former members of the Teutonic Order died off. Although the ex-friars had been

guaranteed possession of their offices for their lifetime, few married and estab-

lished dynasties. Their offices came into the hands of the gentry, whose estates

were too small to guarantee them a living and who therefore eagerly sought em-

ployment in the army of state service.31

Those reforms were made while all Germany was agitated about the same

issues. The people of Prussia did not live in a vacuum. Most of the men responsible

for governing Prussia were born in Germany, educated in German universities,

and influenced by German thinkers like Ulrich von Hutten. Consequently, their

achievements at this time were essentially those which had been done elsewhere.

The manner in which they accomplished these reforms, of course, did reflect

Prussian traditions and the exigencies of local politics. In this respect the wishes

of King Sigismund of Poland cannot be forgotten. It is, therefore, important to

review the history of such recent event from the Polish point of view.

King Sigismund wanted to ward off a dangerous political coalition threat-

ening him on his southern and western boarders. To the south he saw the powerful

Hapsburg emperor, Charles V (1500-1548), and to the north the Teutonic Order.

Sigismund had narrowly escaped several assassination attempts and feared for the

stability of his kingdom. With Charles V growing in strength but temporarily

preoccupied with troubles of his own, Sigismund chose to eliminate the Teutonic

Order as an independent entity. He was willing to accept Albrecht, a close

relative, as a vassal, but he would no longer tolerate him as an ally of the Holy

Roman emperor. Albrecht's acceptance of the Lutheran reforms and the conse-

quent secularization of Prussia was a response to this pressure. Religious enthu-

siasm had little to do with it, either for Duke Albrecht or King Sigismund.32

Court of the Grandmasters 113

The opposition of pope and emperor to this development had the effect of

drawing Prussia ever more into the Polish orbit. If Duke Albrecht had dreams of

resisting his new lord, he had to abandon them quickly, for nowhere could he find

the military aid that would be necessary to maintain himself in office. The bonds

of blood were drawn tighter by practical policies. Sigismund knew that he could

rely on Albrecht, and Albrecht had no choice but to be loyal to Sigismund. Neither

wished for Prussia to return to the Roman Catholic past.

Neither Duke Albrecht nor King Sigismund can be accused of deliberately

breaking faith with the Church. Each knew that the Church was stubbornly

opposed to giving up any prerogatives and that it had to be led by the nose, often

rather brutally, to accomplish any change. Moreover, the Church was hardly

being led well at this moment. Rome had neither prestige nor power. If the pope

could not suppress even a rebellious monk in Wittenberg, how could he hope to

control a powerful king in the distant north? Sigismund and Albrecht realized their

own power. They knew that they had no hope of obtaining prior approval for their

acts, and at this time they had no reason to fear papal anger. In whatever they

wished to accomplish they were accountable to public opinion only in their own

domains. They could worry about the pope later. Moreover, at that date, in 1525,

the fate of the reform movement was not yet apparent. It was still a reform, not yet

a Reformation.

Albrecht and Sigismund could not have foreseen the ultimate results of their

actions. They were merely carrying out programs advocated by humanistically

trained administrators to meet their personal and political needs. Therefore, they

found themselves somewhat embarrassed later when the Reformation divided

western Christendom into two armed camps, making it necessary to justify their

actions to a changing public opinion abroad, a justification which became

necessary sooner than anyone had anticipated. Swiftly moving events swept along

the men governing Prussian and Poland. They could not go back, did not want to

go back, and they could hardly see what the future held.

V. Humanists defend the Treaty of Cracow

Duke Albrecht's problems were not solved by declaring his order secular-

ized and being accepted by Sigismund as a vassal. Although Prussia was

surrounded by Polish territories and could not easily be attacked from without, he

could nevertheless imagine situations in which King Sigismund could not provide

him protection. Thus, it was entirely possible that he might lose his newly created

state and be punished for his sins. The German master of the Teutonic Order was

interested in an armed expedition to reconquer Prussia, and the Livonian master

evidenced hostility as well. Therefore, Albrecht sought to obtain papal and

imperial approval of his acts. This could blunt criticism from the Roman Catholic

ranks and save him from possible future troubles with the Polish king as well.

Sigismund was a thoroughgoing Catholic who might later be persuaded to

reconsider his arrangement with Albrecht. Promises to heretics were not binding

and Roman Catholics were beginning to consider Protestants heretics rather than

overly enthusiastic reformers.

114 William Urban

His first approach was to the pope. Clement VII had been the order's

cardinal-protector from 1516 to 1523, and after his elevation to the papacy he had

appointed his successor a fellow Florentine, Niccolo Ridolfi. The immediate

problem of communication stemmed from the cautious nature of the procurator

general, Georg Busch, who had fled Rome when the Cracow Treaty was made

public. A new representative, Dietrich von Reden (d. 1556), soon appeared in

Rome where he remained for five years despite the excommunication laid upon

him for his part in the duke's renunciation of his vows. He was unable to

accomplish anything.33 Those were tumultuous years, during which all decisions

were made by the emperor, Charles V, who saw Prussian submission to Poland as

a personal insult.

Charles V was an ambitious man in those years. He had no inclination to

give up any territory, any prerogative, or any claim to authority. Prussia, though

not part of the Holy Roman Empire, had been traditionally associated with the

empire; the grandmaster had borne the imperial coat-of-arms; the Deutscher

Orden that we call the Teutonic Knights was literally the "German Order." All

were reasons to object to Albrecht's actions. For the emperor the loss of Prussia

as al ally on Poland's northern flank was even more serious.

Albrecht, knowing the emperor's mood, sent Georg Klinkenbeck to Madrid

in 1525. Klinkenbeck was a well-known humanist, popular for his correspondence

with Andreas Cricius, the Polish genius; it was anticipated that his rhetorical skills

could win over a hostile emperor. He argued that the duke had not had a real choice

in the matter but had been forced to secularize his duchy in order to save it. Present

in Madrid at the same time was the Polish representative, Johann Dantiscus, who,

too, was famous for his rhetorical ability. In his way Dantiscus supported the duke

as much as possible--after all, Albrecht was now a royal vassal--but he was more

interested in defending his king, who was being cast as the villain of the piece.

Dantiscus put the blame on Duke Albrecht, arguing that if the pope and the

emperor were unable to prevent him from carrying out the secularization of an

ancient and powerful religious order, how could a mere king of Poland expect to

achieve anything?34 Charles V listened while the two humanists attempted to

refute each other's arguments. However, he was not amused. Nor was he


The debate spread abroad. Reformers and conservatives drew lines over the

issue. Even Erasmus spoke out in 1527, remarking that peace was better than war

and noting that the treaty had indeed brought peace to Prussia, something no pope

or emperor had ever been able to achieve.35 Humanist rhetoric was stretched to the

utmost, but ultimately it was the practical inability of any Catholic prince to

change the situation that left Albrecht a Protestant duke.

Albrecht's marriage to a Danish princess brought more changes to the

Königsberg court; the womanly influence was felt in etiquette and expenses-

wife and family required different luxuries and different companions. Albrecht

changed in this new environment; he became less ambitious, more tolerant, more

religious, and he took an interest in music, art, and education, all of which was

good for the future development of high culture in his country. Prussia became a

Court of the Grandmasters 115

land of Luther, Melanchton, and Cranach, a land of Reformation and

secularization.36 Humanism was at last able to exert a strong influence beyond the

councils of state.

VI. Humanism in Prussia 1490-1525

The influence of humanism in Prussia during the last years of the Teutonic

Order is to be noted in three areas: in civil and religious administration, in

literature, and in education. The impact on the first of these has been discussed

sufficiently. Humanists brought a talent for organization and critical thinking, a

wide-ranging enthusiasm for achievement and innovation, and supreme self-con-

fidence to their tasks. The creation of sixteenth-century Prussian duchy and the

Lutheran Reformation was the result of their efforts. Only then was the way clear

for humanism to have a truly significant impact in the fields of literature and


There had been some writing of literature in the order territories in Prussia,

but it paled beside that of the bishoprics. Albrecht's library scholars produced

only one small historical chronicle appropriately entitled "A Little Latin Chron-

icle of the Grandmaster."37 Perhaps a case could be made that the post-

Reformation generation of historians and antiquarians had their roots in this era,

but that would be pushing the point too far. Likewise, before the secularization

of the order, poetry had only local significance and little of it survived. The great

men who served in Prussia did so either very early in their careers, Hessius being

the best example, or very late-Johann Crotus Rubianus, author of the first

volume of Letters of Obscure Men, being the most famous. Rubianus, at least, left

a well-ordered ducal library in Königsberg for his service between 1524 and

1531, but he missed his books in Leipzig and eventually moved away.38 The

procurators general in Rome were noted humanists--Michael Scultetus, Georg

von Eltz, and Johann von Kitzscher--but they transferred little literature or

culture directly to the north. The last procurator general was evicted from his

house next to the Palazzo Farnese and expelled from Rome after secularization

of the Prussian Order.39 Not even in religious thought was anything achieved

except indirectly: it was at the grandmaster's request that Luther wrote his treatise

on the celibacy of the clergy, thus precipitating one of the major reforms of

Protestantism, but the ideas were all Luther's, not those of Prussian humanists at

Albrecht's court.

In short, the local Prussian humanists at the grandmaster's court were not

great poets, writers, or original thinkers. However, greatness should not be

required for someone to qualify as a humanist. They fell far short of their own

goals but did what they could. They certainly met one important characteristic of

humanists of this era, which was to share knowledge widely. Wherever humanists

went, printing presses followed; the first printing press in Königsberg appeared

in 1523. It was apparently set up by the court painter, Wolf Rieders, under the

patronage of Dietrich von Schönberg. Rieders left Prussia in 1524--after the first

productions came off the press--but he returned later and was among the leading

116 William Urban

personalities in the court.40 Duke Albrecht and the bishops of Prussia became

active supporters of the publishing houses in Königsberg and Danzig.

It was in education that humanists left their greatest mark. The

foundation of new schools did not result in the immediate production of great

scholars, but all great things come from small beginnings. Two centuries later

Albertus University was graduating men who made great names in science,

literature, and philosophy. The output from this one state- relatively isolated,

underpopulated, and economically underdeveloped- is impressive, and becomes

even more so when one considers the hardships endured during the Thirty Years'

War. The fruits harvested in the eighteenth century were planted by humanists

in the sixteenth.41

Court of the Grandmasters 117


1. Boockmann, Der Deutsche Orden, pp. 210-213; Christian Krollmann, Politis-

che Geschichte des Deutschen Ordens (Königsberg; Gräfe und Unzer, 1932),

pp. 161-175; Ottakar Israel, Das Verhältnis des Hochmeister des Deutschen

Ordenszum Reich im 15. Jahrhundert, No. 4 of Wissenschaftliche Beiträge zur

Geschichte und Landeskunde Ost-Mitteleuropas (Marburg/Lahn: Herder, 1952),

pp. 57-63; Lothar Dralle, Der Staat des Deutschen Ordens in Preussen nach

dem II. Thorner Friedren (Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1975) pp. 128-51; for selected

complaints against the Church from this era, see Manifestations of Discontent

in Germany on the Eve of the Reformation, pp. 64-88; Carsten, the Origins of

Prussia, pp. 112-3, 165.

2. Kurt Forstreuter, Vom Ordensstaat zum Fürstentum; Geitstige und politische

Wandlungen im Deutschorensstaate Preussen unter den Hochmeistern Fried-

rich und Albrecht (1498-1525) (Kitzingen/Main: Holzner, 1951), pp. 8-11;

Marian Biskup, "The Role of the Order and State of the Teutonic Knights in

Prussia in the History of Poland," pp. 337-9, 359-62, and "Das Ende des

Ordensstaates Preussen im Jahre 1525," Die geistlichen Ritterorden Europas,

p. 403: "Man sucht die Hauptursachen der Säkularization Preussen in den

äusseren Einflussen--Humanismus, Reformation, fürstliche Hochmeister und

ihre sächsischen oder meissnischen Ratgeber (so besonders Kurt Forstreuter)."

But the Polish viewpoint in that secularization was essentially a question of

a feudal relationship--how can the grandmaster become a vassal?

3. Hans Stephan Brather, "Administrative Reforms in Electoral Saxony at the End

of the Fifteenth Century," Pre-Reformation Germany (ed. Gerard Strauss. Lon-

don: MacMillan, 1972).

4. Friedrich Noack, Das Deutschtum im Rom seit dem Ausgang des Mittelalters (2

vols. 2nd edition. Aalen: Scientia, 1974), pp. 9-10; D'Amico (with whom I

exchanged ideas in 1981) has an excellent description of the practical ways that

Popes employed humanists, Renaissance Humanism in Papal Rome, pp. 8-39

and passim, 225f.

5. Wolfgang Kunkel, "The Reception of Roman Law in Germany: An Interpretation,"

Pre-Reformation Germany, pp. 264-272; and Georg Dahm, "On the Reception

of Roman and Italian Law in Germany," ibid., pp. 284-293.

6. Walter Ullmann says that the first impact of humanism was the secularization

of the government. Medieval Foundations of Renaissance Humanism, pp. 8,

127-8, 148; Krollmann, Politische Geschichte, p. 176; Thielen, Die Ver-

waltung des Ordensstaates Preussen, pp. 66-7; the management of expeditures

under the new grandmaster was successful: income exceed expenses- a rare

accomplishment in that era. Lothar Dralle, "Die Ausgaben des Deutschorden-

schochmeisters Friedrich von Sachsen (1498-1510)," Zeitschrift für Ostforschung,

30(1981), pp. 195-228; Burleigh comments that "there were efforts to reform

the corporation in the fifteenth century. At no time did this involve a discussion

of what the Order was for." When people began the discussion, the old

aristocratic state was doomed. Prussian Society, p. 173; a very useful survey of

118 William Urban

an important issue is Udo Arnold, "Ständeherrschaft und Ständekonflikte im

Herzogtum Preussen," Ständetum un Staatsbildung in Brandenberg-Preussen,

Ergebnisse einer internationalem Fachtagung (ed. Peter Baumgart. Berlin:

Walter de Gruyter, 1983), pp. 80-107.

7. Dralle, Der Staat des Deutschen Ordens, pp. 148-51; Forstreuter, Ordensstaat,

pp. 14, 16; "Heinrich Reuss von Plauen," Altpreussische Biographie, II, 506;

Toeppen in Acten der Ständetagen, V, 783ff.

8. Forsteuter, Ordensstaat, p. 16; Krollmann, Politische Geschichte, pp. 177-8;

Erich Maschke, Der Deutsche Ordensstaat, Gestalten seiner grossen Meister

(Hamburg: Hanseatische Verlag, 1935), pp. 115-26; as the contemporary

Bishop of Ermland, Lucas Watzenrode, wrote: "Fratres ordinis elegerunt sibi

magistrum Friedericum...Multi suspicabuntur illum idio fuisse in magistrum

electum, quod ordo speraret per eum terram totam Prusie recuperare." "Memoriale

domini Lucae, episcopi Warminsis," Scriptores rerum Prussicarum, II, 54;

Biskup, "Das Ende des Ordensstaates," p. 405.

9. Helmut Freiwald, Markgraf Albrecht von Ansbach-Kulmbach (Kulmbach:

Freunde der Plassenburg, 1961), pp. 50-4; Forstreuter, Ordensstaat, pp. 24-5;

the impossibly weak financial position of the grandmasters earlier is docu-

mented by Dralle, Der Staat des Deutschen Orders, pp. 14-9, 31-4; "Paul

Pole's Preussische Chronik," Scriptores rerum Prussicarum, V, 212-3; an

example of Friedrich's interest in art is found in Kamila Wróblewska, "Sredniow-

ieczny Oltarz Sw. Wojciecha w Museum Zamkowym w Malborku," Komu-

nikaty Mazursko-Warmiskie, 135(1977), pp. 299-306; Acten der Ständetagen,

V, 453-4, 471-86; in 1518 the grandmaster sent his younger brothers, Johann

Albrecht and Gumprecht, to study in Italy at the expense of the Teutonic

Knights. They not only led dissolute lives, but interfered in business. Forstreuter,

Deutscher Orden am Mittelmeer, p. 181.

10. Kurt Forstreuter, "Die Hofordungen der letzten Hochmeister in Preussen,"

Beiträge zur preussischen Geschichte im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert (Heidelberg:

Quelle und Meyer, 1960), pp. 30-34, remarking particularly about the new

spirit in the court, that almost all the new officers had in common with the old

knights was the mealtimes; Axel Herrmann, "Georg von Eltz, Glanz und Elend

Des letzten Obersten Marschalls in Preussen," Von Akkon bis Wien, Studien zur

Deutschordensgeshichte vom 13. bis zum 20. Jahrhundert (ed. Udo Arnold.

Marburg: Elwert, 1978), pp. 143-6; Forstreuter, Ordensstaat, pp. 22, 26; Knod,

Deutsche Studenten, p. 623; Kurt Forstreuter, "Werthern," in Altpreussische

Biographie (3 vols. ed. Christian Krollmann, rpt. Marburg: Elwert, 1961-75),

II, 795; Forstreuter, "von Isenburg," ibid, I, 311.

11.Herrmann, "Georg von Eltz," p. 148: "Hier vollzog sich...ein teifgreifender

Wandel in der Ordensherrschaft. Gelehrte weltiche Räte verdrängten die

Gebietiger zunehmend aus ihren traditionellen Funktionen, manche Ordensämter

wurden nicht mehr besezt oder zumindest umstrukturiert." Boockmann, Der

Deutsche Orden, pp. 211-2; Forstretuer, Ordensstaat, pp. 22-3; G. Krafft,

"Wilhelm Isenburg," Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, XIV, 622-3; Biskup,

"Die Rolle der ständischen Repräsentation," p. 68; Acten der Ständetagen, V,


Court of the Grandmasters 119

12.Forstreuter, Ordensstaat, pp. 26-7; Forstreuter, "Erasmus Stella," Altpreussi-

che Biographie, II. 697.

13.Forstreuter, Ordensstaat, pp. 28-9; Knod, Deutsche Studenten, p. 154;

Christian Krollmann, "Gerdt, Stephan," Altpreussische Biographie, I, 208.

14.Max Lehnerdt, "Heide, Sebastian," Altpreussische Biographie, I, 257-8;

Forstreuter, Ordensstaat, pp. 29-30; Forstreuter, "Fabian von Lossainen und

der Deutsche Orden," Beiträge zur preussischen Geschichte, p. 53; Knod,

Deutsche Studenten, p. 253.

15.Forstreuter, Ordensstaat, pp. 30-32; Hans Schmauch, "Sculteti," Altpreussis-

che Biographie, II, 659.

16.Forstreuter, pp. 50-53; Hans Schmauch, "Prange," Altpreussis-

che Biographie, II, 517.

17.Kurt Fortreuter, Pruessen und Russland (Göttingen: Musterschmidt, 1955),

pp. 75-108; the limited success of the humanists at this point is emphasized by

Walther Hubarsch, "Die inneren Voraussetzungen der Säkularisation des

deutschen Ordensstaates in Preussen," Archiv für Roformationsgeschichte,

43(1952), p. 163, who sees the dead hand of the outdated monastic tradition as

still paramount. While the humanists seek to reform the government, the

dominant characteristics of the knightly officials are drunkenness, disobedience,

carelessness, and neglect. The countryside was filled with bandits, the cities

with tumults, and the nobles with outrage. (Ibid., pp. 157-163.)

18.The chancellor's office was less important temporarily, since Georg von Eltz

was constantly absent on extensive diplomatic travels. Herrmann, "Georg von

Eltz," pp. 146f; J. Vota (Onno Klopp), Der Untergang des Ordensstaates

Preussen und die Entstehung der preussischen Königswürde (Mainz: Kirch-

heim, 1911), pp. 36f; Hansjoachim W. Koch, A History of Prussia (New York:

Longman, 1978), pp.32-3; Forstreuter, Ordensstaat, pp. 12-3, 66.

19.Forstreuter, Ordensstaat, pp. 54-9; the comparatively early date of Bishop

Hiob's support of humanists is approximately that of contemporary Poland.

Casimir Von Morawski, Beiträge zur Geschichte des Humanismus in Polen,

No. 3 of the Sitzungsberichte der kais. Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien,

118(1889), p.5.

20.Forstreuter, Ordensstaat, pp. 56-7.

21.Kurt Forstreuter, "Zu den Kriegsstudien des Herzigs Albrecht von Preussen,"

Beiträge zur preussischen Geschichte, pp. 56-7; Acten der Ständetagen, V,

797ff; and Dietrich's speech, ibid., V, 618-23; Forstreuter, Ordensstaat, pp. 60-

70; "Ein newes geticht von dem negstvorgangen Krieg zu Preussen 1520,"

Scriptores rerum Prussicarum, V, 340-47; Biskup, "Das Ende des Ordensstaates,"

p. 416; Jasienice, Jagiellonian Poland, pp. 286-302.

22.This contact, and that later through Osiander's composition of an introduction

to Copernicus' book, is considered less important than his later visit to Prussia.

Martin Stupperich, Osiander in Preussen, 1549-1552 (Berlin: DeGruyter,

1973), p. 24; Gottfried Seebass, Das reformatorische Werk des Andreas

Osiander (Nuremberg: Selbstverlag des Vereins für Bayerische Kirchenges-

chichte, 1967).

120 William Urban

23. Kurt Forstreuter, "Wolf Rieder, ein Hofmaler des Hochmeisters und Herzogs

Albrechts von Preussen," Beiträge zur preussischen Geschichte, pp. 35-9;

Martin Luther, Ausgewählte Werke (ed. H.H. Borcherdt and Georg Merz. 3rd

ed. Munich: Christian Kaiser, 1962), V, 67-79; Vota, Der Untergang des

Ordensstaates, pp. 213-31; Boockmann, Der Deutsche Orden, pp. 218-9.

24. William Urban, The Livonian Crusade (Washington: University Press of

America, 1981), pp. 436-53.

25. Acten der Ständetagen, V, 756-65, 770-78; Die Reformation im Ordensland

Preussen 1523/24 (ed. Robert Stupperich. Ulm: Unser Weg, 1966. No. 6 in

Quellenhefte zur Ostdeutschen und Osteuropäischen Kirchengeschichte), pp.

6-12; Helmut Freiwald, Markgraf Albrecht von Ansbach-Kulmbach, pp. 94-

104 Vota, Der Untergang des Ordensstaates, pp. 231-51, 312-9; Leopold von

Ranke, History of the Reformation in Germany (New York: Ungar, 1966), II,

476-9, 483; Karol Górski, L Ordine teutonico (Turin: Einaudi, 1971), pp. 253-

4; Not so generous was Henry Vedder, The Reformation in Germany (New

York: Mac Millan, 1914), p. 267: "Albrecht had shown how the pretest of zeal

for religion could be made a mask under which there might be wholesale

spoilation of the Church and increase of political power." Much more admiring

was Walter Hubatsch, "Die inneren Voraussetzungen der Säkularisation," pp.

151f, who sees the policy as a brilliant resolution of an otherwise impossible di-

lemma. The Teutonic Order had forfeited the loyalty and confidence of its

subjects by a vacillating policy that emphasized ineffective monastic reforms

to the neglect of more basic social and economic problems; by ending the quasi-

ecclesiastical government, Albrecht was able to unify his country and introduce

basic reforms that quickly changed the nature of the entire society for the better.

See Hubatsch's essay "Albert of Brandenburg-Ansbach, Grand Master of the

Order of Teutonic Knights and Duke in Prussia, 1491-1568,' Studies in

Medieval and Modern German History (London ;MacMillan, 1985), pp. 41-69.

26. Die Reformation im Ordensland Preussen, pp. 8f, with Polenz's sermons and

church regulations, pp. 14-35, 108-13; Peter Thielen, "George von Polenz" and

"Julius Paul Dietrich von Queis," Altpreusische Biographie, II, 512-3 and

526-7; Voigt, Geschichte Preussens, IX, 698f; Schumacher says "Die

Durchführung der Reformation wurde besonders dadurch erleichtert, dass

Konflikte mit der bishöflichen Gewalt hier in Preussen ganz wegfielen...Nur

hier in Preussen ist eingetretten, was Luther ersehnt hatte, dass die Bischöfe die

Reformation der Kirche unter Verzicht auf weltliche Herrschaft in die Hand

nehmen möchten." Geschichte Ost- und Westpreussens, p. 148.

27.Helmut Freiwald, "Ansätze einer Deutschordensopposition in Herzogtum

Pruessen," Von Akkon bis Wien, pp. 158-76; Herrmann, "Georg von Eltz," pp.

154-7; "Heinrich Reuss von Plauen," p. 506; Lysbeth Muncy, The Junkers in

the Prussian Administration Under William II, 1888-1914 (Providence: Brown,

1944), pp. 3-12; Herbert Helbig, "Ordensstaat, Herzogtum Preussen und preus-

sische Monarchie," Preussen, Epochen und Probleme seiner Geschichte (Berlin:

DeGruyter, 1964), pp. 18-22; a listing of the knights in Prussia in 1525 is found

in Scriptores rerum Prussicarum, V, 371.

Court of the Grandmasters 121

28. Friedrich Merzbacher, "Die Stadt Mergentheim und der Deutschen Orden,"

Von Akkon bis Wien, pp. 51-2; Bernhard Demel, "Der Deutsche Orden

zwischen Bauernkrieg (1525) und Napoleon (1809)," ibid.,pp. 177-82, 191,

196-7; Forstreuter, Ordensstaat, pp. 98-112; see the chronicle by Phillipp von

Creutz and Liborius Naker's Tagebuch in vol. 5 of Scriptores rerum Prussi-

carum (Frankfurt/Main: Minerva, 1965), pp. 362-84 and 289-314; Johannes

Voigt argued that religion soon brough about a change in Albrecht, awakening

him to a realization that he had wasted his youth in sinful levity and changing

him into a man so intellectually alive that he could correspond usefully with the

most learned men of Europe. Briefwechsel der berümstesten Gelehrten des

Zeitalters der Reformation mit Herzog Albrechts von Preussen (ed. Johannes

Voigt. Königsberg: Bornträger, 1841), pp. 4f; Bernd Moeller emphasized

popular feelings in "Piety in Germany Around 1500," and so did Gerhard

Ritter, "Romantic and Revolutionary Elements in German Theology on the

Eve of the Reformation," The Reformation in Medieval Perspective (trans.

stated (p. 62): "The later historical effect of humanism, and the tendency of its

representatives to appear to have greater force than they actually possessed,

easily misled the historian into overevaluation. The humanists are not repre-

sentative of piety in Germany in the late fifteenth century." Neither were they

representative in the 1520's- their role was to open the way, not to lead the

flock along it.

29. George Hunston Williams, The Radical Reformation (Philadelphia: West-

minister Press, 1962), pp. 407-11.

30. Górski, L Ordine teutonico, pp. 249-253; Hipler, Literaturgeschichte, pp. 91-

6; Ranke indicated that nowhere was the Reformation needed or more

welcome than in Prussia. History of the Reformation in Germany, II, 478-9;

Jerzy Kloczowski, "Some Remarks on the Social and Religious History of

Sixteenth-Century Poland," The Polish Renaissance in its European Context

(ed. Samuel Fiszman. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana U. Press, 1988),

pp. 96f

31. Dralle, Der Staat des Deutschen Ordens, pp. 39-42; Francis Ludwig Carsten,

"Die Entstehung des Junkertums" in Preussen, Epoche und Probleme, pp. 66-

76; Carsten, The Origins of Prussia, pp. 106-116, 150-2; see the testimony of

Phillip von Greutz, Ordensritter und Kirchenfürsten (ed. Johannes Buhler.

Leipzig: Insel, 1927), pp. 233-4, and Vota, Untergang des Ordensstaats, p. 315,

in my translation: "I was worried that if I did not take the oath, everything I had

would be taken away, and so I swore it to save my estate, for I received great

sums from my office, more than any other knight." A few of the knights

married: Friedrich von Heideck and a former nun married in Liegnitz the next

April, Bishop Polenz in June, and of the rest the minister Bressmann wrote to

Luther, that the knights were becoming engaged like the priests and nuns, seven

and eight at a time.

32. Oscar Halecki, A History of Poland (New York: Roy, 1966), pp. 110-11; P.

Fox, "The Reformation in Poland," The Cambridge History of Poland, I,

1322f; Krollmann, Politische Geschihte des Deutschen Ordens, pp. 199-205.

122 William Urban

33. Forstreuter, Deutsche Orden am Mittelmeer, pp. 181-2; Forstreuter, Or-

densstaat, p. 124; Hans Schmauch, "Dietrich von Reden," Altpreussische

Biographie, II, 540; Kurt Forstreuter, "Dietrich von Reden und Nikolaus von

Schönberg. Zwei Freunde von Copernicus," Nicholas Copernicus zum 500.

Geburstag, pp. 235-58.

34. Andreas Cricius, "De negotio Prutenico," in SsrP, VI, 281-89; Forstreuter,

Ordensstaat, pp. 120-22.

35. Ibid., pp. 122-3.

36. Peter Gerrit Thielen, Die Kultur am Hofe Herzog Albrechts von Preussen

(1525-1568) (Göttingen: Musterschmidt, 1953); The new regulations for the

court are found in Deutsche Hofordnungen des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts (ed.

Arthur Kern. Berlin: Weidmann, 1905), I, 82-96; for Albrecht's extensive cor-

respondence see Briefwechsel der berühmtestem Gelehrten des Zeitalters der

Reformation mit Herzog Albrecht von Preussen; the centralization of admini-

stration continued, with impressive results. Freiwald, Markgraf Albrecht, pp.

218-21; Schumacher, Geschichte Ost- und Westpreussens, pp. 143-157.

37. Toeppen, Geschichte der Preussische Historiographie, p. 87; The writing of

history, with the exceptions noted in the text, fell to monks and burghers who

disliked the Teutonic Order intensely. Several of these are colleted in volume

six of Scriptores rerum Prussicarum (Frankfurt/Main: Minerva, 1968). The

most important historian, Simon Grunau, has been traditionally considered

unreliable, but Frank Borchardt praises him highly for his style, imagination,

and interest in new topics. German Antiquity in Renaissance Myth, p. 157.

38. Kurt Forsteuter, "Johannes Crotus Ruvianus in Preussen," Fetschrift für

Hermann Heimpel (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck u. Ruprecht, 1972), pp. 293-312.

39. Forstreuter, Der Deutsche Orden am Mittelmeer, pp. 175-82.

40. Forstreuter, "Wolf Rieder," pp. 38-41.

41. Walter Hubatsch (ed.), Albrecht von Brandenburg-Ansbach und die Kultur

seiner Zeit (Düsseldorf: Rheinland, 1968); Paul Joachimsen, "Humanism and

the Development of the German Mind," Pre-Reformation Germany, p. 178;

Ozment, The Age of Reform, pp. 309ff, discusses the decisive impact of

humanism on Protestant educational reforms, noting that classical culture and

the humanism curriculum found their true home in the Protestant schools and

universities; Fritz Gause, Königsberg in Preussen; die Geschichte einer

europäischen Stadt (Munich: Gräfe und Unzer, 1968), pp. 58-64; Wallace

Ferguson, The Renaissance in Historical Thought; Five Centuries of Interpre-

tation (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948), pp. 32-9, 276-89; for an insight to

publications of this era, see Walther Bibliotheken, "Acta Prussica Abhandlung

zur Geschichte Ost- und Westpreussens; Fritz Gause zum 75. Geburtstag

(Würzburg: Holzner, 1968),pp. 115-134; Schumacher, Geschichte Ost- und

Westpreussen, p. 153; Antanas Musteikis, The Reformation in Lithuania.

Religious Fluctuations in the Sixteenth Century (Boulder: East European

Monographs, 1988).