Among her topics are Luther's ego-documents: cultural history and the reconstruction of the historical self, Luther's friendship with Frederick the Wise
, fleshly work: the sex act as Christian liberty, the tenderness of daughters and waywardness of sons: Luther as a father, his perfect death, and the imprint of personality upon the Reformation.
The author certainly demonstrates that Luther's influence depended, especially in the period 1517-1525, on his own talents and determination, but he also points out that the Lutheran movement and the Lutheran Church would not have succeeded without the dedicated support of his "team," especially Philip Melanchthon, and the protection of Elector Frederick the Wise
While Wittenberg, with its university founded in 1502, became the intellectual center during the rule of Frederick III (1463-1525), also known as Frederick the Wise
, Torgau established itself as the undisputed center of political power.
But Martin Luther had the good fortune of being protected by the elector Frederick the Wise
, who shielded him from possible murder or torture.
This should lead to agreement in truth, but Melanchthon's enterprise was frustrated by the lack of interest in the pursuit of rigorous theology on the part either of politicians, including Frederick the Wise
, or of his theological opponents.
Cranach, indeed, was on much more intimate terms with Frederick the Wise
than Luther would ever be.
A masterpiece in the collection of a leading Lebanese bank, a 16th century portrait of Frederick the Wise
by Renaissance painter Lucas Cranach the Elder, exists only because the rich provincial ruler hired the artist for his court.
The catalyst for the shift may be traced to the policy of Frederick the Wise
, who allowed Gospel preaching but disallowed any liturgical change until a general council reached agreement.
A major figure of Catholicism before the reformation, Frederick the Wise
was both a defender of the faith and a defender of those who would challenge it.
First the authors trace an earlier history of intaglio illustrations for books, rare but not unprecedented (they omit the Lucas Cranach engraved frontispiece of Frederick the Wise
in prayer for that patron's relic collection book, 1509).
Luther's own practice set the pattern among Lutherans, beginning with the death of Frederick the Wise
His predecessor as court-painter to Frederick the Wise
was Jacopo de' Barbari, who signed his work with the caduceus of Mercury, god of craftsmanship and art: a rod entwined by two winged serpents.