Sebastian Franck

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Franck, Sebastian


Born Jan. 20, 1499, in Donauwörth; died 1542 or 1543, in Basel. German humanist, philosopher, and historian. Figure in the radical-burgher wing of the Reformation.

In 1528, Franck, a Lutheran pastor, resigned his pastorate and joined the Anabaptists. During the reactionary period that followed the Peasant War of 1524–26, Franck developed a profound sympathy for the common people. He was subjected to continual persecution by both the Catholic and Lutheran camps. Franck first expounded his historical-philosophical views in detail in Chronica: Time Book and Historical Bible (1531). He followed this with other works, including Cosmography (1533), German Chronicle (1538), and Wise Sayings (1541). His views, often contradictory, reflected the influence of German pantheistic mysticism (J Eckhart and J. Tauler), humanist rationalism, and the experience of the Peasant War and the Reformation. Franck opposed religious dogma and any type of church organization, advancing instead the tenets of the “inner word” and “Christ within us.” He offered a generalized picture of the historical development of mankind, and he viewed private property, by which he meant feudal property, as the source of all human misery. He attacked the tyranny of the clergy, princes, and nobles and sought to prove the inevitability of the fall of the powerful, although he was against popular uprisings. Franck exerted a substantial influence on various schools of thought in the post-Reformation era.


Leven, V. G. “Istoricheskie vzgliady Sebast’iana Franka.” In Srednie Veka. fasc. 6. Moscow, 1955.
Leven, V. G. “Filosofskie vozzreniia Sebast’iana Franka.” Voprosy filosofii, 1958, no. 10.
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En su lugar se habrian radicalizado aun mas las tesis espiritualistas de algunos medievales, con un sesgo claramente milenarista al modo de Joaquin de Fiore, como al menos anteriormente tambien habria ocurrido en los casos del Maestro Eckhart (1260-1328), el Doctor iluminado Johannes Tauler (1300-1361) o el autor anonimo de la Teologia alemana, o en menor medida, en los protestantes espirituales mas moderados como Karlstadt (1486-1541) o Thomas Muntzer (1489-1525), o en los propios teologos protestantes oficiales, Sebastian Franck (1499-1552), Hans Denck ([cruz]-1553), Caspar Schweckfeld (1489-1561) o Hans Buenderlin ([cruz]-1553).
Although, in an illuminating last chapter, he explores the inspiration drawn from Erasmus by literary figures such as Rabelais, Cervantes, Jonson, and Shakespeare, most of his subjects are radical reformers such as Sebastian Franck, Fausto and Lelio Sozzini, and Daniel Zwicker, who often went well beyond Luther and Calvin in their Protestantism.
Pfefferl comments on the influences exhibited in the different works: Weigel drew on Paracelsian and pseudo-Paracelsian works; he was influenced by the mysticism of Meister Eckhardt, Johannes Tauler, and the Theologica Deutsch; he knows Pseudo-Dionysius, Boethius, Martin Luther, Hugh of St Viktor, Sebastian Franck.
The Great Chronicle of the Hutterites and the universal Chronica, Zeitbuch unnd Geschichtbibel (Frankfurt-am-Main, 1555) of Sebastian Franck both pursue their historical vision coherently over extended periods.
Emmet McLaughlin offers a subtle revisionist reading of the relationship between the thinking of the Wittenberg reformer and the radical spiritualist writers such as Thomas Muntzer, Caspar Schwenckfeld and Sebastian Franck whom Luther overtly repudiated, arguing that it was he rather than they who forged a revolutionary conception of the workings of the Holy Spirit.
Another member of this group, Sebastian Franck, declared that "the true Church is not a separate mass of people, not a particular sect to be pointed out with the finger, not confirmed to one time or one place.
Thus without the prefaces to the collections of fables and proverbs by Luther, Johannes Agricola, and Sebastian Franck there would be no contemporary theory of these two genres.
A more positive attitude is found in the Radical Protestant views of Hans Denck and Sebastian Franck, who, according to E.
It was Spiritualists such as Sebastian Franck and Caspar Schwenckfeld, Dipple claims, who wrote the most complicated histories using patristic authors.
Finally, we come to "religious Hermeticism," encountering Sebastian Franck, Philippe de Mornay, and the Occulta Philosophia attributed to Basilius Valentinus.
Next, Dipple argues that although they were both Spiritualists, Sebastian Franck and Caspar Schwenckfeld developed some of the most sophisticated historical schemes among the radicals.
Dipple's analysis runs the spectrum of the Radical Reformation: from the Saxon radicals of Karlstadt and Thomas Muntzer, to the Anabaptists of Switzerland, Moravia, and the Netherlands, and finally to the Spiritualists, especially Sebastian Franck.