Johann Reuchlin(redirected from John Reuchlin)
Born Feb. 22, 1455, in Pforzheim; died June 30, 1522, in Bad Liebenzell. German humanist.
Reuchlin was an adviser to the Duke of Württemberg. He visited Italy several times and was close to the leaders of what became known as the Platonic Academy (Pico della Mirandola and others). During the last years of his life, he was a professor at the universities of Ingolstadt and Tübingen. Reuchlin was considered to be Germany’s greatest expert in ancient languages—Latin and especially Hebrew and ancient Greek.
In 1509, Reuchlin spoke out against the reactionary Catholic theologians of the University of Cologne, who were demanding the destruction of Hebrew religious books, which he regarded as a source for the study of Christianity. The Dominicans of the university brought about the trial of Reuchlin on a charge of heresy. The struggle that lasted for several years around the “case of the Hebrew books” has become known in history as the Reuchlin controversy. A landmark in the struggle of the humanists in defense of Reuchlin was the Letters of Obscure Men —one of the most brilliant satirical pamphlets of 16th-century pre-Reformation Germany. Reuchlin himself did not agree with the Reformation. He was the author of the satirical comedies Henno and Sergius.