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Philip of Hesse

Philip of Hesse (hĕs), 1504–67, German nobleman, landgrave of Hesse (1509–67), champion of the Reformation. He is also called Philip the Magnanimous. Declared of age in 1518, he helped suppress the Peasants' War. Having embraced Protestantism in 1524 he vainly tried to reconcile Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli, but finally signed the Lutheran Augsburg Confession (see creed). With John Frederick I of Saxony and others, Philip formed (1531) the Schmalkaldic League to uphold Protestantism against the opposition of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Philip founded the first Protestant university (Marburg, 1527), helped Ulrich, the deposed Protestant duke of Württemberg, to recover his duchy, and otherwise did much to advance Lutheranism. However, the scandal following his bigamous marriage (1540), which had been reluctantly sanctioned by Luther and Philip Melanchthon, led him to make peace with Charles in 1541. The peace was only temporary, and after Charles V had won Maurice of Saxony from Philip's camp, the emperor crushed (1547) the Schmalkaldic League at Mühlberg. Philip, believing that he would be well treated, surrendered. He emerged (1552) from prison a broken man. In 1567 he divided his lands among his four sons (see Hesse).

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Hesse, Philip of

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Philip of Hesse

PHILIP OF HESSE

Landgrave, confidant of Martin luther, Philipp melanchthon, and Ulrich zwingli; b. Marburg, Hesse, Nov. 13, 1504; d. Kassel, Hesse, March 31, 1567. The son and successor of Landgrave William II, he married Christina of Saxony in 1523. He was called "the Magnanimous" because of his interest in political, church, and educational reform. He established a model government in Hesse before 1526 and founded the University of Marburg in 1527.

After his conversion to lutheranism in 1525, his diplomatic and military activities greatly affected the process of the German reformation. Influenced by correspondence with Zwingli, Philip attempted to reconcile Zwingli and Luther at the abortive Disputation of Marburg in 1529. In the next year he publicly subscribed to the Confession of augsburg. After his defeat of the peasant forces under Thomas Münzer at Frankenhausen in 1525, he was a recognized leader of the Protestant princes and was instrumental in the formation of the schmalkaldic league in 1531. His bigamous marriage with Margaret von der Saal in 1540 aroused strong controversy within the ranks of the reformers and alienated the support of certain of the princes. In the consequent weakening of the league, Philip was forced into signing the Treaty of Regensburg (1541). The War of the Schmalkald (154647) was disastrous to the landgrave. Defeated at Mülberg he was imprisoned until 1552; he displayed little interest in German affairs after his release.

Bibliography: w. heinemeyer, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 7 v. (3d ed. Tübingen 195765) 5:332333. s. skalweit, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 8:452453. k. schottenloher, Bibliographie zur deutschen Geschichte im Zeitalter der Glaubensspaltung, 151785, 6 v. (Leipzig 193340; repr. Stuttgart 195658, v. 7, 1962) 6:450451.

[p. l. hughes]

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