Skip to main content

Gratius, Ortwin (van Graes)


Theologian and humanist; b. Holtwick, near Münster, 1480; d. Cologne, May 22, 1542. He was educated in the school of the Brethren of the Common Life in Deventer under Alexander Hegius. He studied in Cologne (B.A., 1501; M.A., 1506) and subsequently taught in the arts faculty, serving at the same time as an editor for the Quentell publishing house. He was ordained in 1514. His humanist learning was evident in his Orationes quodlibeticae (Cologne 1508), nine orations in support of the seven liberal arts, poetry, and philosophy, containing citations from the classics. He soon alienated the humanists, however, by opposing Hermann von dem Busche, who had attacked traditional authorities; by translating into Latin various books by Johann pfefferkorn, who favored burning Jewish books (150709); and by displaying his hostility to Johann reuchlin. Against Reuchlin he wrote a Latin poem to accompany Arnold von Tungern's Articuli (1512); the Praenotamenta (1514), a collection of documents presenting a slanted version of the Reuchlin controversy; and a Defensio (1516). Consequently Crotus Rubeanus and Ulrich von Hutten made him the chief target of their ridicule of the Cologne scholastics in their Letters of Obscure Men (1515). His inept rejoinder, more wordy than witty, Lamentationes obscurorum virorum (1518), merely unleashed another barrage of pamphlets and letters from which Gratius' reputation has suffered unjustly ever since. He published a Fasciculus rerum expetendarum ac fugiendarum (Cologne 1535), a collection of documents from Aeneas Sylvius, Lorenzo Valla, Wyclif, Poggio, the Waldenses, and others favorable to reform and critical of conditions within the Church, a work later placed on the Index.

Bibliography: d. reichling, Ortwin Gratius: Sein Leben und Wirken (Heiligenstadt 1884). f. zoepfl, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche (Freiburg 195765) 2 4:117172.

[l. w. spitz]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Gratius, Ortwin (van Graes)." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . 21 Apr. 2019 <>.

"Gratius, Ortwin (van Graes)." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . (April 21, 2019).

"Gratius, Ortwin (van Graes)." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved April 21, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.