Łaski, Jan and Jan (Lasco)

views updated


Uncle and nephew. Jan, chancellor and primate of Poland; b. Łaski, Poland, 1456; d. Kalisz, Poland, May 19, 1531. After completing his education in Poland and abroad, he held various spiritual offices, becoming chancellor in 1503. In 1505 he compiled the "Łaski Statutes," the first official edition of Polish law. In 1510 he became archbishop of Gniezno, and thereby, primate of Poland. An ardent foe of the teutonic knights, he sought to annex East Prussia to Poland. At the Fifth lateran council he defended Poland's rights to Prussia, at which time Pope Leo X conferred upon him and his successors in the archiespiscopal See of Gniezno the title of legatus natus. At Łaski's request Pope Leo X ordered the grand master of the Teutonic Knights to pay homage to the king of Poland. He later opposed the Peace of Cracow (1525), by which the grand master, in return for this homage, received the king's recognition of the secularization of Prussia. From 1526 onward, Łaski's influence at court began to decline. Toward the end of his life, he was suspected of aiding the Turks through his nephew Jerome. In 1530 Pope Clement VII ordered him to Rome to explain his actions, but he was prevented from leaving the country by King Sigismund. Łaski was a vigorous foe of Lutheranism. Even before the counter reformation, which began in Poland under his aegis, he laid particular stress on the need for Church reform, especially in the selection and training of parochial clergy and in the general enlightenment of the faithful. Throughout his life he stressed discipline, morals, and clerical zeal. He edited a number of editions of canonical decrees and statutes.

Jan, religious reformer, nephew of the above Jan; b. Łaski, Poland, 1499; d. Pinczów, Jan. 8, 1560. He began his early education at Cracow under the guidance of his uncle and later studied in Rome and Bologna. He was ordained in 1521. From 1524 to 1526, he traveled throughout western Europe and befriended Huldrych zwingli, Guillaume farel and Desiderius erasmus; the last-mentioned left him his library. On the death of his uncle (1531), he returned to western Europe, residing principally in Frankfurt and Liège, where he came further under the influence of the Protestants and where he later married. He was then appointed superintendent of Church affairs in Emden, in East Friesland, which he quickly turned into a "northern Geneva" and where he established one of the first compulsory educational systems in Europe. The Emden catechism was in great part his work. In 1550 he accepted the invitation of Thomas cranmer to visit England, where he became the head of the congregation of Protestant refugees of Austin Friars in London. In this position, he influenced the development of Puritanism, and to a lesser degree that of Anglicanism. On the accession of Mary Tudor, he settled in Denmark, then in Emden, and eventually in Frankfurt. From Frankfurt he addressed three letters to King Sigismund August and to the Polish nobility, in which he called upon them to introduce the Reformation into Poland. At the request of the Polish Calvinists, he was permitted to return to Poland, where he unsuccessfully sought to win the king and the Lutherans to Calvinism. He settled in Little Poland, where he quickly became the head of the Calvinists. He spent his last years in organizing schools and in improving existing translations of the Bible.

Bibliography: h. dalton. John A. Lasco (London 1936). b. stasiewski, Reformation und Gegenreformation in Polen (Münster 1960); Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 6:803804. v. falkenroth, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 7 v. (3d ed. Tübingen 195765) 4:236.

[e. kusielewicz]