(1434-1519). German painter and engraver, who became the leading artist in Nuremberg and established a large workshop there. He is best known because Albrecht Dürer was his apprentice for three years. As a painter, he produced altarpieces in Zwickau and Schwabach, and he probably completed the Hofer Altar-piece (ca. 1485), for which his master Hans Playdenwurff held the commission but had probably left unfinished at his death in 1472. Aside from being Dürer’s teacher, Wolgemut is best known for the many engravings he produced for the Nuremberg printing industry. His woodcuts illustrated the Schatzkammer der wahren Reichthümer des Heils / Treasury of the True Riches of Salvation and Der Schrein Od’Schatzbehalter /The Cupboard or Treasure Chest (both 1491) and, most important, the famous Weltchronik / Chronicle of the World by Hartmann Schedel, also known as the Nuremberg Chronicle.


(ca. 1472-1530). English clergyman and statesman. Born the son of an innkeeper and butcher at Ipswich, Wolsey was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he became master of the affiliated grammar school. In 1501, however, he left Oxford and entered the service of a series of powerful men. He was talented and ingratiating and soon became chaplain to King Henry VII, then almoner to young King Henry VIII, who recognized his energy and competence and appointed him to increasingly important administrative offices. The king made him bishop of Lincoln in 1514 and elevated him to the archbishopric of York in 1515.

Later that year, Wolsey became chancellor, the highest office in the kingdom. He accumulated enormous political influence and personal wealth; foreign ambassadors and native petitioners quickly identified him as the person whose favor was crucial to their success. As chancellor he worked to expand the jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery and the Court of Star Chamber. Responding to the king’s ambition to play a major role in European politics and war, Wolsey increased the revenues of the crown through forced loans, browbeaten out of reluctant lenders. In Parliament, he pushed hard for new taxes and even tried (but failed) to levy taxes without parliamentary authorization. Although some of these activities were socially beneficial, Wolsey’s ruthless drive to increase royal power and his own splendor was resented, all the more because of his humble origins. As long as he was useful to the king, he seemed secure. When Henry decided to end his marriage to Queen Catherine of Aragon and sought papal approval for a divorce, however, he expected Wolsey to produce results. His failure to secure approval of the divorce cost Wolsey his favor at court. He was dismissed as chancellor in October 1529. A year later, after he had retired to his archdiocese at York, he was summoned to court on charges of treason. He died on the journey south.

Wolsey was in many ways a corrupt and worldly cleric, entering the clergy and taking high office solely for the power and wealth he could get, not out of any spiritual concern. He kept a mistress and fathered a son and a daughter. He used his control of church patronage to secure sinecures for his son. He was a notorious pluralist, holding one or another bishopric in addition to York, as well as the abbacy (and revenues) of the rich abbey of St. Albans.

Yet however worldly his motives may have been, Wolsey did take measures to prevent the spread of Lutheran heresy; he encouraged reform of both secular and monastic clergy (though not of his own life);and he showed special concern for the education of future priests. He founded a humanistic school in his home town and undertook the foundation of a splendid new college at Oxford, Cardinal College (1525), which he intended to make into a showplace of the new humanist learning. Wolsey’s fall from power in 1529 left arrangements for the new college still in progress, and there was danger that its endowment would be seized by the crown, but it survived and later was reorganized as Christ Church, one of Oxford’s most splendid colleges. Wolsey extended patronage to a number of humanist scholars, employed some of the ablest artists, and built several palaces, of which Hampton Court, later seized by the king, was the most famous. Yet most contemporaries judged that his patronage of arts and letters arose more from his desire for display and elegance than from any true devotion to learning and the arts.


Although obviously half of the population of Renaissance Europe was female, the role of women in the high culture, especially the Latin-based academic culture and humanist movement of the period, was very limited, a generalization which is also true of political life, large-scale business enterprise, the fine arts (both music and visual arts), and even vernacular literature. Continuing the misogynistic culture of medieval Europe, Renaissance society excluded women from any leading role in public life. One prominent student of the place of women during the period has stated flatly that for women, the Renaissance was not a renaissance at all, but a period of declining status, and while this conclusion has been challenged, there is considerable evidence that in at least some respects, the restrictions on women’s participation in society increased during the centuries (14th through 16th or early 17th) usually covered by the term "Renaissance."

Women’s proper role in society, as defined by most opinion in that age, was largely limited to the domestic sphere, and even in family life, both legally and actually, women were always supposed to be under the control of some male authority: first by the father, then by the husband, and if the woman were widowed, in many regions finally by either male children or the male relatives of her deceased spouse. The course of a woman’s life was clearly defined: first as daughter and virgin, then as wife and mother, and finally as widow. Only a wealthy widow had any real chance of being more or less independent and in charge of her own life. Even in that case, her independence in many regions was greatly restricted by the property rights of her sons and her husband’s kinsmen.

Until the Reformation, women theoretically had the option of continuing to live in a virginal state by entering the monastic life. Since, however, most female monasteries expected postulants to present a dowry upon entry, in practice only women from relatively prosperous families had the option of becoming nuns. In the 13 th and 14th centuries, especially in urban areas, informal communities of single women sprang up outside the monastic orders, but since such groups did not have official approval and were not subject to supervision and control by male clergy, they often faced suppression by authorities who feared that unsupervised communities of females either would fall into heresy or would become prostitutes. After the Catholic Reformation became strong from about 1550, church authorities were even less tolerant of unofficial communities of unmarried females living together.

Religion did remain one field in which some activity by women was socially acceptable, but almost always in a role clearly subordinated to control by the exclusively male clergy. There were a few exceptions, such as the influential 14th-century Catherine of Siena, who became an outspoken agitator for reform of the church and was later canonized, but such figures were notable mainly for their rarity. In the first half of the 16 th century, some devout Italian intellectuals were stirred by a quest for spiritual authenticity based on the Bible, a movement known as evangelismo. The poet Vittoria Colonna became a central figure among such a group of "evangelicals" at Naples (some of whom became Protestants while others became early leaders of the Catholic Reformation). But Colonna was not only a member of an ancient and influential Roman aristocratic family but also a wealthy woman who was widowed early in life, had no children, and never remarried, thus managing to establish an independent existence that was extremely rare for women in any part of Renaissance Europe.

Despite their limited status in society, women did have some rights in theory and even in practice. The dowry that a woman brought into her marriage remained legally her property, and if the marriage were dissolved by annulment or the death of her husband, she had in theory a right to control that part of the total resources of her marital household. On the other hand, during the course of a marriage, actual administration of the dowry was in the hands of the husband, and if he dissipated it through ill fortune or bad management, the woman had no recourse. Women of the higher classes (royal, aristocratic, and bourgeois) were more closely controlled than peasant women or women of the poorer urban classes, because their marriages involved important political and economic relationships and valuable properties. While European brides were never purchased as was done in some cultures, the daughters of prominent families were married off by their parents (essentially, by their fathers), who used the marriages of daughters (and sons, too) in order to make political or business connections. Lower-class women, on the other hand, often had considerably more independence in choosing whom and when to marry, though the fundamental cause of this independence was that they were poor and hence their marriage did not involve the pursuit of extraneous material goals.

In most parts of Europe, women of royal and noble families and also women of the wealthy business classes (especially in Italy, the most economically developed region) married young, in their early or mid-teens, and were given to husbands considerably older than the bride: upper-class Florentine males usually did not marry until their late 20s or early 30s. Among the lower classes, however, women often deferred marriage until somewhat later and married men only slightly older than themselves. In part this was because poor girls often had to work as household servants or in other common occupations in order to save money for dowries that were modest but still regarded as essential for successful establishment of a new household. Since no effective contraceptive methods were available, young wives could look forward to bearing many children. Wealthy families often regarded large families as desirable since the children’s marriages could be used to promote the general interest of the father’s family. Social historians have noted that in northwestern Europe from the mid-14th century (that is, after the Black Death), women of the peasant and artisan classes tended to defer marriage until their mid-20s, a practice that not only allowed them to earn money for their dowries but also had the practical effect (whether intended or not) of producing fewer offspring and hence fewer claimants to a share of the family’s agricultural lands or urban workshop when one generation gave way to the next.

The role of women in the scholarly, artistic, and literary life that formed the center of Renaissance civilization was limited not only by the subordination of women to their family role but also by the unavailability of education for women. At every level of society, women had far lower rates of literacy than men, and this was especially true in rural districts and among the poor. In the cities, women of the higher and middle classes had some opportunity to receive an elementary education in which they learned to read, write, and do simple arithmetic. But in the view of contemporary society, even this modest level of education was of marginal utility for women. What they had to learn was how to cook, sew, manage a household, rear children, and participate in religious devotions.

As for any more advanced learning, only a handful of privileged women from the upper classes had a chance to learn Latin, the essential tool for participation in the humanistic studies of the Renaissance. A few princesses were able to study in the palace schools created for the education of their brothers; of these, the humanist academies at the courts of Ferrara and Mantua were the best known, but only the daughters of the ruling prince and their closest companions were privileged to share the instruction. A somewhat larger number of women from noble and wealthy mercantile families had the opportunity to learn Latin and a few carefully selected (and morally proper) works of ancient Roman literature from tutors hired by their fathers, usually for the education of sons but occasionally for daughters alone. No university would have permitted a woman to attend its classes, though the issue was unlikely to arise since virtually no woman had the command of Latin expected of entering university students. The first recorded conferral of an academic degree on a woman did not occur until 1678, when Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Pis-copia, a member of a Venetian noble family, was awarded a doctorate in philosophy. Society in general opposed the very idea of a learned woman, since it had no use for such a creature. In any case, prevailing theory held that women’s minds were inherently unsuited to intense intellectual effort. A learned woman, like a woman who claimed political authority, was viewed as something unnatural—a sort of monster.

Two developments during the Renaissance centuries slightly mitigated the exclusion of women from learning. First, the invention of printing in the second half of the 15th century gradually worked to spread literacy (at least in the vernacular languages) more widely through all levels of society. Urban women of the middle and patrician classes often were able to read and now had access to reading matter to a degree never before known in human history. Especially from the second half of the 16 th century, as an increasing body of classical texts and other serious literature became available in translation, both men and women who had been excluded from higher education had access to books that presented information and ideas previously available only to the learned elites. Second, while printing from the very first had made certain types of religious literature (mainly prayers, meditations, and lives of the saints) available to women, the Protestant Reformation emphasized the right and responsibility of all Christians to read the Bible.

From the time of its first leader, Martin Luther, Protestantism promoted the founding of schools open to all levels of society, to girls as well as boys, though the higher schools remained just as firmly closed to females as ever. These gains for women were limited. Women might read the Bible in Protestant regions, but except for the very early period of the Reformation (the 1520s), they were not allowed to discuss it in public or to preach it, and their reading was always supposed to occur under the guidance of their fathers or husbands.

Even the few women who became truly learned found that if they married, they had lost their personal control over leisure for study since they were subject to the authority of their husbands. In addition, once married, they would be pregnant and engaged in child-rearing most of the time. For most learned women, continued study implied refusal to marry, and since in virtually all cases an independent life as a single person was unthinkable, there was seldom a niche in society where a woman could develop her intellectual interests while remaining single. In countries that remained Catholic, there was theoretically always the monastic option, but the reading and activities of nuns were supervised closely (especially after the Reformation) by the clergy and by monastic superiors.

To the horror of conservative moralists, the vagaries of dynastic succession produced a few princesses who were not only well educated but actually became rulers, such as Queen Isabella of Spain, Isabella’s granddaughter Mary Tudor, who ruled England briefly (1553-1558), and Mary’s half-sister Elizabeth I, one of the greatest political figures of the 16th century. Though all of these women were educated and intellectually active, their deep involvement in politics kept any of them from pursuing an active literary and intellectual life beyond their early years.

When the question turns to identifying serious female intellectuals, modern scholarship has been able to find very few women who were able to share actively in the scholarly and intellectual life of Renaissance humanism and vernacular literature. All of the Italian women who excelled as humanist scholars or successful authors were privileged daughters of highly educated fathers. Examples are Laura Cereta, Cassandra Fedele, Lucrezia Marinella, Olimpia Morata, Isotta Nogarola, Modesta Pozzo and Alessandra Scala. Even these able and highly privileged women were denounced by conservative clergy and scholars, who in some cases publicly accused them of using their studies as a cover for sexual relationships with men. When they tried to establish personal or epistolary contact with humanist scholars whose works they admired, they either received no response at all or were sternly admonished to guard their chastity—a quality which all their male counterparts (and the women themselves) regarded as far more essential in a woman than any level of erudition.

Earlier in time than these was Christine de Pizan, the daughter of an Italian physician at the court of King V of France, who as a young widow was able to earn her living as an author of French vernacular works. She wrote an eloquent defense of the intellectual capability of women if only they were allowed access to education. Italian women generally led the way among female authors of vernacular literature. Most married women found that their obligations as wives and mothers effectively terminated their literary careers. Few unmarried women found it possible to live a single life devoted to study even if they could endure the isolation and hostility that such a career generated. Hence some of the most successful female writers of the Italian Renaissance were courtesans — that is, high-class prostitutes — such as Veronica Franco, Gaspara Stampa, and Tullia d’Aragona.

France in the 16th century produced female vernacular authors of more respectable social status, such as Louise Labé, a talented poet from a modest artisan family; Margaret of Navarre, queen of Navarre and sister of King Francis I of France, who was active both as a patron and as an author of spiritual treatises and prose fiction; Madeleine and Catherine des Roches, a mother-daughter pair of poets belonging to the class of ennobled judicial officials; and Marie de Gournay, a close friend and literary executor of Michel de Montaigne. England did not produce female authors of real distinction until the second half of the 17th century, but the poet Aemilia Lanyer gained some success with her volume of poems in the first decade of the 17th century. Spain in the 16th century produced one major female author of spiritual works, the mystic and monastic reformer Teresa of Ávila, who was suspected of being a heretic or a fraud but was fortunate to have the wholehearted support of King Philip II and was canonized as a saint in 1622. Her career, however, belongs to the Catholic Reformation movement and not the Renaissance. Though she was an inspiring writer on religious topics, she had a very modest educational background—no Latin and not much reading except for devotional literature.

The most comfortable role for energetic and educated women of the upper classes was as patrons and admirers of male scholars and poets. Margaret of Navarre played this role in 16th-century France in addition to her own literary career. A number of female members of Italian princely families were patrons of writers and artists and created highly intellectual court societies. The Venetian noblewoman Caterina Cornaro, after beng pressured by the government of Venice into exchanging her rule as queen of Cyprus for nominal lordship of the town of Asoli in Venetian territory, became patron of an influential literary circle, including the ablest Italian poet of the early 16th century, Pietro Bembo. The duchess of Mantua, Isabella d’Este, daughter of the ruling prince of Ferrara, who as a girl was tutored in Latin and Greek by the headmaster of the famous court school at Ferrara, was the central figure of a brilliant circle of poets, humanists, and authors who made Mantua an important center of Renaissance civilization. At the court of Urbino, the duchess Elisabetta Gonzaga created a distinguished society that is reflected in the most famous literary work describing the Italian court culture of the late 15th century, The Book of the Courtier by Count Balsassare Castiglione. In early Tudor England, Lady Margaret Beaufort, the mother of King Henry VII, though not personally learned, was a generous patron of university education, strongly influenced by her spiritual adviser, Bishop John Fisher. Thus a handful of intelligent women privileged by high social status and great wealth were able to do much to shape Renaissance culture. Margaret of Navarre was the only one of these to become a literary creator in her own right, and even she lacked the Latin-based education that would have opened to her the ancient and modern literary works not available in translation.

In the visual arts, no female artist of great reputation emerged until the second half of the 16 th century, and in each case, the artist enjoyed unusual privileges that opened to her a career ordinarily available only to men. Sofonisba Anguissola, the first female painter to win a widespread reputation and to produce a significant body of work, was unusual in that she was not the daughter of an artist. She was the daughter of a Piedmontese nobleman who had her tutored by a skilled painter of Cremona. More typical of the few female painters was Lavinia Fontana, daughter of an artist from Bologna. The greatest female painter of the late-Renaissance (or baroque) period was Artemisia Gentileschi, daughter of a successful pupil of Caravaggio. She was trained at Rome, and an incident in her training illustrates why entry into an artistic career was regarded as perilous for a woman. At age 16 she was raped by an artist to whom her father had entrusted her for training in perspective, and although (unusually for the time) her father brought legal charges against the rapist and secured a conviction, the guilty man was let off with a light penalty.

In Italy, but not in Northern countries like England, women were permitted to appear as performers on the stage, but since actresses were conventionally regarded as little better than prostitutes and were generally controlled by male producers and directors, few of them achieved personal fame and respectability. One rare exception is the Italian actress Isabella Andreini, whose contemporary reputation emphasized her high moral character as well as her abilities as a performer.

Many of these outstanding women expressed in their own literary and artistic works a keen awareness of the limitations that society placed on women. While they defied those limitations and demonstrated that women could become scholars, authors, and artists if given the chance, they often tended to justify their own activity by claiming that they had exceeded (rather than fulfilled) the capabilities of female nature.


(ca. 1330-1384). English theologian, professor of theology at Oxford. His teachings were condemned as heretical, but Wyclif himself had such powerful support from the royal family that he could not be punished, though he was forced to retire from Oxford. Wyclif himself, his political role in representing the English monarchy in a conflict with the papacy, and the doctrines regarding ecclesiastical authority and the sacraments for which the archbishop of Canterbury declared him heretical in 1382 are very much a part of medieval rather than Renaissance history, but his followers, the Lollards, were numerous until driven underground by royal persecution in the early 15 th century. The movement survived as an underground heresy of simple laymen into the early years of the English Reformation, though the degree to which it influenced the course of the Reformation in England is debatable. Wyclif’s theology also had some influence on the Czech theologian John Huss and the Hussite religious movement that became the majority religion of the kingdom of Bohemia during the 15th century. Since Wyclif’s Lollard followers stubbornly clung to his teaching that all Christians should have free access to the Bible in their own language, one effect of his career is that in pre-Reformation England, unlike most continental countries, possession of the Scriptures in English translation was regarded as prima facie evidence of heretical belief. Thus the opinion of Erasmus and other Christian humanists of the early 16th century that the Bible ought to be accessible to the people seemed far more dangerous in England than in many continental countries, where vernacular copies of parts of the Bible were relatively common and were eagerly sought by simple folk.


(1436-1517). Castilian friar, archbishop, cardinal, church reformer, and statesman; in modern Spanish, the patronymic is often spelled Jiménez. Born into an impoverished family of the lower nobility, he was early intended for the church. Educated under the direction of an uncle and sent to grammar school at the town of Alcalá de Henares, he proceeded to the University of Salamanca, where he graduated as a bachelor of laws in 1460. He then pursued a career in the secular clergy, successfully cultivating patrons and accumulating valuable benefices. About 1484, however, Ximénes underwent a spiritual conversion and renounced his pursuit of high office and wealth by entering the Observant (that is, reformed and strict) branch of the Franciscan order. Although he lived an isolated life as a friar, he maintained some contact with the royal court and his former ecclesiastical patrons and thus attracted the attention of Queen Isabella of Spain, who in 1492 summoned him to be her confessor.

Even at court Ximénes led a highly ascetic life, but his position as the queen’s spiritual adviser made him an influential figure and eventually led him to high offices of the sort he had rejected when he became a friar. His initial use of his new influence was in reform of his own order, the Franciscans. In 1495 the queen enhanced his ecclesiastical authority by having him appointed archbishop of Toledo, the primatial see of Spain and reputedly the richest bishopric in Christendom. In 1496 Ximénes became visitor of the entire Franciscan order, and the preceding year, a papal bull had authorized him to visit (that is, inspect) and reform all regular clergy in his diocese, a power extended in 1499 to cover all parts of Spain. He strove to compel undisciplined mendicant communities to return to strict observance of their original rules, though his ruthless energy in pushing such changes aroused bitter opposition. His religious zeal for conversion of non-Christians and his great influence over the pious queen suggest that he probably was a major force in the ruler’s infamous decision in 1492 to expel all Jews from Spain unless they converted to Christianity. After the conquest of the Muslim kingdom of Granada in 1492, he also began bringing such great pressure on the Muslim population that he precipitated rebellions.

The death of Queen Isabella in 1504 and then of her son and heir Philip in 1506 left the unified Spanish monarchy in jeopardy since King Ferdinand of Aragon had no legal claim to personal rule in the Castilian half of the country.

Grateful to Ximénes for pushing through this arrangement against the opposition of many Castilian nobles, Ferdinand had Ximénes made a cardinal and appointed him inquisitor general (head of the Spanish Inquisition) in 1507. When Ferdinand himself died early in 1516, the nobles again made a bid for power until Prince, now king of both Castile and Aragon, should reach his majority, but Ximénes maintained control, created a powerful military force to preserve order.The cardinal himself died in November 1517 while on his way to meet the young king upon his landing in Spain.

Ximénes was not only a vigorous church reformer and a shrewd and loyal servant of the Spanish monarchs but also a patron of Renaissance learning. He wanted the secular clergy of Spain to undergo the same kind of sweeping disciplinary reform that he had struggled to impose on the monastic orders. But he was convinced that the Spanish church could not be effectively reformed unless it had a new leadership based not on aristocratic kinship and court intrigue but on personal competence, learning, and spiritual devotion. In 1499 he began the creation of the new University of Alcalá, which he conceived as a center for the training of future leaders for the church (and also for the secular administration). He created within the university a well-endowed institute, the College of San Ildefonso, where students not only would receive book-learning but also would live under close moral supervision in an atmosphere intended to produce pious as well as learned graduates.


(1517-1590). Italian composer and music theorist. One of several talented students of Adriaan Willaert, the Flemish choirmaster of St. Mark’s at Venice, he was a native of Chioggia and from childhood aimed at a career in the church. He was educated by Franciscan friars and joined that order in 1536. Also in 1536 he was a singer at the cathedral of Chioggia. He studied theology and took minor clerical orders. In 1541 he moved to Venice to study with Willaert, and in 1565 he succeeded his fellow pupil Cipri-ano de Rore in the influential position at St. Mark’s once held by their teacher.

Zarlino published two influential books on music theory. The first was Istitutioni harmoniche / Principles of Harmony (1558), which was translated into French, German, and Dutch and which included discussion of counterpoint and the various modes defined by classical writers on music and also rules to guide composers in underlaying words to polyphonic music. His second book was Dimostrationi harmoniche, a collection of dialogues that supposedly reflect conversations of friends meeting in 1562 at the home of the ailing Willaert. His theoretical writings were sharply attacked by his own former pupil Vincenzo Galilei, and his Sopplimenti musicali / Musical Supplements (1588) was in part intended to reply to Galilei’s criticisms. In 1589 he published a four-volume collection of his writings.

Zarlino’s position at St. Mark’s required him to compose many musical works, but few of them survive. He produced both motets and madrigals, and he composed a mass for the consecration of the Venetian Church of Santa Maria della Salute as well as the music for a pageant celebrating the naval victory of the Christian powers over the Turks at Lepanto in 1571. In his writings Zarlino disagreed with extreme classicists who dismissed all modern music as defective because it did not conform to ancient theory, but he did believe that music had declined at the end of the ancient world along with all other forms of learning and that a great Renaissance of music had recently taken place, in which his master Willaert was "a new Pythagoras." In 1583 he was offered the bishopric of Chioggia but declined the honor, preferring to remain in his influential musical office at St. Mark’s.


(1461-1535). German humanist and jurist. A native of Constance, he attended the cathedral school there and in 1481 entered the University of Tübingen, where he received a B.A. degree. He then became a court clerk in the service of the bishop of Constance and rose to be head of the episcopal chancery. Concurrently, he also worked for the municipal government. He later served as town clerk at Buchhorn, Baden im Aargau, and eventually Freiburg-im-Breisgau, where he moved in 1494 and where he spent the rest of his career.

Only after becoming clerk at Freiburg did Zasius begin formal study of law at the local university. In 1496 he left the position of clerk and became head of the city’s Latin school, employment that enabled him to pursue his studies. In 1499 he resigned his teaching position in order to study full time, and in 1501 he became doctor of both laws. Although Zasius held a recognized legal doctorate, he acquired most of his very substantial legal learning through private study. He began teaching the course on Justinian’s Institutes in 1500 as a substitute for a professor and in 1501 repeated the course while also teaching poetry and rhetoric. He returned to the position of town clerk in 1502 and also served as legal counsel to the university. In 1506, after a lengthy campaign of pressure by both town and students, the faculty appointed Zasius professor of law despite resistance by some of his new colleagues. The salary was low, and he always supplemented it by working as a legal adviser and by offering room and board to students. In 1508 the Emperor Maximilian I gave him the honorary title of imperial councillor. His lectures in praise of law were eventually published as part of his Lucubrationes in 1518.

One of Zasius’ duties after reappointment as town clerk was to prepare a book of legal precedents valid in the local municipal court, together with a legal code defining the customs, statutes, and privileges of the town and linking these to the relevant sections of Roman law. The city’s law code adopted in 1520 is mostly his work. It was one of the most important legal codifications of his time, since it melded together the traditional local law and the principles of Roman law. This code remained in force until the 19th century and influenced the legal codes of other German municipalities.

At first, Zasius’ reputation as a jurist spread by word of mouth, a process speeded by the striking success of the men he trained in winning important positions in the administrations of German princes, prelates, and towns. His work in law was closely linked to his development as a humanist, and he created a broad network of influence by correspondence with other humanists, including Sebastian Brant, Geiler von Kaysersberg, Jakob Wimpheling, and the younger Thomas Wolf. He also had contact with Conrad Celtis, Gian-francesco Pico della Mirandola, Willibald Pirckheimer and Mu-tianus Rufus. His favorite student, Bonifacius Amerbach, who later became professor of law at Basel, brought him into touch with Erasmus. In the earliest years of the Reformation, Zasius expressed sympathy for the teachings of Martin Luther, but as he realized that Luther’s movement was dividing the church and also learned that Luther had contemptuously burned a copy of the canon law, he turned against the Saxon reformer, earlier and more bitterly than most German humanists did. When Erasmus moved to Freiburg after the city of Basel had become officially Protestant in 1529, Zasius welcomed him and helped arrange for his place of residence.

Although Zasius did not begin publishing early in his career, he produced a number of influential legal works, including an early (1508) tract urging the forcible baptism of Jewish children; his collected essays on law, the Lucubrationes (1518); a treatise against the theologian Johann Eck (1519), dealing with Eck’s defense of the legality of charging interest on loans; and In usus feudorum epitome (1535), a study of feudal law. His works were collected and published as his Opera omnia (1550) in seven volumes that included his lecture courses and his formal legal judgments. Although Zasius had much of the bumptious combativeness typical of an autodidact, he became influential in the development of German humanism, in his professional field of jurisprudence, and in the very early stages of Catholic opposition to the Reformation.


(1484-1531). Swiss religious reformer, the first major figure of the Reformed (later often called Calvinist) branch of Protestantism. Although he primarily figures in history as a leader of the Reformation in Zürich and as the first systematic defender of the Sacramentarian doctrine of the Eucharist, Zwingli began his career as a young priest who was attracted to humanism. He studied classical languages at Bern (1496-1498) and then pursued traditional scholastic subjects at the University of Basel (B.A. 1504, M.A. 1506). When he moved from Basel to become pastor at Glarus, he continued his study of Greek language and the Church Fathers, and these interests led him to the study of the Bible and into the circle of young Swiss admirers of the biblical humanist Erasmus.

Zwingli matured as a preacher at Glarus and the great pilgrimage center at Einsiedeln, and when he moved to Zürich as the city’s principal preacher in 1519.

His early preaching was inspired by Erasmus’ biblical scholarship and conception of religion as the "philosophy of Christ," but his sermons increasingly reflected Lutheran influence, more than Zwingli ever acknowledged or even realized, though he honored Luther as a great religious leader. At Zürich, Zwingli moved from a reform-minded humanism to an evangelical or Protestant perspective. He led the city in its sharp break away from traditional Catholic doctrine and religious practice and then worked to spread his ideas through the rest of Switzerland, an effort that generated conflict with those Swiss cantons that remained firmly Catholic, giving rise to a civil war that in 1531 led to his death in battle.

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