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German History in Documents and Images
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Elector Frederick III of Saxony, called "the Wise" (early 16th century)
Saxon elector Frederick III (“the Wise”) (1463-1525) provided critical support to Martin Luther. Although Frederick was a devout Catholic, he protected Luther after the Diet of Worms (1521) by having him “abducted” and kept in hiding at the Wartburg. Frederick’s motives for supporting the Protestant reformer were largely political, for his efforts aimed to curtail the power of the increasingly mercenary Papal States. In 1505, Frederick engaged Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553) as his court painter in Wittenberg. This Cranach portrait of Frederick (“the Wise”) is part of a triptych depicting the last three Saxon electors of the Ernestine line: Fredrick, his brother John (“the Constant”), and John’s son, John Frederick (“the Magnanimous”). Oil painting after Lucas Cranach the Elder, early 16th century.