Michael Schulteis: Student in Wittenberg

By Wilibald Gurlitt

Translator’s Preface

The following was translated from Wilibald Gurlitt’s Michael Praetorius (Creuzbergensis): Sein Leben und Seine Werke (Michael Praetorius [of Creuzburg]: His Life and His Works) (Leipzig: Druck von Breitkopf & Härtel, 1915), p. 9-10. This is the third in a series of posts on Michael Praetorius.

For more on the author, click here. For more on this particular work of the author, read the Translator’s Preface here.

This section picks up after Michael Schulteis, Michael Praetorius’ father, has enrolled at the University of Wittenberg during the winter semester of 1528, at about age 13. Though we have no personal recollections from Schulteis about his time in Wittenberg, Gurlitt is able to put us in his shoes anyway by citing the recollections of a man who enrolled at the university on May 30, 1529, at the age of 24, Johannes Mathesius. (I was startled to discover that Mathesius’ series of sermons on Luther’s life, a sine qua non for any serious Luther biographer or Reformation historian, has not yet appeared in English.)

The bracketed [ ] interpolations in the Mathesius excerpt are Gurlitt’s, except for those that contain the original German. For the sake of translation accuracy, I consulted four editions of Mathesius’ work:

  • Historien von des Ehrwirdigen in Gott Seligen thewren Manns Gottes, Doctoris Martini Luthers, anfang, lehr, leben und sterben (Nuremberg, 1566), folios 81, 82. (See link under “Sources” on the right.)
  • A. J. D. Rust, ed., Leben Dr. Martin Luthers, in siebzehn Predigten (Berlin: Verlag von G. Crantz, 1841), p. 105-106, 107.
  • Dr. Martin Luthers Leben (St. Louis: Druckerei des Lutherischen Concordia-Verlags [Concordia Publishing House], 1883), p. 125-126, 128.
  • The edition Gurlitt used for his citation (rf. Endnote 1).

Michael Schulteis: Student in Wittenberg

Master Johannes Mathesius, who spent his first semester at the University of Wittenberg in 1529, paints a vivid picture of student life at that time. Among other things, he relates the following from that year:

[S]ince Doctor Johann Pommer, pastor in Wittenberg, was absent at this time [Bugenhagen was in Hamburg], being regularly called upon to organize churches and schools in the land of Saxony [Lower Saxony], our Doctor [Luther] preached three or four sermons every week. In them he expounded the Sunday Gospels, the Gospel of John, and chapters 19 and 20 of the second book of Moses in a wise and Christian manner. It was also at that time, on St. James’ Day [July 25], that he beautifully applied the legends of St. Christopher to all preachers and Christian people who carry Jesus Christ in their heart and arms, guard their conscience, and help other people, and who receive nothing but ingratitude from the world and false brothers for doing so.

During this year I also heard, in the first place, the Catechism and many other comforting doctrines expounded, by Doctor Justus Jonas [theological dean from 1523-1533] in the castle [the collegiate Castle Church] and by the three deacons, Master Georg Rörer, Johann Mantel, and Master Sebastian Fröschel [in the parish church]. Now, just as the Parish Church and Castle Church were very well managed at that time, and the word of Christ was wisely taught in good harmony and produced much fruit, so also the university was held in the highest honor at that time.

From the Doctor [Luther] I heard the last 22 chapters in the prophet Isaiah expounded in the course of perhaps forty weeks. From these lectures I often returned home filled with comfort and joy [confidence].

From Mr. [Herrn] Philipp [Melanchthon], the faithful and diligent professor, I heard during this short time a portion of Cicero’s Orations and the beautiful Latin oration pro Archia. During this year I also heard him lecture on the entire dialectics [logic], which he dictated to us afresh, together with rhetoric [including homiletics]. In the morning this great man explained the epistle to the Romans; on Wednesday he lectured on honorable ethics and virtue from Aristotle’s Ethica or book of ethics. We debated or gave speeches [declamiret] on this every week. Mr. Johann Bugenhagen [who returned to Wittenberg in June of 1529] expounded the epistles to the Corinthians; Doctor Jonas expounded several Psalms. Aurogallus [Matthäus Goldhahn, d. 1543] lectured on his Hebrew grammar and Psalm 119. Master Franz [Burchart] of Weimar lectured on Greek, Tulichius [died as rector in Lüneburg in 1540] on Cicero’s De officiis, Master Vach [Balthasar Fabricius from Vacha an der Werra] on Virgil. The old Master [Johannes] Volmar lectured on the Theoricas planetarum,* Master [Jakob] Mülich on the sphere.† Master Caspar Creuziger lectured on Terence to the young students in the paedagogium at this time.‡ The private schools were excellently managed in the same way. Master Winsheim [Veit Örtel from Windsheim], Master Kilian Goldstein, Master [Veit] Amerbach, and Master Erasmus Reinhold, and soon afterwards Master [Johannes] Marcellus, Mr. Georg Maior [Major], and Master [Paul] Eber all kept their students in good discipline and diligently lectured and repeated.

There was also good peace and harmony between students and townspeople. …

… We all lived and sang in our choir [hatten unser Canterey] with joy and in good spirits, in love and friendship. Moreover, from the lips of the old men, for whom we juveniles had an honorable awe and reverence, fell many good speeches and stories which I diligently retained. And because it was precisely Mr. Philipp who lectured on dialectics, we had very good discussions consisting of questions and instruction in these and other lectures. There was also no excessive or immature eating, drinking, or entertainment; everyone tended to his studies for which he had come to the place…1

These captivating recollections were written down in the years 1562-1564. Many a detail in them would seem distorted by the passage of time, which tends to make the past more glorious. However, the great and significant thing that was alive in Wittenberg at that time still sounds out clearly on every side of this small portrait of time, which gives an accurate glimpse into the quiet sphere of the inner life of this great time, into the world which a young Wittenberg student experienced in those days, and into the wealth of stimuli and the abundance of important personalities whom he encountered on a daily basis and who filled his soul with sublime happiness.

In these incomparable surroundings, united by uniform convictions and common goals, Michael Schulteis also laid the foundation of his comprehensive education, which would set him apart from so many of his brothers in the ministry in the varied struggles of his life.

We first have to imagine the young Schulteis, occupied with the subjects of the trivium, as a student in one of those numerous Wittenberg “private schools,” which had arisen in the home of various professors according to Melanchthon’s standard. It is uncertain how long this course of study lasted for Schulteis. It is also uncertain when he obtained in Wittenberg the lowest academic degree, the honor of a Bachelor of Arts – or if he did at all;2 his later mention as such may have been merely a professional designation. For indeed, by March 22, 1534, he has been appointed as a Bachelor at the Latin school in Torgau; on that day he receives a pay raise of 10 florins from the council.3 He thus seems to have belonged to the teaching profession for some time already, the customary first step toward the preaching ministry. His outward circumstances were apparently quite poor, which also would have taken him away from his studies in Wittenberg prematurely.


* This might refer to Giovanni Campano’s (also called Campanus von Novara) influential work Theorica Planetarum (1261-1264).

† That is, the sphere of the heavenly bodies, since the universe was thought to be arranged in a series of revolving, concentrically arranged spherical shells in which the heavenly bodies were set in a fixed relationship. Today we would call this astronomy.

Heath’s New German and English Dictionary (1939) defines Pädagogium as a “secondary school (usually a private educational institution); college; academy; cramming establishment [or cram school].” The Journal of Education, ed. Henry Barnard (Hartford, CT: F. C. Brownell, 1860), in part 2 of its “History of the University of Tübingen,” dealing with the years 1535-1652, reads: “For better preparation in the languages, two preparatory schools were adjoined to the university proper; a ‘Trivial School,’ for the rudiments [of grammar, rhetoric, and logic], and a ‘Paedagogium’ immediately preceding entrance to the university. An eminently fit person was to be made ‘Paedagogarch,’ with three masters to assist him; and they were principally to teach grammar and rhetoric; to read with their pupils Terence, Virgil, and Cicero’s epistles; to make them compose a poem (carmen) and an epistle (epistolam); to instruct them in music, both simple and figured, and to sing with them, sometimes after meals, a motet or a psalm” (p. 70). A footnote says that the Paedagogium in Tübingen lasted until the Thirty Years’ War. It appears that the University of Wittenberg had a somewhat similar arrangement.

1 Johannes Mathesius, Luthers Leben in Predigten, in Ausgewählte Werke, ed. G. Loesche (Prague, 1898), 3:159ff.

2 Cf. Jul. Köstlin, Die Baccalaurei und Magistri der Wittenb. philosoph. Fakultät 1518-1537 (Halle, 1888), p. 14, where the conferrals from the years 1525-1532 are missing, with the note (fn. 4): “There seem to have been no conferrals in these years, partially due to the disturbances occasioned by Carlstadt and partially due to plague.”

3 Karl Pallas, Die Registraturen der Kirchenvisitationen im ehemals sächsischen Kurkreise, in Geschichtsquellen der Provinz Sachsen und angrenzender Gebiete, vol. 41, sect. 2, part 4 (Halle, 1911), p. 16.


Administering the Lord’s Supper with Juice

By Gerhard Wilde

Translator’s Preface

The following was translated from Gerhard Wilde’s “Abendmahl mit Saft,” in Theologische Handreichung und Information (Theological Tutoring and Information), 1984, no. 1, p. 11. THI is published by the faculty of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Leipzig, the seminary for the ELFK, one of the sister synods of the WELS.

President Gaylin Schmeling of Bethany Lutheran Seminary in Mankato, MN, wrote about Gerhard Wilde in 2011:

Pastor Gerhard Wilde faithfully served as president of the ELFK from 1978 to 2002 when he retired from the presidency. Throughout his presidency he stood firm on the doctrine of inerrant Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. Most of the present pastors of the ELFK had President Wilde as their vicarage supervisor and were ordained by him.

Discussions about “the fruit of the vine” in the Lord’s Supper seem to be materializing more in WELS circles. The translator presents the following brief by Pastor Wilde in order to bring yet another perspective into the discussion. In the original, the article is followed by a quote from Luther’s Table Talk (Weimarer Ausgabe2 10, 222f), in which Luther says that it is better to go without the Sacrament than to receive but half of it.

May our gracious Lord preserve us in the sacramental doctrine of the Holy Scriptures, whole, pure, and sound.

Administering the Lord’s Supper with Juice

Administering the Lord’s Supper with juice has come into vogue wherever minors are already being admitted to the Sacrament, such as in Methodist congregations. But how are children supposed to be able to examine in the right manner and distinguish the body of the Lord from other foods (1Co 11:28f) before they are even duty-bound to go to school?

But now, even in congregations of the Lutheran State Church of Saxony, the Sacrament is being offered with juice for members who are recovering alcoholics. That’s what Thomas Küttler reports in an article in Der Sonntag1 (1984, no. 2). As an even better solution, he suggests “the omission of the second form in the Lord’s Supper.” Although he concedes that the Reformers’ demand that the cup be offered to all is indispensable for an evangelical church, he advises against making any special provision for recovering alcoholics, but that they should instead be passed by with the cup and then specifically encouraged with the words: “Christ’s blood was also shed for you.” With this advice he would like to provide some food for thought before a practice (using juice) gets established which can be harmonized with the biblical findings only with difficulty, if at all, and a piece of the unity on this point lets itself be called into question. This article was published without commentary.

When congregations had no wine for celebrating the Lord’s Supper after the War,2 they took it as a judgment of God, because they had often taken the Sacrament for granted. Should not a person also summon up the courage to testify to the judgment of God with sickness that has been contracted through the misuse of God’s gift in the wine3? If the second form of the Lord’s Supper is omitted, can people still be sure that they are really celebrating the Lord’s Supper there? Would the administration of the Sacrament still be taking place according to its institution?


1 Der Sonntag (“The Sunday”) is the weekly paper for the Evangelical Lutheran State Church of Saxony still today.

2 For Germans, World War II can simply be referred to as der Krieg, “the War.”

3 Namely alcohol, which in itself is yet another of God’s good gifts to mankind (1 Timothy 4:3-5).

Michael Schulteis: Youth in Bunzlau

By Wilibald Gurlitt

Translator’s Preface

The following was translated from Wilibald Gurlitt’s Michael Praetorius (Creuzbergensis): Sein Leben und Seine Werke (Michael Praetorius [of Creuzburg]: His Life and His Works) (Leipzig: Druck von Breitkopf & Härtel, 1915), p. 7-9. This is the second in a series of posts on Michael Praetorius.

For more on the author, click here. For more on this particular work of the author, read the Translator’s Preface here.

As you will see, not much can be said about the youth of Michael Schulteis, Michael Praetorius’ father, until he enrolled at the University of Wittenberg in 1528. However, Gurlitt does describe the intellectual and spiritual mood of Schulteis’ hometown during his youth, as well as make some interesting conjectures about Schulteis’ ancestry.

Michael Schulteis: Youth in Bunzlau

Michael Schulteis was born around 1515 in Bunzlau am Bober.1* We do not have any authoritatively certified reports about his early childhood and upbringing, the life of his parents, or the origin of his family. The Bunzlau City Archives are unorganized and unfit for research at present,2 and do not seem to preserve any records from the first quarter of the 16th century.3 The city’s church records only go back to 1740.4 Even the detailed chronicle of Bunzlau by E. Wernicke, which carefully records every accessible detail of the city’s history, does not offer any reliable clues as to the Schulteis family history. Therefore we can only offer conjectures about the ancestry of Michael Schulteis.

It is plausible that he is connected with the long-established Scholtz family that was especially distinguished in the city’s history at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries,5 although their Silesian descendants in the 17th century usually latinized their name as Scultetus, not Praetorius.6 This postulation seems to be supported by the expressly used name “M. Scholtz” in a call letter (Berufungsschreiben) dated July 30, 1544, issued by the council in Haynau, which was well acquainted with the civil circumstances in nearby Bunzlau.7

Among the members of the Scholtz family who are referred to in the first two decades of the 16th century in Wernicke’s chronicle, four of them earned the right to work as masters in the guild of furriers and cloth-workers in Bunzlau: Georg, Jakob and two men both named Hans.8 Wernicke also identifies three other men named Scholtz – Peter, Wolfgang, and Gregor, the neglected sons of the hereditary patron (Erbvogt) Anselm Scholtz9 – but as unprincipled men they are out of the question. Plus, most of the important preaching personalities of the old Protestant church who did not merely “join the cause of the gospel for the sake of the belly” came precisely from the manual laboring class of the cities that were on the rise.10 It seems best, then, to look for the Schulteis forefather (Michael Praetorius’ grandfather) among the Scholtzes in Bunzlau who were master ferriers and cloth-workers. Perhaps in the future, when the Bunzlau archives are rendered accessible for once, we can still hope to find some documentary reports about the Schulteis family. Given the current state of affairs, these conjectures will have to suffice.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, the city of Bunzlau was known far and wide as the homeland of famous Silesians, especially poets,11 though certainly the singular Martin Opitz alone carried its name throughout the world. Thus Andreas Tscherning, likewise a native of Bunzlau and, after Opitz, probably the best among the city’s poetic greats,12 sang about his hometown in his Spring of German Poems (Deutscher Gedichte Frühling) (1642):

… Who does not know firsthand
That the town, despite its size, is still a fatherland
Of such distinguished people, who multiply its name?13

For the small city on the Bober, whose cultivation and prosperity have been much extolled,14 it was a significant day when, two weeks after the public victory of the Protestant cause cause in Breslau, Jakob Süssenbach, a former student of the Wittenberg university, delivered the first evangelical sermon in the Bunzlau parish church on May 8, 1524.15 This also marked the beginning of a new, truly productive era for the city. Reformation-friendly currents had probably been spread along the Bober, just as elsewhere in Silesia, before Luther’s conscience-liberating doctrine made its public entrance. But how impressively the Reformer’s personal action of conviction was perceived as a furthering of freedom and of true progress of the culture in precisely this city as well – a poem of Tscherning still expresses that in unmistakable terms a hundred years later when the poet celebrates Luther as the “ancestor (Ahnen)” of Bunzlau’s intellectual greatness.16 Accordingly the resistance that the introduction of the new doctrine experienced in the churches of Bunzlau was only a remarkably feeble one. The last Catholic priest of the city, Master Johannes, was no man of determined opposition; there was a saying about him among the common folk: “Nice and easy, just like the priest in Bunzel (Bunzlau).”17

Only the discussions with the clergy and monks of Bunzlau’s Dominican cloister took on violent forms. These often turned into ugly, spiteful, public bickerings, whose vulgar crudeness was ill suited to inspire a high opinion of the condition of Catholic spirituality in the religiously inclined Schulteis boy, who witnessed these coarse scenes as some of the earliest reminiscences of his youth. On the other hand, the pastor Jakob Süssenbach, who lived in Bunzlau in close contact with the Wittenberg circle of reformers until 1532,18 may have gained influence with the boy, familiarized him with the new religious views, and perhaps personally recommended him to Wittenberg. For there, in the winter semester of 1528, Schulteis was matriculated as “Michael Schultze Boleslauien[sis] dioc[esis] Vratislauien[sis]” (Michael Schultze of Bunzlau in the Diocese of Breslau).19


1 Boleslav in Bohemian, whence the Latin name Boleslavia (Civitas Boleslaviensis). The common folk called it der Bun(t)zel. Cf. Ewald Wernicke, Chronik der Stadt Bunzlau (1884), p. 9. The copy of the Bunzlau chronicle by Fr. Holstein mentioned on p. iv of Wernicke’s Chronik is in the possession of the Leipzig University Library (Cod. Ms. 1567). It does not contain any essential reports that go above and beyond Wernicke’s thorough work.

* Today this is the Polish city Bolesławiec.

2 Communication from Mr. Richter, the present mayor of Bunzlau (September 28, 1912).

3 Wernicke, op. cit., p. 4f.

4 Jungnitz and Eberlein, Die Kirchenbücher Schlesiens beider Confessionen (Breslau: Verein für Geschichte und Altertum Schlesiens, 1902), p. 8.

5 Wernicke, op. cit., p. 151f.

6 Ibid., p. 479.

7 Original in the Public Record Office (Staatsarchiv) in Weimar: Reg. Ll., p. 197, no. 138a, 7a.

8 Wernicke, op. cit., p. 163, 215.

9 Ibid., p. 151.

10 Cf. Paul Drews, Der evangelische Geistliche in der deutschen Vergangenheit (Jena, 1905).

11 Wernicke, op. cit., p. 278, 468ff.

12 Cf. H. Heinrich Borcherdt, “A. Tscherning” in Ein Beitrag zur Literatur- und Kulturgeschichte des 17. Jahrh. (Leipzig-München, 1912).

13 Wernicke, op. cit., p. 468.

14 Ibid., p. 278ff.

15 Ibid., p. 171. On J. Süssenbach, rf. p. 165ff.

16 Imparted ibid., p. 166.

17 Wernicke, op. cit., p. 131.

18 Ibid., p. 172.

19 C. Ed. Foerstemann, Album Academiae Vitebergensis (Leipzig, 1841), 1:133, b, no. 38. Also cf. Wernicke, op. cit., p. 279, and Enders and Kawerau, Luthers Briefwechsel, 12:244, note 3.

Michael Schulteis: Historical Background

By Wilibald Gurlitt

Translator’s Preface

The following was translated from Wilibald Gurlitt’s Michael Praetorius (Creuzbergensis): Sein Leben und Seine Werke (Michael Praetorius [of Creuzburg]: His Life and His Works) (Leipzig: Druck von Breitkopf & Härtel, 1915), p. 1-7.

After the title itself, the title page reads:

Inaugural dissertation
for the attainment of the doctor’s degree
of the philosophical faculty
of the University of Leipzig

Submitted by Wilibald Gurlitt
of Dresden

The inside of the title page reads:

Accepted by the philosophical-historical department on the basis of the recommendation of Mr. Riemann and Mr. Köster.
Leipzig: May 5, 1914. Pro-Chancellor: Kirchner.

On November 11, 1914, in consideration of the situation of the candidate, who was wounded near Sompuis on September 9 as Lieutenant of the Reserve in the 1st (Personal) Grenadier Regiment no. 100 and taken captive by the French on September 10, the philosophical faculty resolved to make an exception and disregard the stipulation of §15, Section 4 of the Conferral Manual (Promotionsordnung), namely that the delivered dissertation is to be printed in its entirety. In keeping with this resolution, only the first few chapters of the dissertation have been printed here. The entire dissertation will appear in the same publication, as soon as the circumstances make this possible.

The next page reads:


The life of Michael Schulteis,
father of Michael Praetorius Creuzbergensis,
up until his move to Creuzburg an der Werra

The translation that follows is the introduction in this Introduction.

In reading it, it will not be difficult for you to detect that this work was prepared as a doctoral dissertation. Even with my efforts at simplification, the sentences remain incredibly complex. Gurlitt is unleashing the full force of his university education and scholarship. However, the language is not nearly so difficult as to be insurmountable for the interested reader.

You can read an introduction to this series, as well as a brief autobiography of the author, here. Numbered endnotes are original; those designated with a symbol are the translator’s.

May God lead us to see in this history, as in all others, his powerful, guiding, and gracious hand, working everything out for the good of his redeemed children and the advancement of his kingdom.

Michael Schulteis: Historical Background

The province of Silesia, which did not enjoy imperial immediacy but belonged to the Bohemian Crown, was affected very powerfully and early on by the movement of the German Reformation. Most powerfully and earliest affected was the province’s capital city, Breslau, the Bohemian Wratislav.*

One of the oldest and most important economic arteries of middle Germany was the inland trade route which ran from Poland through Breslau, Görlitz, Leipzig, Erfurt, and Eisenach, then southward to Frankfurt am Main, and northward through Kassel to the Rhine. Through this trade route, Silesia was directly linked to the motherland of the Reformation in the 16th century. The lively traffic on this great trade route quickly familiarized the cities along the route with the events in Saxony that were changing the course of history, and it kept them thoroughly informed of their development. Thus Nikolaus Pol1 is already quite animated in his contemporary annual chronicles of the city of Breslau as he recounts how the first Reformation writings from Wittenberg and Leipzig had “been sent to Breslau for some fellows who were locked up in the prison in Schweidnitz [die im Schweidnitzer Keller gesessen], which they in turn had shared with other inhabitants, so that in short time the whole city has been filled with God’s word.”2

Already in 1519 Luther’s Resolutions on the propositions of the Leipzig Disputation, in which the Reformer for the first time set forth the principles of his doctrine and his plan of action in extensive detail,3 were reprinted in the Silesian capital city.4 The bonds of friendship that had been tied between Luther and Johann Thurzo, Bishop of Breslau, who even had one of his canons study in Wittenberg,5 were destroyed by the sudden death of this “best bishop of the century,” as Luther called him. Although the successor to the bishopric of Breslau, Jakob von Salza, was no friend of the Wittenberger’s doctrines, he no longer had any deciding influence on Breslau’s religious development due to the growing reformatory mood in the city. The clergyman repeatedly feared that the people were going to rise up against him.

Finally, on May 20, 1523, the city council publicly revealed the sympathies for the Reformation that they had already cherished in secret for a long time by calling Johann Hess, the eventual reformer of Silesia, to St. Mary Magdalene Church as the first evangelical preacher of the city.6 Hess was Thurzo’s secretary at one time and was a close friend and student of Melanchthon. Since the bishop refused to install him, the council invested him with the pastorate on their own authority. It later justified this bold move, which would become typical for Silesia, with the words: “So long as we are building the churches and schools ourselves, it is to our way of thinking not unreasonable that we also choose pastors and schoolmasters ourselves.”7 One year later Johann Hess held his influential Breslau Disputation on the principles of the evangelical doctrine, which sealed the victory of Reformation ideals in Silesia. By the following year Protestantism had become so indigenous to Breslau’s pulpits that the publisher Adam Dyon, who had immigrated from Nürnberg, obviated a need felt everywhere when he published the first evangelical hymnal for Silesia, including Luther’s famous hymnal preface, on the Wednesday after Easter in 1525.8 Shortly before this the Reformation in Silesia had been absolutely diffused in every direction when the following decree was issued at the Diet at Grottkau by the secular princes and collective estates of the province in their unanimously passed requirement regarding spirituality: “That the holy gospel be preached freely and unhindered according to the meaning of Holy Scripture, and that people freely conform to the same, irrespective of all men.”9

From Breslau the movement then quickly spread even to the remotest districts of the province.

The already mentioned report of Pol, the chronicler of Breslau, about the secret literary circulation of reformatory views also shows the peculiar character of the Silesian Reformation movement in general. No violent outward struggles were needed here in order to help Protestantism’s new religious evaluation (Wertgebung) and view of life to reach a breakthrough. The intense convulsions of the social and political scene, which the Protestant world of ideas brought along elsewhere when it penetrated into the ecclesiastical system of the Middle Ages, are absent here. Quietly, with virtually no opposition, in a relatively peaceable, continually progressing development of ecclesiastical-social conditions, Protestantism took over the powerful churches of Breslau and drew the ever expanding and increasingly influential circles of its mastery into Silesia.

As he considered this extraordinary course of events in Breslau, Luther wrote to his most intimate friend George Spalatin on February 1, 1524: “All of this has happened in order that the stupid princes and bishops may see for once that it is not Luther, a man of no consequence, who is doing these things and being condemned by them, but the omnipotent Christ – if they were but worthy to see it.”10

Over against Luther’s religious take on the development of the Silesian Reformation, suitable for his time, general historical factors can be adduced by which the brilliant unfolding of the Protestant spirit in Silesia is conducted.† Permit me to call special attention to the factors important for understanding the Silesian Reformation.

Between the protecting walls of the commercial cities in Silesia, new and popular existential ideals of an ethical and religious nature had arisen in the aspiring industrial associations of civil society (the guild system, or Zunftverfassung). After the spiritual-religious interests had been separated from the secular-political interests, the individualization of piety and of the spiritual life in general on the one hand, and the capitalism emerging from the growing commercial mindset of the blossoming cities on the other, combined to produce an independence of the urban culture in Silesia that was ahead of its time. Just as in ecclesiastical matters the magistrates of the cities acted in opposition to the bishopric, so also the princes of the province acted in opposition to the Bohemian Crown, to which they belonged, just as independently and as willfully as the German imperial estates had in opposition to Charles V. How else would it have been possible for cities and princes to continue openly disobeying a royal prohibition as strict as the one issued at Christmas of 1521 to the Silesian estates, forbidding Luther’s doctrine and the sale of his writings?11

Out of this opposition of the cities and princes to the ruling crown of the province grew independent centers of economic prosperity and spiritual cultivation. As happened everywhere, these centers furthered the dissolution of the Middle Age culture of Christian unity wherever they sprang up.

Connected to the large-scale commercial trade and robust education in the province are also the manifold personal connections of the academic youth and great historical personalities of Silesia with the Wittenberg circle of reformers, which were maintained in active correspondence. Traveling merchants, booksellers, letter carriers (the so-called tabellarii), military personnel, intimate friends, students, and all kinds of vagrants brought the “news (Kunde)” and “all the latest (neuen Zeitungen)” from Wittenberg – for which Melanchthon was the spiritual point of contact – to Breslau, and vice versa. Both cities maintained a lively, mutual news exchange.12 And how many Silesian students have been recommended to the University of Wittenberg by clergy and laity, by a Johann Hess, Valentin Trotzendorf, Ambrosius Moiban, Crato von Krafthein, and others! On the other hand, how little Johann Hess might have accomplished – fainthearted man that he was, repeatedly despairing of his reformatory calling – if not for the strong and faithful support that he enjoyed in the friendship of the Wittenberg reformers!

However, the most significant factor at work in this reformatory movement is and remains, naturally, the specific religious one. This preceded all the others and made the deepest impact.

The religious culture of Silesia in the 16th century must be understood on the basis of its historical connection with the culture of both Slavic-Hussite Bohemia and Germanic-Lutheran Saxony. For, as commanding and powerful as Luther’s influence on the development of Silesia’s religiosity was, the religious forces that paved his way and supported him cannot be underestimated. These forces had worked themselves out in the form of a pre-reformatory national church body in Bohemia during the popular disturbances of the Hussite movement, and these forces continued to exert a powerful effect for a long time afterward, for example, in the German Huss-drama and chiefly in the German hymns of the Bohemian Brethren. Silesia’s close religious connection to Saxony and Bohemia clearly manifests itself in the life story of Michael Weisse, the most influential among the hymn writers of the Bohemian Brethren.13 We also know what value Luther himself attached to the Bohemian Brethren’s doctrine of faith,14 and how he constantly kept abreast of the events taking place in Silesia.15

But now, just as the political history of Silesia seems to govern a general inclination toward progressive Germanization of the province, so also in the history of Silesian religiosity an unmistakable receding of Slavic principles presents itself. Just as Luther far outgrew John Huss; just as the mother university of Prague, at one time the gathering place for all that was learned in Silesia, increasingly lost its power of attraction over against the rapidly blossoming city of Wittenberg; so it is evident everywhere that Bohemia in the first quarter of the 16th century is relinquishing its predominance in Silesia to Saxony, and during this change the startling rise of the Silesian culture takes root in the period that follows. Decisive for this change are the two victories of the Germanic-Protestant spirit in Silesia that were won without a fight: that of Johann Hess over the royal and episcopal representatives at the Breslau Disputation (April 20, 1524), and that of the Hapsburg archduke Ferdinand over William duke of Bavaria as the successor of King Ludwig when the new king of Bohemia was chosen (October 23, 1526).

The significance of Silesia in the history of German spirituality is founded in this tendency toward the Germanic-Protestant culture, and in the cooperation afforded by religious subjectivity and the national political power struggle.

It was in the midst of this great spiritual movement in Silesia that Michael Schulteis (Schultheiss16 = Latin: praetor), the father of Michael Praetorius Creuzbergensis (M. P. C.17), grew up.


* Today this is the Polish city Wrocław.

1 Cf. L. v. Ranke, Deutsche Geschichte im Zeitalter der Reformation, 8th ed. (Leipzig, 1909), 2:325, note 1. Ranke gives considerable attention to the history of the Reformation in Silesia, op. cit., 2:259ff and 2:324ff. He has not pursued the influence of religious circumstances on the shaping of the political history of Silesia, although he expressly acknowledges it as “a very important question, which merited even closer attention” (op. cit., 2:296).

2 D. Erdmann, “Luther und seine Beziehungen zu Schlesien, insbesondere zu Breslau” [Luther and His Connections to Silesia, Especially to Breslau], in Schriften des Vereins für Reform.-Geschichte, no. 19 (Halle, 1887), p. 2.

3 Cf. the outline of the content of the resolutions in Julius Köstlin, Martin Luther, 5th ed., rev. Gust. Kawerau (Berlin, 1903), 1:255.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid., 1:308.

6 Köstlin, op. cit., 1:611f.

7 Erdmann, op. cit., 24f.

8 Ph. Wackernagel, Bibliographie zur Geschichte des deutschen Kirchenliedes im XVI. Jahrhundert (Frankfurt a. M., 1855), p. 70, no. 183: Eyn gesang Buchlien Geystlicher gesenge Psalmen, eynem ytzlichen Christen fast [sehr] nutzlich bey sich zu haben, in stetter vbung vnd trachtung… Gedruckt yn diser koniglichen stadt Breslaw durch adam dyon auß gegangen… [A little songbook of spiritual Psalm poems, exceedingly useful for every single Christian to have with himself in constant use and meditation… Printed in this royal city Breslau and issued by Adam Dyon…]

9 Erdmann, op. cit., 69.

10 Enders and Kawerau, Luthers Briefwechsel, 4:296.

† With the prepositional phrase “Over against Luther’s religious take” and the adjectival phrase “suitable for his time,” Gurlitt seems subtly to dismiss Luther’s analysis and belittle the religiosity of the times in which he lived. Luther’s analysis is admittedly simplistic; God was certainly using many other social, political, economic, and religious factors to bring about the victory of the Reformation in Silesia. But these two approaches are hardly contradictory. Luther’s analysis was correct.

11 Erdmann, op. cit., p. 3.

12 R. Grasshoff, Die briefliche Zeitung des XVI. Jahrhunderts (Leipzig Dissertation, 1877), p. 29.

13 R. Wolkan, Das deutsche Kirchenlied der Böhmischen Brüder im XVI. Jahrhundert (Prague, 1891), p. 5ff.

14 Cf. Köstlin, op. cit., 2:356ff and 2:577f.

15 Ibid., 1:611f. Otto Schmid’s study, Die böhmische Altmeisterschule Czernohorskys (Leipzig, 1901), attempts to follow Bohemia’s influence on the development of music up until the period of Viennese classicism.

16 Apart from these two spellings, which are the most frequently used, the following deviations also occur: Schuldtheiss, Schultheis, Schultes, Schultis, Schultze, Schulze, Schultz, and Scholtz.

17 The letter C in this initialism has nothing to do with Capellmeister (court music director).

Autobiography of Wilibald Gurlitt (1914)

Translator’s Preface

2017, the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, is fast approaching. I have been giving some thought as to how Red Brick Parsonage might contribute to the celebration, and I think I have hit upon the answer.

In 1915 Breitkopf and Härtel of Leipzig printed the introduction and first two chapters of Wilibald Gurlitt’s inaugural dissertation on Michael Praetorius of Creuzburg. That material alone took up 138 pages, and does not include the final two chapters which are available in manuscript and galley-proofs both in the University of Freiburg Archives and in the Duke August Library in Wolfenbüttel, the city where Praetorius passed away.

On page 139 of the dissertation, Gurlitt included a brief autobiography, detailing his life from the date of his birth up to the year he delivered the dissertation. If you wish to read more about Gurlitt’s life, you can check out the English or German Wikipedia articles on him. You can see a picture of his father here, and of the man himself here.

God willing, this translation of Gurlitt’s autobiography will be the preface to a series of posts which, in their sum total, will provide you with a complete translation of Gurlitt’s defining work on the great Lutheran composer and musicologist, Michael Praetorius. It is certainly fitting that, as we prepare to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, we become better acquainted with Praetorius and his work. But in studying the origins of Praetorius, we will by necessity also acquaint ourselves with the history and development of the Lutheran Reformation itself.

God grant that this journey may be a blessed one, and may lead us to marvel all the more at our omnipotent God and his magnificent and merciful works.

Autobiography of Wilibald Gurlitt (1914)

I, Wilibald Gurlitt, was born on March 1, 1889, in Dresden to the university professor Cornelius Gurlitt. I am of Evangelical Lutheran confession. In Dresden I attended the St. Anne Semi-Classical Secondary School (Annenrealgymnasium)1 and passed the maturity examination (Reifeprüfung)2 in Easter of 1908. I studied at the Universities of Heidelberg and Leipzig, predominantly philosophy and the history of civilization at first, but later chiefly music science, in particular the history of music in the 16th and 17th centuries.

I began my practical training in music during my schooling in Dresden as a private student of Erdmann Warwas (violin) and Clemens Braun (theory), continued it in Heidelberg with Professor Philipp Wolfrum (counterpoint) and Karl Hasse (organ), and later on my own. For lasting artistic advancement I owe a debt of thanks to Professor Karl Straube, organist at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig.

From April 1, 1909, to March 31, 1910, I fulfilled my compulsory military service in the 1st (Personal) Grenadier Regiment no. 100 in Dresden, and also attended evening lectures at the University of Technology (Technische Hochschule) there during the winter semester of 1909-1910. Apart from the lectures of my father, the artistic (geisteswissenschaftliche) method of Professor Oskar Walzel fostered my development above all.

During the summer semester of 1911 the graduate assistant position in the collegium musicum in Leipzig was entrusted to me, in which I have occupied myself both with the arrangement and study of obscure music of the 17th century and as a violinist.

From April to October of 1912, having been granted a leave of absence by the university, I undertook a rather extensive study trip in order to gather material for my music history thesis. For this purpose I spent considerable time in the archives and libraries of the cities of Berlin, Gotha, Weimar, Wolfenbüttel, Braunschweig, Helmstedt, Halberstadt, Hannover, and Hamburg.

Of my teachers at the University of Leipzig, I am especially grateful to Professors Hauck, Köster, Lamprecht, Spranger, Volkelt, Witkowski, and Wundt, and to the independent lecturer (Privatdozenten)3 Dr. Schering, whose graduate assistant position I occupied during the winter semester of 1911-1912.

Finally, I have Professor Dr. Hugo Riemann to thank for what I am today.


1 A nine-years’-course-school teaching Latin but not Greek.

2 The maturity examination entitled the successful candidate to matriculate without any further test at any German university.

3 A distinguished, but unsalaried lecturer at a university who receives only the students’ fees.