About Maximapedia

Philip, Landgrave Of Hesse

PHILIP, LANDGRAVE OF HESSE (1504-1567), son of the landgrave William II., was born at Marburg on the 13th of November 1504. He became landgrave on his father's death in 1509, and having been declared of age in 1518, was married in 1523 to Christina, daughter of George, duke of Saxony (d. 1539). In 1522 and 1523 he assisted to quell the rising of Franz von Sickingen (q.v.), who had raided Hesse five years previously, and in 1525 he took a leading part in crushing the rebellion of the peasants in north Germany, being mainly responsible for their defeat at Frankenhausen. About this time Philip adopted the reformed faith, of which he was afterwards the zealous and daring defender. Indifferent to theological, or even to patriotic, considerations, his plans to protect the reformers rested upon two main principles unity among the Protestants at home and military aid from abroad. The schemes he put forward as one of the heads of the league of Schmalkalden, aimed primarily at overthrowing the house of Habsburg; to this end aid was sought from foreigner and native, from Protestant and Catholic alike. Envoys were sent repeatedly to France, England and Denmark; Turkey and Venice were looked to for assistance; the jealousy felt towards the Habsburgs by the Bavarian Wittelsbachs was skilfully fomented; and the German Protestants were assured that attack was the best, nay the only, means of defence. Before the formation of the league of Schmalkalden Philip was very intimate with Zwingli, and up to the time of the reformer's death, in 1531, he hoped that material aid would be forthcoming from his followers. In 1526 he had aided John the Constant, elector of Saxony, to form an alliance of reforming princes; and in 1529 he called together the abortive conference at Marburg, hoping thus to close the breach between Lutherans and Zwinglians. More aggressive was his action in 1528. Deceived by the forgeries of Otto von Pack (q.v.), he believed in the existence of a conspiracy to crush the reformers, and was only restrained from attacking his enemies by the influence of John of Saxony and Luther. He succeeded, however, in compelling the archbishop of Mainz and the bishops of Wiirzburg and Bamberg to contribute to the cost of his mobilization. Philip was freely accused of having employed Pack to concoct the forgery; and, although this charge is doubtless false, his eager acceptance of Pack's unproved statements aroused considerable ill-feeling among the Catholics, which he was not slow to return. In 1529 the landgrave signed the " protest " which was presented to the diet at Spires, being thus one of the original " Protestants; " in 1530 he was among the subscribers to the confession of Augsburg; and the formation of the league of Schmalkalden in the same year was largely due to his energy.

His next important undertaking, the restoration of Ulrich, duke of Wiirtemberg (q.v.) to his duchy, was attended with conspicuous success. Wiirtemberg had passed into the possession of the Habsburgs, but after Philip's brief and victorious campaign in 1 534 the humiliation of Charles V. and his brother, the German king, Ferdinand I., was so complete that it was said the landgrave had done more for Protestantism by this enterprise than a thousand of Luther's books would do. After this victory Philip entertained the idea of coming to terms with Charles V. on the basis of extensive concessions to the Protestants; but he quickly returned to his former plans for leading a general attack on the Habsburgs. The Concord of Wittenberg, made in 1536, was favourable for these schemes, but after five years spent in assiduous preparation war was prevented by the serious illness of the landgrave and the lukewarmness of his allies. Recovering from his malady, he had returned to his intrigues when an event happened which materially affected the fortunes of the Reformation. His union with Christina was not a happy one, and having fixed his affections upon Margaret von der Saal (d. 1566), he obtained an opinion from Protestant theologians that bigamy was not forbidden by Holy Writ. Luther and Melancthon at length consented to the marriage, but stipulated that it should be kept secret, and it was celebrated in March 1540. The marriage, however, became known, and a great outcry arose against Philip, whose friends quickly deserted him. He objected to Luther's counsel to deny the existence of a second marriage; abused John Frederick, elector of Saxony, for not coming to support him; and caused bigamy to be publicly defended. Alarmed, however, by the strength of his enemies, and by their evident determination to punish him as a bigamist, he in June 1541 made a treaty with Charles V. at Regensburg. In return for a general pardon he undertook to break off relations with France and England and loyally to support the emperor.

During these years Philip had been forwarding the progress of the Reformation in Hesse. This was begun about 1526, when an important synod was held at Homburg; the university of Marburg was founded in the interests of the reformers in 1527; and after the diet of Spires in 1529 the work was conducted with renewed vigour. The Catholic worship was suppressed, and the secularized church revenues supplied an endowment of the new university.

The peace between the emperor and the landgrave was soon broken. In 1542 Philip persuaded the league of Schmalkalden to attack Henry II., duke of Brunswick- Wolfenbuttel, ostensibly in the interests of the Protestant towns of Brunswick and Goslar. The duchy was quickly overrun, and Henry a Catholic prince driven out; but the good understanding between the emperor and the landgrave was destroyed, and the relations between Protestants and Catholics became worse than before. Nor was the fissure in the Protestant ranks closed, and Charles took advantage of this disunion to conquer Gelderland and to mature his preparations for overthrowing the league of Schmalkalden. Unlike John Frederick of Saxony, Philip divined, or partly divined, the emperor's intentions, and urged repeatedly that the forces of the league should be put in order. This advice passed unheeded, and when Charles suddenly showed his hand, and in July 1546 issued the imperial ban against the landgrave and the elector, it was sesn that the two princes were almost isolated. Fighting began along the upper Danube, and when indecision and want of funds had ruined the league's chances of success, Philip returned to Hesse and busied himself with seeking help from foreign powers; while in April 1547 John Frederick was captured at Miihlberg. After this defeat the landgrave was induced to surrender to Charles in June by his son-in-law, Maurice, now elector of Saxony, and Joachim II., elector of Brandenburg, who promised Philip that he should be pardoned, and were greatly incensed when the emperor refused to assent to this condition. There is, however, no truth in the story that the word einiges was altered by an imperial servant into ewiges, thus making the phrase " without any imprisonment " in the treaty of surrender to read " without perpetual imprisonment." Philip was sentenced to detention for fifteen years, and as he was heartily disliked by Charles his imprisonment was a rigorous one, and became still more so after he had made an attempt to escape. His acceptance of the Interim in 1 548 did not bring him freedom; but this came in consequence of the humiliation of Charles V. at the hands of Maurice in 1552; and after the conclusion of the peace of Passau in this year he returned to Hesse. Although less active than formerly, the landgrave did not cease to intrigue on behalf of the Protestants while continuing the work of reforming and organizing the Church in Hesse. In 1562 he aided the Huguenots with troops, and he was frequently in communication with the insurgents in the Netherlands; but his efforts to form a union of the Protestants were fruitless. Philip, who is sometimes called the Magnanimous, died at Cassel on the 31st of March 1567. By Christina he had four sons and five daughters, and according to his directions the landgraviate was partitioned at his death between his sons. He had also by Margaret von der Saal seven sons, who were called counts of Dietz, and one daughter.

See Ch. von Rommel, Philipp der Grossmiithige (Giessen, 1830) ; Briefwechsel Landgraf Philipps mil Bucer, edited by M. Lenz (Leipzig, 1881-1890); Politisches Archiv des Landgrafen Philipp, edited by F. Kiich (Leipzig, 1904) ; L. G. Mogen, Historia captivitatis Philippi Magnanimi (Frankfort, 1766); W. Falckenheiner, Philipp der Grossmiithige im Bauernkriege (Marburg, 1887); H. Schwarz, Landgraf Philipp von Hessen und die Packschen Handel (Leipzig, 1881); J. Wille, Philipp der Grossmiithige von Hessen und die Restitution Ulrichs von Wiirttemberg (Tubingen, 1882); W. W. Rockwell Die Doppelelie des Landgrafen Philipp von Hessen (Marburg, 1904) ; A. Heidenhain, Die Unions politik Philipps von Hessen (Halle, 1890) ; K. Varrentrapp, Landgraf Philipp von Hessen und die Universitdt Marburg (Cassel, 1904) ; Von Drach and Konnecke, Die Bildnisse Philipps des Grossmiitigen (Cassel, 1905) ; Festschrift zum Geddchtnis Philipps, published by the Verein fur hessische Geschichte und Landeskunde (Cassel, 1904) ; and Philipp der Grossmiitige, Beitrdge zur Geschichte seines Lebens und seiner Zeit, published by the Historischer Verein fur das Grossherzogtum Hessen (Marburg, 1904).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | GDPR