Portrait of Frederick III (1463-1525), Elector of Saxony (1486-1525)
Frederick III (German: Friedrich III. von Sachsen; 17 January 1463 – 5 May 1525), also known as Frederick the Wise (German: Friedrich der Weise) was Elector of Saxony from 1486 to 1525, who is mostly remembered for the worldly protection of his subject Martin Luther. Frederick was the son of Ernest, Elector of Saxony and his wife Elisabeth, daughter of Albert III, Duke of Bavaria. He is notable as being one of the most powerful early defenders of Martin Luther. He successfully protected Luther from the Holy Roman Emperor, the Pope and other hostile figures. He was not led by his religious convictions, but rather by his belief in a fair trial for any of his subjects (a privilege guaranteed by the imperial statutory law) and the rule of law. Born in Torgau, he succeeded his father as elector in 1486; in 1502, he founded the University of Wittenberg, where Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon taught. Frederick was among the princes who pressed the need of reform upon Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and in 1500 he became president of the newly formed council of regency (Reichsregiment). His court painter from 1504 was Lucas Cranach the Elder. Frederick died unmarried at Lochau, a hunting castle near Annaburg (30 km southeast of Wittenberg), in 1525. He was succeeded by his brother Duke John the Steadfast as Elector of Saxony.
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