Georg Spalatin (1484-1545)

Diplomat and "Kidnapper"

According to Spalatin himself, “Luther and his teaching would never have made it so far without me.”

What did he mean by that? And how did the two of them know one another? As a theologian, royal tutor, privy secretary, and historian, Spalatin was Luther’s equal in terms of his education. In addition, the two of them were friends and Spalatin was one of the greatest supporters of the Reformation at the time. 

To this extent, it is clear what the connection is. But was it only because the talented diplomat served the Reformation that he claimed that Luther would never have made it so far without him? It’s hard to believe, but it’s true! Spalatin played a key role in the protection of Martin Luther. As a trusted advisor and privy secretary to the Elector of Saxony, Frederick the Wise, Spalatin worked untiringly to cultivate good will in the heart and mind of the Catholic Elector towards Luther and his cause. However, the best evidence was Luther’s alleged kidnapping – planned and carried out by none other than Spalatin. On the best of Frederick the Wise, Spalatin “kidnapped” Martin Luther in a secret mission and brought him to Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, where the latter disguised himself as “Junker Jörg” and translated the New Testament from Ancient Greek into German. Without Spalatin, Luther may never have found the time to complete this important work, which in turn contributed directly to the New High German written language and to the spread of the Reformation.


Header: ©Georg Spalatin by Lucas Cranach the Elder, public domain