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zum Inhalt springen Altenburg Castle © Maik Schuck, Thuringia Tourist Board

Insider Tip

A fascinating exhibition at the Royal Palace in Altenburg is dedicated to Spalatin's life and work.

Georg Spalatin

Georg Spalatin, Martin Luther's Saving Grace, was a theologian, royal teacher, privy secretary, and historiographer who became good friends with Martin Luther in 1514 and served as one of the greatest proponents of the Reformation at that time. A talented diplomat, he spent most of his career in the city of Altenburg, located approximately 60 miles east of Weimar. From there, he supported the Reformation and played a pivotal role in protecting Martin Luther from those who would do him harm. Indeed, Spalatin even claimed: "If it wasn't for me, Luthero and his doctrine would have never made it this far".

That may be a bold statement, but his actions definitely backed it up. A trusted counselor and privy secretary to Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony, Spalatin worked tirelessly to cultivate good will in the heart and mind of the Catholic Elector towards Luther and his cause. Not only that, but he also promoted Luther's agenda for the university in Lutherstadt Wittenberg at court.

Spalatin was also responsible for what could be considered one of the most important events in Luther's life. At the behest of Frederick the Wise, who hoped to keep Luther safe from his adversaries and keep the Reformation out of the line of political and religious fire, Spalatin "kidnapped" Martin Luther on a secret mission and brought him to Eisenach's Wartburg Castle, where he disguised himself as "Squire George" ("Junker Joerg") 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 directly contributed to the development of standardized written German and the proliferation of the Reformation.