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Frederick III, Elector of Saxony (1463 – 1525) also known as Frederick the Wise played an important role in the Protestant Reformation by using his political power to protect Martin Luther and other German Reformers from being executed by the Papacy.
Born in Torgau, he succeeded his father as elector in 1486; in 1502, he founded the University of Wittenberg, where Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon taught.
Frederick was among the princes who pressed the need of reform upon Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor and in 1500 he became president of the newly-formed council of regency (Reichsregiment).
Frederick was Pope Leo X's candidate for Holy Roman Emperor in 1519 — the pope had awarded him the Golden Rose of virtue on September 3, 1518 — but he helped secure the election of Charles V. Frederick ensured Luther would be heard before the Diet of Worms in 1521 and subsequently secured an exemption from the Edict of Worms for Saxony.
Previous to his defense of Luther's new religion, Fredrick the Wise managed to hoard up over 5,000 relics to shorten his time in purgatory 1,443 years.
He protected Martin Luther from the Pope's enforcement of the edict by taking him into custody at Wartburg Castle following the Diet of Worms. The emperor did not pursue the issue because his attention became focused upon other issues of the time.
Frederick died unmarried at Langau, near Annaberg, in 1525 and was buried in the Schlosskirche at Wittenberg with a grave by Peter Vischer the Younger. He was succeeded by his brother Duke John the Constant as Elector of Saxony.
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