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When Melanchthon Became a Freemason: The So-Called 1535 Charter of Cologne and Its Long Aftermath

When Melanchthon Became a Freemason: The So-Called 1535 Charter of Cologne and Its Long Aftermath When Melanchthon Became a Freemason: The So-Called 1535 Charter of Cologne and Its Long Aftermath By Zachary Purvis INTRODUCTION On 24 June 1535, nineteen men met in secret in the free imperial city of Co- logne,eachfromadifferentplaceacrossEurope,bothnear,fromthearchbish- opricofCologne,and far,fromEdinburgh toMadrid,Londonto Lyon,Dan- zig to Venice. Where exactly they met in Cologne is unknown, for they came and went by stealth as a precautionary measure against the dangers of their sensitive mission. Wherever it was, they assembled at the behest of Hermann von Wied (1477–1552), Cologne’s archbishop-elector, in order to refute alle- gationsthattheOrderofMasonicBrothersderivedfromtheKnightsTemplar andnowconspired:toregainoncegloriousformerpossessions;totakerevenge on the papacy, princes, and other powers whose ancestors had executed the Templars’s last Grand Master; to incite riots; and to proselytize for new mem- bers,testingcandidateswithbodilytortureandrequiringthemtopledgeunder oaththatthey,too,wouldcarryoutthesameendsunderstrictrulesofsecrecy. Seekingpeace,notblood,thedelegatestothisclandestinecongressproduceda documentthatcounteredthechargesandencouragedtheirbeleagueredbroth- ers.WrittenonancientparchmentinLatinwithuseofacipher,thedocument describedtherealhistory,objective,andconstitutionofFreemasonryinclearly Christian terms. The delegates, of special importance to the Reformation, madenineteenidenticalversionsofthedocumenttobedeliveredtotheirnine- teencities;eachdelegate,themasterofalodge,signedhisownnameinordin- ary letters at theend–includingPhilip Melanchthon (1497–1560). ThisdescribesbrieflythemakingofthedocumentknownastheCharterof Cologne (Kölner Urkunde). The story is an explosive one. For historians, the Abbreviations: CR: Corpus Reformatorum, Philippi Melanchthonis Opera quae supersunt omnia, ed. by Karl Bretschneider, Heinrich Bindseil, 28 vols. (Halle, Braunschweig: Schwetschke, 1834–1860). – MBW: Melanchthons Briefwechsel. Kritische und kommentierte Gesamtausgabe,ed.byHeinzScheibleetal.(Stuttgart-BadCannstatt:Frommann-Holzboog, 1977–).TheauthorthanksThomasKaufmannandTimothy J.Wengertfortheircomments. 1. The text of the Charter of Cologne can be found in multiple places. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte - Archive for Reformation History de Gruyter

When Melanchthon Became a Freemason: The So-Called 1535 Charter of Cologne and Its Long Aftermath

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de Gruyter
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© 2020 by Gütersloher Verlagshaus
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2198-0489
DOI
10.14315/arg-2020-1110106
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Abstract

When Melanchthon Became a Freemason: The So-Called 1535 Charter of Cologne and Its Long Aftermath By Zachary Purvis INTRODUCTION On 24 June 1535, nineteen men met in secret in the free imperial city of Co- logne,eachfromadifferentplaceacrossEurope,bothnear,fromthearchbish- opricofCologne,and far,fromEdinburgh toMadrid,Londonto Lyon,Dan- zig to Venice. Where exactly they met in Cologne is unknown, for they came and went by stealth as a precautionary measure against the dangers of their sensitive mission. Wherever it was, they assembled at the behest of Hermann von Wied (1477–1552), Cologne’s archbishop-elector, in order to refute alle- gationsthattheOrderofMasonicBrothersderivedfromtheKnightsTemplar andnowconspired:toregainoncegloriousformerpossessions;totakerevenge on the papacy, princes, and other powers whose ancestors had executed the Templars’s last Grand Master; to incite riots; and to proselytize for new mem- bers,testingcandidateswithbodilytortureandrequiringthemtopledgeunder oaththatthey,too,wouldcarryoutthesameendsunderstrictrulesofsecrecy. Seekingpeace,notblood,thedelegatestothisclandestinecongressproduceda documentthatcounteredthechargesandencouragedtheirbeleagueredbroth- ers.WrittenonancientparchmentinLatinwithuseofacipher,thedocument describedtherealhistory,objective,andconstitutionofFreemasonryinclearly Christian terms. The delegates, of special importance to the Reformation, madenineteenidenticalversionsofthedocumenttobedeliveredtotheirnine- teencities;eachdelegate,themasterofalodge,signedhisownnameinordin- ary letters at theend–includingPhilip Melanchthon (1497–1560). ThisdescribesbrieflythemakingofthedocumentknownastheCharterof Cologne (Kölner Urkunde). The story is an explosive one. For historians, the Abbreviations: CR: Corpus Reformatorum, Philippi Melanchthonis Opera quae supersunt omnia, ed. by Karl Bretschneider, Heinrich Bindseil, 28 vols. (Halle, Braunschweig: Schwetschke, 1834–1860). – MBW: Melanchthons Briefwechsel. Kritische und kommentierte Gesamtausgabe,ed.byHeinzScheibleetal.(Stuttgart-BadCannstatt:Frommann-Holzboog, 1977–).TheauthorthanksThomasKaufmannandTimothy J.Wengertfortheircomments. 1. The text of the Charter of Cologne can be found in multiple places.

Journal

Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte - Archive for Reformation Historyde Gruyter

Published: Oct 1, 2020

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