17.01.1484 - 15.01.1545
By 1518, the majority of teachers and students at the new Wittenberg University had accepted Luther's new theology, which was based on a thorough knowledge of the Bible and the ancient church fathers. Now the challenge was to win the support of his sovereign Frederick the Wise, who stood firm in his Roman Catholic faith, for the Reformation of the Church. Luther found in Georg Burkhardt from Spalt near Nuremberg the most articulate and eloquent spokesman for the Reformation at Frederick's court. Spalatin has been inscribed in golden letters in the history of the Reformation because of his help.
Georgius Burkhardus de Spalt graduated on February 2, 1503 as one of the first Masters of the Arts from the Faculty of the Arts at the new university in Wittenberg, where he had enrolled in 1502. He soon became the tutor of young Prince Johann Friedrich; he quickly became the elector's confidential secretary and indispensable advisor in all literary and scholarly matters. He ultimately became the archivist, librarian, and historian who provided the elector and the university with books and journals. He acquired substantial influence over the official business of the elector's chancellery. His advice was also sought in the hiring of faculty for the university. Spalatin was an advocate for the new university at court, especially since he, as a humanist, was open to the trends of the time and strongly encouraged the new humanist intellectual developments at the Leucorea. Luther enjoyed a friendly relationship with Spalatin and wrote to him of his concern for the continued reform of the university: "I hope and ask of you that you not forget our school; namely, that you will see to it that instruction in Greek and Hebrew is provided." Over 400 letters from Luther to Spalatin are known about and still exist. Spalatin's contributions to the university library were especially valuable. Under Spalatin's influence/guidance, the university's enrollment was commendably large; the number of immatriculations was higher than all other German universities.
The Catholic Elector's goodwill toward Luther can be attributed to Spalatin's advocacy. His role was a decisive factor contributing to the success of the Reformation.
Spalatin did not reside in Wittenberg from 1507 to 1511. In 1525 he moved to Altenburg in Thuringia where he became superintendent. He maintained ties to Wittenberg and continued to supervise the Castle and University Library. After a tenure of 20 years in office in Altenburg, he died on January 15, 1545, one day before he would have completed his sixty-first year. (He was born on January 17, 1484.)