The New International Encyclopædia/Hutten, Ulrich von

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The New International Encyclopædia
Hutten, Ulrich von
Edition of 1905. See also Ulrich von Hutten on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

HUTTEN, Ulrich von (1488-1523). A scholar, poet, and reformer of the German Renaissance, one of the most celebrated of the Humanists. He was descended from an ancient and noble family, and was born at the Castle of Steckelberg in Hesse, April 21, 1488. At the age of ten he was placed in the neighboring monastery of Fulda, but, disliking this mode of life, fled in 1505 to Cologne, where he met Hoogstraten, Johannes Rhegius, and other scholars of the day. In 1506 he came to Erfurt, but soon after rejoined Rhegius at Frankfort-on-the-Oder. There he took his master's degree and published his first poem. In 1507 he followed Rhegius to Leipzig. He was stricken down with the pestilence in the following year, but recovered, and at Wittenberg in 1511 published his Ars Versificatoria. During these years he led the life of a wandering poet, subsisting on the bounty of those who admired his talents or feared his mordant wit. In 1512 he went to Pavia to study law. He had been there only a short time when the city was plundered by the Swiss, and Hutten was deprived of all he possessed. For a short time he served as a soldier in the Imperial army, but soon returned to Germany, where he boldly entered into a quarrel with the Duke of Württemberg, who had murdered a kinsman of Ulrich's, and brought about the Duke's punishment. In the dispute between Reuchlin (q.v.) and the Dominicans, Hutten came to the support of the former, and displayed no small learning and great power of satire. He went again to Italy in 1515, to take the degree of doctor of laws, and returned to his native country in 1517. He was crowned with the poets' laurel crown at Augsburg by the Emperor Maximilian, who conferred on him the honor of knighthood. While in Italy Hutten had become imbued with a fierce hatred for the Papacy, which he bitterly attacked in his preface to an edition of Laurentius Valla's De Donatione Constantini, published in 1517. In the following year he accompanied his patron, Albert, Archbishop of Mainz, to the Diet of Augsburg, where Luther had his famous conference with Cajetan. Subsequently he established a small printing press of his own, and employed himself in putting forth pamphlets written in the German language violently attacking the Pope and the Roman clergy. The Archbishop Albert denounced him at Rome, whereupon Hutten took sides with Luther, whom he had hitherto affected to despise. Persecuted by his enemies, he availed himself of the protection of Franz von Sickingen, but was forced to flee from the latter's castle after a two years' residence (1520-22). Going to Basel, he was coldly received by Erasmus, who did not approve of his extreme measures, and a breach took place between the two men which culminated in a great literary quarrel. From this time Hutten was compelled to adopt a wandering life. He died August 23, 1523, on the island of Ufnau in the Lake of Zürich. Hutten was more open in the expression of his opinions than any other man, probably, of his age. He did much to prepare the way for the Reformation and to promote it. He was a master of the Latin language, and excelled in satirical and passionate invective. His literary life is generally divided into three periods: (1) Period of Latin poems (1509-16); (2) period of letters and orations {1515-17); (3) period of dialogues and letters in Latin and German (1517-23). In all he published some forty-five different works, but his most noteworthy contribution to literature was his portion of the immortal Epistolæ Obscurorum Virorum (q.v.). Hutten's collected works, Opera Omnia, were published at Leipzig in seven volumes (1859-70) under the editorship of Böcking. Among several biographies by German authors that by Strauss (6th ed., Bonn, 1805), abridged in English by Sturge (London, 1874), is especially to be recommended. Consult also: the monographs by Reichenbach (Leipzig, 1877), and Schall (Halle, 1890); and Szamatólski, Ulrich von Hutten's deutsche Schriften (Strassburg, 1891). A good brief sketch in English is Jordan, “A Knight of the Order of Poets,” in The Story of the Innumerable Company (San Francisco, 1896).