The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Franck, Sebastian

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FRANCK, or FRANK, Sebastian, German humanist and reformer: b. Donauwörth, c. 1499; d. Basel, c. 1543. He was educated for the Catholic priesthood, studying at the universities of Ingoldstadt and Heidelberg. Ordained in 1524, he held a curacy near Augsburg, but the following year joined the Reformation party at Nuremberg and became Protestant preacher at Gustenfelden. In 1518 he had attended the Augsburg Conference, and had met Luther, Bucer and Frecht, who were to exercise a considerable influence on his writings. Besides translations and editorial work, he published in 1528 a treatise against drunkenness which gained considerable popularity. He signed himself Frank von Wörd after his native city, Donauwörth. His liberal religious ideas, however, antagonized the authorities, and he removed from Nuremberg to Strassburg in 1529 where two years later he published his chief work, ‘Chronica, Zeitbuch und Geschichtsbibel’ (1531). Freedom of thought, broad tolerance in connection with a universal but invisible spiritual Church, ideas far in advance of his age, expressed in clear, forcible, direct language, again brought him official condemnation. Luther even describing him as a “devil's mouth.” His life henceforth witnessed a series of polemical vicissitudes, with removals to Esslingen, Ulm, and finally Basel. ‘Weltbuch’ (Tübingen 1534) supplemented the ‘Chronica’; the same year appeared ‘Paradoxa’ (Ulm 1534; new ed., 1542), followed by 'Guldin Arch' (Augsburg 1538); ‘Germaniæ Chronicon’; (Frankfort 1539); ‘Kriegbüchlein des Friedens’ (pseudonymous, 1539); ‘Schrifftliche und ganz gründliche Auslegung des 64 Psalms’ (1539); ‘Das verbütschierle mit sieben Siegeln verschlossene Buch’ (1539); ‘Spruchwörter’ (1542; new ed. by Guttenstein 1831). Consult Hase, C. A., ‘Sebastian Franck von Wörd’ (1869); Tausch, E., ‘Sebastian Franck von Donauwörth und seine Lehrer’ (1893).