KIRCHMEYER, kţrH'mai"er, THOMAS (NAOGEORGUS): Protestant theologian and religious dramatist; b. at Hubelschmeiss near Straubing (25 m. s.e. of Regensburg) c. 1508; d. probably at Wiesloch (8 m. s. of Heidelberg) Dec. 24, 1563. He was educated at TŘbingen, though his name does not appear in the university lists, and received an excellent training in the humanities and took the master's degree. He embraced with passionate zeal the cause of the Reformation but at the same time was bold in maintaining his individual beliefs against the authority of the great Protestant theologians. He first appears as pastor of Sulza, in present Saxe-Weimar, 1535. In 1537 he is described by Nicholas Medler of Naumburg as a thoughtful man, who did not hesitate to express his dissent from the authorities at Wittenberg, and was therefore "prone to all heresies and seditions." In 1541 he became pastor at Kahla. Before this, however, he had written his trilogy of dramas against the Roman church upon which his fame is founded: Pammachius (Wittenberg, 1538), Mercator (1540), and Incendia (1541). At Kahla the Wittenberg theologians refused to allow his commentary on the first epistle of John to be printed because in it he taught that the elect, even when they sin against their own conscience, remain in a state of grace and in possession of the Holy Ghost. Melanchthon sought to gain him over from this opinion; and in 1544 Luther, Melanchthon, and Bugenhagen justified their condemnation of his work in a communication to the elector with whom Kirchmeyer stood in great favor. He accompanied the court to the diet of Speyer in 1544 and in the same year published the prohibited book with a dedication to Johann Ernst of Saxony. The followers of Luther thenceforward regarded Kirchmeyer as an opponent and after the death of the great Reformer new controversies arose as to his orthodoxy. In addition to the charge already brought against him he was accused of preaching the Zwinglian conception of the Lord's Supper. Impeached by Kasper Aquila of Saalfeld he was tried before the consistory of Weimar under the presidency of Duke Johann Wilhelm, and acquitted of the charge, but being ordered to explain himself on some points to his congregation he left Kahla and spent many years in wandering through Switzerland and South Germany.
Kirchmeyer's dramas contain little action and deal with personifications instead of real persons, after the fashion of the old Moralities, but they are marked by a spirit of bitter criticism of Roman Catholic teachings and practises which naturally made them popular in Protestant circles. Besides the three plays already mentioned he wrote also three Biblical dramas, Hamanus (1543), Hieremias (1551) and Judas Iscariotes (1553), all translated into German. Of polemical works, the most celebrated is the Regnum Papisticum (Basil ? 1553), an unrestrained denunciation in verse of the Roman church [Eng. trans., The Popish Kingdome, London, 1570, rep. 1880]. Minor works are the AgriculturŠ sacrŠ libri. V. (1550), and the Satyrarum libri quinque (1555). He was also the author of many translations from Greek into Latin, including Sophocles, Isocrates, Epictetus, Dio Chrysostom, Plutarch, and Synesius. In 1551 he published a summary of canon law which attained great popularity, owing to its impartial treatment of many controverted subjects; yet strangely enough it is this work that led the way to the Regnum papisticum. His independent spirit finds repeated expression in his Latin verse wherein he does not hesitate to sing the praises of men of the old faith, among them Erasmus, to whom he concedes much merit as a pioneer of the Reformation.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: L. Theobald, in NKZ. 1906, pp. 764 sqq.; idem, Das Leben und Wirken des . . . Thomas Naogeorgus Leipsic, 1908; G. T. Strobel, Miscellaneen litterarischen Inhalts, iii. 107-154, Nuremberg, 1780; J. J. I. von D÷llinger, Die Reformation, ii. 134 sqq., Regensburg, 1848; H. Holstein, Die Reformation im Spiegelbilde der dramatischen Litteratur des 16. Jahrhunderts, pp. 198 sqq., Halle, 1886;J. Janssen, Hist. of the German People, xii. 75-92, London, 1907; ADB, xxiii. 245 sqq.
Calvin College. Last modified on 10/03/03. Contact the CCEL.