« Petrus Mongus Peucer, Caspar Pew »

Peucer, Caspar

PEUCER, poi´tser, CASPAR: Leader of the crypto-Calvinists (see Philippists) in the electorate of Saxony; b. at Bautzen (31 m. e.n.e. of Dresden) Jan. 6, 1525; d. at Dessau (67 m. s.w. of Berlin) Sept. 2, 1602. He was educated at the University of Wittenberg, which he entered in 1540, and where he became professor of mathematics in 1554 and of medicine in 1560. Throughout the life of Melanchthon, whose son-in-law he was, he was his friend, counselor, physician, and companion, while after the Reformer's death he edited his collected works (Wittenberg, 1562–64), two books of his Epistolæ (1570), the third and fourth volumes of his Selectæ declamationes (Strasburg, 1557–58), etc. He likewise completed Melanchthon's revision of the Chronicon Carionis, which had extended only to Charlemagne, by two books bringing it down to the Leipsic disputation (2 parts, Wittenberg, 1562–65); while among his independent writings mention may be made of his De dimensione terræ (Wittenberg, 1550) and De præcipuis divinationum generibus (1553).

Peucer was a favorite at the Dresden court, where he was appointed physician in 1570, though still retaining his Wittenberg professorship. At his instance Melanchthon's Corpus doctrinæ was officially introduced in 1564, thus marking the rise of Philippism; and vacancies in the university were filled with strict followers of Melanchthon. In 1571 he collaborated in a school abridgment of the Corpus doctrinæ which sharply denied Luther's teaching of Ubiquity (q.v.), and with the death of Paul Eber (q.v.) in 1569 approximation to Calvinism became still easier. At the same time, the strict Lutheran party continued to have much influence at court because their side was taken by the elector's wife, a Danish princess. Considerations of foreign policy, however, finally induced the elector to dismiss his favorite physician, especially as he was accused, though wrongly, of having a part in a Calvinistic exposition of the faith, Exegesis perspicua, published by Joachim Cureus in 1574. Peucer's correspondence was searched, and evidence was found which was construed as expressing his intention to try to introduce the Calvinistic theory of the Lord's Supper into the Saxon Church. He acknowledged his fault when tried before the Saxon diet at Torgau, and was directed to restrict his interest to medicine. But the Elector August was 3not contented and had Peucer, whom he suspected of working to introduce the rival ducal house into Saxony, taken to Rochlitz. In 1576 Peucer was imprisoned in the Pleissenburg in Leipsic, where he suffered much hardship, but determinedly resisted all attempts to convert him, refusing to make any concessions contrary to Calvinism. Finally, when the Danish princess died, and the elector married a second time (Jan. 3, 1586), his father-in-law, Prince Joachim Ernest of Anhalt successfully pleaded for Peucer's release. This took place on Feb. 8, 1586, a few days before the death of August.

Peucer now went to Dessau, where he was appointed physician in ordinary and councilor to the prince. The remaining years of his life were peaceful, spent partly in Dessau, partly in Cassel and the Palatinate, and partly in travels, and he was honored by all. To the last he adhered to Melanchthon's theology, and he was likewise busy with his pen. During his imprisonment he began his Historia carcerum et liberationis divinæ (ed. after the author's death by Christoph Pezel, Zurich, 1605); and he also wrote in prison his Tractatus historicus de Philippi Melanchthonis sententia de controversia coenæ Domini (Amberg, 1596), as well as a poetical Idyllium, patria seu historia Lusatiæ superioris (Bautzen, 1594).

(G. Kawerau.)

Bibliography: For Peucers letters consult CR, vols. vii. and ix.; J. Voigt, Briefwechsel der berühmtesten Gelehrten, pp. 497 sqq., Königsberg, 1841; and Zeitschrift für preussische Geschichte, xiv (1877), 90 sqq., 145 sqq. Early sources are the funeral sermon by J. Brendel, Zerbat, 1603; a memorial oration by S. Stenius, ib. 1603; and A. van de Corput, Het Leven ende Dood van . . . P. Melanchton Mitagaders de . . . gevangenisse van . . . Caspar Peucerus, Amsterdam, 1662. Biographies or sketches are by: J. C. Leupold, Budissin, 1745; H. C. A. Eichstädt, Jena, 1841; E. A. H. Heimburg Jena, 1842; F. Coch, Marburg, 1850; E. L. T. Henke, Marburg, 1865. Consult further: R. Calinich, Kampf and Untergang des Melanchthonismus in Kursachaen, Leipsic, 1866; J. W. Richard, Philip Melanchton, New York, 1898; J. Janssen, Hist. of the German People, vols. vii.–viii., St. Louis, 1905; N. Müller, Melanchthons letzte Lebenstage, 1910; Ersch and Gruber, Encyklopädie, III., xix. 435–460; ADB, xxv. 552 sqq.; and the literature under Philippists.

« Petrus Mongus Peucer, Caspar Pew »
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