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Philip of Hesse

Philip of Hesse (hĕs) [key], 1504–67, German nobleman, landgrave of Hesse (1509–67), champion of the Reformation. He is also called Philip the Magnanimous. Declared of age in 1518, he helped suppress the Peasants' War. Having embraced Protestantism in 1524 he vainly tried to reconcile Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli, but finally signed the Lutheran Augsburg Confession (see creed). With John Frederick I of Saxony and others, Philip formed (1531) the Schmalkaldic League to uphold Protestantism against the opposition of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Philip founded the first Protestant university (Marburg, 1527), helped Ulrich, the deposed Protestant duke of Württemberg, to recover his duchy, and otherwise did much to advance Lutheranism. However, the scandal following his bigamous marriage (1540), which had been reluctantly sanctioned by Luther and Philip Melanchthon, led him to make peace with Charles in 1541. The peace was only temporary, and after Charles V had won Maurice of Saxony from Philip's camp, the emperor crushed (1547) the Schmalkaldic League at Mühlberg. Philip, believing that he would be well treated, surrendered. He emerged (1552) from prison a broken man. In 1567 he divided his lands among his four sons (see Hesse).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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See more Encyclopedia articles on: German History: Biographies

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