The Tudor Society

8 April – The Second Martin

On this day in Tudor history, 8th April 1586, leading Lutheran theologian Martin Chemnitz died in Braunschweig in Germany. He was aged 66.

Martin Chemnitz is known as the Second Martin, with the more famous reformer and theologian Martin Luther being the first, but what did Chemnitz actually do? What was his role in the Reformation?

Find out about the Second Martin in today's talk.

Also on this day in history, 8th April 1554, a cat dressed as a Catholic priest and holding a piece of paper to represent the communion wafer, was hanged at the gallows in Cheapside. Find out more about this bizarre and horrible event in last year’s video:

Links to find out more about Chemnitz and his works:

Also on this day in history:

  • 1580 – Birth of William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, courtier, patron of the arts and son of Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, and Mary Sidney, sister of Sir Philip Sidney.
  • 1608 – Death of Magdalen Browne (née Dacre), Viscountess Montagu and patron of Roman Catholics, at Battle following a stroke in January 1508. She was buried at Midhurst. Magdalen was the daughter of William Dacre, 3rd Baron Dacre of Gilsland and the second wife of Anthony Browne, 1st Viscount Montagu. She served as Maid of Honour at Mary I's wedding and was a staunch Catholic. Even though she was Catholic, she had a good relationship with Elizabeth I, following her and her husband's declaration that they would be loyal to the Queen if the Pope invaded or caused trouble. When the Queen visited the Montagus in 1591, they kept their priests hidden.


On this day in Tudor history, 8th April 1586, leading Lutheran theologian Martin Chemnitz died in Braunschweig in Germany. He was aged 66.
Chemnitz is known as “Alter Martinus”, or the “Second Martin”, referring to Martin Luther, the more famous Reformer, and he played a huge role in unifying the Lutheran Church following the Reformation.

Let me share a few facts about this Second Martin, a man that I’m sure you haven’t heard of or know very little about.
• He was born on 9th November 1522 in Treuenbrietzen, Brandenburg, Germany, and was the youngest of three children born to Paul and Euphemia Chemnitz or Kemnitz.
• Martin worked as a weaver’s apprentice before attending the University of Frankfurt and the University of Wittenberg. At Wittenberg, he studied under reformers Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon, and was a protégé of Melancthon. He then continued his studies at the University of Königsberg, which is now Kaliningrad in Russia, and graduated with an MA.
• In 1550, he began work as a librarian to Albert, Duke of Prussia. This position gave him the opportunity to study theology, and to study the Bible in its original languages of Hebrew and Greek.
• In 1553, he returned to Wittenberg as Melancthon’s guest and started lecturing at the university on Melancthon’s Loci communes rerum theologicarum (“Theological Commonplaces”), which the Encyclopaedia Britannica describes as “the first systematic treatise on Reformation theology”.
• In November 1554, Martin was ordained as a priest and became coadjutor to Joachim Mörlin. By the way, a coadjutor is a bishop who assists a diocesan bishop.
• In 1562, he attacked Jesuits in one of his works, the first Protestant theologian to do so. Robert Aleksander Maryks explains that Chemnitz described the Jesuits as papal offspring who’d invaded Germany and spread their nests throughout the country.
• Between 1567 and his death, he was the superintendent of the churches of Braunschweig.
• In 1568, Martin received a doctorate in theology from the University of Rostock in Germany.
• From 1568, he worked with theologian Jakob Andreä to unite German Lutheranism. There had been divisions in the church following the death of founder Martin Luther in 1546 and these were ended by the 1577 Formula of Concord, a Lutheran statement of faith which was put together by Martin Chemnitz, Jakob Andreä and a several other theologians. Two thirds of the Lutheran Church accepted it at the time.
• Martin Chemnitz’s works include an autobiography, a commentary on Melancthon’s Loci communes, writings relating to the Formula of Concord, and homilies and devotional works.

Only 1 comment so far Go To Comment

  1. C

    I was totally unaware of this theologian and of his importance. This has been a great video. Each day makes me more sure that joining the society was money so well spent. I’ve been reading your and your colleague’s book on George Boleyn. What a fascinating book that is. Thanks for all you do.

Leave a Reply

8 April – The Second Martin