Frederick the Wise

Although of the nobility, Frederick 'the Wise' of Saxony, an elector of the Holy Roman Emperor, was not unlike others that lived and worked in that region of Germany. He resented the huge amounts of money that was "taken" from Germany (in the form of donations and indulgence receipts) and sent to Rome. Frederick himself was a compulsive collector of relics from the Holy Land. Included in his collection of nearly 20,000 relics were the (supposed) threads of Mary and Joseph's clothing, bits of the Holy cradle and the remains of infants slaughtered by ancient kings. When Pope Leo X decided to announce another indulgence-selling campaign to finance the completion of St. Peters, he wanted to concentrate the new sales campaign on a region that was giving him trouble, Germany. Frederick drew the line. He barred Johann Tetzel, the Pope's master salesman, from selling the new indulgences in Saxony. Frederick was rumored to have supported the reforms proposed by Luther, but he never did so on record. He did, however, ensure that Luther was tried in Germany (at Worms) and not in Rome, where the favored punishment of burning at the stake was a much more likely outcome.