Foto: Stadt AltenburgThe Altenburg CastleAltenburg, former town of royal residence, looks back over a history of more than 1030 years. In 976, the city was first mentioned in a document by Emperor Otto II. It became world famous as a production site for playing cards, especially for skat. Altenburg's skyline is dominated by numerous towers and especially by the mighty castle in the centre of the city. The city's landmarks, for example the towers of the collegiate church of St. Mary and the church of St. Bartholomew, are eminent architectural witnesses of the Reformation.
Altenburg's helmsman of the Reformation
The "helmsman of the reformation", Georg Spalatin, lived and worked in Altenburg. The secret secretary and court chaplain of Frederick the Wise of Saxony enjoyed the extraordinary confidence of the Elector and was therefore able to entrust his friend Martin Luther to the Elector's protection. Spalatin attended every decisive Imperial Diet and the meetings of the rulers of his time. From 1516 onwards he worked in the Electorate's office and was in charge of matters of the church and the university.
Foto: Stadt AltenburgThe towers of St. Mary's in AltenburgIn this function he paved the way for the movement of the Reformation and played a decisive role in the distribution of Luther's teachings and the development of the Protestant Church. Spalatin was the fundamental mediator between Martin Luther and Frederick the Wise, who never met each other in person.
Constitution of regional structures of the church
In 1525, after the death of Frederick the Wise, Spalatin came to Altenburg as parish priest on behalf of Martin Luther. Here, he wanted to realise the ideas of the Reformation in a "pilot project". Therefore, hardly any part of the city's daily life remained unchanged: monasteries were dissolved, hospitals, schools and the support for the poor were reorganised. The quality of what was provided by the church was strictly examined by means of so-called visitations, and continuously improved. With numerous visitations between 1527 and 1542, Spalatin had a decisive impact on the constitution of the regional structures of the church. He stayed in close contact with Luther through letters. Luther himself often asked his good friend and confidant for personal support.
In 1545, the "helmsman of the Reformation" died in Altenburg and was buried in the church of St. Bartholomew. His remains have disappeared, but the memory of Georg Spalatin, the gifted linguist and man of both the world and the church, remains firmly connected with Altenburg.