Spalatin - Helmsman of the Reformation

Special exhibition in the Royal Palace Altenburg
03. Mai 2015 – 26. November 2017


Secret Diplomatic Agent Protects Martin Luther

„The Chronicle of the Saxons and Thuringians” is a chronicle in four volumes that Georg Spalatin had been writing on since 1510. It contains more than 1800 illustrations from the Cranach workshop in Wittenberg (Regional Library Coburg). Fig: Vol. III pages 217-218.


“If it wasn’t for me, Luthero and his doctrine would have never made it this far”. What a claim! Who would talk about himself like this? Georg Spalatin! The theologian, royal teacher, secret secretary, historiographer – who first and foremost was a close friend and guardian of Martin Luther.

Born as Georg Burkhardt on 17th January 1484 in Spalt he was schooled in Spalt and Nuremberg and went on to study at the universities of Erfurt and Wittenberg.

In 1508 Georg Burkhardt was appointed the royal teacher to the prince under Saxon Elector Frederick III. Subsequently the academic changed his name after his place of birth Spalt.
In 1511 Georg Spalatin was appointed canon of St. George’s collegiate church in the Altenburg castle. From then on the Electoral residence Altenburg and his own path were intricately linked.

Another relationship that also shaped Georg Spalatin since 1514 was his lifelong friendship with Martin Luther, which at times was life saving for the reformer. Georg Spalatin was a close confidant of the Saxon Elector Frederick the Wise and with great diplomatic skill would support his friend and his reformation work. One of his secret missions included bringing Luther into the Wartburg.

In 1525 Georg Spalatin initially took office as pastor for St. Bartholomew’s church in the Electoral residence Altenburg, and only three years later became superintendent and visitor.

Georg Spalatin worked tirelessly for reformation right up to his death on 16th January 1545. In a unique exhibition project, the city of Altenburg and the Lutheran parish for the first time pay tribute to the life work of the reformer.