Melanchthon on Marriage

Melanchthon, Philipp, humanist and reformer (1497-1560). Autograph letter signed ("Philippus").

[Wittenberg, 19 March] 1530.

Folio. 1 p. With autogr. address and traces of seal.


To Johannes Weber, priest in Neustadt an der Orla, praising him for a decision in a matter of matrimony and giving him further advice: the marriage of Georg Jüngkling and Else Moser is declared invalid; Jüngkling must separate from her as long as the fate of her first husband remains uncertain. However, for the time being he must not remarry, and the marriage will become valid if it is proved that the first husband is dead: "S[alutem] D[ico] | Bene facis, quod con[s]tanter attingis controversias matrimoniales. De negocio d. georgii sic sencio[:] Quod illud matrimonium contractum, cum mulier incerta esset de vita, ac voluntate viri prioris, qui ipsa consenciente abiit, sit irritum. Est igitur liber georgius. Sed movet me scandali racio, ne statim concedam ei ducere aliam uxorem. Agendum prius est per magistratus, cum illa muliere, aut per nos cum amicis mulieris, ut res exploretur de vita prioris mariti certo. Si ipsa mulier volet abire ad priorem maritum, non detineas eam, quia hoc secundum coniugium non est iure contractum. Habes meam sentenciam, quam te rogo, ut ita modereris, ne plus offensionum ex hac re oriatur [...] Prohibebis etiam, ne georgius et illa mulier, re inexplorata, redeant ad se mutuo. Sed si consentit virum esse mortuum, scandali caussa, velim georgium hanc mulierem re[tin]ere".

The background is explored in Luthers Briefwechsel, vol. V, note to no. 1494: Else Moser had been married to the gunsmith Hieronymus Malter, who had fought in the service of King Louis of Hungary and had been taken prisoner at the Battle of Mohács in 1526. A letter written by Malter, requesting his wife to visit him in Hungary, where he was being held prisoner of war, arrived only in 1529, shortly after she had remarried. Thus, it had to be determined whether or not the first husband was still alive.

Slightly dust-soiled and some edge damage; slight tears to folds remargined.

Melanchthons Briefwechsel (ed. H. Scheible), vol. IV (Stuttgart 2007), p. 878.

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