Konrad Mutian

Konrad Mutian was a German humanist. He was born in Homburg of well-to-do parents named Muth, and was subsequently known as Konrad Mutianus Rufus from his red hair.
At Deventer under Alexander Hegius he had Erasmus as school-fellow; proceeding to the university of Erfurt, he took the master's degree in 1492. From 1495 he travelled in Italy, taking the doctor's degree in Canon law at Bologna. Returning in 1502, the landgraf of Hesse promoted him to high office. The post was not congenial; he resigned it for a small salary as canonicus in Gotha.
Mutian was a man of great influence in a select circle especially connected with the university of Erfurt, and known as the Mutianischer Bund, which included Helius Eobanus Hessus, Crotus Rubeanus, Justus Jonas and other leaders of independent thought. He had no public ambition; except in correspondence, and as an epigrammatist, he was no writer, but he furnished ideas to those who wrote. He took from Petrarch his emphasis on leading a good life and believed religion should stress ethics over theology.
He may deserve the title which has been given him as "precursor of the Reformation," insofar as he desired the reform of the Church based on the writings of St. Paul, but not the establishment of a rival. Like Erasmus, he was with Luther in his early stage, but deserted him in his later development. Though he had personally no hand in it, the Epistolae obscurorum virorum was the outcome of the Reuchlinists in his Bund. He died at Gotha on 30 March 1526.


Mutian was deeply influenced by Neoplatonic mysticism, and wrote in a letter to a friend: