CRELL (or Krell), NICHOLAS (c. 1551–1601), chancellor of the elector of Saxony, was born at Leipzig, and educated at the university of his native town. About 1580 he entered the service of Christian, the eldest son of Augustus I., elector of Saxony, and when Christian succeeded his father as elector in 1586, became his most influential counsellor. Crell’s religious views were Calvinistic or Crypto-Calvinistic, and both before and after his appointment as chancellor in 1589 he sought to substitute his own form of faith for the Lutheranism which was the accepted religion of electoral Saxony. Calvinists were appointed to many important ecclesiastical and educational offices; a translation of the Bible with Calvinistic annotations was brought out; and other measures were taken by Crell to attain his end. In foreign politics, also, he sought to change the traditional policy of Saxony, acting in unison with John Casimir, administrator of the Rhenish Palatinate, and promising assistance to Henry IV. of France. These proceedings, coupled with the jealousy felt at Crell’s high position and autocratic conduct, made the chancellor very unpopular, and when the elector died in October 1591 he was deprived of his offices and thrown into prison by order of Frederick William, duke of Saxe-Altenburg, the regent for the young elector Christian II. His trial was delayed until 1595, and then, owing partly to the interference of the imperial court of justice (Reichskammergericht), dragged on for six years. At length it was referred by the emperor Rudolph II. to a court of appeal at Prague, and sentence of death was passed. This was carried out at Dresden on the 9th of October 1601.
See A. V. Richard, Der kurfürstliche sächsische Kanzler Dr Nicolaus Krell (Frankfort, 1860); B. Bohnenstädt, Das Prozessverfahren gegen den kursächsischen Kanzler Dr Nikolaus Krell (Halle, 1901); F. Brandes, Der Kanzler Krell, ein Opfer des Orthodoxismus (Leipzig, 1873); and E. L. T. Henke, Caspar Peucer und Nicolaus Krell (Marburg, 1865).