1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Myconius, Friedrich
MYCONIUS, FRIEDRICH (1490-1546), Lutheran divine, was born on the 26th of December 1490, at Lichtenfels on the Main, of worthy and pious parents, whose family name, Mecum, gave rise to proud uses of the word as it appears in various places in the Vulgate, whereas Myconius, from the island Myconus, was a proverb for meanness. His schooling was in Lichtenfels and at Annaberg, where he had a memorable encounter with the Dominican, Tetzel, his point being that indulgences should be given pauperibus gratis. His teacher, Staffelstein, persuaded him to enter (July 14, 1510) the Franciscan cloister. That same night a pictorial dream turned his thoughts towards the religious standpoint which he subsequently reached as a Lutheran. From Annaberg he passed to Franciscan communities at Leipzig and Weimar, where he was ordained priest (1516); he had endeavoured to satisfy his mind with scholastic divinity, but next year his “eyes and ears were opened” by the theses of Luther, whom he met when Luther touched at Weimar on his way to Augsburg. For six years he preached his new gospel, under difficulties, in various seats of his order, lastly at Zwickau, whence he was called to Gotha (Aug. 1524) by Duke John at the general desire. Here he married Margaret Jäcken, a lady of good family. He was intimately connected with the general progress of the reforming movement, and was especially in the confidence of Luther. Twice he was entrusted (1528 and 1533) with the ordering of the churches and schools in Thuringia. In all the religious disputations and conferences of the time he took a leading part. At the Convention of Smalkald (1537) he signed the articles on his own behalf and that of his friend Justus Menius. In 1538 he was in England, as theologian to the embassy which hoped to induce Henry VIII. on the basis of the Augsburg Confession, to make common cause with the Lutheran reformation; a project which Myconius caustically observed might have prospered on condition that Henry was allowed to be pope. Next year he was employed in the cause of the Reformation in Leipzig. Not the least important part of his permanent work in Gotha was the founding and endowment of its gymnasium. In 1541 his health was failing, but he lived till the 7th of April 1546. He had nine children, four of whom were living in 1542.
Though he published a good many tracts and pamphlets, Myconius was not distinguished as a writer. His Historia reformationis, referring especially to Gotha, was not printed till 1715. See Melchior Adam, Vitae theologorum (1706); J. G. Bosseck, F. Myconii Memoriam . . . (1739); C. K. G. Lommatzsch, Narratio de F. Myconio (1825); K. F. Ledderhose, F. Myconius (1854); also in Allgemeine deutsche Biog. (1886); O. Schmidt and G. Kawerau in Hauck's Realencyklopädie (1903).