Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski
From SOCINIANISM IN POLAND, 1932 by Stanislas Kot
Anabaptism was not an unknown phenomenon
in Poland at the time of the rising reformation movement. Groups of
persecuted sectarians tried to penetrate into the western parts, into Great
Poland and Prussia. Louder echoes must have come from Silesia, where
the Anabaptists were winning converts in the towns : (etc). Andreas Frycz Modrzewski
was to bring information from Germany about measures against
2 Letter of June 20, 1536,
to Jan Łaski (Johannes a Lasco), in S. A. Gabbema, Illustrium virorum
Epistolae (Harlingae : 1669).
... That it is necessary to wage defensive
war was clear to the pacifist Frycz Modrzewski : "For any king who
omitted to wage such a war would encourage the enemy to do such things
again. He who sets aside the right to use the sword, which is placed in his
hands to punish evil-doers, should not be regarded as the ruler, but as
the betrayer of the republic."12
12 De emendanda
Republica, liber de bello (Cracow : 1551), Chap. ii ; Opera omnia
(Warsaw : 1953), I, 242.
Ideologia polityczna i społeczna Braci Polskich
zwanych Arjanami (Warszawa : 1932).
The Social and Political Ideas of the Polish Antitrinitarians in
the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
Translated from the Polish by Earl Morse Wilbur.
Beacon Hill Boston : Starr King Press 1957.
From A HISTORY OF UNITARIANISM, SOCINIANISM etc., 1945 by Earl Morse Wilbur
... There was at this time
[in Kraków 1546] a group of a dozen or more
Humanists . . who used to meet privately for discussion of theological matters
and of reforms desirable in the Church, often with Lismanino, who seems
to have been their leading spirit, or at the houses of members. One
evening the company met for dinner at the house of Jan Trzycieski, a
learned bookseller and pupil of Erasmus, who had a famous library. Among the guests was a
stranger from Holland, who passed under the name of
Spiritus.5 While waiting for dinner they amused
themselves by examining their host's books. Spiritus thus fell upon a book of
prayers, in which he observed that some were addressed to God the
Father, some to God the Son, and some to God the Holy spirit. What, said he,
have you three Gods? To their reply that they had one God in three persons he rejoined with some thought-provoking criticisms, and
discussion continued until the subject was changed as they went in to
The member of this company who left us the report of this
relates that he was deeply impressed by it, and that there were some
present in whose minds the question stuck like a barb, and troubled them
until it later come to the surface in Poland. The Socinians for their
part looked back upon this episode as the historical beginning of their
movement in Poland ; and as Lismanino and Modrzewski both came to play
influential parts in this movement, there would seem to be some ground
for such a judgment. (Etc.)
5 The bearer of this
evidently assumed name has not been identified. Wiszowaty assumed that he
might have been Adam Pastor (cf. his Narration compendiosa in
Sandius, Bibliotheca, p. 217) ; but modern Dutch scholars deny this
(cf. W. j. Kühler, Socinianisme in Nederland, Leiden, 1912,
p. 5). G. G. Zeltern, Martini Ruari Epistolae (appended to
his Crypto-Socin.), p. 503, n., perhaps influenced by the
etymology (spiritus = geest) conjectures Everhard Geesterans.
Similarly (L. A. Guichard), Histoire du Socinianisme (Paris,
1723), p. 14, makes Spiritus equivalent of de Witt ; while van Slee,
Socinianisme, pp. 27-29, n., suggests Peter Nannius of Lyon.
The riddle remains unsolved.
6 Andreas Frycz
Modrzewski (Modrevius), in his Sylvae quator (Racoviae,
1590), p. 81 f, reprinted by Lubieniecius, Historia, p. 19 f; by Wiszowaty in Sandius,
p. 216 f, with additions from Budzinski ; reprinted in turn by J. M.
Ossolinski, Wiadomosci historyczno-krytyczne (Historico-critical
notices), Lwów, 1852, iv, 477 f. Modrzewski became the trusted Secretary of the King, and at length was
prominent in the antitrinitarian movement, as were one or two others of
those present at the above meeting. Prof Aleksander Brückner,
Reformacja w Polsce, i (1921), 12, is of opinion that Modrzewski here
used a fictitious narrative as a vehicle for views of his own that it
was not prudent to express openly ; and Prof. Stanislaw Kot, Andrzej Frycz
Modrzewski (Kraków, 1923), pp. 247-249, is inclined to agree.
* * *
... several Reformed theologians . . saw in
Stancaro a dangerous enemy to the cause of the Reformation ; (etc).
Nevertheless a considerable number of nobles and of the younger
ministers . . took Stancaro's part, and Modrzewski even wrote a book in his defence, though in it he appealed
33 De Mediatore libri
tres (Basileae, 1562).
* * *
The outcome of this debate [between the Calvinists and the
'Arians' at Piotrków, between Jan. and Feb. 1565] was duly reported to
the King, with whose consent it had been held, and he declared the case
closed. Yet he seems even now not entirely to have abandoned hope of
church union. For soon after the Diet at Piotrków he commanded his
trusted Secretary Modrzewski67 (Modrevius), who had long advocated measures of
compromise, to collect all the various views as to the doctrine of the
Trinity, and see if the warring parties could not be brought together.
The resuolt of his investigations fell into four extended theological
tracts, which were presented to the King as written, and were at length
published under the title of Sylvae ... It
was . . circulated widely in manuscript, but it was not
until after the author's death that it was printed by the Antitrinitarians on their press at Raków as a valuable document in
their cause.68 (Etc.)
67 He was born about 1503,
and was elaborately educated abroad, a pupil and life-long friend of
Melanchthon, and a man of the broadest humanistic culture. Though
not an avowed Protestant, his sympathies were evidently with the liberal
party in that camp. He had considerable influence on the early
stages of the Reformation. cf. Ossolinski, Wiadomosci, iv,
67-136 ; Kot, Modrzewski.
68 In 1590. cf.
Lubieniecius, Historia, p. 221 f ; Sandius, Bibliotheca, pp. 36-38 ;
Ossolinski, Wiadomosci, iv, 112 f ; Kot, op. cit., p. 267
A HISTORY OF UNITARIANISM, SOCINIANISM
AND ITS ANTECEDENTS.