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 them.2 (Etc.)

      2 Letter of June 20, 1536, to Jan Łaski (Johannes a Lasco), in S. A. Gabbema, Illustrium virorum Epistolae (Harlingae : 1669).     (page 9)


...       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.     (page 14)

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 dinner.

The member of this company who left us the report of this incident6 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, Bibliotheca, 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.

pp. 284-5.

* * *

...   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 for harmony.33

      33 De Mediatore libri tres (Basileae, 1562).

p. 300.

* * *

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 f.

pp. 322-325.


Harvard 1945.


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