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Wessel Gansfort

Life and Writings; Principal Works
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Edward Waite Miller
Wessel Gansfort
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The four-hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation may well revive interest in the precursors Of the Reformers. The Protestant movement is no longer regarded as in the nature Of a revolution, but as the product Of tendencies long developing 1n the medieval Church and society. The intellectual ancestors of the Reformers have been discovered, and the roots Of the political and social changes that accompanied the intro duction of Protestantism have been traced far back into the preceding centuries. Among those who unquestionably made important contribution to the preparation of the Rhine region for the acceptance of the Protestant doctrine was Wessel Gans fort who began and ended his life in the city of Cronin gen, in the northern Netherlands. He has been somewhat neglected by recent students of the origins of Protestant ism, although Ullmann had honored him (with the fore most place among his Reformers before the Reformation. That he has not attracted more attention may be due, as Luther suggests, to his quiet, uneventful career as a man of the schools. There were no dramatic episodes in his life, no clashes with the civil or ecclesiastical authority, no occasions for the display Of heroic courage. Once for a little time he consciously faced the fire, but a powerful friend promptly intervened and saved him from the threatened ordeal. That he has not attracted the attention of American scholars may be explained, in part at least, by the fact that so few copies of his works are to be found in this country.