One of the blots on the career of the great German Reformer, Martin Luther, was his acquiescence to the bigamous marriage of Philip of Hess.
In 1530, at the height of the Reformation in Germany and where the Protestant cause was at its most vulnerable, Philip of Hesse organised the secular Protestant forces of the Reformation into what was known as the Schmal’ kaldic League.
On 11th December 1523, Philip married his first wife, Christine of Saxony, the daughter of an important ally George Duke of Saxony.
However Christine has been described by contempory sources as sickly and unattractive and was reputed to have a drinking probem.
So very soon after the marriage, Philip committed adultery with the daugther of one of his sister's ladies-in-waiting, Margarethe von der Saale.
And with time, he decided he wanted to marry her.
So he asked the Church for their blessing and the matter was discussed with the three great German Reformers, Luther, Methancthon and Bucer.
It was clearly something that was not Scriptural and Luther was unwilling to go along with it.
However, when Philip threatened to side with the Holy Roman Emperor against the Protestants, the Reformers gave in.
Instead of following the lead of Henry VIII and have a divorce, they decided that it would be better to sanction a bigamous marriage.
This took place on 4th December 1540, between Philip and Margarethe, to the eternal shame of the Reformation.
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