UU Minute #16

Biandrata Impresses the King

Giorgio Biandrata: doctor and theologian. His 1563 arrival in Transylvania was a return to the country. He had first come there in 1544 and lived eight years at the Transylvanian Court, the first seven of which he was attending Queen Isabella and her then-four-through-11-year-old son John -- up until Ferdinand deposed them for five years.

Biandrata moved on in 1552, and by 1558, was Court Physician to the royal family in Poland, attending Isabella’s mother, Queen Bona. Poland, you may remember, some years before, had put 80-year-old Katarzyna Weiglowa to death for anti-trinitarian views. Queen Bona had been instrumental in that execution, but writings of Bernardino Ochino had liberalized her. Biandrata’s influence liberalized her further.

So in 1563, when the now-23-year-old King John fell ill in Transylvania, he sent to Poland for the able physician of his boyhood. Biandrata came. John got better. Biandrata stayed.
“By his adventurous history, his handsome appearance, his courtly manners, and his eloquence, Biandrata made a marked impression upon the king and at court, where he soon became the leading figure. Within a year, he was the king’s private counsellor.” (Earl Morse Wilbur)
King John was hard beset by foes in war and by conspiracies which his enemies had stirred up against him at home. He sought consolation in religion, and, following in his mother’s footsteps, interested himself seriously in the further reform of it. From his new physician and counsellor, John started learning Unitarian ideas – particularly, the two ideas central to Unitarianism:
  • critique of the doctrine of the trinity, and
  • support of religious toleration.

NEXT: Biandrata and David Meet

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