Franz David Hertel
|Died||15 November 1579 (aged c. 58-59)|
|Education||University of Wittenberg |
University of Frankfurt
|Known for||'founder of the Unitarian reliogious movemenent and the Unitarian Church of Transylvania'|
|Rövid Utmutatás az Istennec igeienec igaz ertelmere, mostani szent Haromsagrol tamadot vetélkedesnec meg feytesere es itelesere hasznos es szükseges|
Kata Barát (Münich) (2nd)
Ferenc Dávid (also rendered as Francis David or Francis Davidis; born as Franz David Hertel, c. 1520 – 15 November 1579) was a Unitarian preacher from Transylvania, the founder of the Unitarian Church of Transylvania, and the leading figure of the Nontrinitarian movements during the Protestant Reformation.
Studying Catholic theology in Wittenberg and in Frankfurt an der Oder and first as a Catholic priest, later a Lutheran and then a Calvinist bishop in the Principality of Transylvania, he learnt the teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic and the Protestant churches, but later rejected several of them and came to embrace Unitarianism.
He disputed the Christian view on the Holy Trinity, believing God to be one and indivisible.
Ferenc Dávid was born in Kolozsvár, Hungary (present-day Cluj-Napoca, Romania), to a Transylvanian Saxon father (David Hertel, who worked as a tanner) and to a Hungarian mother. The Hertel/Herthel family was an old Transylvanian Saxon aristocratic family of Kolozsvár. In Latin and Hungarian he used his name as Francis Davidis or Dávid Ferenc after his father's forename David. He had at least three brothers: Gregor, Peter and Nikolaus. Peter and Gregor inherited the job of their father in the guild. Gáspár Heltai, the father of Peter's wife Borbála, was a Protestant Reformer, Lutheran and later Unitarian minister, translator, outstanding author of the Hungarian late Renaissance era. He owned the paper mill and the press of Kolozsvár where several religious and scientific books were made in Hungarian and German.
Ferenc Dávid was raised Catholic. After finishing his studies in the High School of Kolozsvár (today Cluj Napoca, Romania) he went to the Holy Roman Empire to study Catholic theology first at the University of Wittenberg and then later at the Alma Mater Viadrina (University of Frankfurt an der Oder) where he became a Catholic parson.
In 1542 the Lutheran reformator, Johannes Honterus introduced the Lutheran doctrines to the citizens of Kolozsvár.[circular reference] After arriving back in Transylvania Ferenc Dávid joined the Lutheran wing of the Reformation where he became a minister and then a Lutheran bishop. He worked as headmaster of the Gymnasium of Beszterce (today Bistri?a, Romania), then as Lutheran pastor in Petres (today Cetate, Romania), later headmaster of the Gymnasium of Kolozsvár and from 1555 chief pastor of Kolozsvár (today Cluj Napoca, Romania).
On 1 June 1557 the Diet of Torda (National Assembly) stated that 'everybody should live in a belief that he or she wants if it is done without the distrust of another' which meant for the population of the Principality of Transylvania that it became allowed to practise not just the Roman Catholic, but the Lutheran religion.
In 1559 he entered the Reformed Church where he was elected bishop of the Hungarian churches in Transylvania and he was also the appointed court preacher to János Zsigmond Zápolya, Prince of Transylvania. The prince allowed him to research in the royal library and to work in the royal court on his theological theses.
After the Battle of Mohács the political instability, the weakening of the Roman Catholic denomination (continuous expansion of the Ottoman Empire, heretic movements in Transylvania especially of Arianism, Bogumilism etc.) prepared the way for the new ideas of the Reformation.[circular reference] A well known Italian antitrinitarian, Giorgio Biandrata moved to Transylvania in 1563 into the royal court of John II Sigismund Zápolya and became his own doctor. Biandrata co-operated with Ferenc Dávid on theological works.
Dávid's discussion of the Holy Trinity began in 1565, with doubts of the personality of the Holy Spirit, because he could find no scriptural basis for the doctrine of the Trinity. One of his main points against the existence of the Holy Trinity was that what the Arians during the early ages of Christianity liked to refer to does not come up in the Bible. He was influenced by the antitrinitarian and humanist views of Michael Servetus and Giovanni Valentino Gentile.
Together with Giorgio Biandrata he published polemical writings against Trinitarian belief, particularly De falsa et vera unius Dei Patris, Filii et Spiritus Sancti cognitione which is largely a summarized version of Servetus's Christianismi Restitutio. But in 1578 the collaboration broke up as Biandrata was charged with immorality. An important difference between the views of the two theologians was that Ferenc Dávid became a nonadorant which meant that he renounced the necessity of invoking Christ in prayers.
Working in the royal court, he convinced the prince about his point of view on religion, so that John II Sigismund Zápolya accepted his theses and became the first Unitarian ruler. In 1567 John II Sigismund Zápolya allowed him to use his press in Gyulafehérvár (today Alba Iulia, Romania) to propagate the religion.
The aim of his life as Ferenc Dávid wrote was 'the restoration of the pure Christianity of Jesus' which meant for him the search for the truth in the whole freedom of thought. So he sought to persuade the prince, John II Sigismund Zápolya and several people in important positions to reach an agreement between the opposite sides of the religious debate. His attempts were successful.
Between 6 and 13 January 1568 on the Diet of Torda the assembled representatives of the Hungarian nobility, the Szeklers, the Transylvanian Saxons and the royal court of the Principality of Transylvania proclaimed the Edict of Torda which included - as first in Europe - the practising and propagation of the recepta religios (allowed religions) which were the Roman Catholic, the Lutheran, the Calvinist and the Unitarian. This order can be seen as the first law for the 'freedom of religion'. Thanks to that beside the three lawful nations of Transylvania the four lawful allowed religions could have an ecclesiastical, political and public law system in the Constitution of the Principality of Transylvania. From that moment on the constitution based on the equal rights of the three nations and the four religions.
In 1571, John II Sigismund Zápolya was succeeded by István Báthory, a Roman Catholic, and the policy shifted toward persecution of the new religious institutions. In the same year the new ruler took the press of Gyulafehérvár back from the Unitarians. On the Diet of 1572 in Marosvásárhely (today Târgu Mure?, Romania) the religious laws were strengthened, but it declared the prohibition of the changing of religion. When, under the influence of Johannes Sommer, rector of the Gymnasium of Kolozsvár, Dávid denied the necessity of invoking Jesus Christ in prayer (about 1572), the attempted mediation of Faustus Socinus, upon Blandrata's request, was unsuccessful. Ferenc Dávid was sentenced to life imprisonment in Déva, Principality of Transylvania (today Deva, Romania), and died there in 1579. The ruins of the prison site in the city now hold a memorial for him.
After the death of Ferenc David, Lukas Trauzner, his son-in-law, wrote together with Miklós Bogáti Fazekas, Bernard Jacobinus (father of János Jacobinus) and the sons of Ferenc Dávid the Defensio Francisci Davidis in negotio de non invocando Jesu Christo in precibus (Basel, 1581) and were part of the inner opposition of the moderate Unitarianism movement of Demeter Hunyadi. Lukas Trauzner was sentenced to jail in 1579 because of his Sabbatarian-Unitarian beliefs. But after 1582 the political pressure eased. Lukas Trauzner and Gabriel Haller went to Vienna in 1598 in legation. The imperial commissioners described Trauzner as Sabbatarian and Haller as Arianist. Later he was active in the political negotiations between Transylvania and Austria. In 1603 he was a dedicated follower of the prince, Mózes Székely. He as a Unitarian undertook in the name of the prince to get the citizens of Beszterce into submission. After the defeat of Mózes Székely started the reign of Giorgio Basta in Kolozsvár who captured the royal judge, Mihály Tótházi and without a sentence beheaded him. Lukas Trauzner had to go to jail for two months, but by leaving the Unitarian Church and by apostasy he could get free. He lived from then on as a Catholic and but stayed as an active member of the mostly Unitarian Transylvanian Saxon community in Kolozsvár until his death.
Scholars still have to address fully Ferenc Dávid's Hungarian works for a satisfactory assessment of his beliefs.
In his early years as a Nontrinitarian, Dávid supported prayer to Christ, as can be seen in his answer to Péter Melius Juhász, the Refutatio scripti Petri Melii ('Refutation of the writings of Péter Méliusz', Alba Iulia, 1567). In his later years Dávid adopted the radical, nonadorant view of Jacob Palaeologus, that Christ should not be invoked in prayer, but that prayer should be directed only to God the Father. According to Ferenc David, Jesus is understood as a human being.
After leaving Calvinism, Dávid adopted the view of Laelio Sozzini that the existence of Christ began when he was conceived by the Virgin Mary through the operation of the Holy Spirit. By 1578, it would appear that Dávid had come to adopt the view that Jesus was the literal son of Joseph. However some historians dispute this and argue that he believed in the virgin birth until the day of his death[page needed]. Certainly these skeptical views were not held by the Unitarian Church of Transylvania in his lifetime, nor included in the later Hungarian Unitarian statement of faith of David's successor Mihály Lombard de Szentábrahám. Such views were, however, held by sympathizers of the Polish Symon Budny.
He married twice. The name of his first wife is unknown, she died in 1570 in Kolozsvár. His second wife was Kata Barát, the daughter of István Barát (Stephan Münich), melodist and the chief judge of Kolozsvár. This marriage lasted from 1572 just two years. He had four children:
After his death Dávid came to be counted as, and honoured as, the first in the line of Hungarian Unitarian bishops based in Kolozsvár (Cluj). His writings continued to be published, and other recollections written down and collected, up to the time of Mihály Lombard de Szentábrahám.
English-speaking Unitarianism was largely unaware of Dávid. Most of the Unitarian writings which came via Amsterdam to England were of authors of the Polish Brethren, not Hungarians, as in the Bibliotheca Fratrum Polonorum quos Unitarios vocant (or "Library of the Polish Brethren called Unitarians") of which Locke, Voltaire and Newton owned copies. The works of Dávid and György Enyedi's were not reprinted in the 17th century. It was the visit of Sándor Bölöni Farkas to Britain and America from 1830 to 1832, which made English speaking Unitarians aware of the continued existence of Hungarian Unitarians - and following that, of the legacy of Ferenc Dávid.
The Unitarian Universalist author John A. Buehrens (1989) attributes to Ferenc Dávid the statement, "We need not think alike to love alike". The phrase is cited also in Our Historic Faith by Mark W. Harris and in the 1993 Unitarian Universalist Hymnal Singing the Living Tradition in reading #566, which is a compilation of quotes by David, compiled by Rev. Richard Fewekes, but the source for this is not given in either case. The phrase is given in no source prior to Buehren's book. In an article published by UU World, "Who Really Said That?" Peter Hughes claims that there is no evidence that Dávid actually said this. He attributes the quote to Methodist founder John Wesley, who asked in a sermon on "Catholic Spirit," "Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?"
Works of Dávid, and of the Unitarian Church.