No one -- not the emperor, not the pope – could lead Frederick the Wise by the nose. As Martin Luther himself noted in Table Talk: “Duke Frederick seated himself, asked for counsel, closed his eyes, made note of what was said by one after another, and finally he spoke, saying, 'This or that won't stand up,' `This or that will be the consequence.'”
In early 1518 Martin Luther began pushing for professors in Greek and Hebrew, so the university at Wittenberg could study the classics and the Bible properly. The Greek professor at Leipzig, Petrus Mosellanus, let it be known he might be available. Luther but especially Spalatin, the trusted adviser of Frederick the Wise, began quietly promoting Mosellanus. Did Frederick the Wise accept this? No, he sought advice from Reuchlin, one of the great Hebrew (and Greek) scholars of the empire.
For Greek, Reuchlin recommended only one man: his own grandnephew, whom he had personally taught. Later, while Frederick the Wise was in Augsburg for the 1518 Reichstag, the staunch defender of Rome Johann Eck sought an audience with him six times. Frederick refused every time. Frederick did however see 20-year-old Philipp Melanchthon, Reuchlin’s grandnephew and his new professor of Greek.
Melanchthon, similar to Spalatin in his retiring manner, was (also like Spalatin) soon completely won over by Martin Luther and his ideas. Melanchthon was complex. He was more savagely reformist than Luther but much milder in his public discourse. Unlike Luther, who wrote prolifically but with little framework, Melanchthon was less the writer and more the organizer. He organized the new theology into a coherent whole. In only three years he published his classic synthesis Loci communes rerum theologicarum seu hypotyposes theologicae (Wittenberg and Basel, 1521).
References: Martin Brecht, Martin Luther: His Road to Reformation, 1483-1521 (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1985); Irmgard Höß, Georg Spalatin: Ein Leben in der Zeit des Humanismus und der Reformation, 2nd edition 1989 (Weimar, 1956); and Theodore G. Tappert, ed., Table Talk, volume 54 in Luther’s Works (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1967).
Q. What would the Reformation have been like without Melanchthon?