Under the aegis of the City Council, the Bremen Gymnasium Illustre (1528-1813) developed into an educational stronghold, notably in theology and law. Started as a Latin school, its star rose rapidly under the famous humanist Molanus and its prolific rector Pezel. In 1610 the magistrates dismissed the maladroit rector Widmar and in his place appointed the progressive Herborn pedagogue Martini, mentor of Comenius and Alsted. Martini reorganized the Bremen school into an academy containing the four classical Faculties, gave it its own printer (De Villiers) and introduced his practical, Ramist ideas on didactic reform. He also won great distinction as a philologist. Under his rectorate and that of Crocius and Meier, the academy attracted students from the whole of Reformed Europe, including many Bohemians and Moravians, and supplied hundreds of theologians and clergymen (e.g. Coccejus) to Calvinist churches and institutions as far away as North America and East India. The academy had its heyday in the second half of the seventeenth century and overall, between 1610-1810, employed some 175 professors and enrolled roughly 7,680 students…

Molded by reform humanists of the Strasbourg and Zurich stamp, the Bremen academy occupied a place of its own within early orthodoxy and Reformed scholasticism. It never lost its specific, moderate, irenic bias, as was apparent in its infralapsarianism, christological universalism and federal theology. With this North-German flavor of the Reformed confession, the polychromy of the Protestant and Reformed traditions, as well as that of the rigid confessionalism in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe, was enriched with yet another nuance. ~Wim Janse

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