PIRKHEIMER, WILIBALD: German humanist; b. at Eichstätt (42 m. w.s.w. of Regensburg) Dec. 5, 1470; d. at Nuremberg Dec. 22, 1530. He received his elementary education from his father and then studied at the universities of Pavia and Padua the classics, music, and jurisprudence for seven years. He was city councilor at Nuremberg, 1496-1523; was entrusted with diplomatic charges by his city; and served in the war with the Swiss as imperial counselor to Maximilian I. and Charles V., as a result of which he wrote Historia belli Suitensis sive He1vetici (in Pirckheimeri opera politica, pp. 63-92, Frankfort, 1610), which secured him the appellation of the German Xenophon. But Pirkheimer was famous for his versatile scholarship; he was identified with the revival in Germany of the humanities from Italy and shared the leadership with Erasmus and Reuchlin. He translated into Latin wholly or in part the works of Euclid, Xenophon, Plato, Ptolemy, Theophrastus, Plutarch, Lucian of Samosata, Gregory of Nazianzus, and John of Damascus, and possessed a large library gathered in the cities of Italy and freely thrown open to friends of learning.
Though in conflict with crystallized scholasticism, he was not inimical to the Church. However, he was a part of the movement which prepared the way for the coming division. At the beginning of the Reformation he took his position with Luther; called himself "a good Lutheran" in 1522; and for his Eckius dedolatus (ed. S. Szamatolski, 1891) and for a defensive polemic for Luther he drew upon himself a bull at the instigation of Johann Eck (q.v.) in 1521, but was absolved the same year. After 1524 he gradually fell away from Protestantism and turned more and more toward the Roman Catholic Church, mainly through his relation with the monastery of the Poor Clares (see CLARE, SAINT, AND THE POOR CLARES) at Nuremberg the abbess of which (1503-32) was his famous sister Charitas (q.v.). When the innovators in that city, Hieronymus Ebner, Caspar Nützel, and Lazarus Spengler, went so far in 1524 as to induce a voluntary abandonment of the monastery by the nuns, Pirkheimer's tender relation with his sister impelled him to advance to the defense. He appealed to Melanchthon through whose influence the abolition was stayed. His last work was in defense of the monastery, the Oratoria Apologetica (1529; ed. G. J. Gretser, Opera omnia, xvii., Regensburg, 1734-41).