Johann Reuchlin (Hellenized Into Capnio), a German scholar, born in Pforzheim in 1455 (Feb. 22, according to Geiger), died in Stuttgart, June 30, 1522. On account of the sweetness of his voice he was admitted into the chapel of the margrave of Baden, and he was chosen by that prince to accompany his son Frederick in 1473 to the university of Paris. At the age of 20 he taught at Basel philosophy and Greek and Latin. He studied law in Orleans, and in 1481 was made teacher of jurisprudence and belles-lettres in the university of Tubingen. He received from the emperor Frederick III. the title of imperial councillor, and was employed in diplomacy. After the death of his patron Duke Eberhard of Würtemberg he went to the court of the elector palatine Philip at Heidelberg, where he made valuable additions to the library; and when the elector fell under the papal ban, Reuchlin went to Rome and obtained his absolution. For 11 years he was president of the Swabian confederate tribunal, but found time for the study of the eastern languages, and was constantly collecting Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. About 1509 a converted Jew named Pfefferkorn persuaded the inquisition of Cologne to solicit from the emperor Maximilian an order that all Hebrew books with the exception of the Bible should be burned.
The emperor yielded, but subsequently asked the opinion of Reuchlin, who remonstrated strenuously, and the order was superseded. The inquisitors raised a furious cry against Reuchlin, charging him with being secretly inclined to Judaism. Reuchlin in 1511 published a defence under the title Speculum Oculare, in 1512 a German translation entitled Augenspiegel, and in 1513 his Defen-sio contra Calumniatores. In revenge the inquisitor Hoogstraaten formed a tribunal at Mentz, by the order of which the writings of the German scholar were committed to the flames. An appeal was made to Pope Leo X., who referred the whole matter to the bishop of Spire, and that prelate declared Reuchlin innocent, and ordered the monks to pay the expenses of the investigation. Hoogstraaten appealed to the pope, who issued a mandate to suspend the proceedings against Reuchlin. The opening of the reformation prevented the matter from being revived; but the contest resulted really in favor of the advocates of classical literature, the study of Greek and Hebrew from that time becoming general among the Germans. (See EpistolAE Obscurorum Viro-rum.) In the war between Franz von Sickin-gen and Ulric, duke of Würtemberg, Reuchlin was obliged to leave Stuttgart, and in 1520 was made professor in the university of Ingol-stadt by Duke William of Bavaria. He received an invitation to go to Wittenberg, and recommended in his place his cousin Philip Melanchthon. Although suspected of a leaning toward Protestantism, he never renounced his connection with the Roman Catholic church.
When in 1522 the plague broke out in Ingol-stadt, he retired to Tubingen with the intention of devoting himself wholly to his studies, but soon sickened and died. Among his philological works are Micropoedia, sive Grammatica Qroeca (Orleans, 1478); Breviloquus, sine Dic-tionarium singulas Voces Latinas breviter Ex-plicans, which has been called the first Latin dictionary (Basel, 1478); Rudimenta Hebraica (Pforzheim, 1506); and De Accentibus et Or-thographia Hebroeorum Libri III. (Hagenau, 1518). His edition of the seven penitential psalms (Tubingen, 1512) is thought to have been the first Hebrew work printed in Germany. For the system of Greek pronunciation which he established, and which is known as iotacism or Reuchlinism, see Greece (Language and Literature), vol. viii., p. 209. - See Johann Reuchlin, sein Leben und seine Werke, by Ludwig Geiger (Leipsic, 1871).