Today in the Middle Ages: December 7, 1539

On December 7, 1539, Martin Luther granted Philip, Landgrave of Hesse a confessor's dispensation to marry a second wife, although his first wife was still living and not divorced. Christine of Saxony, described as "unattractive and sickly," apparently favored her husband's plan to marry again.

Philip had been an adulterous and licentious husband since early in the marriage, and had long sought theological sanction for bigamy. He married his second wife, Margrethe von der Saale, secretly in March of 1540, but the marriage became public knowledge, and a politically damaging scandal followed.