Francis David

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A Drawing by László Gyula

David, Francis [Dávid Ferenc] (1510—1579)

Appointed the court preacher to King John Sigismund of Transylvania, David (also known as Dávid Ferencz) is reported to have said,

There is no greater piece of folly than to try to exercise power over conscience and soul, both of which are subject only to their Creator.

David was successively a Roman Catholic, a Lutheran, and an anti-trinitarian, preaching in 1566 against the doctrine of the Trinity. He went further than Socinus and declared there was “as much foundation for praying to the Virgin Mary and other dead saints as to Jesus Christ.” In consequence, he was accused of blasphemy.

At the Diet of Torda in 1568, he spoke in favor of tolerance for all religious groups. Under his influence, King John Sigismund proclaimed complete religious toleration in Transylvania—King John is cited as being the first Unitarian king in world history. In 1579, after being condemned as a heretic, David died in a prison in Deva.

David reportedly was married three times and, according to Earl Morse Wilbur, his first wife bore him several children.

(See entry for Hungarian Unitarians.)

{BDF; EU, Paul H. Beattie; U}