Nikolaus Ludwig, Reichsgraf von Zinzendorf und Pottendorf (26 May 1700 – 9 May 1760) was a German religious and social reformer, bishop of the Moravian Church, founder of the Herrnhuter Brüdergemeine, Christian mission pioneer and a major figure of 18th century Protestantism.
He played a role in starting the Protestant mission movement by supporting two determined Moravian missionaries Johann Leonhard Dober and David Nitschmann to go to the Danish colony of Saint Thomas via Copenhagen to minister to the enslaved population (see Moravian slaves). Zinzendorf was critical of slavery and supported the first Moravian missionaries who in spite of Danish royal support from Charlotte Amalie of Denmark faced discouragement from some Moravians at Herrnhut (including Christian David), the Danish West India Company, Saint Thomas planters, the risk of getting malaria and the slaves themselves.
Born at Dresden, Zinzendorf was often influenced by strong and vehement feelings, and he was easily moved both by sorrow and joy. He was a natural orator, and though his dress was simple his personal appearance gave an impression of distinction and force. His projects were often misunderstood. In 1736, he was banished from Saxony, but in 1749 the government rescinded its decree and begged him to establish within its jurisdiction more settlements like that at Herrnhut.
He was notable for providing shelter for the German-speaking Moravian exiles at Herrnhut. This settlement was influenced by his Pietist ideas from the Lutheran faith he was brought up in. Nowadays, the Moravian Church remains heavily shaped by Zinzendorf, in addition to its Hussite origin. He was called Ludwig or Brother Ludwig by his intimates. He is commemorated as a hymnwriter and a renewer of the church by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on their Calendar of Saints and on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on 10 May.
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