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He entered in 1614 the University of Heidelberg where he studied philology and philosophy, and in 1619 removed to Geneva to study theology. In 1621 he became tutor in the house of Jean de Bonne, Baron de Vitrolle, governor of Embrun in Dauphiné, and after three years he visited Geneva, and Paris, and England, returning to Geneva in 1626 and becoming professor of philosophy. In 1631 he went over to the theological faculty, and was rector of the academy from 1633 to 1637.
He published anonymously, Le Soldat suedois (1633), a history of the Thirty Years' War until 1631 and Le Mercure suisse (1634); Commentaire historique de la vie et de la mort de . . Christofle Vicomte de Dohna (1639).
His principal theological works are:
- Dubia evangelica (3 vols., Geneva, 1631-1639)
- Disputatio de gratia universali (3 vols., Leiden, 1644-1648)
- Epistola ad Buchananum super controversiis...in ecclesiis Anglicanis (Leiden, 1645).
Against the Anabaptists he wrote Variae disputationes anti-Anabaptisticae (1643) and Diatribe historica de origine, progressu, sectis et nominibus anabaptistarum (1645; English translation, Englands Warning by Germanies Woe, London, 1646).
- A. Heiden, Oratio funebris in obitum...F. Spenhemii, Leiden, 1849.
- Pierre Bayle, Dictionary, v. 193-195.
- Nicéron, Mémoires, xxix. 35
- J. Senebier, Hist. littéraire de Genève, ii. 191 sqq., Geneva, 1786
- Lichtenberger, ESR, xi. 656.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Jackson, Samuel Macauley, ed. (1914). "Spanheim, Friedrich, the Elder". New Schaff–Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (third ed.). London and New York: Funk and Wagnalls.