German humanist and knight. His early writings divided between his outspoken attacks on Duke Ulrich of Württemberg and his outspoken support for the cause of humanist bonae litterae/good letters. In particular, he was instrumental in the satirical Epistolae obscurorum virorum/Letters of Obscure Men (1515) attacking Johann Reuchlin's opponents. However, he took Erasmian criticisms of the church further and, when the Luther affair began, became a vigorous supporter of Martin Luther.
He was born in the Castle of Steckelberg, near Fulda, Hesse. He went to the monastery at Fulda but left in 1505, going to the universities at Cologne, Erfurt, and Frankfurt-an-der-Oder, where he took his masters degree and published his first poems. From there he went to Wittenberg and Leipzig, and then travelled to Italy, where he served in the emperor's army.
In 1517 Hutten was made poet laureate by Emperor Maximilian. In the same year he entered the service of the archbishop of Mainz and the following year published an edition of Valla's Donation of Constantine with a sarcastic dedication to the pope. In 1520 his enthusiastic support of Martin Luther (expressed in several Latin and German tracts) resulted in his dismissal from the archbishop's service, and Hutten resumed his wanderings.
He urged the knights of the empire to take up arms against the Catholic Church but did not take part in Franz von Sickingen's abortive ‘Knights' War’. He died of syphilis in Zürich while under the protection of the reformer Ulrich Zwingli.