August Hermann Francke was a central figure of Lutheran Pietism, a reform and revivalist movement within Protestantism which was primarily initiated by Philipp Jakob Spener. Francke studied philosophy and theology among other things, and got to know Philipp Jakob Spener, who had a great influence on him, after his Habilitation in Leipzig. Improving the world by improving people was Francke's vision, which placed the focus on the individual. In 1698, he set up an orphanage with a school for poor children attached to it in Halle-on-the-Saale. By this time he had become a professor and served as the minister of St. Ulrich's Church in the city. His educational institution for impoverished children, which developed into a substantial school complex and subsequently became known as the "Franckesche Stiftungen" (Francke Foundations), became the most important Protestant educational institution in Europe within a few decades, putting fundamental principles of the Reformation into practice. Representatives of Halle Pietism were among the supporters of the Danisch-Hallesche Mission, the first organized missionary project in Protestant church history. The two Tranquebar missionaries Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg and Heinrich Plütschau had also been students of Francke.
Martin Bernigeroth (1670–1733), Portrait of August Hermann Francke (1663–1727), copperplate engraving, 146 x 96 mm, unknown year; source: SLUB Dresden, Deutsche Fotothek, Permalink: http://www.deutschefotothek.de/obj70249711.html, location of the original: copperplate engraving cabinet, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden.