- Prince-Bishopric of Münster
Prince-Bishopric of Münster
State of the Holy Roman Empire ← 1180–1802 →
Flag Coat of arms
1560, Prince-Bishopric of Münster highlighted in red
Capital Münster in Westphalia Language(s) Low Saxon, German, Frisian Religion Roman Catholic; Anabaptist Government Principality Historical era Middle Ages - Created on collapse
1180 - Secularised to Prussia 1802
The Bishopric of Münster was an ecclesiastical principality in the Holy Roman Empire, located in the northern part of today's North Rhine-Westphalia and western Lower Saxony. From the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, it was often held in conjunction with one or more of the nearby ecclesiastical principalities of Cologne, Paderborn, Osnabrück, Hildesheim, and Liège.
Münster was bordered by the Netherlands to the west, by the Duchy of Cleves, the Vest Recklinghausen, and the County of Mark in the south, the Prince-Bishopric of Paderborn and the Prince-Bishopric of Osnabrück in the east. In the north it bordered East Frisia and Oldenburg. In the north-east was the Electorate of Hanover (est. 1692).
The first bishop was Ludger, who, since the year 787, had been a zealous missionary in five Frisian "hundreds", or districts. The territory of the Diocese of Münster was bounded on the west, south, and north-west by the dioceses of Cologne and Utrecht, on the east and north-east by Osnabrück. The diocese also included districts remote from the bulk of its territory, namely, the five Frisian hundreds on the lower Ems (Hugmerki, Hunusgau, Fivelgau, Federitgau, and Emsgau).
Most of the territory over which the bishop eventually exercised sovereign rights lay north of the River Lippe, extending as far as the upper Ems and the Teutoburg Forest. The most important accession was in 1252, when the see purchased the Countship of Vechta and the district of Meppen. The country between these new districts was acquired later: in 1403 the district about Cloppenburg and Oyte was gained, in 1406 the manorial domain of Ahaus and the castle of Stromberg with its jurisdiction; and in 1429 Wildeshausen in pledge from the Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen, renewed by its successor Swedish Bremen-Verden by the Treaty of Nijmegen on 19 March 1679. According to the latter Prince-Bishop Ferdinand II, Baron of Fürstenberg granted Sweden a loan amounting to 100,000 rixdollars in return for the renewed pledge. This last addition made the new territory, which was entirely separate from the southern part of the diocese, a compact body subsequently known as "the lower diocese"; it remained an integral part of the Diocese of Münster until the Reformation, which somewhat reduced its size; what was left was retained until the secularization.
The 12th century was marked by a considerable growth of the bishops' secular power. Bishop Ludwig I, Count of Tecklenburg (1169–73), restored to the see the temporal jurisdiction over its domains previously exercised by the Counts of Tecklenburg. Hermann II, like his immediate predecessors, Frederick II, Count of Are (1152–68), and Ludwig I, was a partisan of Frederick Barbarossa. With the overthrow of Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony, the last obstacle in the way of the complete sovereignty of the bishops was removed, and Hermann appears as a great feudatory of the empire. During the episcopate of his second successor, Dietrich III of Isenberg-Altena (1218–26), the position of the bishop as a prince of the empire was formally acknowledged in 1220 by Frederick II. Hermann II was the last bishop directly appointed by the emperor. Dissensions arose about the election of his successor, Otto I, Count of Oldenburg (1204–18), and Emperor Otto IV decreed that thenceforward the cathedral chapter alone should elect the bishop. The See of Cologne retained the right of confirmation, and the emperor that of investiture. The bishop's temporal authority was limited in important matters; particularly in taxation, the consent of representative bodies of his subjects was necessary. Among these, the cathedral chapter appears early in the 13th century; later, the lower nobility, and, lastly, the city of Münster. In course of time the cathedral chapter extended its rights by agreements made with bishops before election.
The temporal power of the see increased greatly during the episcopate of Bishop Otto II, Count of Lippe (1247–59). The city, at the same time, struggled to become independent of the bishop, not, however, with complete success, notwithstanding its alliance with the cathedral chapter. Even as early as the eleventh century the bishops all belonged to noble families, generally to those possessing lands in the neighbourhood; only too often the diocese was administered for the benefit rather of the bishop's family than of the Church. The bishops were, in consequence, frequently involved in the quarrels of the nobility; ecclesiastical affairs were neglected and the prosperity of the inhabitants of the prince-bishopric suffered. Conditions were at their worst during what is known as the Münster Diocesan Feud (1450–57). The arbitrary conduct of Bishop Henry II of Moers (1424–50) had aroused a very bitter feeling in the city. After his death the majority of the cathedral chapter elected Walram of Moers, brother of Henry and also Archbishop of Cologne, while the city and a minority of the chapter demanded the election of Eric of Hoya, brother of Count John of Hoya. Although the election of Walram was confirmed by the pope, open war for the possession of the see broke out, and Walram was unable to gain possession of the city of Münster. In 1457, after his death, a compact was made by which Eric of Hoya received a life income, and the privileges of the city were confirmed, while both parties recognized the new bishop appointed by the pope, John II, Count Palatine of Simmern (1457–66).
Under the indolent and thoroughly worldly Frederick III (1522–32), brother of the Archbishop of Cologne, Hermann of Wied, Lutheranism spread rapidly after 1524, especially in the city. Scarcely any opposition to the innovation was made by the next bishop, Franz von Waldeck (1532–53), who from the first planned to aid the Reformation in his three dioceses of Münster, Minden, and Osnabrück, in order to form out of these three a secular principality for himself. He was obliged, indeed, for the sake of his endangered authority, to proceed against the Anabaptists in the city of Münster; but he did little for the restoration of the Faith, and at last joined the Smalkaldic League. William of Ketteler (1553–57) was more Protestant than Catholic: although he regarded himself as an administrator of the old Church, and took the Tridentine oath, he refused to comply with the demands of Rome, and resigned in 1557.
Bishop John William of Cleves (1574–85), inherited the Duchy of Cleves in 1575, married, and gave up the administration of the diocese. A long diplomatic battle as to his successor arose between the Catholic and Protestant powers, during which the diocese was administered by Cleves. The maintenance of Catholicism in the diocese was assured by the victory of Ernst of Bavaria (1585–1612), who was also Bishop of Freising, Hildesheim, and Liège, and Archbishop of Cologne. He zealously undertook the Counter-Reformation, invited the Jesuits to aid him, and encouraged the founding of monasteries of the old orders, although he could not repair all the losses. The western part of the Frisian district under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Münster was transferred, in 1569, to the newly-founded bishoprics of Groningen and Deventer, and with them fell into Protestantism. In the same way the possessions of the Counts of Bentheim-Steinfurt and some other fortified towns passed from the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the bishop.
Christoph Bernhard of Galen (1650–78) was equally efficient both as bishop and as secular ruler; he forced the refractory city of Münster, after a long siege, to acknowledge his sovereign rights, succeeded in freeing his territory from foreign troops, gained parts of the Archdiocese of Bremen and of the Diocese of Verden in a war with Sweden, restored church discipline, and established a school system for his territory. He attacked the Dutch Republic both in the Third Anglo-Dutch War and in the Franco-Dutch War.
Bishop Clement Augustus of Bavaria (1719–61) was frivolous, vain and pomp-loving. He was also Elector of Cologne, and Bishop of Paderborn, Hildesheim, and Osnabrück. During his episcopate the diocese suffered terribly, in 1734–35 and during the Seven Years' War, being almost ruined financially. The succeeding bishop, Maximilian Frederick of Königsegg-Rothenfels (1761–84), who was also Elector of Cologne, was a weak, though well-meaning man. Happily, he left the administration of the Diocese of Münster to a young cathedral canon, Franz Friedrich Wilhelm von Fürstenberg, during whose administration the diocese attained unexampled prosperity. At the election of an auxiliary bishop, von Fürstenberg was defeated by Maximilian Franz of Austria, who also became Elector of Cologne (1784–1801). Maximilian Franz was forced to abandon Bonn by the arrival of French troops in 1794, who occupied his lands on the left bank of the Rhine, and spent the rest of his life in Vienna, although he was still recognized as ruler of Münster. Upon the death of Maximilian Franz, his nephew, the Archduke Anton Victor of Austria, was elected, becoming the last Elector of Cologne and Prince-Bishop of Münster, but his remaining territories were in 1802 occupied by Prussia, which had long coveted the domains of the Church in Northern Germany.
In 1803 the bishopric, with ca 310 000 inhabitants was secularized by the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss and broken up into numerous parts. The larger Eastern share was assigned to Prussia, which took possession in March 1803. Oldenburg gained the Northern part (Vechta and Cloppenburg). The other parts were given as compensation to former rulers of territories west of the Rhine: Arenberg, Looz-Corswarem, Salm and Croÿ. Within the following years all parts became French.
Prince-Bishops of Münster Name From To Ludger 805 809 Gerfried 809 839 Altfried 839 849 Liutbert 849 871 Berthold 872 875 Wolfhelm 875 900 Nidhard 900 922 Rumhold 922 941 Hildbold 942 967 Dodo 967 993 Swidger 993 1011 Dietrich I 1011 1022 Siegfried of Walbeck 1022 1032 Hermann I 1032 1042 Rudbert 1042 1063 Frederick I 1064 1084 Erpho 1084 1097 Burchard of Holte 1098 1118 Dietrich II of Winzenburg 1118 1127 Egbert 1127 1132 Werner of Steußlingen 1132 1151 Frederick II of Are 1152 1168 Ludwig I of Wippra 1169 1173 Hermann II of Katzenelnbogen 1173 1202 Otto I of Oldenburg 1203 1218 Dietrich of Isenberg 1219 1226 Ludolf of Holte 1226 1247 Otto II of Lippe 1247 1259 Wilhelm I of Holte 1259 1260 Gerhard of the March 1261 1272 Everhard of Diest 1275 1301 Otto III of Rietberg 1301 1306 Conrad I of Berg 1306 1310 Ludwig II of Hesse 1310 1357 Adolf III of the March 1357 1363 John I of Virneburg 1363 1364 Florence of Wevelinghoven 1364 1378 Potho of Pothenstein 1379 1381 Heidenreich Wolf of Lüdinghausen 1381 9 April 1392 Otto IV of Hoya 11 April 1392 3 October 1424 Henry II of Moers 31 October 1424 2 June 1450 Walram of Moers 15 July 1450 3 October 1456 Eric I of Hoya 15 July 1450 23 October 1457 John of Pfalz-Simmern 9 April 1457 February 1466 Henry III of Schwarzburg 7 December 1466 24 December 1496 Conrad II of Rietberg 1497 9 February 1508 Eric II of Saxe-Lauenburg 24 February 1508 20 October 1522 Frederick III of Wied 6 November 1522 22 March 1532 Eric of Brunswick-Grubenhagen 26 March 1532 14 May 1532 Francis von Waldeck 1 June 1532 15 July 1553 William of Ketteler 21 July 1553 2 December 1557 Bernhard of Raesfeld 4 December 1557 25 October 1566 John II of Hoya 28 October 1566 5 April 1574 John William, Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg 28 April 1574 8 May 1585 Ernest of Bavaria 18 May 1585 17 January 1612 Ferdinand I of Bavaria 12 April 1612 13 September 1650 Bernhard von Galen 4 November 1650 19 September 1678 Ferdinand II of Fürstenberg 1 November 1678 26 June 1683 Maximilian Henry of Bavaria 11 September 1683 3 June 1688 Frederick Christian of Plettenberg 29 July 1688 5 May 1706 Francis Arnold von Wolff-Metternich zur Gracht 30 August 1706 25 December 1718 Clemens August I of Bavaria 26 March 1719 6 February 1761 Maximilian Frederick of Königsegg-Rothenfels 7 April 1761 15 April 1784 Archduke Maximilian Franz of Austria 15 April 1784 27 July 1801 Archduke Anton Victor of Austria 9 September 1801 25 February 1803
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.
- Schloss Nordkirchen
Lower Rhenish–Westphalian Circle (1500–1806) of the Holy Roman Empire Ecclesiastical Prelates Secular Counts
and lordsfrom 1500Bentheim · Bronkhorst (until 1719) · Diepholz · East Frisia (until 1667) · Horne3 (until 1614) · Hoya · Lingen3 · Lippe · Manderscheid (until 1546) · Moers (until 1541) · Nassau (Diez · Hadamar · Dillenburg (until 1664)) · Oldenburg (until 1777) · Pyrmont · Ravensberg3 · Reichenstein · Rietberg · Salm-Reifferscheid · Sayn · Schaumburg · Tecklenburg · Virneburg · Wied · Winneburg and Beilstein · Zimerauff?from 1792status
Cities1 from 1792. 2 until 1792. 3 without Reichstag seat. ? status uncertain.
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