Bishopric of Brandenburg

Bishopric of Brandenburg
Prince-Bishopric of Brandenburg
Hochstift Brandenburg
State of the Holy Roman Empire
Image missing
ca. 1165–1598 (as imperial estate)
948–983 and again 1161–1544 (as Catholic diocese)
Electoral Brandenburg

Coat of arms

Capital Brandenburg upon Havel
Language(s) Low Saxon, German
Religion Roman Catholic until 1530s, then Lutheran
Government Elective monarchy, ruled by the bishop holding the see, elected by the cathedral chapter or, exceptionally, appointed by the Pope, or ruled by a regent
Prince-Bishop, or Regent
 - 1173–1179 Prince-Bishop Sigfrid I
 - 1421–1459 Prince-Bishop Stephan
 - 1560–1569 Regent John George
 - 1569–1571 Regent Joachim Frederick
Historical era Middle Ages
 - diocese founded
    and restored
 - territorial reign est. 1165
 - de facto supremacy of
    Electoral Brandenburg

 - electors privileged to
    choose candidates
    for the see

 - secularised as part of
    Electoral Brandenburg
 - legal dissolution 1598
Currency rixdollar

The Bishopric of Brandenburg was a Roman Catholic diocese established by Otto the Great in 948, including the territory between the Elbe on the west, the Oder on the east, and the Schwarze Elster on the south, and taking in the Uckermark to the north. Its seat was Brandenburg upon Havel. It was a state of the Holy Roman Empire for some time, probably starting at 1161/1165, but never managed to gain control over a significant territory, being overshadowed by the Margraviate of Brandenburg, which was originally seated in the same city. Chapter and cathedral, surrounded by further ecclesiastical institutions, were located on Dominsel (cathedral island), which formed a prince-episcopal immunity district, distinct from the city of Brandenburg. Only in 1929 the - meanwhile former - immunity district was incorporated into the city itself.


The Cathedral of Ss. Peter and Paul in Brandenburg upon Havel, nineteenth century.

The diocese was originally a suffragan of Mainz, but in 968 it came under the archiepiscopal jurisdiction of Magdeburg. The Lutician uprising of 983 practically annihilated it; bishops continued to be named, but they were merely titular, until the downfall of the Wends in the twelfth century and the German eastward settlement in the diocesan region revived the bishopric.

Bishop Wigers (1138–60) was the first of a series of bishops of the Premonstratensian Order, which chose the occupants of the see until 1447; in that year a bull of Nicholas V gave the right of nomination to the elector of Brandenburg, with whom the bishops stood in a close feudal relation.

The Castle of Ziesar (Burg Ziesar), now a museum also showing the history of the Prince-Bishopric of Brandenburg.

As rulers of imperial immediacy, regnant in a, however, dispersed territory partitioned into the four bailiwicks (German: Ämter) of Brandenburg/Havel, Ketzin, Teltow and Ziesar, the prince-bishops resided in their fortress in Ziesar. The last actual bishop was Matthias von Jagow (d. 1544), who took the side of the Reformation, married, and in every way furthered the undertakings of Elector Joachim II.

There were two more nominal bishops, but on the petition of the latter of these, the electoral prince John George, the secularisation of the bishopric was undertaken and finally accomplished, in spite of legal proceedings to reassert the imperial immediacy of the prince-bishopric within the Empire and so to likewise preserve the diocese, which dragged on into the seventeenth century.

Bishops of Brandenburg

  • 949–968: Dietmar
  • 968–980: Dodilo
  • 980–1004: Volkmar
  • 992–1018: Wigo
  • 1022–1032: Luizo
  • 1032-1048: Rudolf
  • 1048–1051: Dankwart
  • 1068–1080: Dietrich I
  • 1080–1092: Volkmar II
  • 1100–1122: Hartbert
  • 1124–1137: Ludolf
  • 1137–1138: Landbert
  • 1138–1160: Wiggar
  • 1160–1173: Wilman
  • 1173–1179: Sigfried I
  • 1179–1190: Baldran
  • 1190–1192: Alexius
  • 1192–1205: Norbert
  • 1205–1216: Baldwin
  • 1216–1220: Siegfried II
  • 1221–1222: Ludolf von Schanebeck, claimant, but not enthroned
  • 1221–1222: Wichmann von Arnstein, counter-claimant, also not enthroned
  • 1222–1241: Gernot
  • 1241–1251: Rutger of Ammendorf
  • 1251–1261: Otto von Mehringen
  • 1261–1278: Heinrich I von Osthenen (or Ostheeren)
  • 1278–1287: Gebhard
  • 1287–1290: Heidenreich
  • 1290–1291: Richard, refused the appointment
  • 1291–1296: Dietrich, not enthroned
  • 1296–1302: Vollrad von Krempa
  • 1303–1316: Friedrich of Plötzkau
  • 1316–1324: Johann I von Tuchen
  • 1324–1327: Heinrich II Count of Barby, not enthroned
  • 1327–1347: Ludwig Schenk von Reindorf (or Neuendorf)
  • 1347–1365: Dietrich II Kothe
  • 1366–1393: Dietrich III von der Schulenburg
  • 1393–1406: Heinrich III von Bodendiek (or Bodendieck)
  • 1406–1414: Henning von Bredow
  • 1414: Friedrich von Grafeneck, Prince-Bishop of Augsburg
  • 1415–1420: Johann von Waldow, Bishop of Lebus
  • 1420: Friedrich von Grafeneck, again
  • 1421–1459: Stephan Bodecker
  • 1459–1472: Dietrich IV von Stechow
  • 1472–1485: Arnold von Burgsdorff
  • 1485–1507: Joachim I von Bredow
  • 1507–1520: Hieronymus Schulz (or Scultetus), later Bishop of Havelberg
  • 1520–1526: Dietrich V von Hardenberg, Lutheran
  • 1526–1544: Matthias von Jagow, Lutheran
  • 1544–1546: Sede vacante
  • 1546–1560: Joachim II of Münsterberg-Oels
  • 1560-1569/71: John George, Elector of Brandenburg, Regent (Verweser)
  • 1569/71: Joachim Frederick, Elector of Brandenburg


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainJackson, Samuel Macauley, ed (1914). "article name needed". New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (third ed.). London and New York: Funk and Wagnalls. 

Coordinates: 52°24′30″N 12°33′45″E / 52.40842°N 12.56249°E / 52.40842; 12.56249

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