Bishopric of Merseburg

Bishopric of Merseburg
Prince-Bishopric of Merseburg
Hochstift Merseburg
State of the Holy Roman Empire


Coat of arms

Bishoprics of Merseburg, Naumburg and Zeitz (violet) about 1250
Capital Merseburg
Language(s) German
Religion Roman Catholic
Government Principality
Historical era Middle Ages
 - Bishopric established 967
 - Prince-bishopric 1004
 - Turned Protestant 1544
 - Incorporated by Saxony 1565

The Bishopric of Merseburg was a episcopal see on the eastern border of the mediæval Duchy of Saxony with its centre in Merseburg, where Merseburg Cathedral was constructed. The see was founded in 967 by Emperor Otto I at the same time in the same manner as those of Meissen and Zeitz (from 1029: Naumburg), all suffragan dioceses of the Archbishopric of Magdeburg as part of a plan to bind the Slavic ("Wendish") lands in the Saxon Eastern March beyond the Saale river more closely to the Holy Roman Empire. The bishopric then covered a considerable small territory between the Saale and Mulde rivers.

Merseburg Cathedral

About 919 Otto's father King Henry the Fowler had a Kaiserpfalz erected in Merseburg in the Eastphalian Hassegau, hometown of his first wife Hatheburg. The establishment of the diocese traced back to a vow Otto took before his victory against the Hungarians at the Battle of Lechfeld on Saint Laurence day, 10 August 955. Confirmed by Pope John XIII at the 968 synod in Ravenna, the first Merseburg bishop was Boso, a Bavarian monk descending from St. Emmeram's Abbey in Regensburg (Ratisbon), already distinguished by his missionary labours among the pagan Sorbs.

Boso's successor Gisilher, a confidant of the new Emperor Otto II, from 971 procured the suppression of the see in favour of his aims to become Archbishop of Magdeburg, finally reached through the Emperor's power over Pope Benedict VII in 981. However this step was clearly against the interests of the Church and the position of Magdeburg archbishopric was decisively enfeebled after the Great Slav Rising of 983, therefore the dissolution was revoked by the papacy in 998 or early in 999 at a Roman synod. Upon Archbishop Gisilher's death in 1004, Emperor Henry II re-established the Prince-bishopric; the diocese did not, however, recover all its former territory, and was now almost exclusively a missionary jurisdiction among the Sorbs, who were not fully converted to Christianity until the middle of the 12th century.

Under Bishop Thietmar (1009-1018) the erection of Merseburg Cathedral began, it was consecrated in 1021 in presence of Emperor Henry II. During the Investiture Controversy the Merseburg bishops sided with Pope Gregory VII and also joined the Great Saxon Revolt, which, however, could not stop the dwindling importance of the small diocese. From the 13th century onwards, the bishops had to deal with rising power of the Meissen margraves of the Wettin dynasty, from 1423 Electors of Saxony, who by denying Merseburg's Imperial immediacy attempted to acquire the overlordship. By the 1485 Treaty of Leipzig the Wettins allocated the protectorate over Merseburg to Duke Albert III of Saxony.

The bishopric's fate was sealed with the Protestant Reformation, which was enforced here during the episcopate of Prince Adolph II of Anhalt, who was driven out of office by his uprising subjects during the Peasants' War in 1525. In 1544 Elector Augustus of Saxony finally assumed the rule as Protestant administrator, with Prince George III of Anhalt as Coadjutor bishop. In 1561 the Saxon elector installed his minor son Alexander as administrator, who nevertheless died four years later, whereafter the Bishopric of Merseburg was finally incorporated by the Saxon electorate. From 1652 to 1738 the descendants of the Wettin duke Christian I held the title of a "Duke of Saxe-Merseburg".

At the 1815 Congress of Vienna, three-fourths of the former diocesan territory was assigned to the Kingdom of Prussia, the rest remaining Saxon; the religious attitude of the people was by that time almost entirely Lutheran.


Incumbents of the see of Merseburg

Bishops of Merseburg

  • 967–970: Boso
  • 971–981: Gisilher
  • 981–1004: diocese dissolved

Prince-Bishops of Merseburg

  • 1004–1009: Wigbert
  • 1009–1018: Thietmar of Walbeck
  • 1019–1036: Bruno of Merseburg
  • 1036–1050: Hunold
  • 1050–1053: Alberich
  • 1053: Winther
  • 1053–1057: Ezzelin I
  • 1057–1062: Offo (also Uffo, Onuphrius, or Woffo)
  • 1062–1063: Günther (also Winithar)
  • 1063–1093: Werner of Wolkenburg
  • 1075: Eberhard (anti-bishop)
  • 1093–1097: sede vacante
  • 1097–1112: Albuin
  • 1112–1120: Gerard (Gerhard)
  • 1120–1126: Arnold
  • 1126–1140: Megingoz (also Meingod)
  • 1140–1140: Henry I
  • 1140–1143: Ezzelin II (also Eckhelm)
  • 1143–1151: Raynard (Reinhard) of Querfurt
  • 1151–1170: John I (Johann)
  • 1171–1201: Count Eberhard of Seeburg
  • 1201–1215: Derek of Meissen (Dietrich von Meißen)
  • 1215–1240: Ekkehard Rabil (also Engelhard)
  • 1240–1244: Rudolph of Webau
  • 1244–1265: Henry II of Waren
  • 1265: Albert I of Borna (Albrecht)
  • 1265–1283: Frederick I of Torgau
  • 1283–1300: Henry III von Ammendorf
  • 1300–1319: Henry IV
  • 1320–1340: Gebhard of Schrapelau (or Schraplau)
  • 1341–1357: Henry V, Count of Stolberg
  • 1357–1382: Frederick II of Hoym
  • 1382–1384: Burkhard of Querfurt
  • 1382–1385: Andreas Dauba (anti-bishop)
  • 1384–1393: Henry VI, Count of Stolberg
  • 1393–1403: Henry VII, treasurer from Orlamünde
  • 1403–1406: Otto of Honstein
  • 1406: Bishop Elect Henry (VIII), Count of Stolberg
  • 1407–1411: Walter von Köckeritz
  • 1411–1431: Nicholas Lubich
  • 1431–1463: John II of Bose (Johannes; 23 May 1431 - 3 October 1463)
  • 1464–1466: John III of Bose (Johannes; January 1464 - 11 July 1466)
  • 1466–1514: Thilo of Trotha (21 Jul 1466 - 5 Mar 1514)
  • 1514–1526: Adolph of Anhalt (5 March 1514 - 23 March 1526)
  • 1526–1535: Vincent of Schleinitz (Vinzenz; 9 April 1526 - 21 March 1535)
  • 1535–1544: Sigismund of Lindenau (3 April 1535 - 4 January 1544)

Lutheran Administrator and coadjutor


  • 1549–1561: Michael Helding (28 May 1549 - 30 September 1561)

Lutheran Administrator

  • 1561–1565: Alexander of Saxony


  •  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. 

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Merseburg — Merseburg …   Wikipedia

  • MERSEBURG — MERSEBURG, city in Germany. The Jewish community of Merseburg was one of the oldest in Germany. As early as 973 Emperor Otto II granted Bishop Gisiler authority over the Jews, the merchants, and the mint in the city. King Henry II renewed this… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Bishopric of Minden — Prince Bishopric of Minden Hochstift Minden State of the Holy Roman Empire ← …   Wikipedia

  • Christian I, Duke of Saxe-Merseburg — Christian I of Saxe Merseburg. Christian I of Saxe Merseburg (Dresden, 27 October 1615 – Merseburg, 18 October 1691), was the first duke of Saxe Merseburg and a member of the House of Wettin. He was the sixth (but third surviving) son of Johann… …   Wikipedia

  • Thietmar of Merseburg — in a Bas relief by Karolin Donst Thietmar (Dietmar or Dithmar) of Merseburg (25 July 975 – 1 December 1018) was a German chronicler who was also bishop of Merseburg. Contents …   Wikipedia

  • Boso of Merseburg — (died November 970) was the first Bishop of Merseburg in Saxony Anhalt, and Apostle of the Wends. Boso, a native of Bavaria, was a Benedictine monk of Saint Emmeram s in Regensburg, from where he was summoned to the court of Otto I, who,… …   Wikipedia

  • Archbishopric of Magdeburg — Erzbistum Magdeburg State of the Holy Roman Empire ← …   Wikipedia

  • Diocesan administrator — See: Catholic Church hierarchy#Equivalents of diocesan bishops in law A diocesan administrator is a provisional ordinary of a Roman Catholic particular church. The college of consultors elects an administrator within eight days after the see is… …   Wikipedia

  • Adolph II, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen — (b. 16 October 1458 d. Merseburg, 24 March 1526), was a German prince of the House of Ascania and ruler of the Principality of Anhalt Köthen. A Roman Catholic Bishop of Merseburg, he remained until his death as a staunch opponent of Martin Luther …   Wikipedia

  • Augustus, Elector of Saxony — Augustus I, Elector of Saxony (b. Freiberg, 31 July 1526 ndash; d. Dresden, 11 February 1586) was Elector of Saxony from 1553 to 1586 First Years Augustus was born in Freiberg, the youngest child and third (but second surviving) son of Heinrich… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.