William V, Duke of Bavaria

William V, Duke of Bavaria

William V, Duke of Bavaria (29 September 1548 - 7 February 1626), called "the Pious", (German: "Wilhelm V., der Fromme, Herzog von Bayern") was Duke of Bavaria from 1579 to 1597.

Education and early life

William was born in Landshut, the son of Albert V and Anna of Austria (1528-1590).

He received a Jesuit education and showed keen attachment to Jesuit Counter Reformation tenets. His title 'the Pious' was given to him because he was one of the most Catholic rulers of Bavaria: he devoted his daily routine to masses (when possible, several times a day), prayer, contemplation, and devotional reading. He took part in public devotions, processions, and pilgrimages.

His residence as crown prince was the ancient fortified Wittelsbach seat Trausnitz Castle in Landshut. Its upgrading from a Gothic fortification into a renaissance complex of truly representational proportions including an arcaded inner court were achieved in the decade between 1568 and 1578.


Like his Wittelsbach father and grandfather, William was a strong supporter of the counter-reformation. He secured the archbishopric of Cologne for his brother Ernest with his campaign in 1583, and this dignity remained in the possession of the family for nearly 200 years. Two of his sons also followed ecclesiastical careers: Philipp Wilhelm v. Wittelsbach became the Bishop of Regensburg and Cardinal, and Ferdinand became Archbishop of Cologne. During his reign non-Catholics were forced to leave, and the Geistlicher Rat, an ecclesiastical council was formed, independent of the traditional privy council or the treasury, which administered secular affairs. The Geistlicher Rat supervised and disciplined the duchy’s Catholic clergy through regular visitations; it controlled the Catholicism of all the state officials by issuing certificates documenting their annual confession and communion; it funded new Catholic schools, new Catholic colleges, new houses of religious orders, especially the missionary and educational ones, such as the Jesuits and Capuchins for men and the Ursulines for women.

The Jesuit Michaelskirche was built in Munich between 1583 and 1597 as a spiritual center for the counter-reformation. William's spending on Church-related projects, including funding missionaries outside Bavaria— as far away as Asia and America— put tremendous strain on the Bavarian treasury, and was one of the reasons William in 1597 abdicated in favour of his son Maximilian I. William retired into a monastery, and died in 1626 in the Schleissheim Palace. He is buried in the Michaelskirche.

Family and children

Married Renata of Lorraine (1544-1602) in Munich on 22 February 1568. They had 10 children, among whom:
* Christoph von Bayern, born in 1570, died the same year
* Christoph von Bayern, born in 1572, died in 1580
* Maximilian I (1573-1651), future Duke and Elector of Bavaria
* Maria Anna of Bavaria (Maria Anna v.Bayern), 1574-1616, married Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor in 1600
* Philipp Wilhelm (22 September 1576 - 18 May 1598), Bishop of Regensburg from 1595, Cardinal from 1597
* Ferdinand, (6 October 1577 - 13 September 1650), Archbishop and prince-elector of Cologne (1612-1650)
* Eleonore Magdalena v.Bayern, born in 1579, died in 1580
* Karl von Bayern (30 May 1580 - 27 October 1587)
* Albert VI (1584-1666), in 1612 married Mechthilde v. Leuchtenberg (1588-1634)
* Magdalene of Bavaria (4 July 1587 - 25 September 1628). Her tomb is in: Hofkirche Neuburg a.d.Donau), in 1613 married Wolfgang Wilhelm, Pfalzgraf von Neuburg (1578-1663)


External links

* [http://www.gen.heinz-wember.de/wittelsbacher/WilhelmV1548.htm geneaology]

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