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Archbishopric of Magdeburg: Wikis


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Erzbistum Magdeburg
Archbishopric of Magdeburg
State of the Holy Roman Empire


Coat of arms

Capital Magdeburg
Government Theocracy
Historical era Middle Ages
 - Archbishopric founded 968
 - Joined Lower Saxon Circle 1500
 - Albert of Brandenburg Archbishop 1513
 - Secularized to Duchy of Magdeburg 1680 1680

The Archbishopric of Magdeburg was a Roman Catholic archdiocese within the Holy Roman Empire. Its capital was Magdeburg and it was located along the Elbe River.

Planned since 955 and established in 968, the archbishopric began to be ruled by administrators, some of whom were Lutheran, in 1545. The archbishopric was inherited by Brandenburg-Prussia in 1680 and, after being secularized, replaced with the Duchy of Magdeburg.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Magdeburg is the modern diocese in Germany.



After the wars of the years 940 and 954, when the Polabian Slavs, as far as the Oder, the Magyars had come far into Germany, that Augsburg was in danger. At the Battle of Lechfeld in 955 they were defeated and repelled. Immediately in 955 Otto the Great set to work to establish an archbishopric in Magdeburg, for the stabilisation through Christianisation of the eastern territories. He wished to transfer the capital of the diocese from Halberstadt to Magdeburg, and make it an archdiocese. But this was strenuously opposed by the Archbishop of Mainz, who was the metropolitan of Halberstadt. When, in 962, Pope John XII sanctioned the establishment of an archbishopric, Otto seemed to have abandoned his plan of a transfer. The estates belonging to the convents mentioned above (founded in 937) were converted into a mensa for the new archbishopric, and the monks transferred to the Berge Convent. The archiepiscopal church made St. Maurice its patron, and in addition received new donations and grants from Otto.

The Holy Roman Empire in 1648 after the Treaty of Westphalia. The Archbishopric of Magdeburg is southwest of the Electorate of Brandenburg and northwest of the Electorate of Saxony.

Its ecclesiastical province included the existing dioceses of Brandenburg and Havelberg and the newly founded dioceses of Merseburg, Zeitz, and Meißen. Lebus was added in 1424. The new archdiocese was close to the unsecured border regions of the Holy Roman Empire and Slavic tribes, and was meant to promote Christianity among the many Slavs and others. Then, on 20 April 967, the archbishopric was solemnly established at the Synod of Ravenna in the presence of the pope and the emperor. The first archbishop was Adelbert, a former monk of St. Maximin's at Trier, afterwards missionary bishop to the Russians, and Abbot of Weissenburg in Alsace. He was elected in the autumn of 968, received the pallium at Rome, and at the end of the year was solemnly enthroned in Magdeburg.

The Diocese of Magdeburg itself was small; it comprised the Slavonic districts of Serimunt, Nudizi, Neletici, Nizizi, and half of northern Thuringia, which Halberstadt resigned. The cathedral school especially gained in importance under Adalbert's efficient administration. The scholastic Othrich was considered the most learned man of his times. Many eminent men were educated at Magdeburg.

Othrich was chosen archbishop after Adalbert's death (981). Gisiler of Merseburg by bribery and fraud obtained possession of the See of Magdeburg, and also succeeded temporarily in grasping the Bishopric of Merseburg (until 1004). Among successors worthy of mention are the zealous Gero (1012–23); Werner (1063–78), who was killed in battle with Henry IV; St. Norbert, prominent in the 12th century (1126–34), the founder of the Premonstratensian order.

Archbishop Wichmann (1152–92) was more important as a sovereign and prince of the Holy Roman Empire than as a bishop; Albrecht II (1205–32) quarrelled with Otto II, Margrave of Brandenburg (1198–1215), because he had pronounced the pope's ban against the latter and this war greatly damaged the archbishopric. In 1208 he began to build the present Cathedral of Magdeburg, which was only consecrated in 1263, and never entirely finished; Günther I (1277–79) hardly escaped a serious war with the Margrave Otto IV, who was incensed because his brother Eric of Brandenburg had not been elected archbishop. The Brandenburgers succeeded in forcing Günther and Bernhard (1279–1281) to resign and in making Eric archbishop (1283–1295).

Cardinal Albert of Brandenburg (1513–45), on account of his insecure position, as well as being crippled by a perpetual lack of funds, gave some occasion for the spread of Lutheranism in his diocese, although himself opposing the Protestant Reformation. It is not true that he became a Lutheran and wished to retain his see as a secular principality, and just as untrue that in the Kalbe Parliament in 1541 he consented to the introduction of the Reformation in order to have his debts paid. His successors were the zealous Catholics John Albert of Brandenburg-Ansbach (1545–1550), who however could accomplish very little, and Frederick IV of Brandenburg, who died in 1552.

Administrators who were secular princes now took the place of the archbishop, and they, as well as the majority of the cathedral chapter and the inhabitants of the diocese, were usually Protestant. They belonged to the House of Brandenburg. Christian William was taken prisoner in 1631, and went over to the Catholic Church in Vienna. At the time of the Peace of Prague (1635), the Archbishopric of Magdeburg fell to August, Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels. In the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), the expectancy to the archbishopric was promised to Brandenburg-Prussia upon the death of August. When the Saxon prince died in 1680, the archbishopric was secularized by Brandenburg and replaced with the Duchy of Magdeburg.

The remaining Catholic parishes and abbeys in the area of the former archdiocese were put under supervision of the Archdiocese of Cologne in 1648. In 1821, the area was transferred to the Diocese of Paderborn. In 1994, the Diocese of Magdeburg was founded in the area.

Archbishops of Magdeburg, 968–1545

  • Adalbert 968–981
  • Giselmar 981–1004
  • Tagino 1004–1012
  • Waltaro 1012
  • Gero 1012–1023
  • Humfrid 1023–1051
  • Engelhard 1052–1063
  • Werner von Steutzlingen 1064–1078
  • Hartwig von Spanheim 1079–1102
  • Heinrich I von Assel 1102–1107
  • Adalgod von Osterberg 1107–1119
  • Rudigar von Baltheim 1119–1125
  • Norbert of Xanten 1126–1134
  • Konrad I von Querfurt 1134–1142
  • Friedrich von Wettin 1142–1152
  • Wichmann von Seeberg 1152–1192
  • Ludolf von Koppenstedt 1192–1205
  • Albert I of Käfernburg 1205–1232
  • Burkhard I von Woldenberg 1232–1235
  • Wilbrand von Kasernberg 1235–1254
  • Rudolf von Dinselstadt 1254–1260
  • Rupprecht von Mansfeld 1260–1266
  • Konrad II von Sternberg 1266–1277
  • Günther I von Schwarzenberg 1277–1279
  • Bernhard von Wolpe 1279–1282
  • Eric of Brandenburg 1282–1295
  • Burkhard II von Blankenburg 1295–1305
  • Heinrich III of Anhalt 1305–1307
  • Burkhard III von Mansfeld-Schrapglau 1307–1325
  • Heideke von Erssa 1326–1327
  • Otto of Hesse 1327–1361
  • Dietrich Kagelwit 1361–1367
  • Albrecht II von Sternberg 1367–1372
  • Peter Gelvto 1372–1381
  • Ludwig of Meissen 1381–1382
  • Friedrich II von Hoym 1382
  • Albrecht III von Querfurt 1382–1403
  • Günther II von Schwarzburg 1403–1445
  • Friedrich III von Beichlingen 1445–1464
  • Johann II of Palatinate-Simmern 1464–1475
  • Ernst of Saxony 1475–1513
  • Albert IV of Brandenburg (also Archbishop of Mainz) 1513–1545

Administrators of Magdeburg, 1545–1680


This article incorporates text from the entry Magdeburg in the public-domain Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913.



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