The Full Wiki

Prince-Bishopric of Liège: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fürstbistum Lüttich (de)
Principauté de Liège (fr)
Prinsbisdom Luik (nl)
Principåté d' Lidje (wa)
Prince-Bishopric of Liège
Ecclesiastic state of the Holy Roman Empire

Coat of arms

The Prince-Bischopric of Liege around 1350.
Capital Liège
Language(s) French, Dutch, German, Walloon
Religion Roman Catholicism
Government Principality
 - 340s–384 Saint Servatius (first bishop)
 - 972–1008 Notger (first prince-bishop)
 - 1792–94 François-Antoine-Marie de Méan (last)
Historical era Middle Ages
 - Creation of diocese 340s
 - Secular powers obtained 980
 - Purchased Lordship
    of Bouillon
 - Annexed County of Loon 1366
 - Acquired County of Horne 1568
 - Revolution Liégeoise 1789–95
 - Annexed by France 1795
 - Concordat acknowledges
    disparition of Bishopric
10 September 1801
The Bishopric of Liège in 1477

The Bishopric of Liège or Prince-Bishopric of Liège was a state of the Holy Roman Empire in the Low Countries in present Belgium. It belonged from 1500 on to the Lower Rhenish-Westphalian Circle. It was headed by the Prince-Bishop of Liège. Its territory included most of the present Belgian provinces of Liège and Limburg, and some exclaves in other parts of Belgium and the Netherlands. The capital was Liège (which, as the bishopric, is Lüttich in German and Luik in Dutch).

The bishop of Liège received secular powers over the county of Huy — part of the diocese — in the 10th century. The bishopric was expanded with the lordship of Bouillon in 1096 (ceded to France in 1678), the county of Loon (French: Looz) in 1366 and the county of Horne (near Weert, Netherlands) in 1568. The bishopric of Liège was not part of the Seventeen Provinces or the Southern Netherlands, but its politics were influenced by the dukes of Burgundy and later the Habsburgs.

The bishopric was dissolved in 1795, when it was conquered by France. Its territory was divided over the départements Meuse-Inférieure, Ourthe, and Sambre-et-Meuse.

The most important cities (bonnes villes) of the bishopric were Liège, Beringen, Bilzen, Borgloon, Bree, Châtelet, Ciney, Couvin, Dinant, Fosses-la-Ville, Hamont, Hasselt, Herk-de-Stad, Huy, Maaseik, Peer, Sint-Truiden, Stokkem, Thuin, Tongeren, Verviers, Visé and Waremme.

The city of Maastricht fell under the joint jurisdiction of the Prince-Bishop of Liège and the Duke of Brabant (later the Estates-General of the United Provinces).



The martyrdom of Saint Lambert

The first capital of this diocese was Tongeren, northwest of Liège; its territory originally belonged to the Diocese of Trier, then to Cologne; but, after the first half of the fourth century, Tongeren received autonomous organization. The boundaries were those of the Civitas Tungrorum, and they remained unchanged until 1559. These boundaries were, on the north, the Diocese of Utrecht; east, that of Cologne; south, the Dioceses of Trier and Reims; west, that of Cambrai. Thus the diocese of Tongeren extended from France, in the neighbourhood of Chimay, to Stavelot, Aachen, Gladbach, and Venlo, and from the banks of the Semois as far as Ekeren, near Antwerp, to the middle of the Isle of Tholen and beyond Moerdijk, so that it included both Romance and Germanic populations. In 1559, its 1636 parishes were grouped in eight archdeaconries, and twenty-eight councils, chrétientés, or deaneries.

Some trace the bishops of Tongeren to the first century, but the first Bishop was Saint Maternus. The invasion of 406 shattered the diocese, and its restoration required a long time. The conversion of the Franks began under Falco (first half of the sixth century) and continued under Sts Domitian, Monulphus and Gondulphus (6th and 7th centuries). St Monulphus built over the tomb of St Servais a sumptuous church, near which his successors often resided. During the whole of the seventh century the bishops had to struggle against paganism. St Amandus (647–650) abandoned the episcopal chair in discouragement, and built monasteries. St. Remaculus (650–660) did the same. St. Theodard (660–669), died a martyr.

St Lambert (669–700) completed the conversion of the pagans; probably about 705 he was murdered at Liège, named at that time Vicus Leudicus, for his defence of church property against the avarice of the neighbouring lords, and he was popularly regarded as a martyr. His successor, St Hubert, built, to enshrine his relics, a basilica which became the true nucleus of the city, and near which the residence of the bishops was fixed.

Those bishops, nevertheless, continued to use the style of Bishop of the Church of Tongeren, or Bishop of Tongeren and of Liège. Agilbert (768–784) and Gerbald (785–810) were both placed in the see by Charlemagne. Hartgar built the first episcopal palace. Bishop Franco, who defeated the Normans, is celebrated by the Irish poet Sedulius Scottus. Stephen (908–920), Richaire (920–945), Hugh (945–947), Farabert (947–958) and Rathier were promoted from the cloister. To Stephen, a writer and composer, the Catholic Church is indebted for the feast and the Office of the Blessed Trinity. Rathier absorbed all the learning of his time. Heraclius, who occupied the see in 959, built four new parish churches, a monastery, and two collegiate churches, he inaugurated in his diocese an era of great artistic activity known as Mosan art.


The domain of the Church of Liège had been developed by the donations of sovereign princes and the acquisitions of its bishops. Notger (972–1008), by securing for his see the feudal authority of the County of Huy became himself a sovereign prince. This status his successors retained until the French Revolution: and throughout that period of nearly eight centuries the Prince-Bishopric of Liège, with a temporal jurisdiction of less extent than its spiritual, succeeded in maintaining its autonomy, though theoretically attached to the Holy Roman Empire. This virtual independence it owed largely to the ability of its bishops, under whom the Principality of Liège, placed between France and Germany, on several occasions played an important part in international politics.

The building of Saint Martin began 965 under the reign of Heraclius

Notger, the founder of this principality, was also the second founder of his episcopal city. He rebuilt the cathedral of St Lambert and the episcopal palace, finished the collegiate church of St Paul, begun by Heraclius, facilitated the erection of Sainte-Croix and Saint-Denis, two other collegiate churches, and erected that of St. John the Evangelist. This bishop also strengthened the parochial organization of the city. He was one of the first to spread the observance of All Souls' Day, which he authorized for his diocese. But the most notable characteristic of Notger's administration was the development which, following up the work of Heraclius, he gave to education: thanks to these two bishops and to Wazo, "Liège for more than a century occupied among the nations a position in regard to science which it has never recovered". "The schools of Liège were, in fact, at that time one of the brightest literary foci of the period". Balderic of Looz (1008–18), Wolbodo (1018–21), Durandus (1021–25), Reginard (1025–38), Nitard (1038–42), the learned Wazo, and Theoduin (1048–75) valiantly sustained the heritage of Notger. The schools went on forming many brilliant scholars, and gave to the Catholic Church Popes Stephen IX and Nicholas II.

In the reign of Henry of Verdun (1075–91) a tribunal was instituted (tribunal de la paix) to take cognizance of infractions of the Peace of God. Otbert (1091–1119) increased the territory of the principality by purchasing the Lordship of Bouillon. He remained faithful to Henry IV, who died as his guest. The violent death of Henry of Namur (1119–21) won for him veneration as a martyr. Alexander of Juliers (1128–34) received at Liège the pope, the emperor, and St Bernard. The episcopate of Raoul of Zachringen was marked by the preaching of the reformer, Lambert le Bègue, who is credited with founding the béguines. The time at length came when the schools of Liège were to yield to the University of Paris, and the diocese supplied that university with some of its first doctors — William of Saint-Thierry, Gerard of Liège, Godfrey of Fontaines. Alger of Liège (1055–1131), known also as Alger of Cluny and Algerus Magister, was an important intellectual of the period. He was first appointed deacon of the church of St Bartholomew at Liège. He finally retired to the monastery of Cluny.

The perron of Liège stands as a symbol for the city rights acquired by the burghers from the prince-bishop
Pope Urban IV

Albero I of Louvain was elected Bishop of Liège in 1191, but Emperor Henry VI, on the pretext that the election was doubtful, gave the see to Lothair of Hochstadt. Albero's election was confirmed by the pope, and he was consecrated, but was assassinated at Reims, in 1192, by three German knights. It is probable that the emperor was privy to this murder, the victim of which was canonized. In 1195, Albert de Cuyck (1195–1200) formally recognized the franchises of the people of Liège. In the 12th century, the cathedral chapter assumed a position of importance in relation to the bishop, and began to play an important part in history of the principality.

The struggles between the upper and lower classes, in which the prince-bishops frequently intervened, developed through the 13th and 14th centuries, to culminate, in the 15th, with the pillage and destruction of the episcopal city. In the reign of Robert of Thourotte, or of Langres (1240–46), Saint Juliana — a religious of Cornillon, Liège — was led by certain visions to the project of having a special feast established in honour of the Blessed Sacrament. After much hesitation, the bishop approved of her idea and caused a special office to be composed, but death prevented his instituting the feast. The completion of the work was reserved for a former prior of the Dominicans of Liège, Hugh of Saint-Cher, who returned to the city as papal legate. Hugh, in 1252, made the feast one of obligation throughout his legatine jurisdiction. John of Troyes, who, after having been archdeacon at Liège, was elected pope as Urban IV, caused an office to be composed by St Thomas, and extended the observance of the feast of Corpus Christi to the whole Church. Another archdeacon of Liège, becoming pope under the name of Gregory X, deposed the unworthy Henry of Gueldres (1247–74). The Peace of Fexhe, signed in 1316, in the reign of Adolph of La Marck (1313–44), regulated the relations of the prince bishop and his subjects; nevertheless the internal discord continued, and the episcopate of Arnould of Hornes (1378–89) was marked by the triumph of the popular party. In 1366, the county of Loon was annexed to the bishopric which then included most of the current province of Limburg.

Burgundian and Habsburg influence

Upon the death of Louis of Male, count of Flanders, in 1384, the Low Countries began their unification within the Burgundian Netherlands. Though the Principality was still nominally independent, the Dukes of Burgundy have had an increasing influence on its government. Louis of Bourbon (1456–82) was placed on the throne of Liège by the political machinations of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. Burgundy coveted the principality. The destruction of Dinant in 1466, and of Liège in 1468, by Charles the Bold, marked the ending of democratic ascendancy in the Principality.

The Prince-Bishopric as a part of the Low Countries, 1556–1648
Portrait of Erard de la Marck, by Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen (1500–59)
St. Lambert's Cathedral and the palace of the Prince-Bishops (18th century)

Charles V completed the union of the Seventeen Provinces in the 1540s, and unofficially also controlled the principality.[1] He nominated Erard de la Marck (1505–38) who brought a period of restoration. Erard was an enlightened protector of the arts. He was who commenced that struggle against the Reformation which his successors maintained after him, and in which Gerard of Groesbeeck (1564–80) was especially distinguished. With the object of assisting in this struggle, Paul IV, by the Bull Super Universi (12 May 1559), created the new bishoprics of the Low Countries. This change was effected largely at the expense of the Diocese of Liège; many of its parishes were taken from it to form the Diocese of Roermond, Diocese of Bois-le-Duc ('s-Hertogenbosch), and Diocese of Namur, and parts added to the Diocese of Mechlin and Diocese of Antwerp. The number of deaneries in the Diocese of Liège was reduced to 13.

Most of the bishops in the 17th century were foreigners, many of them holding several bishoprics at once. Their frequent absences gave free scope for those feuds of the Chiroux and the Grignoux to which Maximilian Henry of Bavaria (archbishop of Cologne, 1650–88) put a stop by the Edict of 1681. In the middle of the 18th century the ideas of the French encyclopedists began to be received at Liège; Bishop de Velbruck (1772–84), encouraged their propagation and thus prepared the way for the Revolution Liégeoise. Partially connected with the French Revolution, a protest against the absolutist rule of prince bishop Cesar Constantijn Frans van Hoensbroeck developed into the 1789 Revolution in Liège. At the beginning of 1791, the revolution was crushed by troops on the orders of the Holy Roman Empire.

Modern diocese

See also




  1. ^ Edmundson, George (1922). "Chapter II: Habsburg Rule in the Netherlands". History of Holland. The University Press, Cambridge. Republished: Authorama. Retrieved 2007-06-09.  

External links



Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address