Archbishopric of Cologne
Erzbistum Köln
c. 88 - present


Bonn after 1525
Electoral Rhenish
Council of Electors
Established as Diocese c. 88
Made Archdiocese 814
Prince of the Empire 954
Confirmed Elector 1356
Secularised to Arenberg and Hesse-Darmstadt 1803

The Archbishopric of Cologne is an Archbishopric of the Roman Catholic church, based in Cologne in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The Archbishopric was established by legend in c. 88, became a Principality with secular territory in 954, and was secularised and dissolved in 1803. It was reestablished in 1824. The Archbishops of Cologne were one of the seven original Electors of the Holy Roman Empire, and were the Arch-Chancellor of Italy and Burgundy. The secular territory of the archbishops is sometimes called the Principality of Cologne to differentiate the secular and spiritual functions of the archbishopric (although a common occurrence and criticism of the archbishopric was that it was more often ruled like a secular state than a spiritual one) and the other territories of the archbishops, which included the Duchy of Westphalia and the County of Vest Recklinghausen.

The Bishops of CologneEdit

During Roman times Cologne was known as "Colonia Agrippina". It is unknown when Christianity was introduced to the Roman city although legend states that it occurred in c. AD88 after being introduced by Roman traders and soldiers, although the earliest Christianity in Cologne can be confirmed is in the 2nd Century. The first confirmed bishop is St Maternus II who was contemporary with the Emperor Constantine the Great. As Roman rule evaporated in the German frontier, the bishops took over the civil administration of the city and surrounding countryside. The City and the Bishopric survived the mass migrations of the 5th Century, and when the Ripuarian Franks conquered the city in the 5th Century their kings made it their official residence. Due to the favour shown by the kings upon the city, Cologne was intended to become the metropolitan see of St Boniface but for reasons unknown Mainz instead was raised to an Archbishopric. Cologne only became an Archbishopric during the time of the Emperor Charlemagne (ruled 771 - 814).

The Archbishopric of Cologne (814 - 1515)Edit

Cologne suffered greatly by Viking raids during the 9th Century, of note was the invasion of 881. However the city recovered swiftly under the Saxon Emperors and active Archbishops such as Bruno I and Heribert. In 954 the Archbishops were made Princes of the Holy Roman Emperors, and with it came secular territory along the River Rhine. As Princes the Archbishops supported the Holy Roman Emperors against the Papacy. The city of Cologne thrived under the rule of the archbishops, and Cologne became known as the "German Rome" as no other city north of the Alps held as many churches or relics. This was especially true after the Archbishop Raynald of Dassel brought the remains of the Three Magi to Cologne from Milan. With the prosperity came increased demands by the townsfolk for power, for which they were repeatedly denied. The first uprising occurred on Easter in 1074 during the reign of Anno II, but the rebellion was brought under control within days and the people were severely punished.

In 1151 the Archbishops were permanently made the Arch-Chancellors of Italy (an office many earlier Archbishops had held), and in 1180 they were granted the titles "Duke of Westphalia" and "Duke of Angria" after the defeat of the Saxon Dukes. Thereafter the Archbishops became embroiled in constant dispute with the nobility in the Lower Rhine and Westphalia as they moved to expand their power. Matters came to a head in 1225 when dissatisfied nobles had the Archbishop Engelbert II of Berg (1216 - 1225) killed in a skirmish. Henry I of Mulnarken (1225 - 1237) and Conrad of Hochstaden (1238 - 1261) made important concessions to the city of Cologne, but in 1288 at the Battle of Worringen the townsfolk allied with the Duke of Brabant defeated the archbishops' army and took him hostage until he bestowed upon the city far sweeping rights (Cologne was made an Imperial Free City in the 14th Century).

The archbishops were confirmed as Imperial Electors in the Golden Bull of 1356, although the archbishops had held the honour as early as 1263. The archbishopric made important territorial acquisitians during the fourteenth century: the County of Hülchrath (1318), County of Arnsberg (1348), the County of Werl-Arnsberg (1370), and the Counties of Linn and Ürdingen (1392). Frederick III of Saarwerden (1370 - 1414) adhered to Pope Urban IV in the Western Schism. His successor Theodoric II of Moers (1414 - 1463) attempted to make the Archbishopric the most powerful entity in western Germany, although his bad policies left the Archbishopric with heavy debts. He was defeated in attempts to reconquer the city of Cologne, and he lost the important city of Soest (in the Soester Feud) and Xangen to the Dukes of Cleves. After his death the Cathedral Chapter, the Westphalian nobility and the cities of the archiepiscopal territory agreed that the temporal borders of the Archbishopric did not extend to the spiritual borders of the archbishopric in an attempt to prevent future calamities. The next Archbishop Rupert of the Palatinate was defeated trying to conquer the city of Cologne in 1475/6 even though he held an alliance with the powerful Charles the Bold of Burgundy and received the support of his brother the Elector Frederick the Victorious of the Palatinate. His attempts to gain control of the mortgaged castles of the diocese and the cities by force led to suffering and arson across the archbishopric. He was eventually captured in 1478 and was held until his death. The next two archbishops, Herman IV of Hesse (1480 - 1508) and Philip II of Daun-Oberstein (1508 - 1515) sought to end the financial problems of the diocese by paying a large portion of the public debt and vigorous economic policy.

The Archbishopric of Cologne (1515 - 1803)Edit

The rule of Herman V of Wied (1515 - 1547) was a disaster. He opposed the Reformation at the Diet of Worms and moved the seat of government to Bonn in 1525, but later adhered to the new faith and chose Protestant advisers. He was forced to resign in 1547. Advised by excellent councillors and the University of Cologne his successor Adolph III of Schaumburg (1546 - 1556) began a successful campaign against the new faith introduced by Herman V and the immoral practices in the clergy. His brother and successor Anthony of Schaumburg (1556 - 1558) continued his policies. After the short reigns of several Archbishops, Gebhard II of Truchsess Waldburg proved a disastrous archbishop reminiscent of Herman V. At first fiercely loyal to the Catholic Church, he converted to Calvinism in 1582 and attempted to convert and secularise the Archbishopric in 1583.

Gebhard was placed under the Imperial Ban and deposed and replaced with Ernest of Bavaria in 1583, but with Protestant aid sought to keep control of Cologne by force, thus beginning the destructive Cologne War which raged for 5 years. Until 1761, the Archbishopric was ruled by members of the Bavarian Wittelsbachs (Ernest of Bavaria (1583 - 1612), Ferdinand of Bavaria (1612 - 1650), Maximilian Henry of Bavaria (1650 - 1688), Joseph Clemens of Bavaria (1688 - 1712), and Clemens Augustus I of Bavaria (1712 - 1761)). These archbishops were fiercely loyal to the church and successfully converted the lands of the Archbishopric back to Catholicism, and they often held the Bishoprics of Münster, Halberstadt, Paderborn and Osnabrück. During the Thirty Years' War the archdiocese was largely spared from fighting despite remaining loyal to the Emperor, although the greater part of the secular territory was occupied by Hessian troops by the end of the war. The foreign policies of the Bavarians was also not very successful. They led the diocese to disaster in the War of the Palatine Succession, the War of the Spanish Succession, and the War of the Austrian Succession; during the latter of which they were placed under the Imperial Ban in 1717 (removed from it in 1723) and their anti-Habsburg policy led to the decline of Imperial power.

The next Archbishop Maximilian Frederick of Königsegg-Rothenfels (1762 - 1784) took an anti-papal stance, and founded the Academy of Bonn in opposition to the conservatively Catholic University of Cologne. The last Archbishop Maximilian Francis of Austria raised the academy to a university in 1786 and instituted policies similar to those enacted by his brother the Emperor Joseph II of Austria. As the brother of Marie Antoinette he was opposed to the French Revolution but later took a policy of inactivity. In 1795 the Archbishops territories on the western bank of the Rhine were occupied by France, and these were formally ceded in 1801. His successor Anthony Victor of Austria (1801 - 1803) never ruled in the remaining territories due to Prussian opposition. The Archbishopric was secularised in 1803, with the remaining territories being divided between Hesse-Darmstadt and Arenberg.

The Modern Archbishopric (1824 - present)Edit

See alsoEdit

Electoral Rhenish Circle
Arenberg | Beilstein | Coblenz | Cologne | Lower Isenburg | Mainz | Palatinate
Rheineck | Thurn and Taxis | Trier

Earlier Members
Gelnhausen | Neuenahr | Reifferscheid | Selz | St Maximin

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