|Bishopric of Speyer|
|unknown - present|
Council of Princes
|Prince of the Empire||969|
|Secularised to Baden||1802|
The Bishopric of Speyer is a Bishopric of the Roman Catholic church, based in Speyer in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is unknown when the bishopric was established, however the bishopric was first mentioned in 614 and the succession of bishops is unbroken since Hilderic in the 7th Century. The bishops acquired secular territory during the Middle Ages and were princes of the Holy Roman Empire. The bishopric was secularised in 1802.
The early history of the Bishopric of SpeyerEdit
Christianity had been introduced into Speyer by the Romans who knew the city as Noviomagus. The early history of the diocese is unknown; Bishop Jesse is mentioned at the Synods of Sardica (343) and Cologne (346) although his historicity uncertain. The imperial border on the Rhine came under pressure from the Alemanni during the Migration Period. In 370 a Roman stronghold was established on the cathedral hill, but in the early fifth century the city fell to the Alemanni and the Roman inhabitants fled abroad. The name of the city changed to "Spira". During the 6th and 7th Centuries, churches and monasteries were established in and around the city.
Prince-Bishops of SpeyerEdit
In 614 Bishop Hilderic episcopus is definitively mentioned at the Synod of Paris, and is the earliest verifiable mention of the diocese. The Frankish kings granted the bishops royal domains in the surrounding Speyergau during the 7th Century. In 748 Speyer was made suffragan to the Archbishopric of Mainz. In 969 the Holy Roman Emperor Otto I granted the bishops the city of Speyer and several privileges including the rank of Prince of the Empire. Otto and later emperors granted the bishops extensive lands and complete control over the Speyergau. In 1024 Speyer became the spiritual centre of Germany when Conrad II, from the region around Speyer, was elected King. In 1030 the Cathedral of Our Lady was begun, originally intended as a mausoleum for the Salian Dynasty. The cathedral was consecrated in 1061 although it was only finished in 1111. The cathedral formed the economic centre of the city and was the largest church of its time, and now that the Abbey of Cluny lies in ruins it is the largest Romanesque church in existence.
The importance of Speyer continued throughout the medieval period through the important events that were announced there: Henry IV's departure for Canossa in 1077, the preaching of Bernhard of Clairvaux and the beginning of the Second Crusade in 1141, the extradition of King Richard III Lionheart of England in 1193, and the first journey of Frederick II's first journey through Germany. Beginning in 1111 the citizens of Speyer began to move towards independence from the bishops. In 1230 a mayor is first mentioned, and in 1294 the Emperor declared Speyer to be a free Imperial City. From 1371 the bishops resided at Udenheim, later renamed Philippsburg.
Speyer again emerged in the centre of Imperial politics during the early 16th Century. Following the Diet of Worms in 1521 which denounced Martin Luther, the first of five of the thirty diets of the 16th Century convened at Speyer occurred in 1526. The diet failed to resolve the theological disputes and ambiguously resolved the dispute by allowing each estate to choose their faith under God and Emperor. In 1529 the diet was reconvened in a dispute that divided the states of the empire. Eventually a majority opinion rescinded the diet of 1526 and confirmed the Edict of Worms. The protest of the Lutheran princes and cities was denounced by the diet but was nonetheless passed to the Emperor. After this, they had effectively schismed from the Roman Catholic church and they became known thereafter as "Protestants".
The Bishops provided a source of Catholic influence and pressure along the Rhine, while the city of Speyer converted to Protestantism was active in the Protestant Union and the Evangelical League. The bishopric was devastated during the Thirty Years' War but nonetheless managed to expand. These boosts were all but lost in the Peace of Westphalia. The diocese again suffered greatly during the predatory wars of King Louis XIV of France, and both the cathedral and city of Speyer were burnt to the ground in 1689. In 1792 the French soldiers of the Revolution invaded and occupied the western bank territories of the bishopric, and in 1794 the lawless soldiers pillaged and plundered the territory. In 1801 the diocesan territory west of the Rhine had to be ceded to Mainz. The remaining secular territories of the bishops were annexed to the Margraviate of Baden in 1802, and formally ceded in 1803.