Balthasar von Dernbach

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Abbot Balthasar von Dernbach called Graul
Coat of arms Balthasar von Dernbach called Graul, prince abbot of Fulda

Balthasar von Dernbach called Graul (* 1548 in Wiesenfeld , Hesse ; † March 15, 1606 in Fulda ), was a Benedictine of the Fulda Monastery and Prince Abbot of Fulda 1570–1606.


He was born as the youngest son of Peter von Dernbach called Graul (given name ) and his wife Clara von Klauer zu Wohra in 1548 in Wiesenfeld ( district of Waldeck-Frankenberg ) and baptized as an Evangelical Lutheran. The couple had a total of 15 children, 8 sons and 7 daughters, 4 of whom died in childhood. His father was the Burgmann of the Counts of Nassau in Herborn , then a follower of Landgrave Philip I and from 1540 lived together with his relative Philipp von Dernbach, Hess. Pen Vogt, the Landgrave Philip I of leased former Johanniter Coming Wiesenfeld . In 1540 Peter von Dernbach had sold his share in the ancestral castle Dernbach ( Neu-Dernbach Castle ), today the municipality of Bad Endbach in the Marburg-Biedenkopf district , to the Landgrave and moved to Wiesenfeld.

The "von Dernbach gen. Graul", a branch line of the von Dernbach knightly family, which can be traced in the Gießen / Herborn area since 1226 and belonged to the Hessian nobility, were followers of the Hessian landgraves from the middle of the 13th century. The branch line is first mentioned in 1323 with Heidenrich von Dernbach called Grauel. Balthasar himself always wrote his name as “Der m bach”.

Balthasar's father was a strict Lutheran and, as a loyal follower of Philip the Magnanimous, also a fighter in the Schmalkaldic War . Leinweber does not mention this, but explains - without citing the source: “It was said of his father around 1570 that he was the“ only Catholic ”in the Landgraviate of Hesse (probably because of his resistance to the war). This agrees that Peter von Dernbach, in a letter to Landgrave Philip of Hesse in 1546, raised serious concerns about the path he had taken on the religious question ”. (In this letter of November 15, 1546 from the camp near Giengen an der Brenz, which has survived, he refers to the "war, as unworthy of a Christian" and warns of its consequences.)

Promotion in the imperial abbey of Fulda

When his father died in 1560 his mother gave him to her brother, Prince Abbot Wilhelm Hartmann von Klauer zu Wohra in the Fulda monastery for further education and training . Separated from his mother, he was raised a strict Catholic, although he was baptized as an Evangelical Lutheran. He was ordained a priest on March 9, 1566 in Würzburg . At the age of 22 he was elected on January 25, 1570 to succeed his uncle as Prince Abbot of Fulda. The choice was confirmed by Pius V.


After his election as prince abbot, he brought his three brothers, Otto, Melchior and Wilhelm, to Fulda and, after converting to the Catholic faith, helped them to high offices. Wilhelm became a Teutonic Knight and Commander in Kapfenburg and Oettingen; Otto became marshal and provost on Petersberg; and Melchior became imperial councilor, bailiff in Brückenau and court marshal in Fulda. His nephew Peter Philipp von Dernbach called Graul, son of Melchior, was elected Vice- Cathedral of the Bamberg diocese in Carinthia in 1651 , then Prince-Bishop of Bamberg in 1672 and Prince-Bishop of Würzburg in 1675 .


Balthasar immediately campaigned for the Counter Reformation and in 1571 called Jesuits to Fulda to found a school and colleges. Hermes Halpaur was one of the first priests to arrive here. Dernbach asked his capitulars to return to monastic life. Protestantism had been tolerated under its predecessors, so that the inhabitants of the city of Fulda, the knighthood and a larger part of the surrounding area professed Lutheran doctrine. Balthasar pushed the re-Catholicization and expelled all who did not want to return to the Catholic faith from the area of ​​the bishopric of Fulda.

Fulda trade

His approach met with opposition from the collegiate chapter, the magistrate and the knighthood. There were repeated threats to depose him by force. Finally, the knighthood allied itself with the Würzburg bishop Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn . In 1576, Balthasar von Dernbach was forced by the knighthood, collegiate chapter and bishop in Hammelburg to sign his own letter of abdication. The Würzburg bishop was elected administrator of the monastery with the agreement to grant freedom of religion to the knighthood.

Balthasar fled to the Archbishop of Mainz, who assigned Bieberstein Castle to him as his residence. Balthasar immediately revoked his abdication and tried to regain his rule by petitions to the Pope and to Emperor Maximilian II . Pope Gregory XIII threatened the Würzburg bishop with the church ban if he did not return Fulda. After a trial before the Reichshofrat, which dragged on for 26 years, Balthasar achieved the return of his territory on August 7, 1602. The Fulda cathedral chapter, the knighthood and the cities were sentenced to a fine. You and Würzburg had to pay damages and the legal costs. After his return, Balthasar continued his policy and achieved the complete restoration of Catholicism in the city and in the bishopric of Fulda.

Witch hunt

In the years 1602–1605 he had the centgrave and maleficent master Balthasar Nuss carry out witch trials , in which around 250 people, mostly women, fell victim to, ie were burned.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Horst W. Müller: Dernbach and the "von Dernbach". 2005-2006.
  2. Names of the victims of the witch trials / witch persecution in the Hochstift Fulda (PDF; 243 kB), accessed on May 9, 2016.
predecessor Office successor
Wilhelm Hartmann from Klauer to Wohra Prince Abbot of Fulda
1570 - 1606
Johann Friedrich von Schwalbach