Diocese of Ratzeburg

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Diocese of Ratzeburg (ecclesiastical diocese)
Ratzeburg Cathedral, from 1170

The diocese of Ratzeburg (1060/1154 to 1554) is a historical diocese . Its area included the extreme west of Mecklenburg and the Duchy of Lauenburg . A monastery territory was formed around the episcopal city of Ratzeburg under the direct rule of the bishop and cathedral chapter . During the Reformation the diocese was secularized .


Principality of Ratzeburg (secular territory of the bishop) and Mecklenburg around 1300

Archbishop Adalbert von Bremen separated the dioceses of Ratzeburg and Mecklenburg (later moved to Schwerin ) from the diocese of Oldenburg / Holstein (later moved to Lübeck ) around 1060 . But as early as 1066 they fell victim to a bloody uprising of the Abodrites , which culminated in the stoning of Ansverus and the mutilation of the Mecklenburg bishop Johannes .

Archbishop Hartwig I of Bremen wanted to reoccupy the bishoprics that had been vacant since 1066 around 1150, but got into conflict with the sovereign, the Guelph Duke Heinrich the Lion . Only this was able to give the dioceses the necessary economic basis and therefore claimed the right to appoint the bishops ( investiture ) in his dominion. The dispute was decided in 1154 at the Reichstag in Goslar: King Friedrich I Barbarossa transferred his right to invest in the North Elbingian bishoprics to his cousin Heinrich the Lion. In 1154 he appointed the provost of the Premonstratensian Monastery of Our Dear Women in Magdeburg, Evermod , as Bishop of Ratzeburg. In January 1158, Pope Hadrian IV confirmed the establishment of the diocese. The document, which is kept in the state archive in Schwerin , is considered the oldest document in Mecklenburg.

In 1160, Archbishop Hartwig I, with the consent of Heinrich the Lion, placed the diocese of Ratzeburg under the authority of the Hamburg Church. The Ratzeburg Cathedral was built from 1170.

After the Counts of Ratzeburg died out, the bailiwick rights over the diocese came to Saxony via detours and finally to the bishop himself, who no longer granted them as inheritance . From 1230 the bishops were also imperial princes of the prince-bishopric . In 1500 this became part of the Lower Saxony Imperial Circle .

Cathedral chapter

Like the first bishop, the cathedral chapter followed the rule of Augustine and the peculiarities of the Premonstratensians , which the Pope also confirmed to him in 1158. From then on, the cathedral chapter belonged to the Saxon circari of the Premonstratensian Order, of which the Provost sat as a member.

Initially the seat of the cathedral chapter was in St. George's monastery , from where it moved to the city in 1172 and settled at the cathedral. The number of canons was originally limited to the provost and twelve canons, but by 1231 it increased to 22. It was not until 1301 that the maximum number was set at 25, of which 16 were priests, four deacons and four sub-deacons . This number was only reached in the first half of the 14th century, after that it was never more than 14 or 16. At this time, most of the canons came from the noble families of Mecklenburg and Lauenburg. Later the canons were mainly citizens' sons from Lübeck , Wismar and Ratzeburg.

After the common table was abolished around the middle of the 14th century, in 1372 the assets of the monastery were divided, with the provost a third, the dean and the chapter two thirds. Community life was over. Ten parish churches were incorporated into the cathedral chapter, which it occupied exclusively with its own members until 1401.

Until 1504, the cathedral chapter knew the dignities of provost , dean , custodian, thesaurus , structurist and cantor . However, when it was converted into a secular canon monastery that year due to the bull of Pope Julius II under Bishop Johannes von Parkentin , it was limited to one provost, one dean, one cantor and eleven canons. Here the bishop endowed two canons with one parish each and the duke two canons with archdeaconates and four canons with parishes. However, this had the consequence that the bishop occupied two canons and the duke six. The chapter itself was left with only three canonicals and the choice of dignities.

Reformation and Secularization

While the diocese perished as a spiritual supervisory district during the Reformation , the bishopric was initially retained. After the death of Bishop Georg von Blumenthal in 1550, Duke Franz I von Sachsen-Lauenburg tried in vain to have his nine-year-old son Magnus elected bishop, but Christoph von der Schulenburg was elected . Thereupon the Duke called the mercenary leader Vollrad von Mansfeld with his troops into the country, who on May 23, 1552 looted the Ratzeburg Cathedral. Mansfeld stayed two months; for a payment of 4,000 thalers he did not burn the cathedral down. The canons borrowed the money from Nikolaus Bardewik , the mayor of Lübeck, and pledged part of the monastery property in return.

In 1554, Bishop Christoph von der Schulenburg resigned and Franz I tried again to have his son Magnus elected as bishop. This time, too, he failed and the cathedral chapter decided in favor of Christoph von Mecklenburg . Three of the four administrators of the monastery that followed until 1648 came from the Mecklenburg ducal house. The spiritual supervision of the monastery at this time lay with the superintendents Konrad Schluesselburg , Nicolaus Peträus and Hector Mithobius .

In the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 , the Ratzeburg bishopric was finally secularized and as the Principality of Ratzeburg, it was assigned to the domain of the Dukes of Mecklenburg. In 1701 it came to the Duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz , with which this - younger - line of the Mecklenburg dukes also received a seat and vote in the Imperial Council of Dukes .

coat of arms


Coat of arms of the Ratzeburg diocese in the throne room of Schwerin Castle

The coat of arms of the diocese developed in the course of the Middle Ages and was first used by Bishop Detlev von Parkentin / Berkentin (term of office 1395–1414): In front the golden, upright bishop's staff in the blue field; behind in the golden field the blue castle . The two figures, staff and castle, remained constant until 1648, while their arrangement and design could vary considerably over time. Duke Gustav Adolf , as the last postulated bishop of the Ratzeburg monastery (1636–1648), carried it as a heart shield in the form of a red castle in the blue field in front and the golden rod in the blue field in the back . The coat of arms of the district of Northwest Mecklenburg today cites one half of the diocese coat of arms with the crosier.

For unknown reasons, the diocese coat of arms was no longer used after the secularization of 1648 and was replaced by the new coat of arms of the Principality of Ratzeburg as part of the Mecklenburg coat of arms: a silver high cross in red, with a golden crown .


Chapter coat of arms in Herrnburg

The Ratzeburg cathedral chapter had its own coat of arms. At last it showed Christ on the cross with Mary and John standing by his side. This was also the seal image of the chapter for centuries and is u. a. to be seen in the church of Herrnburg .

See also


  • Joachim H. Neuendorff: The Stiftsländer of the former Diocese of Ratzeburg - represented topographically and historically. Stillersche Hofbuchhandlung, Schwerin 1832. ( digitized version )
  • Gottlieb Matthias Carl Masch : History of the diocese Ratzeburg . F. Aschenfeldt, Lübeck 1835. 780 pages. ( Digitized version )
  • Gottlieb Matthias Carl Masch: The Ratzeburg coat of arms. In: Yearbooks of the Association for Mecklenburg History and Archeology ISSN  0259-7772 , Vol. 1 (1836), pp. 143–151. ( Digitized version )
  • Otto Kähler : On the history of the diocese and cathedral of Ratzeburg. In: Journal of the Society for Schleswig-Holstein History , Vol. 74/75, 1951, pp. 244–275 ( digitized version )
  • Stefan Petersen: Benefit taxation on the periphery. Parish organization - benefice income - clerical education in the diocese of Ratzeburg . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2001. ISBN 3-525-35312-X , ( Studies on Germania Sacra 23).
  • Stefan Petersen: Ratzeburg . In: Erwin Gatz (ed.): The dioceses of the Holy Roman Empire from their beginnings to secularization . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 2003. ISBN 3-451-28075-2 , pp. 590-598, 917.
  • Stefan Petersen: The writing ability of clergy in the late medieval diocese of Ratzeburg . In: Enno Bünz, Klaus-Joachim Lorenzen-Schmidt (ed.): Clergy, Church and Piety in Late Medieval Schleswig-Holstein . Wachholtz, Neumünster 2006. ISBN 3-529-02941-6 , ( Studies on the Economic and Social History of Schleswig-Holstein 41), pp. 215-238.

Web links

Commons : Bishopric of Ratzeburg  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ After Masch: Wappen (lit.), p. 146
  2. So on the choir stalls in the Ratzeburg Cathedral, according to Masch: Wappen , p. 146.
  3. So Masch: Wappen , p. 149
  4. ^ After Masch: Geschichte (Lit.), p. 704