Ferdinand von Fürstenberg (1626–1683)

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Prince-Bishop Ferdinand II - picture of the donor for the Franciscan monastery in Paderborn by Johann Georg Rudolphi 1672

Ferdinand Freiherr von Furstenberg , contemporary and Ferdinandus liber baro de Furstenberg , (* 26. October 1626 at Castle Bilstein in the Duchy of Westphalia ; † 26. June 1683 in Paderborn ) than Ferdinand II. Since 1661 the Prince Bishop of Paderborn and since 1678 also of Munster , already in 1667/68 his coadjutor . He largely eliminated the consequences of the Thirty Years' War in the Paderborn Monastery. In terms of foreign policy, he followed the principle of armed neutrality, but leaned more and more towards the French position. He distinguished himself as an author of historical works, as a poet of Latin poetry and as a correspondent with the important scholars of his time. In addition, he also emerged as a patron and in particular had numerous church buildings built or renovated. He is considered to be one of the most outstanding representatives of Baroque Catholicism .

Origin and education

Ferdinand von Fürstenberg came from the Westphalian noble family von Fürstenberg . His father was the Electorate of Cologne Country Droste Friedrich von Furstenberg . The mother was Anna Maria (born von Kerpen). He was the eleventh child from this marriage. His siblings include the clergyman, artist and officer Caspar Dietrich von Fürstenberg , the later cathedral provost in Münster and Paderborn Johann Adolf von Fürstenberg , the lord Friedrich , the cathedral dean Wilhelm and the provincial commander Franz Wilhelm . His godfather was the elector Ferdinand of Bavaria .

It was thanks to him that at the age of seven he received a cathedral pretext in Hildesheim . Through the intercession of the emperor in 1639 a benefice was added to the cathedral chapter of Paderborn.

According to the family custom, Ferdinand von Fürstenberg received an education that was above average for a nobleman of the time. Fürstenberg first attended the Jesuit high school in Siegen . He then studied philosophy in Paderborn and Münster .

After the death of his parents, Fürstenberg temporarily returned to Bilstein Castle , where the local administrator introduced him to the fundamentals of jurisprudence . In 1648 he began studying theology and law at the University of Cologne. There he came into contact with important scholars, especially from the Jesuit community.

Especially in Münster and Cologne he came into contact with leading scholars of the time. These included about Aegidius Gelenius . During this time Fürstenberg began to conduct historical studies himself. In Münster he also met Fabio Chigi, the nuncio during the peace negotiations of the Thirty Years' War and later Pope Alexander VII .

In 1649, after completing his degree, he received a seat and vote in the Paderborn cathedral chapter. A year later he was ordained a subdeacon . Fabio Chigi invited him to come to Rome. He arrived there with his brother Johann Adolf in 1652.

Secret chamberlain and scholar in Rome

Illustration from the Monumenta Paderbornensia , 2nd edition 1672

In Rome Fürstenberg moved in the wake of Chigis. Through this he came into contact with the local scholars. He lived under one roof with the philologist Nikolaes Heinsius . With this he had a lifelong friendship. He was also in close contact with Lukas Holste . This prompted Ferdinand to undertake further language studies and gave him access to the Vatican Library, which he ran. Fürstenberg also came into close contact with numerous Italian scholars.

With the election of Fabio Chigi as Pope Alexander VII in 1655, Fürstenberg was appointed papal secret chamberlain . Like his brother Wilhelm later, Fürstenberg served the Pope as an advisor for German affairs.

He became a member of an academy of fine arts. Later he even became president of this institution. In 1657 he was treasurer of the arch brotherhood on Campo Santo and provisional of the German church Anima.

Above all, however, he devoted himself to scientific work. So he made numerous copies of documents from the Vatican archives . These included the Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae Charlemagne . He left some finds to others for publication, some he edited himself. In addition, he appeared as a sponsor of large-scale scientific projects such as the publication of the Acta Sanctorum by Jean Bolland and his successors, the Bollandists . The discovery of documents from his Westphalian homeland led Ferdinand to decide to write a history of the diocese of Paderborn.

He was ordained a priest in 1659. As a result he received several benefices. Among them was the provost office of the Holy Cross in Hildesheim, a canon office in Münster and the prospect of one in Halberstadt.

In 1660 he became a legate and presented Franz Wilhelm von Wartenberg with the cardinal dignity. He also had diplomatic missions with Leopold I and numerous imperial princes. In Westphalia he also carried out source studies for his planned diocese history. After his return to Rome, Fürstenberg mainly devoted himself to historical studies in the Vatican Archives.

Time as a bishop

In 1661, he owed his brother Wilhelm in particular to be elected Bishop of Paderborn. The defeated opponent was Maximilian Heinrich von Bayern . Ferdinand was ordained bishop while still in Rome. He received the miter in the German national church Santa Maria dell'Anima from Cardinal Secretary of State Giulio Rospigliosi . Only on October 4, 1661 did he move into Paderborn.

Domestic politics in Paderborn

Ferdinand von Fürstenberg

The country still suffered from the aftermath of the Thirty Years' War , as its predecessor was unable to rebuild the country for financial reasons. One of the main concerns of Ferdinand von Fürstenberg was therefore the internal recovery of the country. His numerous building projects served not least to employ the craftsmen of the prince-bishopric. In addition, deserted fields were reused under him. He issued forest regulations and had residents and tax lists drawn up. With limited success he promoted the creation of factories. The spa in Bad Driburg also received his support. In order to improve communication, a mail service between Kassel and Amsterdam was supported.

After a settlement, Lügde fell from the County of Pyrmont to the Principality of Paderborn. During his time, the access conditions for the nobility to the state parliament were tightened. From then on, the manor owners had to prove sixteen ancestors if they wanted to have a seat and vote there. He had the city of Paderborn strongly fortified.

Ferdinand strongly promoted the school system and the Jesuit college that came into being under Dietrich von Fürstenberg . In addition, he also tried to improve the rural school system. New schools were established.

Ferdinand made a special contribution to enforcing the law in the country. If necessary and without regard to the person, severe judgments were made. Marshal Kurt von Spiegel and a pastor from Buke were both executed.

Coadjutor and Bishop in Munster

The election as coadjutor in Munster was problematic because von Galen had promised in his election surrender not to create such a position. In particular, Wilhelm von Fürstenberg, who had meanwhile been the Pope's secret chamberlain, obtained a bull in Rome that allowed Ferdinand to accept the office. Before the election, Ferdinand, together with his brothers Johann Adolf von Fürstenberg and Franz Wilhelm von Fürstenberg, guaranteed that he would not interfere in the government of the Principality of Münster until the death of Galens. In the decisive vote, Ferdinand narrowly prevailed against the competitor, Elector Maximilian Heinrich von Bayern from Cologne. Both sides turned to the Curia in Rome. It was not least thanks to the influence of Wilhelm von Fürstenberg that Ferdinand's claim was confirmed. This decided the right of succession in Münster. The local cathedral dean Jobst Edmund von Brabeck transferred to Cologne and became governor of Hildesheim Abbey.

The relationship with von Galen was problematic. Your correspondence remained chilled. Ferdinand's scholarly manner remained alien to von Galen, who had a military mindset.

In November 1679, after the death of Galens, Ferdinand made a solemn entry into Münster. After decades of extensive military power politics, the country hoped for peace and a reduction in military spending. Therefore, the new sovereign, who was considered peaceable, was looked forward to with confidence.

In fact, after taking over the Principality of Münster, Ferdinand followed a new political line there. Von Galen left high debts in the Prince Diocese of Münster. This, but also the rather peaceful course of Ferdinand, led to a strong reduction in the size of the Münster troops.

Compared to the Swedes, he renounced the conquest from the time of Galens. Only the rulership of Wildeshausen remained in the hands of the Duchy of Munster until Swedish compensation was paid. Ferdinand received 50,000 thalers from France and Louis XIV promised to work for the Catholic institutions in the Duchy of Bremen and the Principality of Verden. Other acts directed outwards for the Prince Diocese of Münster were at most the destruction of the Bevergern state castle as a gesture towards the Netherlands.

In terms of domestic politics, too, Ferdinand left only a few traces of his own in the Prince Diocese of Münster. His main focus remained the prince-bishopric of Paderborn. He left the day-to-day business to the officials he had taken over from his predecessor.

Church politics

Ferdinand took his priesthood very seriously. He himself read mass every day and performed most of the pontifical acts himself. He went on visitation trips through his area of ​​responsibility and promoted the formation of a clergy in accordance with the principles of the Council of Trent . The appointment of priests should be based on their performance. Since he saw centers for the renewal of the Catholic faith among the people in the monasteries, he promoted these institutions. The pastoral care activities received special attention from the orders of the Capuchins and Jesuits . He was supported by Vicar General Laurentius von Dript. Pope Innocent XI. appointed Ferdinand in 1680 as apostolic vicar for Halberstadt, Bremen, Magdeburg, Schwerin and Magdeburg. The Catholic mission should be carried out peacefully in these Protestant areas. He supported the missions in Japan and China through the Jesuits through a large foundation totaling 101,700 thalers. Prince-Bishop Ferdinand was closely associated with the Danish convert and natural scientist Niels Stensen , whom he appointed in 1680 as his auxiliary bishop of Münster. Stensen was not only important to Ferdinand as a learned friend, but also made a significant contribution to the Missio Ferdinanda, the mission foundation of 1682 for the people's mission in Westphalia, the mission in the Far East and pastoral care in northern Europe.

Foreign policy

Overall, Ferdinand relied on a peaceful foreign policy of armed neutrality that avoided direct involvement in the war as far as possible. Moreover, Ferdinand's foreign policy fluctuated between loyalty to the emperor and leaning towards France. Ferdinand was very impressed by the personality of Louis XIV. Nevertheless, following family tradition, he initially remained a follower of Habsburg. Later his policy was wavering before he increasingly turned to the French side.

Coat of arms of the Paderborn prince-bishop Ferdinand von Fürstenberg on the portal of the Busdorf Church in Paderborn (1667). The coat of arms of those of Fürstenberg alternates with the coat of arms of the Principality of Paderborn (photo 2008).

Despite his tendency towards neutrality, he supported the war of Bishop Christoph Bernhard von Galen with a small contingent of troops , who attacked the Netherlands together with Charles II of England in 1665. He was opposed to the war itself, but felt compelled to support Galen in order to be made coadjutor of the Duchy of Munster. Behind the scenes, Ferdinand tried to end the war that ended with the Peace of Cleves in 1666.

When a war between France and the Electorate of Cologne and the Duchy of Munster against the Netherlands ( Dutch War ) was imminent in 1672 , he declared the fundamental neutrality of Paderborn, but again supported the Munster troops with a small unit. Almost at the same time, Ferdinand concluded a defensive alliance with Emperor Leopold I, in which both sides agreed to support each other in the event of an attack. He also asked the Elector of Brandenburg , who was on the side of the Netherlands, to spare the prince-bishopric in the event of a war. He believed that he had secured himself on all sides. The emperor's troops advancing to Westphalia caused severe damage in Paderborn Abbey. Ferdinand unsuccessfully demanded compensation of 25,000 Reichstalers through Wilhelm von Fürstenberg. Only when French troops advanced in 1673 did the imperial army withdraw. The French behaved better, but for some time held large parts of the monastery. The later returned imperial troops devastated the country again. The position of Ferdinand, who was apparently unable to protect his country from it, also suffered from this. Cologne and Munster made peace with the Netherlands in April 1674. The Reich, on the other hand, declared war on France in May. For Paderborn this meant the end of the previous financial support from France.

Ferdinand supported von Galen, who, together with Denmark and the Duchy of Braunschweig, wanted to wrest the Swedes of their possessions in the empire. The war of the French and their allies against the Netherlands and their supporters ended with the Peace of Nijmegen in 1678. Before that, Ferdinand had signed a treaty with France in support of the latter, but this was not ratified by Louis XIV.

After the death of Galens on September 19, 1678, Ferdinand also took over the government of the Prince Diocese of Münster. He appeared quite self-confident towards France. As a condition for further negotiations, he demanded the financial commitments made earlier and demanded parts of the dioceses of Verden and Bremen that had been conquered by the Swedes. If Louis XIV did not give in, Ferdinand threatened to join the Nordic alliance. The negotiations did not come to a conclusion. In the dispute in the north, Ferdinand had to make peace in March 1679. Ferdinand received Swedish war compensation of 100,000 thalers. As a pledge he received the Wildeshausen estate until payment. After the end of the war, Ferdinand turned increasingly to France. With this he concluded a protective alliance in 1680. Other powers courted him as well.

Scientific activity

Prince-Bishop Ferdinand II receives the theses from the young Hendrick Daemen . Painting 1669 by Nicolaes Rosendael , Musée du Louvre , Paris

Fürstenberg was culturally interested and educated in many different ways and left behind "probably almost complete correspondence between princes and bishops". Correspondence and meetings in the Neuhausen Residence with the universal scholar Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz are documented . In addition, he was in contact with numerous other scholars of the time. He himself wrote poetic and highly esteemed Latin poems and published historical writings. Fürstenberg also promoted research into the history of his diocese and for this purpose drew historians to his court.

Ferdinand von Fürstenberg wrote numerous writings. In Rome he had already made the plan for a story of the Paderborn bishops. During the archive studies in Westphalia, he was actively supported by the Jesuit Johann Grothaus and the Premonstratensian from the Wedinghausen monastery, Friedrich Höning. At first he worked on a commentary on Hermann von Kerssenbrock's catalog of bishops . He also wrote an autobiography, the content of which lasted until the beginning of his reign.

His main work was a Latin chronicle and topography of the Diocese of Paderborn (including a genealogy of the Fürstenberg family). It was published in Paderborn in 1669 as Monumenta Paderbornensia , ex historia Romana, Francica, Saxonica eruta, novis inscriptionibus, figuris, tabulis geographicis ac notis… illustrata… Compendium vitae… Ferdinadaei, & Panegyricus Paderbornensis… and until 1714 saw three further editions. A German edition ( Monuments of the State of Paderborn , translated by Franz Joseph Micus) was also published in Paderborn in 1844. A splendid edition of his poems appeared in Paris after his death in 1684. In France in particular, his fluency aroused admiration. In addition to his own work, he also promoted other historians.

Art sponsors

In Westphalia , his commissioned art helped shape the style of the so-called Fürstenberg Baroque. Fürstenberg had large-format paintings of towns and communities in its territories made by regional artists. Most of these have been preserved. In addition, hardly any bishop of Paderborn had himself depicted as often in paintings, but also in copperplate engravings and other images as Ferdinand. He also commissioned a number of paintings depicting various locations in his diocese. The former 62 paintings are only partially preserved.

Funerary monument

He added numerous valuable pieces to the Paderborn cathedral treasure. In Paderborn he had the Franciscan and Capuchin Church built. The latter came from Ambrosius von Oelde , who created other buildings in the city and renewed cathedral chapels. With the Jesuit Church , Ferdinand also donated the most magnificent baroque building in the episcopal city. The foundation stone was laid during his lifetime. He also had other church buildings such as the Busdorf Church partially redesigned. Ferdinand also sponsored church and monastery buildings outside of the episcopal city through monetary payments. For example, he had the nave of the St. Gertrudis Church in Oberkirchen rebuilt, the tower restored and the church at Kloster Grafschaft decorated. In total he had eleven parish churches built or restored in his diocese. There were also numerous chapels. In his foundations, he also considered areas such as the Duchy of Westphalia that were outside his diocese.

The last monument that Ferdinand had created was his own, a grave monument created by Johann Mauritz Gröninger based on a design by Ambrosius von Oelde. His grave was in the Franciscan Church. The grave monument was destroyed by bombs in World War II.

Works (selection)

  • Monumenta Paderbornensia . 1669
  • Cels [issi] mi ac rev [erendissi] mi principis Ferdinandi episcopi Paderbornensis… 1677 ( Paderborn University Library )
  • Poemata Ferdinandi Episcopi Monasteriensis Et Paderbornensis, SRI Principis, Comitis Pyrmontani, Liberi Baronis De Furstenberg. Paris 1684 ( Paderborn University Library )
  • Monuments of the state of Paderborn . Translated from Latin and provided with a biography of the author by Franz Joseph Micus. Paderborn: Junfermann 1844 ( Paderborn University Library )


  • Norbert Börste, Jörg Ernesti (ed.): Ferdinand von Fürstenberg: Prince-Bishop of Paderborn and Münster . Prince of Peace and Good Shepherd (=  Paderborn theological studies . Volume 42 ). Schöningh, Paderborn / Munich / Vienna / Zurich 2004, ISBN 3-506-71319-1 .
  • Hans J. Brandt, Karl Hengst: The bishops and archbishops of Paderborn. Paderborn 1984, ISBN 3-87088-381-2 , pp. 249-256.
  • Jörg Ernesti:  Fürstenberg, Ferdinand von. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 23, Bautz, Nordhausen 2004, ISBN 3-88309-155-3 , Sp. 455-458.
  • Jörg Ernesti: Ferdinand von Fürstenberg (1626–1683). Intellectual profile of a baroque prince-bishop (= studies and sources on Westphalian history. Volume 51). Bonifatius, Paderborn 2004, ISBN 3-89710-282-X .
  • Jörg Ernesti: Three bishops - one will to reform. A new look at Ferdinand von Fürstenberg (1626–83) and his relationship with Christoph Bernhard von Galen and Niels Stensen. In: Westphalia, booklets for history, art and folklore. Volume 83, 2005, pp. 49-59.
  • Helmut Lahrkamp: Ferdinand von Fürstenberg . In: Helmut Lahrkamp u. a .: Fürstenberg's story. Volume 3: The history of the von Fürstenberg family in the 17th century . Aschendorff, Münster 1971, pp. 119–149.
  • Konrad Mertens: The portraits of the princes and bishops of Paderborn from 1498-1891 . Schöningh, Paderborn 1892 ( Paderborn University Library )
  • Franz Joseph Micus: biography of the baron Ferdinand von Fürstenberg, Prince-Bishop of Paderborn a. Munster . Junfermann, Paderborn 1847, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 6: 1-16926 .
  • Josef Bernhard Nordhoff:  Ferdinand von Fürstenberg . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 6, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1877, pp. 702-709.
  • Klemens Honselmann:  Ferdinand von Fürstenberg. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 5, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1961, ISBN 3-428-00186-9 , p. 93 f. ( Digitized version ).

Web links

Commons : Ferdinand II von Fürstenberg  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. on the term Baroque Catholicism, cf. Jörg Ernesti: Three bishops - one will to reform. In: Westphalia, booklets for history, art and folklore. Volume 83, pp. 50f.
  2. cf. Horst Conrad: “Splendor Familiae.” Generational discipline and politics in the von Fürstenberg family. A sketch. In: Südwestfalenarchiv, 6th year 2006
  3. Helmut Lahrkamp: Ferdinand von Furstenberg . In: Helmut Lahrkamp u. a .: Fürstenberg's story. Volume 3, pp. 119f.
  4. Helmut Lahrkamp: Ferdinand von Furstenberg . In: Helmut Lahrkamp u. a .: Fürstenberg's story. Volume 3, pp. 120f.
  5. Helmut Lahrkamp: Ferdinand von Furstenberg . In: Helmut Lahrkamp u. a .: Fürstenberg's story. Volume 3, pp. 122f.
  6. Helmut Lahrkamp: Ferdinand von Furstenberg . In: Helmut Lahrkamp u. a .: Fürstenberg's story. Volume 3, pp. 123-125.
  7. Helmut Lahrkamp: Ferdinand von Furstenberg . In: Helmut Lahrkamp u. a .: Fürstenberg's story. Volume 3, pp. 127f.
  8. On the relationship with Galen, cf. Jörg Ernesti: Three bishops - one will to reform. In: Westphalia, booklets for history, art and folklore. Volume 83, pp. 54ff.
  9. ^ Wilhelm Kohl: The diocese of Münster. Part 7.1: The diocese (= Germania sacra. NF Volume 37.1). De Gruyter, Berlin 1999, ISBN 978-3-11-016470-1 , pp. 276-278.
  10. Helmut Lahrkamp: Ferdinand von Furstenberg . In: Helmut Lahrkamp u. a .: Fürstenberg's story. Volume 3, p. 134.
  11. ^ This is his ecclesiastical principle towards Pope Innocent XI. , see. Jörg Ernesti: Three bishops - one will to reform. In: Westphalia, booklets for history, art and folklore. Volume 83, p. 57.
  12. Helmut Lahrkamp: Ferdinand von Furstenberg . In: Helmut Lahrkamp u. a .: Fürstenberg's story. Volume 3, p. 125
  13. ^ Jörg Ernesti: Three bishops - one will to reform. In: Westphalia, booklets for history, art and folklore. Volume 83, pp. 58f.
  14. Helmut Lahrkamp: Ferdinand von Furstenberg . In: Helmut Lahrkamp u. a .: Fürstenberg's story. Volume 3, pp. 125-127.
  15. Helmut Lahrkamp: Ferdinand von Furstenberg . In: Helmut Lahrkamp u. a .: Fürstenberg's story. Volume 3, pp. 128-129.
  16. Helmut Lahrkamp: Ferdinand von Furstenberg . In: Helmut Lahrkamp u. a .: Fürstenberg's story. Volume 3, pp. 130-131.
  17. Helmut Lahrkamp: Ferdinand von Furstenberg . In: Helmut Lahrkamp u. a .: Fürstenberg's story. Volume 3, p. 132.
  18. ^ Jörg Ernesti: Three bishops - one will to reform. In: Westphalia, booklets for history, art and folklore. Volume 83, p. 51.
  19. ^ Josef Bernhard Nordhoff:  Grothus . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 9, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1879, p. 766 f.
  20. ^ Karl Hauck : On the historical works of Münsterscher bishops . In: Alois Schröer (Ed.): Monasterium. Festschrift for the 700th anniversary of the consecration of Paulus Cathedral in Münster . Verlag Regensberg, Münster 1966, pp. 337-426, therein on the historiographical writings of Ferdinand von Fürstenberg pp. 405-426, on the importance of the chronicle of the diocese of Paderborn, p. 406.
  21. Helmut Lahrkamp: Ferdinand von Furstenberg . In: Helmut Lahrkamp u. a .: Fürstenberg's story. Volume 3, pp. 134-142.
  22. Helmut Lahrkamp: Ferdinand von Furstenberg . In: Helmut Lahrkamp u. a .: Fürstenberg's story. Volume 3, pp. 142-145.
predecessor Office successor
Christoph Bernhard von Galen Bishop of Munster
Maximilian Heinrich of Bavaria
Dietrich Adolf von der Recke Bishop of Paderborn
Hermann Werner von Wolff-Metternich to the canal