Johann Konrad von Gemmingen

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Johann Konrad von Gemmingen

Johann Konrad von Gemmingen , also Johann Conrad (born October 23, 1561, presumably in Tiefenbronn ; † November 7, 1612 or November 8, 1612 in Eichstätt ) was Prince-Bishop of Eichstätt .

Birth and childhood

Family coat of arms

Johann Konrad came from the Steinegg line of the Swabian noble family of the Lords of Gemmingen and was the third of eight children of Dietrich IX. von Gemmingen , Augsburg councilor and governor of Dillingen , and his wife Lia (also Leia), née von Schellenberg, probably born in Tiefenbronn and grew up there in some cases. His uncle, the Augsburg prince-bishop Johann Otto von Gemmingen , is said to have had a significant influence on his upbringing and repeatedly appeared as his mentor .

Apprenticeship and first years of employment

Johann Konrad von Gemmingen, portrait on his grave slab in the Eichstätter cathedral cloister

After his childhood, Johann Konrad went through the typical canon career. In 1573 he was a prospect at Constance . In 1578 he was canonical in Ellwangen , in 1579 he was cathedral canon in Augsburg and domicellar in the diocese of Eichstätt . In 1588 a canonical was added in Constance.

His scientific training began in 1579. First he studied theology and also law at the University of Freiburg im Breisgau , 1583 in Dillingen , 1584 in Pont-à-Mousson , 1587 in Paris , 1588 in Siena , 1588/89 in Perugia and 1589 in Bologna ; in addition to Latin, he mastered Italian and French. Educational trips took him to several countries, including England . Completely educated in this way, his uncle brought him to Augsburg as cathedral dean in 1591 , where he was ordained a priest on May 10, 1592. Also in 1591 he had received a full cathedral canonical in Eichstätt, where he was elected coadjutor with the right of succession to bishops in 1593 . In 1594 Pope Clement VIII awarded him the titular diocese of Hierapolis in Isauria and Emperor Rudolf II the regalia .


On September 17, 1594, Johann Konrad took over the reign of the Eichstätt bishopric while at the same time renouncing the Augsburg cathedral dean. he took over the diocese itself only after the death of his predecessor by consecration on July 2, 1595. His uncle Johann Otto had already been elected Bishop of Eichstätt by the Eichstätter cathedral chapter in 1590 , but had refused the office.

In the exercise of his spiritual duties he had the vicar general Dr. Vitus Priefer carry out a general visit to the parishes, monasteries and monasteries in the Hochstift. He also took care of his priestly training facility, the Collegium Willibaldinum , albeit with decreasing commitment. He also improved the diocese administration and drove the last Luther supporters out of Eichstätt.

Johann Konrad appeared as a cautious politician and successful financier. Out of consideration for the Protestant neighbors, he did not join the Catholic League with his bishopric , but tried to be pragmatic. He achieved greater importance as a patron of the arts. He was known for his extensive art collection and a truly princely interior at his castle. According to a legend, Queen Elizabeth of England presented him with a diamond treasure after he was said to have worked as a page at her court for some time. On New Year 1603, a six-horse cheering wagon and another six wagons with a total of 91 people and 83 horses drove into Ingolstadt , where 18 nobles studying at the university served him in the church and escorted him.

During his tenure, the witch hunt in the Hochstift Eichstätt continued. Between 1603 and 1606, at least 20 women from Eichstätt , Enkering , Landershofen, Dollnstein and Eitensheim were sentenced to death as supposed witches and executed.

With the laying of the foundation stone on May 14, 1609, which he carried out personally under the northern tower against Mariastein, he left the prince-bishop's residence " Willibaldsburg " according to plans by the Augsburg builder Elias Holl into a representative, if unfinished, princely residence in the Renaissance style ("Gemmingenbau ") Remove. Four years earlier he had a prince-bishop's hunter's house built across from the castle.

He had been ailing since the spring of 1611, allowed himself to be driven in a wheelchair and towards the end of his life could no longer take a step. On July 23, 1611 he received a pompous monstrance he had commissioned , which had the shape of a vine with 66 grapes , from which a star of diamonds emanated. 1400 pearls, 350 diamonds , 250 rubies and other precious stones were required for this. At that time its value was estimated at 150,000 guilders (for comparison: a carpenter earned 8 guilders a month, a magnificent town house cost 2500 guilders). The monstrance was destroyed in the secularization of 1806 and the gold parts and pearls were used for the Bavarian crown insignia .

Eichstätt and Willibaldsburg on a Merian engraving from 1648

He also became famous for the eight magnificent gardens that he had laid out and maintained by the botanist and pharmacist Basilius Besler on the face of the castle hill facing the city. At the same time, he arranged for the many, sometimes very rare plants to be documented in a magnificent tome, the " Hortus Eystettensis ". He invested almost 20,000 guilders in this company and had a work of art that is famous and coveted to this day and which was the most modern and extensive plant book at that time. He did not live to see the first printing of this work in 1613, as it was published on 7./8. November 1612 succumbed to his painful pain. He was buried in the cathedral .

The family chronicle of the Lords of Gemmingen reports: His body covers the most beautiful monument among the bishops of Eichstädts, which Christoph v. Westerstetten continued. Eichstadt's golden age sank into this grave for more than a century. The aforementioned bronze / marble epitaph in the east choir of the cathedral was created by the sculptor Hans Krumpper from Munich. His grave slab is now in the cloister of Eichstätter Cathedral.


  • Carl Wilhelm Friedrich Ludwig Stocker : Family Chronicle of the Barons of Gemmingen , Heidelberg 1895, p. 322-330.
  • Erwin Gatz (ed.), With the assistance of Clemens Brodkorb: The Bishops of the Holy Roman Empire 1448 to 1648. A biographical lexicon. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-428-08422-5 , pp. 215f.
  • Irene Reithmeier: Johann Konrad von Gemmingen. Prince-Bishop of Eichstätt (1593 / 95–1612), sovereign and diocesan leader in late humanism. Eichstätter Studies, Volume 63, Regensburg 2010. ISBN 978-3-7917-2262-7 .

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predecessor Office successor
Kaspar von Seckendorff Bishop of Eichstätt
Johann Christoph von Westerstetten