Karl Kaspar von der Leyen

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Karl Kaspar von der Leyen, illustration from a coronation diary from 1658

Karl Kaspar Baron von der Leyen (* December 18, 1618 , † June 1, 1676 at the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress ) was Archbishop and Elector of Trier from 1652 to 1676 .


Karl Kaspar came from the old Rhenish noble family von der Leyen with ancestral seat on the upper castle in Gondorf on the lower Moselle ; his father Damian von der Leyen (1583–1639) was an Elector of Trier. From 1641 Karl Kaspar belonged to the Trier cathedral chapter, with whom he fled to Cologne in 1645, when Archbishop Philipp Christoph von Sötern of Trier, who had been released from ten years of imperial captivity, reestablished his reign in Kurtrier with French help.

In 1649, in disregard of the electoral cathedral chapter, Philipp Christoph appointed Philipp Ludwig von Reiffenberg as Trier coadjutor , whereupon an army of the cathedral chapter headed by Karl Kaspar moved from Cologne to Trier and fixed the 82-year-old archbishop there, who thereupon a coadjutor election by the cathedral chapter agreed, in which on June 11, 1650 Karl Kaspar was elected coadjutor. Philipp Christoph rejected the elected, but Karl Kaspar, supported by the emperor, was able to get his election confirmed by Pope Innocent X and succeed him on March 12, 1652 after the death of Philip Christoph; On September 15, 1652 the bishop was consecrated by the Trier auxiliary bishop Otto Johann Theodor von Senheim in the presence of the abbot of the abbey of St. Martin and the abbot of the Benedictine abbey of St. Matthias Martin Feiden .

The consequences of the Thirty Years' War , which had just ended shortly before, presented the new archbishop with major tasks, as, for example, the population of the archbishopric had decreased by around 300,000 people. His policy was aimed at restoring the destroyed residential buildings, promoting the administration of justice and agriculture and also expanding the facilities of the fortresses Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein ; he also moved his official residence there.

In Trier he succeeded in suppressing the claims of the mighty imperial abbey of St. Maximin to its imperial immediacy and in 1669 persuaded the monastery to finally recognize the electoral sovereignty. He also founded a boys' orphanage in Trier, donated scholarships for the training of noble sons to become clergymen, and in 1668 issued a uniform Kurtrier land law , which was mainly aimed at reforming the tax system and securing local crafts.

Archbishop Karl Kaspar von der Leyen ended the witch hunt within the Archdiocese of Trier by secret order.

At the level of imperial politics, Karl Kaspar initially sided with the Habsburg emperors and in 1658 refused to join the Rhenish Confederation in favor of Leopold I , which he then joined in 1662 at the insistence of Louis XIV of France and against the guarantee of his metropolitan rights in the dioceses of Metz , Toul and Verdun joined in. After the dissolution of the Rhine Confederation in the course of the wars of devolution , Karl Kaspar again entered into contractual ties with the imperial side in order to protect his territory from the advancing French expansion as far as possible, and in 1672 he joined the alliance against France, without the subsequent occupation of large parts of Kurtrier to be prevented by French troops.

Karl Kaspar promoted members of his family to the best of his ability: in 1654 he appointed his younger brother Damian Hartard von der Leyen , who later became Archbishop of Mainz, provost and archdeacon of Karden within the Archdiocese of Trier. In 1660 he enfeoffed his brother Hugo Ernst von der Leyen († 1665) with the Electorate of Trier Blieskastel , in 1670 his son Karl Kaspar von der Leyen (1655–1739) with the Electorate of Trier Arenfels , to which u. a. Hönningen belonged.

As early as 1672, due to his poor health, he named his nephew Johann Hugo von Orsbeck as his successor. Karl Kaspar died on June 1, 1676 in the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress.


Web links

Commons : Karl Kaspar von der Leyen  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

References and comments

  1. Processes, causes and background of the great witch hunts in the territories between the Empire and France in the late 16th and 17th centuries
  2. ^ Hugo Ernst von der Leyen in the Saarland Biographies ( Memento from December 11, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  3. Karl Kaspar (IV.) Von der Leyen in the Saarland Biographies ( Memento from December 11, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
predecessor Office successor
Philipp Christoph von Sötern Elector Archbishop of Trier
Johann Hugo von Orsbeck