Maximilian Heinrich of Bavaria

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Archbishop Maximilian Heinrich of Bavaria, contemporary engraving
Life-size portrait of Maximilian Heinrich (today in the Sauerland Museum in Arnsberg )

Maximilian Heinrich von Bayern (born December 8, 1621 in Munich , † June 5, 1688 in Bonn ) was a prince with the title Duke of Bavaria from the House of Wittelsbach and from 1650 Archbishop and Elector of Cologne , Bishop of Hildesheim and Liège . He also served from 1650 Prince Provost or Kurkölnischer administrator of the pin Berchtesgaden , 1657 abbot of the Principality of Stavelot-Malmedy and 1683 (without papal permission) Bishop of Munster . Spiritually, he was a representative of the Counter Reformation and the decisions of the Council of Trent . At the same time he criticized the influence of the Roman Curia . His political action was largely determined by advisors. Domestically, his policies were different in the various territories he ruled. In terms of foreign policy, he followed a pro-French course.


Maximilian Heinrich was the fourth and last child and the third son of Duke Albrecht VI. von Bayern-Leuchtenberg and his wife Mechthildis von Leuchtenberg , daughter of Landgrave Georg IV. Ludwig von Leuchtenberg . His brother Albrecht Sigismund was bishop of Freising and Regensburg . His uncles include Elector Maximilian I of Bavaria and Archbishop Ferdinand of Cologne. A cousin was Cardinal Franz Wilhelm Graf von Wartenberg . One nephew was Joseph Clemens , later Archbishop of Cologne.

Early life

Maximilian Heinrich was destined for the clergy at an early age. As a child, numerous canons were awarded to him as a pretext . These included positions in Cologne (1622), Constance (1626), Strasbourg (1626), Halberstadt (1627), Brixen (1629), Salzburg (1629), Münster (1629), Hildesheim (1632), Liège (1641) and Paderborn (1657).

He was raised by the court masters from the order of the Jesuits Rudolf von Rechberg and Georg Christoph von Haslang . Then he came to his uncle Archbishop Ferdinand in 1637 and in 1638 became provost of the St. Gereon monastery . He held this office until 1650. He was also provost of the cathedral in Constance and Strasbourg. Maximilian Heinrich attended the Tricoronatum grammar school in Cologne , where he was promoted to prefect of the student congregation. After that he was enrolled at the University of Cologne from 1637 . Between 1643 and 1649 he studied Catholic theology in Leuven . In Liège he became cathedral dean in 1649 .


Maximilian Heinrich is described as pious, personally impeccable, shy of people, sickly and suspicious at an early age. He suffered from melancholy and hypochondria and tended to neglect worldly duties. Between 1673 and 1683 he retired to the St. Pantaleon Abbey in Cologne. There he lived without his court in simple circumstances and devoted himself to spiritual exercises and his alchemical inclinations. Maximilian Heinrich collected gold, precious stones and coins; He has been an expert in cutting precious stones since his youth and has cut the stones for the Westphalian State Cup himself . In 1667 he went incognito to Amsterdam to investigate alchemical questions.

Maximilian Heinrich is characterized as politically undecided. He relied on advisors in his decisions, in particular the brothers Franz Egon von Fürstenberg and Wilhelm Egon von Fürstenberg ("Egonites"), who were determined supporters of French interests in the Holy Roman Empire. Chancellor Peter von Buschmann and other advisors also came.

In contrast to the other Wittelsbach princes who occupied the Archbishopric of Cologne, Maximilian Heinrich actually felt called to be a priest. Unlike his predecessor Ernst von Bayern , who lived with Gertrud von Plettenberg , Maximilian Heinrich had no mistresses.

Promotion to archbishop and other offices

At the urging of his cousin Count von Wartenberg, Maximilian Heinrich became coadjutor in the Diocese of Hildesheim in 1633 , as well as coadjutor in Cologne in 1642 and coadjutor in Liège in 1649. After the death of his uncle Ferdinand in 1650, he succeeded him as Archbishop of Cologne, as Bishop of Liège, as Bishop of Hildesheim and as prince provost and administrator of the Berchtesgaden Abbey. In 1654 he became coadjutor of Wilhelm von Bayern , the illegitimate son of Archbishop Ernst von Bayern, in the double monastery of Stablo-Malmedy. Maximilian Heinrich received the abbot dignity in 1657, but gave it up again in favor of Franz Egon von Fürstenberg. In addition, he registered interest in the bishopric of Freising, Münster and Paderborn, but failed due to the resistance of the Roman curia . For the office of bishop in Münster he postulated after the death of Ferdinand von Fürstenberg . Since the papal permission was not granted, Maximilian Heinrich was the secular ruler of the bishopric of Münster , but not the bishop of the diocese of Münster .

Spiritual work

Maximilian Heinrich on horseback in front of the city of Bonn

In order to be able to fulfill his spiritual duties, he had the ordinations he still lacked . In September 1651 he was ordained a priest and in October 1651 by the papal nuncio Fabio Chigi, later Pope Alexander VII , in the Remigius Church in Bonn (which burned down in May 1800) he was ordained bishop. This made him the first Archbishop of Cologne to be ordained bishop after more than a hundred years.

In ecclesiastical questions, like his predecessors, he was on the side of the Counter Reformation and the associated internal church reforms in the wake of the Council of Trent . He had diocesan synods held between 1651 and 1682. The synodal statutes drawn up by his auxiliary bishop Georg Pauli-Stravius influenced the pastoral care practice of the Cologne church for the following centuries. Maximilian Heinrich attached great importance to the discipline of the clergy, the limitation of popular piety , the adaptation of religious and marriage provisions to those of the Council of Trent, the adoption of the changed Roman rite and the curtailment of the influence of the archdeacons .

In the field of orders, Maximilian Heinrich promoted Franciscans and Jesuits in particular . His confessors also came from among their ranks. The Jesuit high school was founded in Bonn in 1673. He brought the first Augustinian choir women into his sphere of influence. In 1651 he sent the first Jesuits to Arnsberg, the capital of the Duchy of Westphalia belonging to Kurköln ; this resulted in the Arnsberg Jesuit Mission . Maximilian Heinrich approved the settlement of the Minorites in Brilon in 1654 . In 1661 the statue of the Virgin came to Werl from the now Protestant Wiesenkirche in Soest. Maximilian Heinrich decreed that the statue should be made accessible to worship. Then the Capuchin Church in Werl developed into a place of pilgrimage.

Maximilian Heinrich apparently planned to continue the construction of the Cologne Cathedral . It didn't come to that. However, he contributed to the interior decoration of the cathedral; he gave the treasury valuable pieces like a monstrance; In particular, he was responsible for the design of the Epiphany Chapel.

He rejected the claim to power of the Roman curia and the papal nuncio residing in Cologne . Through his chancellor Peter von Buschmann, he influenced the relevant provisions in the electoral capitulation of Leopold I. The anti-Roman efforts culminated in 1660 in the plan for a German national council.

Imperial and foreign policy

Maximilian Heinrich von Bayern, depiction in a coronation diary from 1658

Maximilian Heinrich personally took part in the Reichstag in Regensburg in 1653 and 1664 . At the Princely Congress of Augsburg in 1654, he spoke out in favor of Ferdinand IV's election as a king . The elector traditionally claimed the right to the coronation for himself. This was also done by the Archbishop of Mainz, Johann Philipp von Schönborn . Maximilian Heinrich then left the meeting.

His politics began to be oriented towards France. This applies to the election of Emperor in 1658, in which Maximilian Heinrich and France campaigned in vain for the Bavarian Elector Ferdinand Maria . He only switched to Leopold I after he had been assured, as the Elector of Cologne, the right to anointing and coronation with the assistance of the Elector of Mainz.

Pro-French signals were set in 1658 when Kurköln joined the Rhenish Confederation . Maximilian Heinrich granted temporary asylum to Cardinal Mazarin , who had temporarily fled France . A first secret treaty with France was signed in 1666. Further agreements followed in 1671 and 1672. They were connected with considerable monetary payments from France and the provision of troops from Kurköln. France was concerned with enlarging the deployment area compared to the Netherlands. The elector hoped to regain Dutch occupied territories and to recatholize them.

The armed conflicts were not very beneficial for Kurköln. The country became the theater of war and was devastated by troops on both sides. Maximilian Heinrich had to flee to the imperial city of Cologne in 1673 and agree to a peace treaty with the Netherlands in 1674. The fortress and residence city of Bonn had already been taken by the Imperial Army in 1673 , which held the city until 1679. The city of Neuss was occupied several times by French troops.

Even the remote Duchy of Westphalia was involved in the war events; In 1672 a Brandenburg-Imperial army besieged the city of Werl.

Although France's reunion policy also affected parts of the Liège Monastery, ruled by Maximilian Heinrich, the influence of the Fürstenberg brothers strengthened its attachment to France. Treaties of 1683 and 1687 bound the country ever more closely to the policy of Louis XIV.

Domestic politics

Politics in the Rhineland

As a result of the Truchsessian War , Kurköln was heavily in debt. Most of the tableware was pledged. By 1672, part of the debts had been paid off and numerous pledged properties were released again. A number of castles, palaces and fortresses were renewed. After the beginning of the Dutch War in 1672, Kurköln's financial problems increased again considerably.

In Maximilian Heinrich's time a number of ordinances and laws that were typical of the time were drawn up. These include the appellate and revision court order issued in 1653, the legal order from 1663, a mountain order from 1669 and the ban on duels from 1683. In 1669 the state description was completed; it served as the basis for taxation and remained in use until the end of the archbishopric.

Maximilian Heinrich emphasized in various statements his claim to supremacy over the imperial city of Cologne. With the participation of the Lower Rhine-Westphalian Empire and an Imperial Commission, the Archbishop and the City of Cologne negotiated the Kendenich Recess in 1672 , according to which possible points of dispute could be resolved without violence or before the Imperial Court of Justice. An attempt based on French troops to intimidate the city of Cologne in 1684 was not very successful.

Politics in the Duchy of Westphalia

Detail of the Westphalian State Cup. The stones cast and cut from glass flow by Max Heinrich are clearly visible

In the Duchy of Westphalia, which belongs to Kurköln, Maximilian Heinrich issued numerous ordinances and laws between 1653 and 1683. In addition to ordinances similar to those in the Cologne heartland, there were also other local regulations: the permit to set up a fair in Brilon (1655), the introduction of elementary school regulations (1656), a customs ordinance (1659), the confirmation of the Werl salters' privilege (1665), a privilege for Jews for the city of Arnsberg (1671) and a fire order from 1672.

Maximilian Heinrich stayed frequently in the Duchy of Westphalia between 1652 and 1684. The establishment of commercial facilities, the purchase of the Obereimer estate and the establishment of a large zoo go back to him in the residential town of Arnsberg . He also had work on Arnsberg Castle resumed; construction was completed in 1663. Although he was not personally interested in hunting, he had the Hirschberg hunting lodge built for reasons of princely representation . A conflict developed with the Erbsälz in Werl when the elector had his own competing saltworks built. The dispute reached the Reich Chamber of Commerce without an agreement being reached until the elector's death.

In 1667 he himself was present at the state parliament of the estates of the duchy . In this context, the elector gave the estates the Arnsberg country estates cup. It is not entirely clear whether this involved specific financial interests or the permission to hire troops. However, as a result of the tax approval passed by the state parliament, the duchy was given its own legal, council and governmental system and the Westphalian chancellery was allowed to use its own seal. The strong position of the estates hardly allowed an absolutist policy in the Duchy of Westphalia.

Liège Monastery

The situation in the Liège Monastery was particularly difficult for Maximilian Heinrich. After the beginning of his rule, he had unrest suppressed by force. An invasion of troops from the Netherlands, Lorraine and Sweden ended in 1654. In the course of the Dutch War, the bishopric was again a theater of war. In the years 1675/76 Liège was occupied by the French.

Maximilian Heinrich's relationship with the city of Liège was very tense. The mistrust went back to the military occupation of the city carried out by him on behalf of his uncle in 1649, which had been associated with atrocities. Contrary to the old urban freedoms, Maximilian Heinrich designed the rule in the city in the spirit of sovereign absolutism , e.g. B. by building a citadel. After the withdrawal of the French troops in 1676 and the destruction of the citadel, revolts in the city demonstrated resistance to the bishop in 1679, 1682 and 1684. The city sued the Imperial Court of Justice with the aim of being removed from the Cologne Monastery. Imperial compromise proposals failed because of Maximilian Heinrich. Wilhelm Egon von Fürstenberg then violently broke the urban resistance in 1684.

Other territories

With the help of large bribes, Maximilian Heinrich was able to prevail in the election as Bishop of Münster in 1683. Auxiliary Bishop Nicolaus Steno , who condemned the election as a simony , left the city. On the basis of his report, Pope Innocent XI refused . to confirm the election, so that Maximilian Heinrich was only sovereign but not bishop. He signed a reformulated electoral surrender. He never visited the diocese of Münster. He had a new office built on Domplatz; politics, especially foreign policy, was made at court in Bonn.

Despite not being present on site, Maximilian Heinrich exerted influence on the Hildesheim Monastery. He initiated the reorganization of the court of 1652 as well as the chancellery, police and court order of 1665. In 1651 he ratified the Hildesheim Consistorial Recess, which established the equality of denominations. In the largely Protestant city of Hildesheim, he then tried to strengthen the Catholic influence. In 1656 Capuchins came back to the city. In return, the city council responded with hindrances to the practice of the Catholic faith.


Maximilian Heinrich's sickness led Maximilian Heinrich to consider his successor from the beginning of the 1680s. Instead of appointing his relative Joseph Clemens as coadjutor, he spoke out in favor of Wilhelm Egon von Fürstenberg, who was also elected by the Cologne Cathedral Chapter under the influence of French funds. However, the emperor declared the election invalid; the Pope also refused to consent. The elector died in Bonn in 1688 and was buried in the Epiphany Chapel in Cologne Cathedral . However, his bowels rest in the Jesuit Church in Bonn and his heart in the Altöttingen Chapel of Mercy . In the course of the Cologne diocese dispute (1688), not Wilhelm Egon von Fürstenberg, but Joseph Clemens von Bayern was elected as his successor . His assumption of office was not without conflicts. First von Fürstenberg took possession of the most important cities and permanent places of the electorate by force. Louis XIV, who was keen to expand his influence in the empire, supported von Fürstenberg with a strong army. The Cologne diocese dispute was linked to the War of the Palatinate Succession . Supported by Dutch and imperial troops, Joseph Clemens succeeded in asserting himself against von Fürstenberg after eventful battles that were destructive for some cities. This withdrew to the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris, whose abbot he was among other things.


  • Ertz Stifft's Cölln legal order . Jansen, Bonn 1663 ( digitized edition of the University and State Library Düsseldorf ).
  • Decreta Et Statuta Dioecesanae Synodi Coloniensis: sub Maximiliano Henrico archiepiscopo Coloniensis anno 1662 celebratae . Busaeus, Coloniae Agrippinae MDCLXVII ( digitized ).
  • Tractatus De Triplicis Vicarii Generalis In Pontificalibus Nempè Spiritualibus, Contentiosis Jure, Officio, ac potestate, Jussu & Decreto Reverendissimi Et Serenissimi Principis Ac Domini Domini Maximiliani Henrici Archiepiscopi Et Electoris Coloniensis quondam editus . Imhoff, Coloniae ad Rhenum 1781 ( digitized version )


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Christ, p. 496.
  2. Christ, p. 496; Deisting, p. 81.
  3. Christ, p. 499; Deisting, p. 81.
  4. ^ Deisting, p. 79.
  5. Lill, p. 62.
  6. a b c d Christ, p. 497.
  7. Deisting, p. 80.
  8. In memory of this event, he later donated a baroque high altar to the church, which came to the Benedictine Abbey in Siegburg in 1914 and was destroyed in an air raid at the end of 1944.
  9. Statuta Synodalia Maximiliani Henrice de 20. Martii 1662 ( digitized , PDF 257 kB).
  10. On the conditions in the Duchy of Westphalia, s. Deisting, pp. 83-84.
  11. ^ Ernst Heinrich Pfeilschmidt: History of the Cologne Cathedral . Halle an der Saale, 1842, p. 67.
  12. Pfeilschmidt, pp. 69-70.
  13. Deisting, pp. 88-89.
  14. ^ Deisting, p. 89.
  15. On the events in the Duchy of Westphalia s. Deisting, p. 86.
  16. Christ, pp. 497-498.
  17. Ertz-Stifts Cöllnian legal system Maximilian Henrich's digital version (PDF; 777 kB).
  18. Christ, p. 499.
  19. cf. the compilation in detail in: Deisting, pp. 86–87.
  20. cf. the compiled list at: Deisting, pp. 83–84.
  21. ^ Deisting, p. 83.
  22. Deisting, pp. 83-85.
  23. ^ Deisting, p. 87.
  24. Christ, pp. 498-499.
  25. ^ Wilhelm Kohl: The dioceses of the ecclesiastical province of Cologne. The diocese of Münster 7.3: The diocese. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2003 (Germania sacra new series: Historical-statistical description of the Church of the Old Kingdom, vol. 37.3) ISBN 978-3-11-017592-9 , pp. 651–657.
  26. Lossen, p. 55.
  27. Mirjam Litten: Citizenship and Confession. Urban options between confessionalization and secularization in Münster, Hildesheim and Hamburg . Hildesheim, Zurich, New York 2003, pp. 163–165.
  28. Christ, p. 498.
  29. Lill, pp. 62-63.
predecessor Office successor
Ferdinand of Bavaria Elector and Archbishop of Cologne
Arch Chancellor for Italy
Duke of Westphalia
Joseph Clemens of Bavaria
Ferdinand of Bavaria Electoral Cologne administrator of Berchtesgaden
Joseph Clemens of Bavaria
Ferdinand of Bavaria Prince-Bishop of Liège
Johann Ludwig von Elderen
Ferdinand of Bavaria Prince-Bishop of Hildesheim
Jobst Edmund von Brabeck
Wilhelm II of Bavaria Abbot of Malmedy and Stablo
Franz Egon von Fürstenberg
Ferdinand II von Fürstenberg Prince-Bishop of Münster
Friedrich Christian von Plettenberg