Albert I of Käfernburg

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Albert I of Käfernburg (German: Albrecht I. von Käfernburg) (died 15 October 1232) was the eighteenth Archbishop of Magdeburg.[1]

He was the son of Gunther III, Count of Käfernburg, and began his studies at Hildesheim, completing them later at Paris and Bologna. At an early age he was made a prebendary of the Magdeburg cathedral, and in 1200 was appointed Provost of the Cathedral Chapter by Innocent III. Through the influence of the Bishop of Halberstadt, he was nominated as the successor of Ludolph, Archbishop of Magdeburg (d. 1205). After receiving the papal approbation, which was at first withheld, partly on account of those who had taken part in his election and partly on his account of his attitude towards Philip of Swabia, Albert proceeded to Rome, where he was consecrated bishop by the Pope (December, 1206) and received the pallium.

He entered Magdeburg on Palm Sunday, 15 April 1207, and five days later a conflagration destroyed many of the buildings in the city, including his own cathedral. One of his first cares was to repair the damage wrought by fire, and in 1208 he laid the cornerstone of the present cathedral, which, though completed 156 years later, serves as his most fitting memorial. He likewise rebuilt a large part of the city, and is regarded as the founder of Magdeburg's Alte Neustadt. Magdeburg was also indebted to him for several valuable privileges which he obtained from Otto IV after the death of Philip of Swabia. Albert did much to further the interest of religion. He established the Dominicans (1224), and the Franciscans (1225) in the city, and also founded a convent for women in honour of St. Mary Magdalene.

But Albert's activity was not confined to his diocese. He also played a prominent part in the great struggle for the imperial crown, which marked the close of the twelfth and the beginning of the thirteenth centuries. Even before his consecration, he had inclined to the side of Philip of Swabia, who sought the crown in spite of his nephew Frederick, the son and heir of Henry VI. But later, accepting the papal "Deliberation", he gave his support to Otto IV, second son of Henry the Lion, who had been set up as anti-king by a party headed by Adolphus of Cologne and crowned at Aix-la-Chapelle.

After the assassination of Philip (July 1208) Albert did much to have his rival acknowledged as king. Otto proceeded to Rome, accompanied by Albert, where he was crowned by the Pope on 4 October 1209. Otto soon seized Ancona and Spoleto - part of the papal territories. Upon attempting to enter Sicily Otto was excommunicated by Innocent III (18 November 1210), and his subjects released from their allegiance. Albert, after some hesitation, published the bull of excommunication and thenceforth transferred his allegiance to Frederick II.

In 1212 Otto returned to Germany and defied the Pope. The struggles that followed, in which Magdeburg and its neighbourhood suffered severely, did not come to an end until Otto's power was broken at the battle of Bouvines (1214). Albert is said to have died in 1232 during an interval of peace between the Empire and the Papacy.


  1. ^ Albert II - Catholic Encyclopedia article

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. 

Preceded by
Ludolf von Kroppenstedt
Archbishopric of Magdeburg
Succeeded by
Burkhard I of Woldenberg