Engelbert II of Berg

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Saint Engelbert of Cologne
ReliquienbuesteEngelbertvonKoeln.jpg
Archbishop of Cologne and Martyr
Born 1185 or 1186
Burg an der Wupper, Germany
Died 7 November 1225(1225-11-07)
Gevelsberg, near Schwelm, Germany
Honored in
Roman Catholicism
Major shrine Cologne, Germany
Feast 7 November
Attributes a crosier in one hand, with an upraised sword, in the other, piercing a crescent moon

Count Engelbert II of Berg, also known as Saint Engelbert, Engelbert of Cologne, Engelbert I, Archbishop of Cologne or Engelbert I of Berg, Archbishop of Cologne[1] (1185 or 1186, Schloss Burg – 7 November 1225, Gevelsberg) was Archbishop of Cologne and a saint; he was the victim of a notorious murder by a member of his own family.

Early life[edit]

Engelbert was born in 1185 or 1186 in Schloss Burg (the present Burg an der Wupper), the younger son of Count Engelbert I of Berg (d. 1189) and his wife Margarete of Guelders. He was educated at the cathedral school in Cologne. From 1198 (at the age of twelve or thirteen) he held the office of Provost of St. George in Cologne and from 1199 to 1216 he also held the office of cathedral provost at Cologne Cathedral. He further acquired at various times a number of other provostships: in St. Severin in Cologne, Aachen, Deventer and Zutphen. Although in 1203 he was elected Bishop of Münster he declined, because of his age.

In 1206, on account of his support for his cousin Adolf I of Altena, Archbishop of Cologne, in the interests of Philip of Swabia against Otto of Brunswick, he was excommunicated by Pope Innocent III, but on his submission in 1208 he was pardoned. In 1212, as an act of penance for his earlier rebellion, he took part in the Albigensian Crusade. He gave his allegiance to the future Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor after the Battle of Bouvines in 1214.

Archbishop of Cologne and after[edit]

Statue of Archbishop Engelbert of Berg at Schloss Burg. Sculptor Paul Wynand

Engelbert was elected Archbishop of Cologne as Engelbert I on 29 February 1216 and was consecrated on 24 September 1217, in which office he remained until his violent death.

Engelbert came to enjoy the trust of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, becoming imperial administrator (Reichsprovisor) in 1220 and guardian of the Emperor's son Henry (Henry (VII) of Germany), whom he crowned in Aachen in 1222 as King of the Romans at the age of twelve. The archbishop remained the king's tutor and guardian until his death.

It is not clear to what extent Engelbert was personally involved with the important treaty Confoederatio cum principibus ecclesiasticis ("Treaty with the ecclesiastical princes"), which Frederick signed on 26 April 1220, although as Administrator of the German Kingdom (Gubernator Regni Teutonici) he must have had at least some input. Clearly, however, in the increased powers it gave to all ecclesiastical princes it was of benefit also to the archbishops of Cologne, and the establishment and development of the new powers was part of Engelbert's archiepiscopal strategy.

When Engelbert succeeded, the rights and territories of the archdiocese were in bad order, following a long period of civil unrest in Germany. He engaged himself at once in a series of campaigns and strategies to win them back and safeguard them, principally against the Dukes of Limburg and their allies the Dukes of Cleves. Engelbert in turn set up alliances with Brabant and Namur.

He had also to defend his personal inheritance against the Limburgers. In 1218 his brother Count Adolf VI of Berg died without male issue. Duke Walram III of Limburg considered himself entitled to inherit the County of Berg, as his son Heinrich (later Duke Henry IV of Limburg) was married to Irmgard of Berg, Count Adolf's only daughter. According to the Salic law, however, Engelbert was the heir of his brother and father. He won the dispute in two feuds. In 1220 a peace was concluded and Limburg's claim settled by the payment of a year's revenues.

Engelbert granted municipal rights to many places, including Wipperfürth, Attendorn, Brilon, Siegen, Werl and Herford, Vianden, Hamm, Neuerburg and Manderscheid[disambiguation needed].

During the whole of his career as archbishop, Engelbert continued to fight for the re-establishment and security of the Archdiocese of Cologne both as an ecclesiastical authority and also as a secular territory. (It was said of him that despite his personal piety he was more of a monarch than a churchman). Not only did he constantly battle, by all means necessary, for the secular well-being of the lands of the archdiocese, of which he may be counted the de facto founder as a significant state; he also took energetic measures for the effective regulation of the City of Cologne itself; and he was a zealous champion of the religious throughout his archdiocese.

Death[edit]

Memorial to the assassinated Archbishop in Gevelsberg

Engelbert earned the respect and affection of his subjects through his devotion to justice and his energy in maintaining law, and took great pains to ensure the well-being of the religious within his authority. However, his effectiveness in achieving his goals by all means necessary, including military action, his allegiance to the pope and the emperor, and his uncompromising defence of the law and the rights of religious persons and bodies, brought him into conflict with the nobility, including his own family, and this led to his death.

His cousin Count Frederick of Isenberg[2] was Vogt of Essen Abbey, and was abusing his position by defrauding the nuns. Engelbert was determined to protect their interests, and sought to bring Frederick to justice. On 7 November 1225 as they returned together from Soest, where they had attended a judicial hearing, to Cologne in a defile near the present-day Gevelsberg near Schwelm, he was killed, possibly murdered, by Frederick.

It seems probable that behind the attack, which may have been intended to take Engelbert captive rather than kill him, was a whole group of disaffected nobility, in whose view the archbishop represented a major threat to their interests.

Engelbert's body was taken to Cologne on a dung-cart, and when examined, found to have forty-seven wounds.

Veneration[edit]

Engelbert's body was buried in Cologne Cathedral on 24 February 1226 on the order of Cardinal Conrad of Urach, the papal legate, who declared him a martyr (because he had died in defence of nuns). He is venerated by many as a saint. His successor as archbishop, Heinrich von Müllenark, commissioned the monk Caesarius von Heisterbach to compose a biography, presumably in preparation for canonisation. The biography was duly written but he was never formally canonized. His remains are preserved today in a baroque shrine prepared on the authority of Archbishop Ferdinand von Bayern, who in 1618 also ordered the celebration of his feast on 7 November.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ the description "Engelbert I of Berg" can refer either to Count Engelbert I of Berg or to the subject of this article, his son, Count Engelbert II of Berg, if referred to by his ecclesiastical office, when the form "Engelbert I of Berg, Archbishop of Cologne" sometimes occurs besides the more usual "Engelbert I of Cologne".
  2. ^ also sometimes referred to as of "Isenburg"

References[edit]

  • Altenberger Blätter, Ausgabe 30, Ausführliche Artikel zum Mord an Engelbert 1225 (in German)
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainGabriel Meier (1913). "St. Engelbert of Cologne". In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. 

External links[edit]

This article is in part based on a translation of the article in the German Wikipedia - see link above

Engelbert of Berg
Born: 1185 or 1186 in Burg an der Wupper Died: 7 November 1225 in Gevelsberg
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Adolf VI von Berg
Count of Berg
as Engelbert II

1218–1225
Succeeded by
Henry IV of Limburg
Catholic Church titles
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Bruno IV von Sayn and Dietrich I von Hengebach
Archbishop of Cologne and
Duke of Westphalia and Angria
as Engelbert I

1220–1225
Succeeded by
Heinrich I von Müllenark