List of bishops, prince-bishops, and administrators of Verden

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This list records the bishops of the Roman Catholic diocese of Verden (German: Bistum Verden), a suffragan of the Archbishopric of Mentz, who were simultaneously rulers of princely rank (prince-bishop) in the Prince-Bishopric of Verden (German: Hochstift Verden; est. 1180 and secularised in 1648), a state of imperial immediacy within the Holy Roman Empire. Verden upon Aller was the seat of the chapter, the cathedral and residence of the bishops until 1195, Rotenburg upon Wümme became the prince-episcopal residence since.

Coat-of-arms of the Prince-Bishopric of Verden

Titles of the incumbents of the Verden See[edit]

Not all incumbents of the Verden See were imperially invested princely power as Prince-Bishops and not all were papally confirmed as bishops. In 1180 part of the Verden diocesan territory were disentangled from the Duchy of Saxony and became an own territory of imperial immediacy called Prince-Bishopric of Verden, a vassal of the Holy Roman Empire. The prince-bishopric was an elective monarchy, with the monarch being the respective bishop usually elected by the Verden cathedral chapter, and confirmed by the Holy See, or exceptionally only appointed by the Holy See. Papally confirmed bishops were then invested by the emperor with the princely regalia, thus the title prince-bishop. However, sometimes the respective incumbent of the see never gained a papal confirmation, but was still invested the princely regalia. Also the opposite occurred with a papally confirmed bishop, never invested as prince. A number of incumbents, elected by the chapter, neither achieved papal confirmation nor imperial investiture, but as a matter of fact nevertheless de facto held the princely power. The respective incumbents of the see bore the following titles:

  • Bishop of Verden until 1180
  • Prince-Bishop of Verden from 1180 to 1566 and again 1630 to 1631
  • Administrator of the Prince-Bishopric of Verden 1566 to 1630 and again 1631 to 1645. Either simply de facto replacing the Prince-Bishop or lacking canon-law prerequisites the incumbent of the see would officially only hold the title administrator (but nevertheless colloquially referred to as Prince-Bishop). From 1566 to 1630 and again 1631 to 1645 all administrators were Lutherans.

Catholic Bishops of Verden till 1180[edit]

Roman Catholic Bishops of Verden till 1180
Episcopate Portrait Name Birth and death
with places
Reason for
end of office
Notes
no assured dates[1] Swibrecht unknown legendary, not substantiated, any relation to Verden denied[2]
no assured dates[3] Spatto
also Patto
Ireland, unknown–30 March 788? death also abbot at Amorbach Abbey
no assured dates[4] Tancho of Verden
also Tanco, Tanko
Ireland, unknown – 16 December 808? death also abbot at Amorbach Abbey; martyr (murdered by pagans), saint, feast day: 16 February
809–829 Harud
also Haruth
Ireland, unknown – 15 June 829 death also abbot at Amorbach Abbey; first bishop of assured information[5][6]
829–831 sede vacante
831–838 Helmgaud
also Haligad
unknown – 21 January 841 death
838–847 sede vacante
847–849 Waldgar
also Waltgar, Walter
unknown – 7 September 865? death
849–868 sede vacante
868–874 Erlulf
also Erlulphus (Lat.), Herluf
Ireland?, unknown – 10 May 874 death martyr (murdered by pagans), saint, feast day: 2 February; in 1631 Prince-Bishop Francis of Wartenberg fled Verden taking Erlulf’s relics with him to Regensburg
874–908 Wigbert of Verden
also Wikbert
unknown – 8 September 908 death great-grandson of Widukind
908–913 Bernhar I unknown – 20 October 913 death
913–933 Adalward
(House of Immeding)
unknown – 27 October 933 death teacher and promotor of his relative Adaldag
933–962 Amalung Billung
also Amelung
(House of Billung)
unknown – 5 May 962 death brother of Hermann Billung
962–976 Bruno Billung
also Brun
as Bruno I
(House of Billung)
unknown – 7 March 976 death nephew of his predecessor and son of Wichmann the Elder, received immunity for the diocese by Emperor Otto I
976–993 Erpo of Verden
also Adelperio, Albertus, Erp, Herpo
(House of Erponids)
unknown – 19 February 993 death before provost of Bremen Cathedral, Erpo received from Emperor Otto III the regalia of coinage, of hunting in the Sturmigau region (comparable to the future prince-bishopric), of holding markets and of punishment for the diocesan subjects
993–1013 Bernhar II unknown – 25 July 1013 death
1013–1031 Wigger of Verden
also Wigher
unknown – 16 August 1031 death before provost of Cologne Cathedral, fixed the diocesan border towards the diocese of Halberstadt
1031–1034 Thietmar of Verden
also Dietmar
as Thietmar I
unknown – 26 June 1034 death
1034–1049 Count Bruno of Walbeck
also Brun
as Bruno II
unknown – 20 August 1049 death brother of Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg
1049–1060 Siegbert of Verden
also Sizzo
unknown – 9 October 1060 death Henry IV granted him a manor in Hermannsburg and the Magetheide forest
1060–1076/1084 Richbert unknown – 29 November 1084 death he and his bailiff Hermann Billung the Younger ravaged the neighbouring archdiocese of Bremen
1076–1085 sede vacante
1085–1097 Hartwig of Verden
also Hartwich
unknown – 14 October 1097 death
1097–1116 Mazo of Verden unknown – 25 October 1116 death Mazo enfeoffed Lothair of Süpplingenburg as inheritable diocesan bailiff (military protector)
1116–1148 Thietmar of Plötzkau
also Dietmar
as Thietmar II
(House of Plötzke)
unknown – 23 September 1148 death arbiter in the dispute between Henry the Lion and Bremen's Archbishop Adalbero on the County of Stade
1149–1167 Hermann Behr
(House of Behr)
c. 1110 – 11 August 1167, near Rome death before member of the Halberstadt cathedral chapter, disputed with Archbishop Hartwig I of Bremen on the common diocesan border since the former settled uninhabited areas within the Verden diocese (second mile of Altes Land), in 1148/1150 Hermann falsified documents to fictitiously date back the foundation of the Verden see to 786, claiming Bremen's suffragans sees Ratzeburg and Mecklenburg were actually part of the Verden diocese, Hermann spent much of his time at the court of Frederick Barbarossa in Italy (1158–1161, 1162–1163, and 1166–1167)
1167–1180 Hugo of Verden unknown – 1 March 1180 death Hugo confirmed the foundation of the Lüne Nunnery in 1172, he spent much of his time at the court of Frederick Barbarossa in Italy (1174–1175, and 1176–1178)

Catholic Prince-Bishops (1180–1566)[edit]

Roman Catholic Prince-Bishops of Verden (1180–1566)
Reign and episcopate Portrait Name Birth and death
with places
Reason for
end of office
Notes
1180–1188 Tammo of Verden unknown – 7 December 1188 death at the carve-up of Saxony in 1180 Tammo gained for about a quarter of the diocese, where the see held already considerable privileges, the territorial princely power, establishing the Prince-Bishopric of Verden; Tammo endowed the nunnery in Arendsee in 1184, consecrated the St. Michael's Abbey in Hildesheim in 1186, and privileged the Collegiate Church of Bardowick
1189–1205 Rudolph of Verden
as Rudolph I
unknown – 29 May 1205 death before official in the imperial chancery, Emperor Henry VI granted Verden diocese half the castle and half the Saltworks of Lunenburg and estates in the Bardengau in 1192, he erected the castle of Rotenburg upon Wümme as prince-episcopal residence in 1195, he founded the old monastery in today's Buxtehude-Altkloster in 1197, and participated in the Crusade of 1197/1198
1205–1231 Count Iso of Wölpe
also Yso of Welpe
(Counts of Wölpe)
1167 – 5 August 1231 death before provost at the collegiate church in Bardowick and at the Verden Cathedral, at his investiture he stipulated with the chapter the oldest prince-episcopal capitulation recorded in Verden, laying ground for the co-rule by the chapter, in 1211/1212 and 1213–1215 he participated in the Livonian Crusade, south of Verden city he gained the lordship of Westen as part of the prince-bishopric in 1219/1220; in 1223 Iso gained the bailiwick (secular protection) over the diocese, a prior Guelphic subfief, he founded the collegiate church of St. Andrew with 12 prebendaries in Verden endowing it with the revenues of Hollenstedt archdeaconry and the revenues of the parishes of Estebrügge, Zesterfleth,[7] Jork and Mittelnkirchen, the latter four in the Verden diocesan area belonging to the political territory of the Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen
1231–1251 Luder of Borch
also Lüder vun Borg, Lothar von Berg
unknown – 28 June 1251, Verden death Luder conflicted with Duke Otto the Child on the latter's prince-episcopal fiefs, since Otto strove to convert Verden's subfiefs into fiefs of imperial immediacy, Luder founded Cistercian monasteries in Medingen and Steinbeck upon Luhe (1243), Luder was steward of Brunswick and Lunenburg while its Duke Otto the Child was on the Prussian Crusade in 1238
1251–1269 Count Gerard of Hoya
also Gerhard
as Gerard I
(Counts of Hoya)
unknown – 4 May 1269 death granted the city of Verden town privileges in 1259, laying the grounds for its future development as free city. Gerhard accepted speakers of the nobility, holding estates in the prince-bishopric, as their representation, thus establishing the third power having a say in the government, besides the bishop and the cathedral chapter; son of Henry II, Count of Hoya
1269–1300 Duke Conrad of Brunswick and Lunenburg
also Konrad
as Conrad I
(House of Welf)
unknown – 15 September 1300 death son of Duke Otto the Child, due to minority only administrator of the prince-bishopric until his consecration as bishop in 1285, Conrad reconstructed the burnt cathedral following the model of Reims Cathedral after 1274, Conrad was the guardian of his fatherless nephew Duke Albert II of Brunswick and Lunenburg (Wolfenbüttel line), supporting him against his elder brother Duke Henry I. After the brothers partitioned their duchy in 1286 Albert II granted Conrad Hellwege, Neuenkirchen, the patrimonial jurisdiction over Verden rural area, Dörverden, Schneverdingen, Visselhövede and Scheeßel as part of the prince-bishopric in 1288, in the same year Conrad richly endowed the cathedral chapter with revenues from the episcopal share in the Lunenburg salt mines
1300–1312 Frederick Man of Honstädt
as Frederick I
unknown – 9 January 1312 death uncle of his successor
1312–1332 Nicolaus Ketelhot
also Kettelhodt or Kesselhut
unknown – 11 February 1332 death since 1305 provost of St. Andrew Collegiate Church in Verden, between 1312 and 1231 he served as administrator and vicar general (this as of 1322) of the Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen, supported by Vicar General Dietrich von Xanthen
1332–1340 Johannes Hake
also Hacke, or John of Göttingen
as John I
Göttingen, 1280 – 3 October 1349, Avignon became Prince-Bishop of Freising in 1341 (as John II) probably son of Göttingen's city councillor Conrad Hake, Johannes studied medicine in Montpellier, professor of Montpellier University (since 1314), in 1324 papally provided as Bishop of Cammin (denied by the chapter there), first prince-bishop of Verden not elected by the chapter, but only papally appointed, lacking support in chapter and nobility, therefore residing mostly in Avignon, and for only some months ever in 1333 within his diocese, however outside the prince-bishopric, to be precise in Lunenburg, which belonged to the Principality of Lunenburg as to secular rule. Mostly represented by his vicar general Godfrey of Werpe, who successfully defended the prince-bishopric against Guelphic conquest attempts
1340–1342 sede vacante
1342–1363 Daniel of Wichtrich unknown – March 1364 death before Carmelite monk and auxiliary bishop of Archbishop-Elector Baldwin of Luxembourg in the Archbishopric-Electorate of Triers, not elected by the Verden chapter, but only papally appointed, lacking support in chapter and nobility he had a weak standing as prince-bishop, after less than a year in office leaving his diocese until 1350, now forced to conquer the prince-bishopric ruled by the chapter, then mostly residing in the castle in Rotenburg upon Wümme, he lacked the Guelphic support during the Lunenburg Succession War between the Welfs and the Ascanians, so he left his diocese again in 1355 only to return to Rotenburg once in summer 1362. In return for their aid Daniel alienated many diocesan fiefs to the Welfs.
1363–1365 Gerhard von Berg.gif Gerard of Schalksberg
also Gerhard vom Berge
as Gerard II
unknown – 15 November 1398 became Prince-Bishop of Hildesheim (1365–1398) elected by the chapter
1365–1367 Rudolf Rühle
also Rule von Friedeberg, Rudolph of Friedeberg
as Rudolph II
Friedberg in the Wetterau, c. 1320 – 3 July 1367, Prague (likely) death son of Johann Rühl from Friedberg, studied at Bologna University, endowed with prebendaries in several dioceses he became an official in the chancery of Emperor Charles IV, while his service the chancery authored the Golden Bull, not elected by the Verden chapter, but only papally appointed
1367–1381 Henry of Langlingen
also Langeln
as Henry I
unknown – 23 January 1381 death elected by the Verden chapter, before provost of the Lüne Nunnery, in 1371 Henry I further privileged the city of Verden, empowering it against the cathedral chapter, Henry I helped the Guelphic Duke Magnus II Torquatus, Prince of Wolfenbüttel to finance the Lunenburg Succession War by granting him a credit against the pawn of Magnus' castles in Kettenburg, Lauenbrück, and Rethem upon Aller, as well as his bailiwick of Wahlingen. After Magnus' defeat the Ascanian victors Albert of Lunenburg and his uncle Wenceslas I of Saxe-Wittenberg subjected the prince-bishopric in 1378, imposed the return of the pawns with repayment and a war alliance between Verden and the Principality of Lunenburg.
1381–1388 John Gryse of Zesterfleth
also Johann
as John II
c. 1314 – 11 December 1388, Rotenburg upon Wümme death in 1376 during the War on Lunenburgian Succession still as dean of the Bremen chapter Zesterfleth entered into psychological warfare and publicly alleged Albert of Brunswick and Lunenburg (Wolfenbüttel), as Albert II Prince-Archbishop of Bremen, were a Hermaphrodite; elected by the Verden chapter, as a partisan of the Ascanians in the Lunenburg Succession War he gained their support, eased the relation between prince-bishopric and the Ascanian-ruled Principality of Lunenburg, even gaining the confirmation of the Verden fiefs to the Lunenburg princes in 1386, but in May the Welfs defeated the Ascanians making any agreements with the Ascanians void and endangering the prince-bishopric as Ascanian partisan, in July 1388 Zesterfleth brokered the compromise between the two fighting parties
1388–1395 Duke Otto of Brunswick and Lunenburg (Wolfenbüttel)
(House of Welf)
c. 1364 – 30 June 1406 on 29 May 1395 he became Prince-Archbishop of Bremen (1395–1406) as Otto II son of Duke Magnus II Torquatus, Prince of Wolfenbüttel, elected by the Verden chapter pressurised by the Welfs, Otto turned out to be a willing partisan of his brothers, by 1389 the estates of the Bremen Prince-Archbishopric appointed Otto as regent for his spendthrift uncle Prince-Archbishop Albert II
1395–1398/1401 (de facto/de jure) Dietrich of Nieheim
also Niem or Nyem
Nieheim, c. 1345 – 22 March 1418, Maastricht resignation before Roman Curial, not elected by the Verden chapter, but only papally appointed, he finally failed to take the see and returned to the Roman Curia in 1403.
1398–1399 Conrad of Vechta
as Conrad II
Bremen (likely), c. 1370 – 24 December 1431, Roudnice nad Labem deposed after the downfall of his benefactor King Wenceslaus of the Romans. Bishop of Olomouc (1409–1412) and Archbishop of Prague (1413–1421)
1399–1400 and again 1402–1407 Conrad of Soltau
as Conrad III
Lunenburg, c. 1350 – 2 January 1407, Rotenburg death papally provided as Bishop of Verden on 8 August 1399, papally deposed on 6 February 1400, on 18 May 1401 King Rupert of Germany invested him as Prince-Bishop of Verden, papally confirmed in 1402, before professor at Charles University in Prague, and Ruperto-Carola University in Heidelberg, on 6 February 1400 provided as Bishop of Cambrai, however this was blocked by an incumbent appointed by the pope in Avignon, Conrad III failed to move the see from Verden to St. John's in Lunenburg against the resistance of the princes of Lunenburg and the city council of Lunenburg
1407–1426 Count Henry of Hoya
as Henry II
(Counts of Hoya)
unknown – 15 February 1441 resigned on 14 August 1426 on 21 February 1407 the Verden chapter elected him bishop, confirmed by Pope Benedict XIII of Avignon (one of the popes during the Western Schism), Henry II de facto held the princely power, without being imperially invested, Henry II was not accepted as bishop in the diocesan area within the Principality of Lunenburg until 1417, after the Welfs' preferred rivalling Prince-Bishop Ulrich left for Seckau they refused to swear him the oath of vassalage for their fiefs granted by the bishop of Verden and deprived Henry II of the prince-episcopal castle in Rotenburg
1407-1409/1417 Ulrich of Albeck unknown – 12 December 1431, Padova appointed Bishop of Seckau (1417–1431) by Pope Martin V provided by Pope Gregory XII of Rome, invested as prince-bishop by King Rupert, however, never gained princely power in the prince-bishopric proper, but residing in Lunenburg, deposed by Pope Alexander V of Avignon in 1409 without effect, serving as bishop in the diocesan area within the Guelphic Principality of Lunenburg until 1417
1426–1470 John of Asel
also Johannes
as John III
1380 – 21 June 1472, Rotenburg supposedly resigned
1470–1502 Berthold von Landsberg Detail.jpg Berthold of Landsberg
also spelled Bertold
unknown – 4 June 1502, Rotenburg death since 1481 simultaneously Prince-Bishop of Hildesheim as Berthold II
1502–1558 Duke Christopher the Spendthrift
(House of Welf)
1487 – 22 January 1558,
Tangermünde
de facto dismissal as prince by Chapter and Estates also Prince-Archbishop of Bremen (1511–1542/1547 and again 1549–1558), he usually resided in Rotenburg
1558–1566 Duke George of Brunswick and Lunenburg (Wolfenbüttel)
(House of Welf)
22 November 1494 – 4 December 1566 death brother of the former, simultaneously Prince-Archbishop of Bremen (1558–1566)

Lutheran Administrators of the Prince-Bishopric (1566–1630)[edit]

Lutheran Administrators of the Prince-Bishopric (1566–1630)
Reign and episcopate Portrait Name Birth and death
with places
Reason for
end of office
Notes
1566–1586 Eberhard von Holle.jpg Eberhard of Holle Uchte, 1531/32 – 5 July 1586, Lübeck death also papally confirmed and imperially invested Prince-Bishop of Lübeck (1561–1586), since 1564 coadjutor of his predecessor George, however, never papally confirmed and imperially invested as prince-bishop of Verden
1586–1623 Duke Philip Sigismund of Brunswick and Lunenburg (Wolfenbüttel)
(House of Welf)
Hessen am Fallstein, 1 July 1568 – 19 March 1623, Iburg death simultaneously Administrator of the Prince-Bishopric of Osnabrück (1591–1623)
1623–1629 Frederik 3 by window.jpg Frederick, Prince of Denmark
as Frederick II
(House of Oldenburg)
Haderslev,
18 March 1609 – 9 February 1670,
Copenhagen
on 26 May 1629 expelled by the Catholic League and deposed by the Edict of Restitution reascending administratorship in 1635

Catholic Prince-Bishop (1630–1631)[edit]

Roman Catholic Prince-Bishop of Verden (1630–1631)
Reign and episcopate Portrait Name Birth and death
with places
Reason for
end of office
Notes
1630–1631 Kardinal Franz Wilhelm von Wartenberg.jpg Francis William of Wartenberg Munich,
1 March 1593 –
1 December 1661,
Ratisbon
deposed by the Swedish conquerors papally appointed, lacking the capitular elective mandate
also Prince-Bishop of Osnabrück (1625–1634 and again 1648–1661), of Ratisbon (1649–1661), and Vicar Apostolic of the Archdiocese of Bremen (1645/1648)

Lutheran Administrators of the Prince-Bishopric (1631–1645)[edit]

Lutheran Administrators of the Prince-Bishopric (1631–1645)
1631–1634 Fürstbischof Johann Friedrich.jpg Duke John Frederick of Schleswig-Holstein at Gottorp
(House of Holstein-Gottorp)
Gottorp,
1 September 1579 –
3 September 1634, Altkloster
death also administrator of the prince-bishoprics of Bremen (1596–1634), and Lübeck (1607–1634)
1634–1635 rule by Chapter and Estates due to sede vacante
1635–1645 Frederik 3 by window.jpg Frederick of Denmark
as Frederick II
(House of Oldenburg)
Haderslev,
18 March 1609 – 9 February 1670,
Copenhagen
resignation by Second Peace of Brömsebro simultaneously administrator of the Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen (1634–1645), expelled from both sees by the Swedes, since 1648 King of Denmark as Frederick III
1645–1648 rule by the Swedish occupants
after 15 May 1648 The Prince-Bishopric was converted into a hereditary monarchy, the Principality of Verden, first ruled in personal union by the Swedish crown. See List of Princes of Verden (1648–1823).

Sources[edit]

  • Arend Mindermann, Urkundenbuch der Bischöfe und des Domkapitels von Verden: 2 vols. (vol. 1: 'Von den Anfängen bis 1300' ISBN 978-3-931879-07-5; vol. 2: '1300 – 1380' ISBN 978-3-931879-15-0), Stade: Landschaftsverband der ehem. Herzogtümer Bremen und Verden, Stade, 2001 and 2004.
  • Thomas Vogtherr (ed.), Chronicon episcoporum Verdensium = Die Chronik der Verdener Bischöfe, commented and translated, Stade: 1997, ISBN 978-3-931879-03-7

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In record, obfuscated in the 13th century, the years 775–785 are given
  2. ^ Thomas Vogtherr, "Bistum und Hochstift Verden bis 1502", in: Geschichte des Landes zwischen Elbe und Weser: 3 vols. [vol. 1 'Vor- und Frühgeschichte' (1995), vol. 2 'Mittelalter (einschl. Kunstgeschichte)' (1995), vol. 3 'Neuzeit' (2008)], Hans-Eckhard Dannenberg and Heinz-Joachim Schulze (eds.), (Schriftenreihe des Landschaftsverbandes der ehem. Herzogtümer Bremen und Verden; vol. 7), Stade: Landschaftsverband der ehem. Herzogtümer Bremen und Verden, 1995 and 2008. ISBN (vol. 1) ISBN 978-3-9801919-7-5, (vol. 2) ISBN 978-3-9801919-8-2, (vol. 3) ISBN 978-3-9801919-9-9, vol. 2 'Mittelalter (einschl. Kunstgeschichte)', pp. 279–320, here pp. 281seq.
  3. ^ In record, obfuscated in the 13th century, the years 785–788 are given
  4. ^ In record, obfuscated in the 13th century, the years 788–808 are given
  5. ^ Thomas Vogtherr, "Bistum und Hochstift Verden bis 1502", in: Geschichte des Landes zwischen Elbe und Weser: 3 vols. [vol. 1 'Vor- und Frühgeschichte' (1995), vol. 2 'Mittelalter (einschl. Kunstgeschichte)' (1995), vol. 3 'Neuzeit' (2008)], Hans-Eckhard Dannenberg and Heinz-Joachim Schulze (eds.), (Schriftenreihe des Landschaftsverbandes der ehem. Herzogtümer Bremen und Verden; vol. 7), Stade: Landschaftsverband der ehem. Herzogtümer Bremen und Verden, 1995 and 2008. ISBN (vol. 1) ISBN 978-3-9801919-7-5, (vol. 2) ISBN 978-3-9801919-8-2, (vol. 3) ISBN 978-3-9801919-9-9, vol. 2 'Mittelalter (einschl. Kunstgeschichte)', pp. 279–320, here p. 282.
  6. ^ Genealogie Mittelalter Bistum Verden http://www.mittelalter-genealogie.de/mittelalter/bistuemer/verden/verden_bistum.html retrieved on 20 September 2006
  7. ^ Zesterfleth was a village with church destroyed, drowned and washed away by North Sea floods in 1412 and 1470. Its former site is within the Elbe river in front of Borstel, a locality of today's Jork.