|Prince-Bishopric of Verden
Principality of Verden
(Hoch)Stift Verden (1180–1648)
Fürstentum Verden (1648–1807/10)
|Vassal of Frankish Empire|
The territory of Verden (pink, below right) around 1655
|Capital||Verden (seat of chapter),
Rotenburg (residence of pr.-bishops since 1195)¹
|Languages||German, Low German|
|Religion||Frankish Church till the 1550s, then Lutheranism|
|-||1398–1399||Prince-Bishop Conrad II|
|-||1623–29, 1635–45||Administrator Frederick II|
|-||1631–1634||Admin. John Frederick|
|Historical era||Middle Ages|
|-||Break-up of Saxony||1180|
|-||Secularised as the
Principality of Verden
15 May 1648
Kingdom of Hanover
|-||1806||730 km² (282 sq mi)|
|Density||27.4 /km² (71 /sq mi)|
|1: Rotenburg castle was built in 1195, this may have been when the diocese had effectively acquired territorial power as prince-bishopric.|
The historic territory of Verden (German pronunciation: [ˈfeːɐ̯dən]) emerged from the Monarchs of the Frankish Diocese of Verden in the area of present-day central and northeastern Lower Saxony and existed as such until 1648. The territory managed by secular lords for the bishops was not identical with that of the bishopric, but was located within its boundaries and made up about a quarter of the diocesan area. The territory was referred to at the time as Stift Verden or Hochstift Verden, roughly equating to Prince-Bishopric of Verden. This territory described in local sources today incorrectly as Bistum Verden ("Bishopric of Verden") and, in 1648, was given the title Principality of Verden, sometimes referred to as the Duchy of Verden.
The territory of Verden covered the eastern part of the present district of Verden (its border ran between Langwedel and Etelsen), the southern part of the district of Rotenburg (Wümme) and parts of the districts of Harburg and the Heath district (Heidekreis).
The Diocese of Verden was founded around 800 in Verden upon Aller as an episcopal see and initially belonged to the Ecclesiastical Province of Mainz. Originally held in personal union with Amorbach Abbey in the Odenwald, by the 9th century the bishopric had become a political football for the regional nobility. For example, the Amelungs promoted their favourite monks from Corvey Abbey to the episcopal throne.
High Middle Ages
In the outgoing 10th century (A.D. 985) Emperor Otto III, represented by his mother, Empress Theophanu, granted the bishop of Verden market, minting, taxation and ban privileges in the Sturmigau – as the region of the present district of Verden and the old district of Rotenburg was then called. These privileges formed the basis of a future prince-bishopric, which materialised with the carve-up of the old Duchy of Saxony in 1180. Prince-Bishop Tammo of Verden gained for about a quarter of the diocesan territory, where the see held already considerable privileges, the territorial princely power, establishing the Prince-Bishopric of Verden. In 1195 Prince-Bishop Rudolph I founded the castle of Rotenburg upon Wümme as a stronghold against the neighbouring Bremen prince-archbishops. Later the castle took on the function of a prince-episcopal Residenz.
Since the Investiture Controversy in the 11th and 12th century the cathedral chapters used to elect the Catholic bishops in the Holy Roman Empire. Thus Verden prince-bishopric was an elective monarchy of imperial immediacy within the Empire, with the monarch being the respective bishop usually elected by the chapter and confirmed by the Holy See, or exceptionally only appointed by the Holy See, which happened in increasing frequency in Verden. Papally confirmed bishops were then invested by the emperor with the princely regalia, thus the title prince-bishop.
In the early 13th century the Pope was increasingly involved by the local prince-bishops in regional affairs. From the 14th century it was hardly possible to hold out against the papal commission, which led to a strengthening of the influence of the cathedral chapter; whilst the many prince-bishops were now seen as Landfremde or alien, who lacked local support because they were not elected by the chapter but only appointed by the pope.
Since the early 16th century the prince-bishopric belonged to the Lower Rhenish–Westphalian Circle (colloquially: Westphalian Circle), a fiscal and military subsection of the empire. Verden sent its representatives to the diets of the empire and the Imperial Circle. At times the prince-bishops ruled in personal union the Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen. In order to maintain the two seats in the diets the sees of Bremen and Verden were never formally united in a real union. The same is true for the collectively governed Duchies of Bremen and Verden which emerged in 1648 from the secularised two prince-bishoprics.
Principality of Verden
In 1648 the bishopric was finally secularised as a result of the Peace of Westphalia. It became a principality and was transferred to the Swedish crown, whereby the existence of the Stift and the bishopric came to an end. It lasted from 1648 to 1712, with a break from 1675 to 1679, ruled together in personal union with the territory of the former Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen as the Duchies of Bremen and Verden (formally the Duchy of Bremen and Principality of Verden) with their capital in Stade. For the further history see: Bremen-Verden.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Gesellschaft für die Geschichte des Bistums Verden e.V.: Bistum Verden, 770 bis 1648, Editions du Signe 2001, ISBN 2-7468-0384-4
- Bernd Kappelhoff, Thomas Vogtherr: Immunität und Landesherrschaft, Beiträge zur Geschichte des Bistums Verden, Schriftenreihe des Landschaftsverbandes der ehemaligen Herzogtümer Bremen und Verden, Stade 2002, ISBN 3-931879-09-7
- Thomas Vogtherr: Chronicon episcoporum Verdensium, Die Chronik der Verdener Bischöfe, Schriftenreihe des Landschaftsverbandes der ehemaligen Herzogtümer Bremen und Verden, Stade 1997, ISBN 3-931879-03-8
- Arend Mindermann: Urkundenbuch der Bischöfe und des Domkapitels von Verden, Band 1, Von den Anfängen bis 1300, Schriftenreihe des Landschaftsverbandes der ehemaligen Herzogtümer Bremen und Verden, Stade 2001, ISBN 3-931879-07-0
- Arend Mindermann: Urkundenbuch der Bischöfe und des Domkapitels von Verden, Band 2, 1300–1380, Schriftenreihe des Landschaftsverbandes der ehemaligen Herzogtümer Bremen und Verden, Stade 2004, ISBN 3-931879-15-1
- Köbler, Gerhard: "Historisches Lexikon der deutschen Länder. Die deutschen Territorien vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart", Munich 1995, page 650