Wolf Dietrich Raitenau

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Wolf-Dietrich von Raitenau (1589)

Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau (March 26, 1559 – January 16, 1617) was Prince-Bishop of Salzburg from 1587 to 1612.


Raitenau was born at Hofen Castle in Lochau near Bregenz in Further Austria, the son of the Habsburg colonel Hans Werner von Raitenau and Helene von Hohenems, a niece of Pope Pius IV, sister of Markus Sitticus von Hohenems Altemps as well as sister-in-law of Cardinal Charles Borromeo.

Wolf Dietrich received an ecclesiastical education at the Collegium Germanicum in Rome and became a member of the Salzburg chapter in 1578. After his election in 1587 he continued the harsh measures of the Counter-Reformation initiated by his predecessors and in 1588 had all Protestants expelled from the city of Salzburg. In his later years however, Raitenau developed a milder attitude and won fame as an art collector and a builder who significantly promoted the spread of the Baroque architecture north of the Alps.

Raitenau's rule was brought down after he had entered into a fierce conflict with his mighty neighbour Duke Maximilian I of Bavaria: In 1609 the Prince-Bishop refused to join Maximilian's Catholic League and in 1611 he invaded the Berchtesgaden Provostry, which was also claimed by the Bavarian House of Wittelsbach. In the subsequent clashes of arms, Raitenau on his flight to Carinthia was captured, deposed and imprisoned for life at Burg Hohenwerfen by his nephew and successor Markus Sittikus von Hohenems.


After the Salzburg Cathedral was devastated by a fire on the night of December 11, 1598, Raitenau had plans set up for a lavish reconstruction by the Venetian architect Vincenzo Scamozzi, who also drew up a master plan for the adjacent Residenzplatz square and designed the Alte Residenz. In 1606 the Prince-Bishop had the Palace of Mirabell built in Salzburg for his mistress Salome Alt.