Johann Philipp von Schönborn
Johann Philipp von Schönborn (6 August 1605 – 12 February 1673) was the Archbishop-Elector of Mainz from 1647 until 1673, the Bishop of Würzburg from 1642 until 1673, and the Bishop of Worms from 1663 until 1673.
Johann Philipp was the first of six members of the Schönborn family who, in the course of more than three generations, were to rule over eight of the most prestigious ecclesiastical principalities of the Holy Roman Empire, giving the name Schönbornzeit to an era (1642-1756) sometimes nostalgically remembered in the popular conscience as an era of prosperity. Today, the term Schönbornzeit denotes a particular style of Rhenish and Franconian baroque.
His contemporaries gave him the honorable titles of "The Wise", "The German Solomon", and "The Cato of Germany".
Johann Philipp was born in Laubuseschbach (modern Hesse) to Georg von Schönborn, a petty nobleman at the employ of the Lutheran counts von Wied. While christened by a Lutheran pastor, he began receiving a Roman Catholic education fairly early and was to be educated by the Jesuits in Weilburg, Mainz, Orléans and Siena. In 1621, after it had been ascertained that he possessed the minimum quarters of nobility required, he was admitted as a minor canon (domizellar) by the cathedral chapter of Würzburg, and in 1625 by the cathedral chapter of Mainz as well. In 1626, he received consecration in Mainz. He became a cathedral canon of Würzburg in 1629 and of Worms in 1630. He fled to Cologne with most of the high clergy in 1631 from the advancing armies of Sweden during the Thirty Years' War.
Appointed the Bishop of Würzburg on 8 September 1642, Johann Philipp quickly set to work restoring conditions in the prince-bishopric. He negotiated with the Holy Roman Emperor to reduce troop movement through the diocese, purchased peace from the Swedes and forced the advancing French to withdraw. In 1645 he began negotiations to end the war, and as his own position in the empire was weak he signed a treaty with the French cardinal Jules Mazarin. In addition he wanted to force the right of vote at the Peace of Westphalia so sent delegates to Münster and Osnabrück, gaining both the attention of the Emperor and the French king. As the Swedish king resisted any compromise on the religious stalemate, Johann Philipp took a position of compromise which gained the mistrust of Pope Innocent X.
Due to the attention and fame he won at the on-going peace negotiations, the cathedral chapter of Mainz elected Johann Philipp the Archbishop on 19 November 1647. The Pope formally withheld giving him the pallium due to a dispute over money (archbishops had to pay a fee to the Pope to be confirmed during that era), however it was withheld more for his compromising position with the Protestant princes (Johann Philipp was not confirmed until 13 September 1649). Johann Phillipp used the offices which came with the Archbishopric of Mainz to advance the negotiations. The result of his and others long and hard labors was the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which recognized the rights of the weaker rulers of Germany, mediated between France and the Empire, and successfully resisted the efforts of Sweden to abolish several Catholic spiritual states including the Archbishopric of Mainz.
The French continued to occupy several regions of Germany after the formal peace, including the city of Mainz and the archbishop's residence. After Leopold was elected Emperor, Johann Philipp, in an attempt to take advantage of the general distrust against the Emperor regarding his support of the Spanish Habsburgs who were still at war with France, helped resurrect the Rhenish League as a counterweight to Leopold's policies, but as the French began to threaten the Rhineland and peace across the empire, Johann Philipp turned to the side of Leopold and helped unite the German church behind him. He later regained the archbishopric's territories in Hesse and Erfurt.
Also following the Thirty Years' War, Johann Philipp began widespread reforms and reconstruction throughout the archdiocese. He implemented all the reforms of the Council of Trent, rebuilt all infrastructure, and resettled regions devastated by war and plague. He re-established the choir of Mainz Cathedral, and in 1656 introduced Gregorian chant. He also printed and circulated new versions and translations of the bible. In 1660 he rebuilt orphanages and allowed priests' seminaries. In 1663 he was also elected the Bishop of Worms and implemented reform there. Urged by the Jesuit Friedrich von Spee, he was also one of the first princes to outlaw witch-hunting, which had killed over 2,000 people during the past century in the archbishopric.
Johann Philipp also took a tolerant policy towards Protestants, and allowed them to continue to live in the archdiocese. He also bankrupted Mainz by increasing the fortifications of the city.
On 15 December 1670 Johann Philipp appointed Lothar Friedrich von Metternich his coadjutor after he became ill with kidney disease.
He died in Würzburg, his favorite city, in 1673 and was buried in the west choir of Mainz Cathedral.
At Würzburg and Mainz he had employed the composer Philipp Buchner (d.1669).
- Johann Philipp (1605-1673, Würzburg, Mainz, Worms); Lothar Franz (1655-1729, Mainz, Bamberg); Johann Philipp Franz (1673-1724, Würzburg); Friedrich Karl (1674-1746, Würzburg, Bamberg); Damian Hugo (1676-1743, Spires, Constance); Franz Georg (1682-1756, Worms, Trier, Ellwangen). Franck Lafage, Les comtes Schönborn, 1642-1756, L'Harmattan, Paris, 2008, vol. 1, p. 16.
- Lafage, p. 14.
- "Schönborn". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- Lafage, p. 27.
- Lafage, p. 28. Only noblemen were admitted as canons at most cathedral chapters. One needed 16 nobility quarters to become a cathedral canon at Mainz.
- Klaus Malettke, Les relations entre la France et le Saint-Empire au XVIIe siècle, Honoré Champion Éditeur, Paris, 2001, p. 233.
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|Catholic Church titles|
Franz von Hatzfeld
|Prince-Bishop of Würzburg
Johann Hartmann von Rosenbach
Anselm Casimir Wambold von Umstadt
|Archbishop-Elector of Mainz
Lothar Friedrich von Metternich-Burscheid
Hugo Eberhard von Cratz von Schraffenstein
|Prince-Bishop of Worms
Lothar Friedrich von Metternich-Burscheid