Mark Sittich von Hohenems Altemps

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Not to be confused with his nephew Mark Sittich von Hohenems (1574–1619), Archbishop of Salzburg 1612–19.
Mark Sittich von Hohenems
Coat of arms of Cardinal Mark Sittich von Hohenems.

Mark Sittich von Hohenems Altemps (1533–1595) was a German Roman Catholic bishop and cardinal. The addition of Altemps to the family name reflects Alt-Ems (or Alt-Embs) itself deriving from "Alta Embs" (Latin for "altus" = high), like the modern name Hohenems (High Ems in German).


Early years, 1533-60[edit]

Mark Sittich von Hohenems was born in Hohenems in 1533, the son of Wolf Ludwig von Hohenems and Chiara de' Medici, a member of the House of Medici.[1] His mother was the sister of Giovanni Angelo Medici (Pope Pius IV). He was the cousin of Cardinals Giovanni Antonio Serbelloni and Charles Borromeo.[1] He was the uncle of Wolf Dietrich Raitenau and Mark Sittich von Hohenems, who were both Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, in 1587-1612 and 1612–1619 respectively.

As a young man, he fought in the Italian War of 1551–1559 under the command of his uncle Giangiacopo de' Medici, one of the last of the Renaissance condottieri.[1] He also fought against the Ottoman Empire.[1] In 1552 he participated in Charles V's efforts to win Metz back from France, and in 1554/55 he was present at the siege of Siena and repulsed an Ottoman attack on the Tuscan port of Piombino. He became a Knight of the Order of Santiago.[1] He had a natural son, Roberto, whom he later legitimized.[1]

Bishop, 1560-61[edit]

Allegory of the Council of Trent in Hohenems. Cardinal Hohenems is the first on the left; his cousin Charles Borromeo is on the right.

His uncle Giovanni Angelo Medici was elevated to the papacy in December 1559. He proved generous in providing benefices for his Italian and German nephews. On March 23, 1560, Mark Sittich von Hohenems became a cleric in the Apostolic Camera.[1] He was elected Bishop of Cassano on May 29, 1560, and was named administrator of the diocese until he reached the canonical age for consecration as a bishop.[1] He was consecrated by his cousin Charles Borromeo not earlier than 1564 and no later than February 1566.[1] He resigned the government of the Diocese of Cassano on May 11, 1561.[1] During the Council of Trent, he served as papal legate to Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor and Ferdinand, King of the Romans.[1]

Cardinal, 1561-95[edit]

His uncle Pope Pius IV made him a cardinal deacon in the consistory of February 26, 1561.[1] He received the red hat and the titular church of Santi Apostoli (as a deaconry pro illa vice) on March 10, 1561.[1]

The cathedral chapter of Konstanz Minster elected him to be Bishop of Konstanz, and he was preconized as bishop on October 24, 1561.[1] The pope subsequently made him perpetual legate in Avignon.[1] He also became archpriest of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.[1] On November 10, 1561, he was appointed legate to the Council of Trent, and on December 27, 1561, governor of Fermo.[1]

He opted for the order of cardinal priests on July 30, 1563, keeping Santi Apostoli as his titular church.[1] He was subsequently appointed governor of Norcia and Montan on October 3, 1564; as legate in Marche on November 1, 1564; and as governor of Ascoli Piceno on November 3, 1564.[1] In 1566, he served as papal legate to the Diet of Augsburg.[1] On May 15, 1565, he opted for the deaconry of San Giorgio in Velabro, raised pro illa vice to the status of a titular church.[1] On August 18, 1565, he became governor of Ancona and on November 11, 1565, governor for life of Stroncone, Umbria.[1] He was the governor of Capranica, Lazio from 1565 to 1568.[1]

He was a participant in the papal conclave of 1565-66 that elected Pope Pius V.[1] In February 1566, he received leave to depart from Rome to Konstanz.[1] He returned to Rome to participate in the papal conclave of 1572 that elected Pope Gregory XIII.[1]

In 1568, Marco Sittico bought a property in Rome that he immediately set about rebuilding as the Palazzo Altemps, to designs by Martino Longhi the Elder; he also built the Villa Mondragone at Frascati. He assembled a formidable collection of Roman antiquities and sculptures.

He opted for the titular church of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri on October 3, 1577; for the titular church of San Pietro in Vincoli on October 3, 1578; for San Clemente on August 17, 1579; and for Santa Maria in Trastevere on December 5, 1580.[1]

He participated in the papal conclave of 1585 that elected Pope Sixtus V.[1] Sometime before July 31, 1589, he resigned the government of the Diocese of Konstanz.[1] Because of illness, he resigned as legate in Avignon on June 4, 1590.[1] He subsequently participated in the papal conclave of September 1590 that elected Pope Urban VII; the papal conclave of October–December 1590 that elected Pope Gregory XIV; the papal conclave of 1591 that elected Pope Innocent IX; and the papal conclave of 1592 that elected Pope Clement VIII.[1] In November 1592, he became legate in Viterbo.[1]

Death and Legacy[edit]

The powerful cardinal died in Rome on February 15, 1595.[1] He was buried in Santa Maria in Trastevere.[1]

He had guided the education and early career of his nephew, Mark Sittich von Hohenems (Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg) (1574–1619). However, Lutheranism spread through his home area, under the patronage of the Counts of Hohenems, and the area was devastated by the Thirty Years War and plague. His illegitimate son Roberto was made Duke of Gallese, took the family name of Altemps, and married Cornelia Orsini.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah Entry from Biographical Dictionary of the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church
  2. ^ George L. Williams, Papal Genealogy: The Families and Descendants of The Popes 2004: Appendix B: Papal Dynasties, p. 220