The Cologne Stift Feud, 1583

A.) Archbishop Gebhard Truchsess von Waldburg

Gebhard Truchsess von Waldburg was elected Archbishop of Cologne by the cathedral chapter in 1577. In 1582 he proclaimed his conversion to Lutheran faith; he married Countess Agnes of Mansfeld (1583).
The prospect of Prince-Archbishop Gebhard to transfer his princebishopric into a secular principality was threatening to the German Catholics and especially to the Habsburg dynasty, as the Prince-Archbishop of Cologne was one of the seven Electors responsible for electing the (next) Emperor. The conflict over the prince-archbishopric therefore had implications reaching far beyond the borders of his territory.
The logical protector to turn to, for Truchsess von Waldburg, was the federated protestant princely opposition. Yet the Lutheran princes of Germany mistrusted Gebhard Truchsess von Waldburg, because he tolerated the spread of Calvinism in his territories.

B.) The Feud, 1583-1584

In 1583 the Cologne Cathedral Chapter deposed Archbishop Gebhard and elected Ernst von Wittelsbach, a relative of the Duke of Bavaria (a staunch supporter of the Counterreformation) in his stead. Archbishop Gebhard left the Stift Cologne and went into the Duchy of Westphalia, which ever since 1400 was a possession of the Archbishops of Cologne. The Arnsberg Diet sided with Gebhard (1583) and the Calvinist reformation made some progress in the Duchy. Gebhard moved an army into the Vest Recklinghausen, another territory owned by the Archbishops, and took the fortified city of Recklinghausen after a short siege.
In 1584 Spanish troops appeared on the scene, en route to the Netherlands; Gebhard fled to the Netherlands, the cities that were loyal to him, such as Recklinghausen, fell after short sieges. Soon afterward, Archbishop Genhard was defeated in the Netherlands; giving up his dream of a protestant hereditary principality, he moved to Upper Germany, where he lived at the court of the Duke of Württemberg.

C.) The Legacy

As a principle it was defined that the Archbishops of Cologne, Triier and Mainz were holders of offices of the Catholic Church; if they wanted to convert to protestantism, they had to leave office. This was a guideline of Imperial policy, as all three held seats on the electoral council.
In the territories of the Prince-Archbishop, i.e. the Stift of Cologne, the Vest Recklinghausen and the Duchy of Westphalia, the Counterreformation was introduced, protestant communities dissolved.

Article Gehard Truchsess von Waldburg, from EB 1911
Recklinghausen zur Zeit der Reformation und der Glaubenskriege (Recklinghausen in the Era of Reformation and Wars of Religion), from Stadtgeschichte Recklinghausen, in German
Auf dem Weg zur Residenzstadt : Reformation und Krieg (Toward a Residence City : Reformation and War), from Stadtgeschichte Bonn, in German
Biography of Gebhard Truchsess von Waldburg, from Waldburg und Waldburger - Ein Geschlecht steigt auf in den Hochadel des Alten Reiches Waldburg and the Waldburgers; the rise into high nobility of a family
Geschichte Störmede, from Stadt Geseke, in German
Geschichte der Hansestadt Medebach (History of the Hanseatic City of Medebach), from Gasthof zum Mönsterntor, in German
Archbishop Gebhard of Cologne. Attempted Protestantisation of the see, from A.W. Ward, The Empire under Rudolf II., posted by MATEO
REFERENCE Franz Bosbach, Köln, Erzstift und Freie Reichsstadt (Cologne, Stift and Free Imperial City), in : A. Schindling, W. Ziegler (ed.), Die Territorien des Reichs im Zeitalter der Reformation und Konfessionalisierung, 1500-1650 (The Imperial Territories in the Era of Reformation and Confessionalization, 1500-1650), Vol.3 : the North West, Münster : Aschendorff 1991 pp.58-85

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on February 5th 2003, last revised on November 17th 2004

Click here to go Home
Click here to go to Information about KMLA, WHKMLA, the author and webmaster
Click here to go to Statistics

Impressum · Datenschutz