Hildesheim Stift Feud, 1518-1523

A.) Prehistory

In the high middle ages, prior to the investiture conflict, a bishop of Hildesheim had served as Imperial chancellor, and, in return, received land as compensation for his services. This land, originally granted temporarily, became a fief held by the holder of the see of Hildesheim, thus turning the position of bishop into that of a princebishop; it provided the nucleus of the Princebishopric of Hildesheim, which the bishops, over the centuries, extended. It was sandwiched between the domains of the Welfen dynasty - the Dukes of Braunschweig (in English often called Brunswick), which, in the 16th century, were split into several lines.
In order to raise money, Princebishops had pawned numerous revenues to local noblemen; in order to retrieve those, Bishop Johann - elected in 1502, but confirmed as princebishop by Emperor Maximilian only in 1518 - had raised taxes. The noblemen, fearing to lose their revenues, entered into an alliance with Duke Heinrich the Younger of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel.

B.) The Feud

In 1518 the feud began, causing widespread destruction. It began as a feud between bishop and the Stift nobility (1518) and escalated into a war between Princebishop Johann and Duke Heinrich (in 1519). Bishop Johann, allied with Duke Heinrich von Lüneburg, the Counts of Hoya, Diepholz and Schaumburg and supported by the stift's chapter and cities, won a convincing victory in the Battle of Soltau against Duke Heinrich the Younger of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, Ernst von Calenberg, Princebishop Franz von Minden and the Stift nobility (1519); Duke Heinrich was taken prisoner. However, newly elected Emperor Charles V., regarding Duke Heinrich of Lüneburg a supporter of French king François I, banned both the duke and Princebishop Johann. In 1523 an agreement was signed, the Quedlinburg Recess, which left the bulk of the stift in the hands of the occupant, Duke Heinrich, while Princebishop Johann held on to only a core territory, with Hildesheim and Peine. Princebishop Johann went into exile; in 1527 he resigned his office.

C.) The Legacy

In the subsequent decennia, the title of Bishop of Hildesheim was mostly held by the Princebishop of another Westphalian diocesis. As Hildesheim provided very low revenues, these princebishops would reside in (one of) their other dioceses.
When, during the 30 Years War, the Imperial forces gained the upper hand (1629), the Dukes of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel were forced to return the former Hildesheim Stift territories they held since 1523.

Article Hildesheim, from EB 1911, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Die Stiftsfehde, from Evangelische Kirche Hildesheim, in German
Die Stiftsfehde 1519-1523, from Geschichte der Stadt Peine, scroll down; in German
Johannes IV., Bischof von Hildesheim, from BBKL, in German
Heinrich der Jüngere, from welfen.de, in German
DOCUMENTS Proeve van den tongval uit het hertogdom Brunswijk, from DBNL, in 16th century lower German
Der "Quedlinburger Reze©¬ˇ° von 1523. Das Ende der Hildesheimer Stiftsfehde. from Stadtarchiv Hildesheim, in German

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on February 21st 2004, last revised on November 17th 2004

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