The Princebishopric of Münster, 1650-1718

With CHRISTOPH BERNHARD VON GALEN, a native of the diocese was elected bishop in 1650 and the 'Bavarian bishoply dynasty' was interrupted. He was ordained in 1651 and took office in 1652. He ended the famine in the territory and reestablished discipline in the territory's clergy, by visitations, synods, pastoral letters. By paying the war indemnity rates ahead of time he caused the Hessian and Swedish troops to leave the country. He fortified COESFELD against the Dutch. The conflict between bishop and the city of MÜNSTER (which called on foreign help in that conflict) was decided in favour of the bishop in 1661; this event weakened the estates and strengthened the authority of the bishops. The city's guilds were abolished. A CITADEL was built in Münster to prevent the city from rising against the bishop again.
In 1663, Münsteran troops invaded EAST FRISIA, from where they were expelled by Dutch troops.
In 1664 the princebishopric joined the Reich war against the Turks. In 1665-1666 Münster was at war with the DUTCH REPUBLIC; when the latter found herself at war with France, England and Sweden in 1672, the Bishop of Münster quickly seized the opportunity and declared war on the republic (1672-1674). The RITTERSCHAFT (knightly estate) of Overijssel recognize the bishop as their sovereign; Münsteran troops laid siege to the city of Groningen. Yet the appearance of Brandenburg troops altered the scene; a peace was signed based on the status quo ante. In 1674 Münster joined in the Reich war against France and Sweden; Sweden ceded the district of DELMENHORST to Münster. For supplying his troops in the many wars he fought, Abraham Isaak Auerbach, a Jewish factor being permitted to reside in Coesfeld, was responsible.
In 1667 the NIEDERSTIFT, hitherto only politically part of the princebishopric, ecclesiastically belonging to Osnabrück, was attached ecclesiastically to the bishopric of Münster. The bishop's many wars had resulted in a heavy debt burden. In 1675 VOLKSSCHULEN (elementary schools) were established in every community.
Bishop FERDINAND VON FÜRSTENBERG also was bishop of PADERBORN (since 1661), as was FRANZ ARNOLD WOLF VON METTERNICH ZU GRACHT (since 1704). He is described as frugal, peace-loving and a friend of science. He funded an endowment, the FERDINANDEA, financing 36 missionaries, 20 of whom were to work in Scandinavia, 8 each in China and Japan.
Bishop MAXIMILIAN HEINRICH was proclaimed bishop of Münster by the cathedral chapter in 1683. Already bishop of Cologne, Hildesheim and Liege. However, the pope refused to confirm him as bishop of Münster. He died in Cologne in 1688 without ever having visited the princebishopric.
His successor FRIEDRICH CHRISTIAN VON PLETTENBERG-LENHAUSEN had palaces built at SASSENBERG (1688-1706), AHAUS (1690-1693) and NORDKIRCHEN (1703-1704). Under him Münster joined in two Reich wars, against France in 1689-1697 and against the Turks in 1683-1699.

Article Münster from Catholic Encyclopedia
Biography of Christoph Bernhard von Galen, from BBKL, in German
Chronology Fürstbistum Münster 1650-1946, by Thomas Höckmann, in German
Chronologischer Überblick der Stadtgeschichte, from Stadt Coesfeld
"Amitie sincere?" Het prinsbisdom Munster en de Haagse Alliantie tijdensde Spaanse Successieoorlog (1701-1714). (Sincere Friendship ? The Princebishpric of Münster and the Dutch lliance dring the War of Spanish Succession 1701-1714), by Kristof Selleslach, diss. Leuven 2001, in Dutch
DOCUMENTS List of Princebishops, from Regnal Chronologies
Pamphlet : Resonnantie van den Munsterschen Trommelslagh op den Hollandschen Toon, posted by J. Helwig
Map : Hochstift Münster um 1600, from His-Data
REFERENCE Territorien-Ploetz : Geschichte der Deutschen Länder, Vol.1, Würzburg 1964, pp.399
Coins of the Princebishopric of Münster, 1601-1700, in Krause, Mishler, Standard Catalog of World Coins : Seventeenth Century 1601-1700, 2nd ed., 2000, pp.608-613; p.613-613 coins issued by the city of Münster, pp. 614-615 by the Münster cathedral chapter
Coins of the Princebishopric of Münster, 1701-1800, in : Krause, Mishler, Standard Catalog of World Coins : Eighteenth Century 1701-1800, 2nd ed., 1887, pp.420-423; p.423 coins issued by the city of Münster, pp.423-424 coins issued by Münster cathedral chapter
Heinrich Börsting, Geschichte des Bistums Münster, Bielefeld 1951
Selma Stern, The Court Jew, A Contribution to the History of Absolutism in Europe, NY (1950) : Transaction Books 1985, especially p.32 (on Abraham Isaak Auerbach)

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on February 4th 2002; last revised on April 16th 2005

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