Why is 1729 an amazing number?

Franz Ludwig von Pfalz-Neuburg (1664–1732)

Count Palatine on the Rhine in Neuburg

1683–1732 Prince-Bishop of Breslau

1694–1732 Prince-Bishop of Worms, high and German master, prince provost of Ellwangen

1712–1729 coadjutor of the Archbishop of Mainz

1716–1729 Archbishop Elector of Trier

1729–1732 89. Archbishop Elector of Mainz


Franz Ludwig von Pfalz-Neuburg was born on July 24, 1664 in Neuburg-Donau as the sixth son of Count Palatine Philipp Wilhelm and Elisabeth Amalie Landgrave of Hesse, a convert and sister of Cardinal Friedrich of Hesse. Philipp Wilhelm came to power in the Electoral Palatinate in 1685 and since then has united a considerable, albeit widely scattered property together with his ancestral lands of Neuburg and Jülich-Berg. The large number of his children enabled the talented prince, who was interested in the Catholic cause, to pursue a comprehensive marriage and imperial church policy, which considerably increased the influence and prestige of his house. The eldest daughter Leonore had been the wife of Emperor Leopold I since 1676 and thus linked the interests of both dynasties. Since then, the duke's sons have been considered candidates for the imperial family when trying to obtain benefices. Johann Wilhelm, who succeeded his father as reigning prince in 1690, was his first marriage to a daughter of Emperor Ferdinand III. and after her death married to a daughter of the Grand Duke Cosimo of Tuscany. The other siblings have intensified this network of far-reaching connections through their marriage. In addition, through his determined policy, Philipp Wilhelm succeeded in obtaining over 40 benefices for his six sons who were appointed to the clergy in 21 arches and monasteries as well as in six convents. In 20 cases his sons ran for coadjutory or bishopric.

Like his brothers at court in Düsseldorf and Neuburg, Franz Ludwig received a solid upbringing. His father tried to get old age allowances for the admission of his sons to tonsure, but this was granted to him only reluctantly by Popes Alexander VII and his successors, who insisted on strict adherence to the provisions of the Council of Trent. Franz Ludwig received the tonsure in 1672 and the minor orders in 1678. At this point he was already domiciliary in Olomouc. In 1679 he moved into the chapters of Münster, Speyer and Strasbourg. Philipp Wilhelm's intention in occupying dioceses was primarily directed towards those districts that were adjacent to his own territory. Alexander Sigmund became Prince-Bishop of Augsburg in 1690 and Ludwig Anton became Prince-Bishop of Worms in 1691, while Wolfgang Georg was earmarked for Breslau. After the death of the glorious and always indebted Cardinal Friedrich von Hessen-Darmstadt († 1682), however, the chapter did not want his nephew, but a personality from whom one could expect the continuation of the church's development work. Although the emperor used all means for his candidate, the majority of voters gave their votes to the proven Olomouc Prince-Bishop Karl von Liechtenstein. When Pope Innocent XI. Faced with the alternative of opting for Olomouc or Wroclaw, he decided on his Moravian diocese. Wolfgang Georg died at the age of 23 before the Breslau Chapter could vote for a second time on June 30, 1683. Thereupon the chapter had to postulate at the insistence of the Emperor Franz Ludwig. The Vienna Nuncio carried out the information process in abbreviated form and then sent it from Passau to Rome, already on the run from the Turks. Papal confirmation took place on August 26, 1683. On September 27, 1683, Auxiliary Bishop Karl Franz Neander, who was assigned to Franz Ludwig as administrator in spiritualibus because of his minority, took possession of the diocese for him. Franz Ludwig made great contributions to his diocese, but never received ordination as a priest or bishop. He was also only ordained as a subdiaconate on August 22, 1687 in Cologne, when his candidacy for the archbishopric came into focus.

At the beginning of 1685 Franz Ludwig came to Silesia for the first time. After he was appointed governor on January 15, 1685, the spiritual and secular leadership of Silesia was in his hands. The provincial governance was only withdrawn from him in 1719 when he was too often out of the country because of his other bishoprics and imperial deficits. Nevertheless, the diocese of Breslau was the focus of his activity. He was supported in the diocese leadership by capable auxiliary bishops (Johann von Brunetti, Elias Daniel von Sommerfeld). The delimitation of competences made by him in 1699 between vicar general, official and consistory remained authoritative until the fall of the German diocese of Breslau.

The term of office of Franz Ludwig was marked by the last great wave of the Counter-Reformation, furthermore by the blossoming of a rich baroque culture. When, after the death of the last Piast in 1675, the principalities of Liegnitz, Brieg and Wohlau fell to the House of Habsburg, Emperor Leopold I decided to make one last large-scale attempt at recatholization. As a result, by the beginning of the 18th century, based on the right of patronage, over 100 churches were regained in the above-mentioned principalities, but also in the area around Wroclaw and in Oels. It came z. Partly through emigration to population losses, but the recovery was unmistakable for Catholicism. Even if the overall strategy of these measures was the responsibility of the state authorities, which acted not for religious reasons but also for reasons of state, church forces also took an active part in this process. The pastoral orders, in particular, now expanded vigorously. Franciscans came to Wroclaw in 1695, Ursulines in 1686, Brothers of Mercy in 1711 and Elisabethine Sisters in 1736. In 1702, the Jesuits succeeded, against violent opposition from the council, in adding a university to their Breslau branch ("Leopoldina"). In 1728 the foundation stone was laid for a large baroque university building. The new vitality of the old monasteries was expressed in the construction of huge baroque monastery complexes. In 1703 Benedictines came from Braunau to Wahlstatt near Liegnitz.

In the meantime, the Lutherans sought support from the Protestant powers, but after August 1697, when Augustus the Strong was converted, Saxony fell out as a protective power, while Prussia increasingly came to the fore. The most effective help, however, the Silesian Protestantism from Sweden, which during the War of the Spanish Succession and the Hungarian aristocratic revolts under Charles XII. intervened and forced Emperor Joseph I to enter the Altranstadt Convention in 1707. After that, the emperor had to return 122 churches in the principalities of Liegnitz, Brieg, Wohlau, Oels and Münsterberg, as well as in the Breslau area and make a number of other concessions to the Protestants (including six "grace churches"). To compensate for this, 15 so-called Josephine Curatia were created for the Catholics in the areas mentioned. The convention ended the Counter-Reformation in Silesia and made further gains for Catholicism difficult, although this was favored by the legislature and administration. Overall, Lutheranism in Silesia retained a privileged position that was unknown in the other Habsburg countries.

Franz Ludwig not only dutifully managed his district, but also built a number of buildings. The new construction of the prince-bishop's residence in Wroclaw planned by Fischer von Erlach did not materialize, but Franz Ludwig donated two orphanages in Wroclaw and added the baroque sacrament chapel to the cathedral, in which he was later buried.

Franz Ludwig had been a candidate for Cologne coadjutorie in 1675 and 1687 as part of his father's imperial church policy (Max Heinrich von Bayern). After the death of his brother Ludwig Anton (May 4, 1694), which meant a serious setback for the Palatinate-Neuburg imperial church policy, he followed it with the support of the Emperor as Bishop of Worms, as German and Grand Master and as Provost of Ellwangen (8 June 1694 elected). Although these were secondary benefices, they played a role in connection with the rest of the possessions of the Palatinate-Neuburg family. In addition to the Jesuits, Franz Ludwig actively promoted the German Order, which experienced a significant increase in property during his tenure in Silesia. Franz Ludwig not only stayed in Mergentheim repeatedly, but he also emerged as the order's builder into the last years of his life.

With the possession of these numerous benefices, however, Franz Ludwig had not yet come to the end of his career. On November 5, 1710, the Mainz chapter postulated him as coadjutor of Archbishop Lothar Freiherr von Schönborn (confirmed October 5, 1712) in order to secure the continuity of the imperial policy in Mainz. Since Schönborn did not die until 1729, Franz Ludwig did not take up the Mainz chair until the age of 65. Meanwhile, on February 20, 1716, under massive pressure from Emperor Charles VI. the Trier chapter postulates the successor to Archbishop Karl Joseph of Lorraine (confirmed December 23). Franz Ludwig arrived in Koblenz at the beginning of 1718 to take over the government, but his solemn introduction in Trier did not take place until March 24, 1719. In close cooperation with Auxiliary Bishop Johann Matthias von Eyss, he managed his new district in an astonishing way, despite his many offices dedicated. In 1719 he issued preliminary synodal statutes and a little later stricter provisions on admission to the parish office. In other edicts he ordered regular retreats for the clergy and the establishment of monthly pastoral conferences. He promoted the reconstruction of the Trier Cathedral, which burned down in 1717 and transformed the nave basilica into a transept with a cross-shaped floor plan. He made a contribution to raising the law faculty in Trier by issuing new study regulations (1722).

When Franz Ludwig succeeded him in Mainz after Schönborn's death, he had to give up Trier on March 3, 1729. On April 6, 1729 he took possession of Mainz. With this he had attained the highest dignity of the imperial church. Franz Ludwig thanked the emperor for his support and, like Archbishop Clemens August von Bayern, campaigned for the pragmatic sanction to be recognized. However, due to its short duration, his term of office in Mainz did not leave any deeper marks. Franz Ludwig died on April 18, 1732 in Breslau as a result of a stroke. He was buried in the cathedral.

Erwin Gatz - Jan copy c

Text from: Gatz, Erwin (ed.), The Bishops of the Holy Roman Empire. A biographical lexicon. Part: 1648 to 1803, co-sponsored by Stephan M. Janker, Berlin: Duncker and Humblot 1990, pp. 124–127. Reprinted with the kind permission of the publisher.


Further literature:

  • Wolf, Hubert, human fishermen - beneficiary hunters: Franz Ludwig von Pfalz-Neuburg, the imperial church and Ellwangen; in: Ellwanger Jahrbuch 37 (1997–1998) pp. 15–37.
  • Wolf, Hubert, The Imperial Church Policy of the House of Lorraine (1680–1715): A Habsburg Secondary School in the Empire? (Contributions to the history of the imperial church in modern times 15), Stuttgart 1994.