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The Bishopric of Merseburg was an episcopal see on the eastern border of the medieval Duchy of Saxony with its centre in Merseburg, where Merseburg Cathedral was constructed. The see was founded in 967 by Emperor Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, Otto I at the same time in the same manner as those of Roman Catholic Diocese of Dresden-Meissen, Meissen and Zeitz (from 1029: Naumburg), all suffragan dioceses of the Archbishopric of Magdeburg as part of a plan to bind the adjacent Polabian Slavs, Slavic ("Wends, Wendish") lands in the Saxon Eastern March beyond the Saale River more closely to the Holy Roman Empire. The prince-bishopric was re-established by King Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor, Henry II of Germany in 1004. It then covered a considerable small territory stretching from the Saale up to the Mulde River and the Margraviate of Meissen in the east.


History

About 919 Otto's father King Henry the Fowler had a ''Kaiserpfalz'' erected in Merseburg in the Eastphalian ''Hassegau'', hometown of his first wife Hatheburg of Merseburg. The establishment of the diocese traced back to a vow Otto took before his victory against the Hungarian people, Hungarians at the Battle of Lechfeld on Saint Laurence day, 10 August 955. Confirmed by Pope John XIII at the 968 synod in Ravenna, the first Merseburg bishop was Boso of Merseburg, Boso, a History of Bavaria, Bavarian monk descending from St. Emmeram's Abbey in Regensburg (Ratisbon), already distinguished by his missionary labours among the pagan Sorbs. Boso's successor Gisilher (Archbishop of Magdeburg), Gisilher, a confidant of the new Emperor Otto II, Holy Roman Emperor, Otto II, from 971 procured the suppression of the see in favour of his aims to become Archbishop of Magdeburg, finally reached through the Emperor's power over Pope Benedict VII in 981. However this step was clearly against the interests of the Church and the position of Magdeburg archbishopric was decisively enfeebled after the Great Slav Rising of 983, therefore the dissolution was revoked by the papacy in 998 or early in 999 at a Rome, Roman synod. Upon Archbishop Gisilher's death in 1004, King Henry II re-established the prince-bishopric; the diocese did not, however, recover all its former territory, and was now almost exclusively a missionary jurisdiction among the Sorbs, who were not fully converted to Christianity until the middle of the 12th century. Under Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg, Thietmar (1009-1018) the erection of Merseburg Cathedral began, it was consecrated in 1021 in presence of Emperor Henry II. During the Investiture Controversy the Merseburg bishops sided with Pope Gregory VII and also joined the Great Saxon Revolt, which, however, could not stop the dwindling importance of the small diocese. From the 13th century onwards, the bishops had to deal with rising power of the Margraviate of Meissen, Meissen margraves of the House of Wettin, Wettin dynasty, from 1423 Electorate of Saxony, Electors of Saxony, who by denying Merseburg's Imperial immediacy attempted to acquire the overlordship. By the 1485 Treaty of Leipzig the Wettins allocated the protectorate over Merseburg to Duke Albert III, Duke of Saxony, Albert III of Saxony. The bishopric's fate was sealed with the Protestant Reformation, which was enforced here during the episcopate of Prince Adolph II, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen, Adolph II of Anhalt, who was driven out of office by his uprising subjects during the German Peasants' War in 1525. In 1544 Elector Augustus, Elector of Saxony, Augustus of Saxony finally assumed the rule as Protestant administrator, with Prince George III, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau, George III of Anhalt as Coadjutor bishop. In 1561 the Saxon elector installed his minor son Alexander as administrator, who nevertheless died four years later, whereafter the Bishopric of Merseburg was finally incorporated by the Saxon electorate. From 1652 to 1738 the descendants of the Wettin duke Christian I, Duke of Saxe-Merseburg, Christian I held the title of a "Duke of Saxe-Merseburg". At the 1815 Congress of Vienna, three-fourths of the former diocesan territory was assigned to the Kingdom of Prussia, the rest remaining Saxon; the religious attitude of the people was by that time almost entirely Lutheranism, Lutheran.


Incumbents of the see of Merseburg


Bishops of Merseburg

*967–970: Boso of Merseburg, Boso *971–981: Gisilher (Archbishop of Magdeburg), Gisilher *981–1004: diocese dissolved


Prince-Bishops of Merseburg

*1004–1009: Wigbert *1009–1018: Thietmar of Merseburg, Thietmar of Walbeck *1019–1036: Bruno of Merseburg (bishop), Bruno of Merseburg *1036–1050: Hunold *1050–1053: Alberich *1053: Winther *1053–1057: Ezzelin I *1057–1062: Offo (also Uffo, Onuphrius, or Woffo) *1062–1063: Günther (also Winithar) *1063–1093: Werner of Wolkenburg *1075: Eberhard (anti-bishop) *1093–1097: sede vacante *1097–1112: Albuin *1112–1120: Gerard (Gerhard) *1120–1126: Arnold *1126–1140: Megingoz (also Meingod) *1140–1140: Henry I *1140–1143: Ezzelin II (also Eckhelm) *1143–1151: Raynard (Reinhard) of Querfurt *1151–1170: John I (Johann) *1171–1201: Count Eberhard of Seeburg *1201–1215: Derek of Meissen (Dietrich von Meißen) *1215–1240: Ekkehard Rabil (also Engelhard) *1240–1244: Rudolph of Webau *1244–1265: Henry II of Waren *1265: Albert I of Borna (Albrecht) *1265–1283: Frederick I of Torgau *1283–1300: Henry III von Ammendorf Family, von Ammendorf *1300–1319: Heinrich Kindt, Henry IV *1320–1340: Gebhard of Schrapelau (or Schraplau) *1341–1357: Henry of Stolberg (1270–1357), Henry V, County of Stolberg, Count of Stolberg *1357–1382: Frederick of Hoym (bishop), Frederick II of Hoym *1382–1384: Burkhard of Querfurt *1382–1385: Andreas Dauba (anti-bishop) *1384–1393: Henry of Stolberg (bishop), Henry VI, County of Stolberg, Count of Stolberg *1393–1403: Henry VII, treasurer from Orlamünde *1403–1406: Otto of Honstein *1406: Bishop Elect Henry of Stolberg (coadjutor), Henry (VIII), County of Stolberg, Count of Stolberg *1407–1411: Walter von Köckeritz *1411–1431: Nikolaus Lubich, Nicholas Lubich *1431–1463: Johannes von Bose, John II of Bose (Johannes; 23 May 1431 - 3 October 1463) *1464–1466: Johannes von Werder, John III of Bose (Johannes; January 1464 - 11 July 1466) *1466–1514: Thilo of Trotha (21 Jul 1466 - 5 Mar 1514) *1514–1526: Adolph II, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen, Adolph of Anhalt (5 March 1514 - 23 March 1526) *1526–1535: Vincent of Schleinitz (Vinzenz; 9 April 1526 - 21 March 1535) *1535–1544: Sigismund of Lindenau (3 April 1535 - 4 January 1544)


Lutheran Administrator and coadjutor

*1544–1548: Augustus, Elector of Saxony, Augustus of Saxony, as Diocesan administrator#Administrators of prince-bishoprics, administrator **1544–1549: George III, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau, George of Anhalt, as Lutheran coadjutor


Prince-Bishop

*1549–1561: Michael Helding (28 May 1549 - 30 September 1561)


Lutheran Administrator

*1561–1565: Alexander of Saxony **In 1565 the prince-bishopric was annexed to the Electorate of Saxony


References

* {{coord missing, Germany Former Roman Catholic dioceses in Germany, Merseburg Merseburg 967 establishments, Merseburg 1815 disestablishments in Europe, Merseburg Dioceses established in the 10th century, Merseburg Prince-bishoprics of the Holy Roman Empire in Germany, Merseburg