Bishopric of Halberstadt

Prince-Bishopric of Halberstadt
Hochstift Halberstadt
State of the Holy Roman Empire

Coat of arms

Prince-Bishoprics of Hildesheim, Halberstadt
and Magdeburg (violet), about 1250
Capital Halberstadt
Languages Eastphalian
Government elective theocratic monarchy, bishops elected by the chapter, confirmed by the pope and invested as prince by the emperor
Historical era Middle Ages
  Diocese founded 804
   Prince-Bishopric 1180
    Lower Saxon Circle
  Albert of Brandenburg 1513
   Secularised to
    Principality of Halberstadt
  To Province of Saxony 1816
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Duchy of Saxony
Principality of Halberstadt

The Bishopric of Halberstadt was a Roman Catholic diocese (German: Bistum Halberstadt; 804–1648)[1] [2] and a state within the Holy Roman Empire, the Prince-bishopric of Halberstadt (German: Hochstift Halberstadt; 1180–1648). Its capital was Halberstadt in present-day Saxony-Anhalt, north of the Harz mountain range, Germany.


In the aftermath of the Saxon Wars, Emperor Charlemagne in 804 established a missionary diocese at Osterwieck (then called Seligenstadt) in Eastphalia, in the course of the Christianisation of the pagan Saxons and Polabian Slavs. Under its (supposed) first bishop Hildegrim of Châlons the capital was moved to Halberstadt, confirmed by Charles' son Louis the Pious in an 814 deed. The bishopric's boundaries originally reached the Elbe and Saale rivers in the east, nevertheless, when Emperor Otto I founded the Archbishopric of Magdeburg in 968, Halberstadt lost the eastern half of its district to it. Halberstadt diocese was a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Mainz.

The Halberstadt bishops rivalled with Magdeburg to gain political influence in the days of the Ottonian and Salian dynasty. Under the rule of Emperor Henry III they were vested with further territorial rights and in 1062 Bishop Burchard II was sent to Rome as an Imperial mediator in the conflict between Pope Alexander II and Antipope Honorius II. However the former favourite of Dowager Empress Agnes of Poitou and her son Henry IV in 1073 allied with Pope Gregory VII in the Investiture Controversy and became one of the leading figures of the Great Saxon Revolt. After the deposition of the Saxon duke Henry the Lion the episcopal and capitular temporalities forming the Stift of Halberstadt evolved to an Imperial State, the prince-bishopric. The political entity of the prince-bishopric only comprised parts of the ecclesiastical entity of the diocese, which also included neighbouring political entities of other rulers.

On the death of Henry VI in 1197, the prince-bishopric supported the unsuccessful claim of Philip of Swabia against Otto of Brunswick to be Holy Roman Emperor. When Pope Innocent III disagreed, Prince-Bishop Conrad of Halberstadt (Conrad of Krosigk before his elevation) was excommunicated. To evade the penalties of excommunication, Conrad joined the catastrophic Fourth Crusade. Taking full part in the diversion of the Crusade from its mission and the atrocious subsequent sack of Constantinople, Conrad enriched the Prince-Bishopric with many relics and other booty personally looted from the churches, convents, and monasteries of the Roman Imperial capital.[3] In 1315 the prince-bishop acquired the former Principality of Aschersleben for the prince-bishopric.

In 1479 the Saxon prince-elector Ernest of Wettin pushed the election of his 13-year-old son Ernest II, Archbishop of Magdeburg since 1476, as administrator in place of the resigned Prince-Bishop Gebhard von Hoym. In 1513 Albert of Hohenzollern, younger brother of Elector Joachim I Nestor of Brandenburg, succeeded him and the Magdeburg archbishops from the House of Hohenzollern remained administrators, while in 1540 the Halberstadt territories became Lutheran during the Reformation. In 1566 two-year-old Henry Julius of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel became the first Lutheran administrator, after which Halberstadt's see was held by sons of the Princes of Wolfenbüttel, a line of the Welf Brunswick and Lunenburg ducal family, until in 1623 Henry Julius' son Christian, the "Mad Halberstadter", resigned during the Thirty Years' War. He was succeeded by Christian William of Hohenzollern, son of Elector Joachim III Frederick of Brandenburg.

In political respect the prince-bishopric was secularised as the Principality of Halberstadt by the Peace of Westphalia of 1648, and finally given to the Hohenzollern rulers of Brandenburg-Prussia. After the 1815 Congress of Vienna, its territory was incorporated into the Prussian Province of Saxony.

In ecclesiastic respect the diocese, sede vacante since 1480, since represented by administrators only, who were even Protestants between 1552 and 1628, became defunct in 1648 too. So in 1669 the tiny remaining Catholic diaspora in the diocesan area of Halberstadt was put under the new jurisdiction of the Vicariate Apostolic of the Northern Missions. Between 1709 and 1780 the area of the former diocese of Halberstadt formed part of the Vicariate Apostolic of Upper and Lower Saxony, but afterwards returning to the Northern Missions. In 1821 the area of the former diocese of Halberstadt was merged into the Diocese of Paderborn, and forms part of the modern Diocese of Magdeburg since 1994.


After the foundation of the ancient Archbishopric of Magdeburg, the Diocese of Halberstadt covered the following Saxon Gau counties: Balsamgau, Derlingau, the western part of the Nordthüringgau, Harzgau, Schwabengau, and Hassegau. Thus, it stretched from the Oker river near Hornburg in the west, where it bordered on the Bishopric of Hildesheim, to the Saale in the east. The city of Brunswick, located on both sides of the Oker, was originally split between Halberstadt and Hildesheim until it passed to Duke Henry the Lion in 1142, who made it his residence.

Bishops of Halberstadt

Name From To
Hildegrim of Châlons 804 827
Thiatgrim 827 840
Haymo 840 853
Hildegrim II 853 886
Agiulf 886 894
Sigismund 894 923
Bernard 926 968
Hildeward 968 996
Arnulf 996 1023
Branthog 1023 1036
Burchard I 1036 1059
Burchard II 1059 1088
Hamezo (antibishop) 1085 1085
Dietmar 1089 1089
Herrand 1090 1102
Frederick I (antibishop) 1090 1106
Reinhard of Blankenburg 1107 1123
Otto von Kuditz 1123 1135
Rudolf 1136 1149
Ulrich 1149 1160
Gero von Schowitz 1160 1177
Ulrich 1177 1181
Dietrich von Krosigk 1181 1193
Gardolf von Harbke 1193 1201
Konrad von Krosigk 1201 1209
Frederick II of Kirchberg 1209 1236
Ludolf von Schladen 1236 1241
Meinard von Kranichfeld 1241 1252
Ludolf II von Schladen (not acknowledged by the pope) 1253 1255
Volrad von Kranichfeld 1254 1295
Hermann von Blankenburg 1296 1304
Albert I of Anhalt 1304 1324
Albert II of Brunswick-Lüneburg, son of Duke Albert the Fat 1324 1358
Giselbrecht von Holstein (antibishop) 1324 1343
Albrecht von Mansfeld (antibishop) 1346 1356
Louis of Meissen, son of Margrave Frederick II 1357 1366
Albert III of Saxony 1366 1390
Ernest I von Hohnstein 1391 1399
Rudolf of Anhalt 1401 1406
Heinrich von Warberg 1407 1411
Albert IV, son of Konrad IV, Count of Wernigerode 1411 1419
Johannes von Hoym 1419 1437
Buchard von Warberg 1437 1458
Gebhard von Hoym 1458 1479
Administrated by the Archbishops of Magdeburg
Ernest II of Saxony 1480 1513
Albert of Mainz 1513 1545
Johann Albrecht of Brandenburg-Ansbach son of Margrave Frederick I 1545 1550
Frederick III of Brandenburg, son of Elector Joachim II Hector 1550 1552
Sigismund of Brandenburg, half-brother of Frederick III 1552 1566
Protestant administrators
Henry Julius of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel 1566 1613
Henry Charles of Brunswick 1613 1615
Rudolf of Brunswick 1615 1616
Christian of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel 1616 1623
Christian William of Brandenburg, son of Elector Joachim Frederick 1624 1628
Catholic administrator
Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria
(Catholic administrator due to lacking canonical qualification)
1628 1648

Auxiliary bishops


  1. "Diocese of Halberstadt" David M. Cheney. Retrieved February 29, 2016
  2. "Diocese of Halberstadt" Gabriel Chow. Retrieved February 29, 2016
  3. Alfred Andrea, Contemporary Sources for the Fourth Crusade: Revised Edition, Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2000. pp. 241–244
  4. "Bishop Hermann Molitoris, O.P." David M. Cheney. Retrieved August 9, 2016
  5. "Bishop Johannes Alberti, O.P." David M. Cheney. Retrieved July 23, 2016

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