Bishopric of Speyer

Prince-Bishopric of Speyer
Fürstbistum Speyer
State of the Holy Roman Empire

Coat of arms

The Prince-Bishopric of Speyer circa 1700
Capital Speyer (to 1379)
Udenheim2 (1379–1723)
Bruchsal (from 1723)
Languages Rhine Franconian, South Franconian
Government Elective principality
Historical era Middle Ages
  Established 3rd or 4th century
   Gained territory 888
  Speyer became
    Imperial Free City
  Lost territory to France 1681–97
   Partitioned and
    France and Baden
1801–03 1803
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Duchy of Franconia
Margraviate of Baden

The Bishopric of Speyer, or Prince-Bishopric of Speyer (formerly known as Spires in English), was an ecclesiastical principality in what are today the German states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg. It was secularized in 1803. The prince-bishop resided in Speyer, a Free Imperial City, until the 14th century when he moved his residence to Uddenheim (Philippsburg), then in 1723 to Bruchsal, in large part due to the tense relationship between successive prince-bishops and the civic authorities of the Free City, officially Protestant since the Reformation. The prince-provostry of Wissemburg in Alsace was ruled by the prince-bishop of Speyer in a personal union relationship.[1]


The bishopric of Speyer belonged to the Upper Rhenish Circle of the Holy Roman Empire. One of the smallest principalities of the Holy Roman Empire, it consisted of more than half a dozen separate enclaves totalling about 28 German square miles (about 1540 km²) on both sides of the Rhine. It included the towns of Bruchsal (on the right bank) as well as Deidesheim, Herxheim bei Landau, and Lauterburg (on the left bank). Around 1800 the bishopric included about 55,000 people.


A diocese of Speyer has possibly existed since the 3rd or 4th century. It was first mentioned in historical documents in 614. Up to 748 it was a suffragant bishopric of the archdiocese of Trier, and from then until the secularisation of the prince-bishopric in 1803, of the archdiocese of Mainz.

The history of the Bishopric of Speyer began latest in the late 7th century when the bishop of Speyer received royal domains in the neighboring Speyergau. In the 10th and 11th centuries, the diocese received additional lands, including gifts by emperor Otto I. In 1030 the building of the cathedral was begun. In 1061 the cathedral was consecrated. In 1086 emperor Henry IV granted the bishopric the remaining parts of the county of Speyergau.

From 1111 the citizens of the city of Speyer began to increasingly loosen their bonds to the rulership of the bishop. In 1230 a Bürgermeister was mentioned for the first time. 1294 Speyer became a Free Imperial City. The bishop moved his palace in 1371 to Udenheim. At the beginning of the 17th century bishop Philipp Christoph von Sötern expanded the fortress of Philippsburg. The prince-bishops reigned from there from 1371 to 1723. Afterwards the prince-bishop moved his seat to Bruchsal.

From 1681 to 1697, at the end of the War of the Grand Alliance, the fortress of Philippsburg on the left-bank went to France. In 1801/1802, the remaining left-bank territories of Speyer were conquered by French troops in the course of the French Revolution. The right-bank territories went to margraves of Baden.

This ended the secular responsibilities of the bishop of Speyer. The secularized bishopric continued ecclesiastically as the Diocese of Speyer. Finally French part of former prince-bishopric was divided between Bavaria and Hesse Darmstadt in 1815.

Prince-bishops of Speyer

The following were prince-bishops of Speyer, who were secular as well as ecclesiastical rulers.

Name From Until
Jesse of Speir circa 346  
Hildericus episcopus circa 613  
Atanasius 610 650
Principius 650 659
Dragobodo 659 700
Otto 700 709
Siegwin I 709 725
Luido 725 743
David 743 760
Basinus 760 775
Siegwin II 775 802
Otto I 802 810
Fraido 810 814
Benedikt 814 828 or 830
Bertin, also Hertinus 828 or 830 845 or 846
Gebhard I 845 or 847 880
Goddank 881 895 or 898
Einhard, also Eginhard 895 or 898 913
Bernhard 914 922
Amalrich 913 or 923 943
Reginwalt I, also Reginhard 943 or 944 950
Gottfried I 950 960
Otgar 960 970
Balderich 970 987
Ruprecht 987 1004
Walter 1004 1031
Siegfried I 1031 1032
Reinher, also Reginher 1032 1033
Reginhard II of Dillingen,[2] also Reginbald 1033 1039
Sigbodo I, also Siegbodo 1039 1051
Arnold I of Falkenberg 1051 1056
Konrad I 1056 1060
Eginhard II of Katzenelnbogen 1060 1067
Heinrich of Scharfenberg 1067 1072 or 1073
Rüdiger Hutzmann (Hußmann?) 1073 1090
Johann I of Kraichgau 1090 1104
Gebhard II, Count of Urach 1105 1107 († 1110)
Bruno, Count of Saarbrücken (Count of Saargau) 1107 1123
Arnold II, Count of Leiningen 1124 1126
Siegfried I, Count of Wolffölden 1127 1146
Günther, Count of Henneberg 1146 1161
Ulrich I of Dürrmenz 1161 1163
Gottfried II 1164 1167
Rabodo, Count of Lobdaburg 1167 1176
Konrad II 1176 1178
Ulrich II of Rechberg 1178 1187
Otto II, Count of Henneberg 1187 1200
Conrad III of Scharfenberg 1200 1224
Beringer of Entringen 1224 1232
Konrad IV of Dahn 1233 1236
Konrad V, Count of Eberstein 1237 1245
Heinrich II, Count of Leiningen 1245 1272
Friedrich of Bolanden 1272 1302
Sigibodo II of Lichtenberg, also Siegbodo 1302 1314
Emich, Count of Leiningen, also Emicho 1314 1328
Berthold, Count of Bucheck 1328 1328
Walram, Count of Veldenz 1328 1336
Baldwin, Archbishop of Trier (Administrator) 1332 1336
Gerhard of Ehrenberg 1336 1363
Lambert of Born (Brunn?) 1364 1371
Adolf I, Count of Nassau 1371 1388
Nikolaus I aus Wiesbaden 1388 1396
Raban of Helmstatt 1396 1438
Reinhard of Helmstatt 1438 1456
Siegfried III Freiherr of Venningen 1456 1459
Johann II Nix of Hoheneck, aka Enzenberger 1459 1464
Matthias Freiherr of Rammingen 1464 1478
Ludwig of Helmstädt 1478 1504
Philip I of Rosenberg 1504 1513
George, Count Palatine by Rhine 1513 1529
Philip II of Flersheim 1529 1552
Rudolf of Frankenstein 1552 1560
Marquard Freiherr of Hattstein 1560 1581
Eberhard of Dienheim 1581 1610
Philipp Christoph von Sötern 1610 1652
Lothar Friedrich of Metternich 1652 1675
Johann Hugo von Orsbeck 1675 1711
Heinrich Hartard of Rollingen 1711 1719
Hugo Damian of Schönborn[3] 1719 1743
Franz Christoph of Hutten zu Stolzenberg 1743 1770
Damian August Philipp Karl, Count of Limburg-Stirum-Vehlen 1770 1797
Philipp Franz Wilderich of Walderdorf 1801 1802 († 1810)
Sede vacante 1802 1818
Secularization and division of the diocese[4] 1803

See also


  1. Franck Lafarge, Les comtes Schönborn, 1642-1756, L'Harmattan, Paris, 2008, vol. 2, p. 349-350.
  2. Reginhard II/Reginbald according to Gumbert was the architect of the Speyer Cathedral.
  3. Hugo Damian of Schönborn moved the seat of the bishopric to Bruchsal.
  4. The diocese was and secularized in 1803 by France and with the Rhine as a border, divided between France and the margraviate of Baden.

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