Felix von Hartmann

His Eminence
Felix von Hartmann
Cardinal, Archbishop of Cologne
Church Roman Catholic
Archdiocese Cologne
Installed 19 April 1913
Term ended 11 November 1919
Predecessor Anton Hubert Fischer
Successor Karl Joseph Schulte
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of San Giovanni a Porta Latina
Ordination 19 December 1874
Consecration 26 October 1911
Created Cardinal 25 May 1914
by Pius X
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Born (1851-12-15)15 December 1851
Münster Germany
Died 11 November 1919(1919-11-11) (aged 67)
Cologne Germany
Buried Cologne Cathedral
Nationality German
Parents Albert von Hartmann
Previous post Bishop of Münster (1911–1912)
Coat of arms

Felix von Hartmann (15 December 1851 – 11 November 1919) was a German prelate, who was Archbishop of Cologne from 1912 to 1919.


Felix von Hartmann was born in Münster, the child of the second marriage of government official Albert von Hartmann. The family was close to the Westphalian aristocracy and served in a manner similar to the traditional Prussian public servants.

After finishing his courses at Gymnasium Paulinum in Westphalia, he attended the Roman Catholic boarding school Collegium Augustinianum Gaesdonck, where Hermann Dingelstad, later Bishop of Münster, was his teacher. In 1870, he enrolled in a theological school in Westphalia, and on 19 December 1874, he was ordained a priest. Because the "Kulturkampf" ("culture war") made employment in Germany impossible, he went to Rome, where he became Chaplain of S. Maria dell'Anima, the German church in Rome, and simultaneously started his study of Canon law. In 1877 he earned the title of Dr. jur. can. (doctor of canon law) and returned to Westphalia in 1879, where he became chaplain in the parishes of Havixbeck and Emmerich.

In 1890, he became secretary and chaplain to Dingelstad, by this time Bishop of Münster. He rose through the ranks of the Church, serving as counselor of the episcopal curia of Münich, 1895–1905; canon of the cathedral chapter of Münster, 1903–1905; vicar general of Münster, 30 October 1905–1911; dean of the chapter and vicar capitular, 1910; and protonotary apostolic ad instar participantium, 20 December 1907.

He was prepared, on the basis of royal nomination, to be promoted to the episcopate of Münster, where he was promoted to dean in 1911. Having great influence on church politics, because the Bishop trusted him completely, he had a certain view concerning the reformation of Catholicism, which even later he never gave up. Because his influence was well known, his election to the bishopric of Münster on 6 June 1911 surprised no one. Despite the royal government's disapproval of his ultramontane views it was impressed by his wise and polite ways, his excellent manners as well as his noble descent. His papal confirmation followed on 27 July and his ordination as bishop by the archbishop of Cologne, Anton Fischer, on 26 October in Münster.

On 29 October 1912, von Hartmann was selected as archbishop of Cologne and was enthroned on 19 April 1913. On 2 May 1914, Pope Pius X made him a Cardinal. From 1914 until his death, he was the leader of the Conference of German Bishops in Fulda.

When he arrived in Cologne at the height of the trade union strike, his main concern were the Catholic workers' organizations. In this issue he succeeded in assuming a flexible attitude and starting in 1913, he also openly endorsed the interdenominational trade unions. Whereas he found support for his stance in Cologne and some other places many others considered his opinion to be a stab in the back. Cardinal Kopp even tried to block his ordination as Cardinal because of this.

Often, and certainly accurately, described as patriotic and loyal to the monarchy, those around him always saw him as a political conservative, given which his restraint with reference to the Centre Party is self-explanatory. In addition, he did not support the abolition of the "Dreiklassenwahlrecht", a system which allocated voting rights according to how much tax one paid, because he feared that is would benefit the Social Democrats (SPD).

He was convinced of the legitimacy of World War I, and in 1915 went to Rome personally to explain the German government's view on the Belgian question. The risk-averse and conflict-shy Hartmann sought in this manner to escape at any price from the Belgian Cardinal Mercier. When Mercier asked the German episcopate in 1916 to acquit the Belgian population from the reproach of partisan warfare, Hartmann could barely be hindered to make a public statement in response, which would have drawn the episcopate into the nationalist polemic debate.

In general Felix von Hartmann cared for the cure of souls, for prisoners of war and for mercy for many foreigners that were sentenced by German war tribunals. Therefore, he travelled to the Western Front in the summer of 1916 and continued to maintain good contacts with Kaiser Wilhelm II even after the fall of the German Empire.

In mid-September 1919 Hartmann became ill with shingles on the left side of his head, which led rapidly to the paralysis of the left half of his face. At the beginning of November he contracted pneumonia as well, which led to his death in the early morning hours of 11 November 1919.

Hartmann is buried in the metropolitan cathedral of Cologne.

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Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Anton Hubert Fischer

Archbishop of Cologne

Succeeded by
Karl Joseph Schulte
Preceded by
Georg von Kopp
Chairman of the Fulda Conference of Catholic Bishops
Succeeded by
Adolf Bertram
Preceded by
Hermann Jakob Dingelstad
Bishop of Münster
Succeeded by
Johannes Poggenburg
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