Albert of Mainz

Albert of Mainz

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Cardinal Albert of Hohenzollern (German: ) (28 June 1490 – 24 September 1545) was Elector
Prince-elector
The Prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire were the members of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire, having the function of electing the Roman king or, from the middle of the 16th century onwards, directly the Holy Roman Emperor.The heir-apparent to a prince-elector was known as an...

 and Archbishop of Mainz from 1514 to 1545, and Archbishop of Magdeburg from 1513 to 1545.

Biography


Born in Cölln
Cölln
In the 13th century Cölln was the sister town of Old Berlin , located on the southern Spree Island in the Margraviate of Brandenburg. Today the island is located in the historic core of the central Mitte locality of modern Berlin...

, Albert was the younger son of John Cicero, Elector of Brandenburg.

After their father's death, Albert and his older brother Joachim I Nestor became margraves of Brandenburg in 1499, but only his older brother held the title of an elector of Brandenburg. Having studied at the university of Frankfurt (Oder)
Frankfurt (Oder)
Frankfurt is a town in Brandenburg, Germany, located on the Oder River, on the German-Polish border directly opposite the town of Słubice which was a part of Frankfurt until 1945. At the end of the 1980s it reached a population peak with more than 87,000 inhabitants...

, Albert entered the ecclesiastical profession, and in 1513 became archbishop
Archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

 of Magdeburg
Archbishopric of Magdeburg
The Archbishopric of Magdeburg was a Roman Catholic archdiocese and Prince-Bishopric of the Holy Roman Empire centered on the city of Magdeburg on the Elbe River....

 at the age of 23 and administrator of the Diocese of Halberstadt.

In 1514 he obtained the Electorate of Mainz, and in 1518 was made a cardinal
Cardinal (Catholicism)
A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical official, usually an ordained bishop, and ecclesiastical prince of the Catholic Church. They are collectively known as the College of Cardinals, which as a body elects a new pope. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and...

 at the age of 28. Meanwhile to pay for the pallium
Pallium
The pallium is an ecclesiastical vestment in the Roman Catholic Church, originally peculiar to the Pope, but for many centuries bestowed by him on metropolitans and primates as a symbol of the jurisdiction delegated to them by the Holy See. In that context it has always remained unambiguously...

 of the see of Mainz
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 and to discharge the other expenses of his elevation, Albert had borrowed 21,000 ducat
Ducat
The ducat is a gold coin that was used as a trade coin throughout Europe before World War I. Its weight is 3.4909 grams of .986 gold, which is 0.1107 troy ounce, actual gold weight...

s from Jacob Fugger
Jacob Fugger
Jacob Fugger , sometimes known as Jacob Fugger the Rich, was a German banker and a member of the Fugger family.- Biography :...

, and had obtained permission from Pope Leo X
Pope Leo X
Pope Leo X , born Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici, was the Pope from 1513 to his death in 1521. He was the last non-priest to be elected Pope. He is known for granting indulgences for those who donated to reconstruct St. Peter's Basilica and his challenging of Martin Luther's 95 Theses...

 to conduct the sale of indulgences in his diocese to obtain funds to repay this loan, as long as half the collection was forwarded to the Papacy. An agent of the Fuggers subsequently traveled in the Cardinal's retinue in charge of the cashbox. For this work he procured the services of John Tetzel, and so indirectly exercised a potent influence on the course of the Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

.

It was as a disgusted response to Tetzel's activities selling indulgences that Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 wrote his famous 95 Theses
95 Theses
The Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences , commonly known as , was written by Martin Luther, 1517 and is widely regarded as the primary catalyst for the Protestant Reformation...

, which he sent to Albert on 31 October 1517 and traditionally nailed to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg
Wittenberg
Wittenberg, officially Lutherstadt Wittenberg, is a city in Germany in the Bundesland Saxony-Anhalt, on the river Elbe. It has a population of about 50,000....

. Albert forwarded the theses to Rome, suspecting them of heresy.

When the imperial election of 1519 drew near, the elector's vote was eagerly solicited by the partisans of Charles (afterwards the emperor Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

) and by those of Francis I
Francis I of France
Francis I was King of France from 1515 until his death. During his reign, huge cultural changes took place in France and he has been called France's original Renaissance monarch...

, King of France, and he appears to have received a large amount of money for the vote, which he cast eventually for Charles.


Albert's large and liberal ideas, his friendship with Ulrich von Hutten
Ulrich von Hutten
Ulrich von Hutten was a German scholar, poet and reformer. He was an outspoken critic of the Roman Catholic Church and a bridge between the humanists and the Lutheran Reformation...

, and his political ambitions, appear to have raised hopes that he would be won over to Protestantism
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

; but after the German Peasants' War
German Peasants' War
The German Peasants' War or Great Peasants' Revolt was a widespread popular revolt in the German-speaking areas of Central Europe, 1524–1526. At its height in the spring and summer of 1525, the conflict involved an estimated 300,000 peasants: contemporary estimates put the dead at 100,000...

 of 1525 he ranged himself definitely among the supporters of Catholicism
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, and was among the princes who met to concert measures for its defence at Dessau
Dessau
Dessau is a town in Germany on the junction of the rivers Mulde and Elbe, in the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt. Since 1 July 2007, it is part of the merged town Dessau-Roßlau. Population of Dessau proper: 77,973 .-Geography:...

 in July 1525.


His hostility towards the reformers, however, was not so extreme as that of his brother Joachim I, Elector of Brandenburg; and he appears to have exerted himself towards peace, although he was a member of the League of Nuremberg, formed in 1538 as a counterpoise to the League of Schmalkalden.

The new doctrines nevertheless made considerable progress in his dominions, and he was compelled to grant religious liberty to the inhabitants of Magdeburg in return for 500,000 florins. During his latter years indeed he showed more intolerance towards the Protestants, and favoured the teaching of the Jesuits
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 in his dominions.

Albert adorned the collegiate church
Collegiate church
In Christianity, a collegiate church is a church where the daily office of worship is maintained by a college of canons; a non-monastic, or "secular" community of clergy, organised as a self-governing corporate body, which may be presided over by a dean or provost...

 (Stiftskirche) at Halle (Saale) and the cathedral at Mainz
Mainz Cathedral
Mainz Cathedral or St. Martin's Cathedral is located near the historical center and pedestrianized market square of the city of Mainz, Germany...

 in sumptuous fashion, and took as his motto the words Domine, dilexi decorem domus tuae (Latin for: "Lord, I admired the adornment of your house."). A generous patron of art and learning, he counted Erasmus among his friends.

He died at Aschaffenburg
Aschaffenburg
Aschaffenburg is a city in northwest Bavaria, Germany. The town of Aschaffenburg is not considered part of the district of Aschaffenburg, but is the administrative seat.Aschaffenburg is known as the Tor zum Spessart or "gate to the Spessart"...

 in 1545.

Ancestry