Bishopric of Brixen
Bistum Brixen
1027 - present

Council of Princes
Transferred from Säben 1027
Prince of the Empire 1179
Secularised to Austria 1803

The Bishopric of Brixen is a diocese based in Brixen (Bressanone in Italian) in Trentino-Alto Adige in northern Italy. From 1179 until 1803, the Bishops of Brixen were Prince-Bishops of the Holy Roman Empire, after which it was secularised to Austria. The Bishopric was originally based in nearby Säben, and was transferred in 1027.

The Prince-Bishopric of BrixenEdit

The Bishops received grants of lands from several of the Salian and Hohenstaufen Emperors. As a reward for their loyalty to the emperor in their disputes with the Pope, the Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa granted the Bishops the title of "Prince of the Empire" with a large secular principality. At the Synod of Brixen, Pope Gregory VII was declared deposed by thirty pro-Imperial bishops, and Clement III was declared Anti-Pope. The temporal power of the bishops slowly declined, in no small part to the actions of the bishops. They gave significant lands to the regional nobility, most notoriously to the Counts of the Tyrol and the Dukes of Andechs-Meran. After the latter became extinct, the former inherited their estates and became ever more powerful.

Bishop Bruno of Bülenstätten-Kirchberg (1249 - 1288) had difficultly in asserting his authority in a large part of the remaining principality against Count Meinhard II of the Tyrol. The Bishops later had to recognise the authority of Duke Frederick I of Austria as their overlord. Later centuries were marked by disputes between the bishops and the Habsburgs.

The Reformation was first preached in Brixen during the reign of Christopher I of Schrofenstein (1509 - 1521). In 1525 a revolt broke out near the principality and several monasteries and strongholds were destroyed. Ferdinand I of Austria sent soldiers to suppress the rebels, and at a diet in Innsbruck the most important of the rebels demands were met. Although the concessions were repealed in 1532, there was no more civil unrest. In order to defend against the Protestants, the Jesuits, Capuchins, Franciscans and Servites were introduced to the diocese.

The 17th and 18th Centuries witnessed a rebirth of religious life in the bishopric. Monasteries, hospitals, and missions were founded, religious instruction increased, and the University of Innsbruck was founded in 1677. Bishop Leopold Maria Joseph of Spaur enjoyed the high esteem of Archduchess Maria Theresia, but her successor Joseph II closed monasteries and banned pilgrimages and processions. The Bishopric was secularised in 1803, and all lands of the principality were annexed to Carniola. In 1805 the bishopric was passed to Bavaria which dealt very harshly with the church, but after the Congress of Vienna restored Brixen to Austria in 1814 conditions improved markedly.

See alsoEdit

Austrian Circle
on the Adige | Austria (bailiwick) | Breisgau | Brixen | Carinthia | Carniola | Chur | Friuli
Further Austria | Gorizia | Lower Austria | Styria | Tarasp | Trent | Tyrol | Upper Austria

Earlier Members:
Austria (archduchy) | Gradisca | Gurk | Hardegg | Lavant | Losenstein | Rogendorf
Schaunberg | Seckau | Wolkenstein-Rodenegg