Info

regional power ofthe bishops orthe great abbots. 'Episcopal' Germany-which included some fifty of the sixty-seven dioceses where 'prince-bishops' reigned -was characterized by a large degree of autonomy from Rome and by a unity between political and religious structures which had endured for centuries. It covered a wide area in a mosaic of jurisdictions and ecclesiastical divisions, extending from the north-west to the south of Germany, and from the Rhine to Salzburg. Bishops, abbots, and priors all sat in the Imperial Diet, together with the princes and nobles from the minor dynasties and imperial cities. The great power of the bishops - all of noble birth and elected by the cathedral chapters -was increasingly marked by a sense of autonomy from Rome, especially after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. The result was an ever stronger episcopalism, a position supported in the eighteenth century by the De statu ecclesiae (1763) of Justinus Febronius. At the same time, the region experienced a consolidation of certain secularization programmes, programmes that would be pursued during the Napoleonic occupationthroughto the dissolution ofthe ecclesiastic principalities.

While they remained active in both the religious life and the administration of their dioceses, the German bishops were also engaged in sponsoring the great architectural projects of Baroque Catholicism, ranging from churches and sanctuaries to secular buildings such as the palatial residence at Wiirzburg. Neither should one disregard the bishops' contributions to the figurative and musical arts of the age, of which prince-bishop Girolamo Colloredo's patronage of Mozart is only one example.

In east-central Europe, in the hereditary Habsburg domains and in the territories of the Bohemian and Hungarian thrones, the episcopacy strongly supported both the secular struggles against the Turks and the Protestants, and the creation of strong links between ecclesiastical institutions and the political power of the monarchy. Among the seventeenth-century bishops of the twelve dioceses in the hereditary domains, few made a mark in the spiritual and religious sphere. The typical 'Baroque' Austrian bishop could hardly be described as 'Tridentine', given his aristocratic origins and his involvement in diplomatic and administrative tasks in the service of the Habsburgs. A new type of bishop began to emerge, however, during the period of reforms in the early to mid-eighteenth century. They revealed a curious mixture of influences, both from Trent (as seen in the bishops' frequent appeals to the Council), and from the Enlightenment (as seen in their opposition to traditional expressions of popular religion, in the name of a 'rational' Christianity). In general agreement with state policies, as embodied in the Concessus in Publico-Ecclesiasticis of 1769, the bishops opposed devotional practices judged to be superstitious, such

0 0

Post a comment