Episcopalian Baroque residence at Lake Constance

Meersburg New Palace

Hugo von Hohenlandenberg, zeitgenössisches Porträt, Öl auf Leinwand; Foto: Wikipedia, gemeinfrei
Meersburg as the new ecclesiastical town

Hugo von

Hohenlandenberg

When Constance, the former ecclesiastical city, joined the Reformation in 1526, Prince-Bishop Hugo von Hohenlandenberg (1457–1532) left the city permanently. He chose Meersburg as the new seat for the prince-bishops of Constance.

Constance circa 1475, with one of the oldest illustrations of the cathedral. Image: Wikipedia, in the public domain

The free imperial city of Constance was quite confident.

A fast career and then what?

Hugo von Hohenlandenberg, the Prince-Bishop of Constance, came from landed gentry in the region that is now Switzerland. He had a storybook career: first as provost in Erfurt, then as canon in Basel and Chur, before finally coming to Lake Constance. In 1496, the Constantine chapter named him bishop of the Bishopric of Constance and sanctified the same year, representing the pinnacle of his career. However, the counsel soon disapproved of the bishop's attempts to gain more secular influence in town.

The bishop as a moral authority?

The counsel soon complained about the bishop's lifestyle. He supposedly tolerated frequent celibacy violations by his priests and profited considerably from the collected indulgences. He himself is said to have given in to temptation as well. Rumor had it that he had a year-long relationship with Barbara von Hof, the wife of the mayor of Constance. In 1519, a plague year, the Reformation took hold in Constance, which the city council further supported with an official decree, along with the support of Ambrosius Blarer.

Meersburg Castle and the New Palace from Lake Constance. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Meersburg became a bishops’ residence out of necessity.

Why did the bishop move to Meersburg?

Tensions between the Protestant city and the Catholic bishop continued to grow. Out of necessity, Hohenlandenberg moved into the old Meersburg Castle, which had long been part of the prince-bishops of Constance's holdings. He made Meersburg the new seat for the prince-bishops of Constance. Not until 200 years later did one of his successors, Johann Franz Schenk von Stauffenberg, make use of the Meersburg location high above the lake. The prince-bishops’ Baroque residence radiated far across the lake toward the Protestant city, a Catholic crown for the town.

TIPP

Exciting information about the Reformation and Counter-Reformation is provided in the “About the Cross” exhibit. The exhibit illuminates the influence of religion on daily life and how the new faith changed education and science, and also highlights recipes from the early modern era that can be tried out at home. Delve into the age of Martin Luther and discover fascinating figures and histories!

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