The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Pope Leo X (1513-1521)
Consistory of March 24, 1518 (VI)


(40) 1. BRANDENBURG, Albrecht von (1490-1545)

Birth. June 28, 1490, Schloß zu Cölln. One of the seven children of Elector Johann Cicero of Brandenburg and Margaretha von Sachsen-Thüringen. He is also listed under Hohenzollern.

Education. Following a family tradition, he did not attend a formal university but was educated by private tutors and professors in philosophy, rhetoric, canon and civil law, and music; among his teachers were Caspar von der Schulenburg, a humanist, who trained him in law and diplomacy; and theologian Konrad Wimpina, O.P., first rector of Viadrina University in Frankfurt; a trusted advisor of both his brother Joachim and his was Theodor von Bülow, bishop of Lebus since 1490; their court in Frankfurt was a center of scholarly humanistic activities.

Early life. Markgraf of Brandenburg together with his brother Joachim, 1499-1513. Received the ecclesiastical tonsure on April 26, 1506 from Bishop Bülow. Cleric of Mainz. Together with his brother Joachim founded the University of Frankfurt in 1506. Canon of the cathedral chapter of Mainz, 1508; he spent the mandatory yearly residence in Mainz in the company of Dr. Dietrich von Diskau and a small state court in 1510; he was also canon of the cathedral chapters of Magdeburg and Trier. In 1510/1511 the cathedral chapter of Mainz elected him coadjutor with the right of succession of Archbishop Uriel von Gemmingen-Michelfeld. Patron of St. Mauritius and St. Ursula.

Priesthood. Ordained in 1513.

Episcopate. Elected archbishop of Magdeburg by its cathedral chapter, August 31, 1513; preconized, in spite of the prohibition to accumulate episcopal sees, December 2, 1513; administrator until reaching the canonical age of 27; the pope gave him the pallium at 25; he was solemnly enthroned on May 7, 1514; took residence in Moritzburg castle, Mainz, on May 22, 1514. Consecrated, July 2, 1514, cathedral of Magdeburg, by Theodor von Bülow, bishop of Lebus, assisted by Johannes von Schlabrendorff, bishop of Havelberg; Hieronymus Schultz, bishop of Brandenburg; Adolf von Anhalt-Zerbst, bishop of Merseburg; and by Johannes von Schönberg, bishop of Naumburg. Postulated administrator of the see of Halberstadt by its cathedral chapter, September 25, 1513; confirmed by the pope, in spite of the prohibition to accumulate episcopal sees, December 16, 1513; again, August 18, 1514. Elected archbishop of Mainz by its cathedral chapter, March 9, 1514; preconized, with dispensation for not having yet reached the canonical age, August 18, 1514; constituted administrator until reaching the canonical age of 27; enthroned, November 8, 1514; received the pallium, December 22, 1514; the investiture with the regalia and privileges took place on November 28, 1516; occupied the see until his death. As archbishop of Mainz, he was one of the seven prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire (1). In 1514, Pope Leo X issued the indulgence for the building of the new St. Peter's basilica in Rome; in 1517, Albrecht was charged with the publication of the indulgence in Saxony and Brandenburg; many accused Albrecht and the pope of enriching themselves personally through the sale of the indulgence (2); Albrecht had Dominican Joahn Tetzel preach the indulgence and gave him instructions in the book Instructio summaria ad Subcommissarios Poenitentiarum et Confessores; Martin Luther protested the conduct of Fr. Tetzel, faulted the instructions and the failure of the archbishop to suppress it; he became the object of the reformer's attacks concerning the sale of indulgences; the charges disregarded because they were groundless; Luther thought that he would find a strong supporter in the archbishop because the latter was "somewhat worldly-minded, extravagant, better trained in humanistic studies than in theology, too inclined to the patronage of learned men and artists" (3); and because of his close friendship with Ulrich von Hutten, German humanist and poet, partisan of the Reformation, an outstanding figure in German political history; he was also a friend of Desiderius Erasmus; the pope had to admonish the archbishop because of the number of hostile books being published in Mainz against the Catholic faith; later, the archbishop changed his conduct; and he strove to introduce a more perfect system of religious instruction; he ruled his electorate principality well and introduced reforms in the administration of justice, in the police system, and in commercial activities. On May 17, 1517, Archbishop Albrecht gave force by a mandate to the bull Inter solicitudines (4) of Pope Leo X for his own large diocese, a few months before the outbreak of the Reformation. At the request of his brother Joachim I, markgraf of Brandeburg, he was promoted to the cardinalate.

Cardinalate. Created cardinal priest in the consistory of March 24, 1518; received the title of S. Crisogono, July 5, 1518. Received the cardinalitial insignias on August 1, 1518 in Augsburg from Cardinals Tommaso Vio, O.P., and Matthew Lang von Wellenberg. Since 1519, he strove to obtain the title of legate a latere but it was not until November 24, 1531 that he was named legate natus. In 1519, he supported the election of King Carlos I of Spain as Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Luther was excommunicated on January 3, 1521 by the bull Exurge, Domine. Opted for the title of S. Pietro in Vincoli, January 5, 1521. Did not participate in the conclave of 1521-1522, which elected Pope Adrian VI. Did not participate in the conclave of 1523, which elected Pope Clement VII. After the Peasants' War of 1525 he counted himself definitely among the supporters of Catholicism; he was among the princes who met to implement measures for its defense at Dessau in July 1525. In 1531 he obtained license from Pope Clement VII for the foundation of a university in Halle but the troubles that agitated Germany at the time impeded the establishment. Did not participate in the conclave of 1534, which elected Pope Paul III. His hostility towards the reformers was not as extreme as that of his brother Joachim I, elector of Brandenburg; he exerted himself in the interests of peace, although he was a member of the League of Nuremberg, which was formed in 1538 to respond to the League of Schmalkalden. Protestantism 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 he showed more intolerance towards the Protestants, and favored the teaching of the Jesuits in his dominions; he met Blessed Pedro Favre, S.J., at Speyer and Ratisbon and kept him in his diocese from 1542 to 1543. Albrecht adorned the Stiftiskirche at Halle and the cathedral at Mainz in sumptuous fashion, and took as his motto the words Domine, dilexi decorem domus tuæ. He was a patron of learned men and artists; and because of his zeal, he was considered a great defender of the Catholic faith in Germany and promotor of the German Counter-Reformation.

Death. September 24, 1545, Martinsburg zu Mainz. Buried under a marble slab, with an inscription in German, in front of the main altar of the metropolitan cathedral of Mainz. Dietrich Schre built the cardinal's monument (5).

Bibliography. Bening, Simon. Das Gebetbuch des Kardinals Albrecht von Brandenburg aus der Sammlung Ludwig, Aachen. Aachen : Vorstand des Aachener Museumsvereins, 1962; Cardella, Lorenzo. Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa. Rome : Stamperia Pagliarini, 1793, IV, 72-74; Chacón, Alfonso. Vitæ, et res gestæ Pontificvm Romanorum et S. R. E. Cardinalivm ab initio nascentis Ecclesiæ vsque ad Vrbanvm VIII. Pont. Max. 2 volumes. Romae : Typis Vaticanis, 1630, II, col. 1429-1430; Eubel, Conradus and Gulik, Guglielmus van. Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recentioris Aevi. Münich : Sumptibus et Typis Librariae Regensbergianae, 1935; reprint, Padua : Il Messagero di S. Antonio, 1960, III, 17, 61, 68, 207 and 232; Gredy, H. Kardinal-Erzbischof Albrecht II. von Brandenburg in seinem Verhältnisse zu den Glaubensneuerungen : nach geschichtlichen Urkunden. Mainz : Fl. Kupferberg, 1891. Other Titles: Kardinal-Erzbischof Albrecht 2. von Brandenburg in seinem Verhältnisse zu den Glaubensneuerungen; Kardinal-Erzbischof Albrecht der Zweite von Brandenburg in seinem Verhältnisse zu den Glaubensneuerungen; Hennes, Johann Heinrich. Albrecht von Brandenburg, Erzbischof von Mainz u. von Magdeburg. Mainz : [s.n.], 1858; Jürgensmeier, Friedhelm. "Albrecht, Markgraf von Brandenburg." Die Bischöfe des Heiligen Römischen Reiches, 1448 bis 1648 : ein biographisches Lexikon. Herausgegeben von Erwin Gatz, unter Mitwirkung von Clemens Brodkorb. Berlin : Duncker & Humblot, 1996, pp. 13-16; Jürgensmeier, Friedhelm. Erzbischof Albrecht von Brandenburg (1490-1545) : ein Kirchen- und Reichsfürst der Frühen Neuzeit. Frankfurt am Main : J. Knecht, 1991. (Beiträge zur Mainzer Kirchengeschichte ;; 3. Bd.). Papers from a conference held June 25-27, 1990 in Mainz; May, Jakob. Der Kurfürst, Cardinal und Erzbischof Albrecht II. von Mainz und Magdeburg, Administrator des Bisthums Halberstadt, Markgraf von Brandenburg, und seine Zeit : ein Beitrag zur deutschen Cultur- und Reformationsgeschichte : Jahr 1514-1545 : mit 82 Urkunden und Beilagen. 2 vols. München : Georg Franz'sche Buchhandlung, 1865-1875; Merkel, Kerstin. Jenseits-Sicherung : Kardinal Albrecht von Brandenburg und seine Grabdenkmäler. Regensburg : Schnell & Steiner, 2004; Reber, Horst ; Roland, Berthold. Albrecht von Brandenburg : Kurfürst, Erzkanzler, Kardinal, 1490-1545 : zum 500. Geburtstag eines deutschen Renaissancefürsten. Mainz : Verlag P. von Zabern, 1990; Redlich, Paul. Cardinal Albrecht von Brandenburg, und das neue stift zu Halle. 1520-1541. Eine kirchen- und kunstgeschichtliche studie. Mainz : F. Kirchheim, 1900. Chapter 4, "Das heiligtum", issued also as the author's inaugural dissertation, Leipzig, 1899; Roesgen, Manfred von. Kardinal Albrecht von Brandenburg : ein Renaissancefürst auf dem Mainzer Bischofsthron. Moers : Steiger, 1980; Schauerte, Thomas Ulrich Tacke, Andreas. Der Kardinal Albrecht von Brandenburg : Renaissancefürst und Mäzen. 2 v. Regensburg : Schnell + Steiner, 2006. Contents: Bd. 1. Katalog / herausgegeben von Thomas Schauerte -- Bd. 2. Essays / herausgegeben von Andreas Tacke ; mit Beiträgen von Bodo Brinkmann ... [et al.]. Note: Exhibition held September 9 - November 26, 2006, Halle an der Saale; Térey, Gábor. Cardinal Albrecht von Brandenburg und das Halle'sche Heiligthumsbuch von 1520 : eine kunsthistorische Studie. Strassburg : Heitz, 1892; Weber, Wilhelm ; Plotzek, Joachim M. Das Gebetbuch des Kardinals Albrecht von Brandenburg : aus der Handschriften-Sammlung Ludwig. Mainz : Mittelrheinisches Landesmuseum, 1980; Winkler, Friedrich. Das Gebetbuch des Kardinals Albrecht von Brandenburg : aus der Sammlung Ludwig. Sonderdr. aus d. 'Aachener Kunstblätter'. Aachen : [s.n.], 1962.

Webgraphy. Biography, in English; portrait and biography, in German; his genealogy, A3 B2 C3; portrait, tomb and biography, in German; biography, in German; another biography, in German; genealogy and biography, in English; brief biography, also in English; another biography, in English; portrait, tomb and biographical data, in German; his arms; his effigy in Archbishop medals 72, 88; 89; and coins 179, 256; his portrait by Albrecht Dürer, Musée du Louvre, Paris, France; his engraving, c.1520-1530, by Albrecht Dürer; Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg before the Crucified Christ by Lucas Cranach the Elder; his portrait, 1526, by Lucas Cranach the Elder; another portrait, 1530, by Lucas Cranach the Elder; three engravings by Albrecht Dürer; twenty one portraits and engraving; ; and his effigy and arms on a medal; A Prayer-Book for Albert of Brandenburg, 16th Century.

(1) According to the article "Prince-elector" from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, "Wisterias, the free encyclopedia, "For a great part of the Holy Roman Empire's history (at least from the 13th century) there were seven electors, including three spiritual ones  the Archbishop of Mains, the Archbishop of Trier, and the Archbishop of Cologne -- and four lay ones -- the King of Bohemia, the Count Palatine of the Rhine, the Duke of Saxony, and the Margrave of Brandenburg. (The last three aforementioned are also known as the Elector Palatine, the Elector of Saxony, and the Elector of Brandenburg, respectively.) Other electors, added in the 17th century, include the Dukes of Bavaria (referred to as Electors of Bavaria - replacing the Count Palatine of the Rhine, who was of the same family but had lost his title temporarily during the Thirty Years War) and the Dukes of Brunswick-Luxembourg (the Electors of Hanover). In 1803, several new electors were created, but they never participated in an election, for the Holy Roman Empire was abolished under pressure from Napoleon Bonaparte on August 6, 1806."
(2) To have Pope Leo X consent to his holding more than one see, which was contrary to church law, Albrecht made a large contribution toward the rebuilding of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The funds were borrowed from the banking house of Fuggs and were to be repaid by the sale of indulgences; half the money collected was for Albrecht for repayment and the other half for the pope for the new basilica; Luther condemned this arrangement in his Ninety-five Theses that he posted on the door of the church of Wittenberg.
(3) This is according to his biography in English, in The Catholic Encyclopedia, linked above.
(4) The bull was issued during the V Lateran Council and it prohibited the publication of any book in Rome without the imprimatur of the magister sacra palatio, the book-censor, and in other states and dioceses without the imprimatur of the bishop or the inquisitor of heretical doctrines Offenders were to be punished by the confiscation and public burning of their books, a fine of one hundred ducats, and excommunication.
(5) This is the inscription in his tomb transcribed by Ferdinando Ughelli, Cist., from the tablet in the cardinal's monument with is image, in one side of the choir of the cathedral of Mainz, in his addition to Chacón, Vitæ, et res gestæ Pontificvm Romanorum et S. R. E. Cardinalivm, II, 1430:

Albertus iaces hoc loco sepultus,
Qui de sanguine Regio creatus
Lumen Cardinei fuit Senatus,
Qui virtute, potentiaq; rexit
Magnis Saxonicas Othonis Vrbes,
Et Moguntsaci fluentæ Rheni.
Nil Germania maius hoc habebat,
Nam de lisibus, arduisq; rebus
Conuentus, voi Principes agebant
Verbis promptus, & elegante linguæ
Totum consilio suo Senatum.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
Ac tot dissidiis ubiq; motis
Terrarum bene consulebas orbi
Pacis suasor erat, quieta pacis
Sæuis osiæ præferebat armis.
Quin, & Iustitiæ tenax, & aqui
Dignas fontibus irrogare panas,
Complectiq; bonos, & innocentes,
Mitis non sequa ac parens solebat :
Nec fuluum sibis congregabat aurum,
Doctos munera conferes in omnes,
Dispensabat opes, manisq; larga
Sacras Pieridum foucbat Artes
Hunc lugubriæ tectus ora velo
Albis Rhenus, Hanelus hunc peremptum
Fontis Pegasei cohors, & omnes
Est Respublica prosecutæ fletu.


Following is the text of the inscription in the cardinal's monument by Dietrich Schre, kindly provided through an electronic message of October 15, 2009, by Mr. Mark West, from London. The monument is on the north side, at the very western end of the aisle, where the north aisle gives into the north transept (Mainz' is one of those cathedral that has sanctuaries at both ends of the building), facing north-east:

ALBERTUS · MISERACIO ·
DIVINA · S · RO · ECCLE ·
TIT · S · PETRI · AD · VINCULA · PRESB · CARD · LEG ·
NATUS · SED · MOGUNT · ET · MAGDE · ARCHIEPIS ·
SACRI · RO · IMPE · PER · GERMA · ARCHICANCEL · PRIN ·
CEPS · ELECT · ADMINISTRATOR · HALBERSTA · MARCHIO ·
BRANDENBURGEN · STETINEN · POMERANIAE · CASSUBORU ·
SCLAVORVQUZ · DUX · BURGGRAVI · NUERENBERGEN · AC · RUGIAE ·
PRINCEPS · VIR · OMNIA · VIRTUTU · GENERE · ABSOLUTISS · DEI · CULTOR ·
UTRIUSQZ · IMPERII · GUBERNACULA · CONFERENS · HUMANA · IN ·
DIVINA · INCREDIBILI · STUDIO · COMMUTAVIT · SEDIT · AN · XXXI ·
MEN · VI · DIES · VIII · OBIIT · ANNO · DOMI · M · D · XLV · DIE ·
XXIII · MEN · SEPTEM · SUE · VERO · AETATI · ANNO · LV


Mr. West adds that immediately adjacent to it, on the north side of the aisle, facing east, and round the corner from the main monument is the original red (sandstone?) sepulchral slab with (uniquely in the cathedral) a German inscription:

ALBRECHT · VO · GOTTS · GNAD · DER · HEI
LIGEN · ROMISCHEN · KIRCHEN · DES · TITELS
SANCTI · PETRI · AD · VINCULA · PRIESTER · CAR
DINAL · UND · GEBORNER · LEGAT · DES · HEILIG
STULS · ZU · MEINTZ · VND DES · STIFFTS · MAG
DEBURG · ERTZBISCHOF · CHURFURST · DES · HEI
LIG · RO · REICHS · DURCH · GERMANIEN · ERTZ
CANTZLER · VND · PRIMUS · ADMINISTRATOR
ZU · HALBERSTADT · MARGGRAF · ZU · BRANDENBURG
ZU · STETTIN · POMERN
DER · CASSUB · VND · WEND
D · HERTZOG · BURG
GRAF · ZU · NURNB
VND · FURST · ZU · RUG


Finally, Mr. West indicates that it is intriguing that he did not find the inscription by Ferdinando Ughelli, Cist.; therefore, something has obviously happened since 1630 when Fr. Ughelli was writing.

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