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Personalities & Contemporary Witnesses

Bishop Pflug


Bishop Pflug


Julius Pflug, a thin man of short stature, highly educated but reserved and with a tendency to depression was the son of an extended and influential aristocratic family from Saxony. He was born in 1499 near Leipzig. It was decided early on that he should become a lawyer and pursue a religious career. His academic career began in 1510 with his matriculation in Leipzig. In 1517, Pflug left Leipzig for Italy where he had several extended stays prior to 1529. He was appointed in the meantime as counsellor to the Albertine Duke Georg der Bärtige (George the Bearded) in 1522. He held office in the Leipzig High Court from 1522 to 1524. At the same time, he had several lucrative spiritual benefices in Zeitz, Merseburg and Meißen, which were followed with further canonries in Naumburg and Mainz. He advanced to the Provost of Zeitz in 1531 and the Cathedral Dean of Meißen in 1537. However, Georg der Bärtige’s first attempt to appoint Pflug as Bishop of Merseburg in 1535 was unsuccessful.

It wasn’t until early 1541 that the Naumburg cathedral chapter unanimously elected Julius Pflug as their new Bishop. The insecure political and ecclesiastic situation led to Pflug requesting time to consider his position, but he eventually accepted the election in early 1542. However, it took several more years until he could assert himself over his rival, Nicolaus von Amsdorf, who was consecrated in late 1541 as Evangelical Bishop by Martin Luther, at the instigation of the Saxon Elector Johann Friedrich. It was only in the course of the Schmalkaldic War that he was able to take up his diocese. Pflug, who continued to play an active part in church and political matters, was at the head of the Naumburg Diocese until 1564. He was also active as a writer. Within his diocese, his main focus, besides countering the influence of Protestantism, was on a reform of the clergy and reorganisation of the Church administration.

Faced with the political and ecclesiastical power relations existing in the diocese, or rather in Central Germany at the time, Pflug was unable to have any resounding success in his years as Bishop. This ultimately led to the eagerness for reform which he had displayed at the end of the 40s gradually diminishing by the end of the 50s. Julius Pflug was the last Bishop of Naumburg; he died in Zeitz in 1564.


Born in 1499 in Eythra
Died on 3 September 1564 in Zeitz
Last Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Naumburg
Pioneer of ecumenical Christianity

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