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Personalities & Contemporary Witnesses

Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg


Cardinal Albrecht

Albrecht was born 28 June 1490 in Cölln on the Spree, better known today as Berlin. In 1506, Albrecht and his brother founded the University of Frankfurt an der Oder, an institution which the young man would go on to attend himself. Albrecht von Brandenburg took holy orders and at the age of 23, he became Archbishop of Magdeburg and administrator of the Bishopric of Halberstadt; later the Archdiocese and Electorate of Mainz were added to the honours held by the man who would eventually become Cardinal. He was an immensely powerful clerical dignitary, second in the ‘Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation’ only to the Pope himself. The seat of Albrecht’s power was Moritzburg Castle in the city of Halle on the River Saale where he ruled from 1514 until Protestant pressure forced him to leave the city in 1541. The Cardinal’s extravagant lifestyle, financed largely by the sale of indulgences, provoked Luther to write his famous 95 Theses.

Cardinal Albrecht submitted Luther’s Theses to the Roman Curia so that they could assess them and provide a judgement. He himself avoided taking a firm stance in the confessional conflict and even tolerated the presence of Luther’s friends at his court. It was only with the event of the Peasants’ War in 1525 that Albert allied himself with the princes opposed to the Reformation. The Cardinal did not become a truly bitter enemy of the Protestant Reformation until it finally overcame Magdeburg, Halberstadt and even his seat of power, Halle. After fleeing Halle, he resided in Aschaffenburg. On 24 September 1545, Cardinal Albrecht passed away in Martinsburg Castle in Mainz at the age of 55. He was interred in the western dome of Mainz Cathedral.


Born on 28 June 1490 in Cölln on the Spree
Died on 24 September 1545 in Castle Martinsburg in Mainz
Adversary of Luther

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