Adalbert of Bremen

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Archbishop of Bremen-Hamburg, royal adviser; b. Thuringia, c. 1000; d. Goslar, March 16, 1072. Born of noble parents, he was educated at Halberstadt, where he became canon and, by 1032, provost. Then through royal favor he was made archbishop of Bremen-Hamburg (104572). Under him the see's efforts to convert the northern Slavs and Scandinavians were intensified. Denmark was deeply influenced by Bremen, Sweden only temporarily, and Norway hardly at all; missionaries sailed to Iceland, Greenland, the Orkneys, and Finland; in 1060 Slavic sees were erected at Mecklenburg and Ratzeburg. After the Council of sutri (1046) Adalbert refused Emperor Henry III's offer of the papacy. He hoped instead to establish his see as a patriarchate (probably over a Danish archbishop), but was only appointed papal agent for the evangelization of northern Europe, i.e., he was made legate, and then vicar in 1053. In German politics he played a leading role as adviser to Henry III and guardian to young henry iv, and virtually ruled (106466) until rival nobles exiled him from court (106669). This reversal prevented the realization of his greatest ambition, to make his see into a compact duchy in which the archbishop would be the leading economic, religious, and political power; nonetheless, he enlarged its power and prestige substantially. He is typical of the great German prelates who served the Salians on the eve of the investiture struggle. Adam of Bremen's history is the best source for Adalbert's life.

Bibliography: e. n. johnson, "A. of Hamburg-Bremen: A Politician of the Eleventh Century," Speculum 9 (1934) 14779. o. h. may, Regesten der Erzbischöfe von Bremen, v.1 (Hanover 192837) 5379, with full bibliog.; Neue deutsche Biographie 1:4243. h. fuhrmann, "Studien zur Geschichte mittelalterlicher Patriarchate," Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte, Kanonistische Abteilung 41 (1955) 12070.

[r. kay]