Albrecht of Brandenburg
ALBRECHT OF BRANDENBURG
Cardinal archbishop of Mainz, elector of the Holy Roman Empire; b. Berlin, June 28, 1490; d. Mainz, Sept. 24, 1545. He was the younger son of Johann Cicero, Elector of Brandenburg, and Margareta, daughter of Duke Wilhelm III of Saxony; his brother, Joachim I, succeeded to the electorate upon the father's death. Through the influence of his father and brother, Albrecht became archbishop of Magdeburg (1513) and bishop of Halberstadt. When the archbishopric of Mainz, which carried with it the title of Elector, became vacant in 1514, Albrecht put forth his candidacy. In order to raise the necessary 24,000 ducats (14,000 to pay the installation tax for Mainz and 10,000 to receive the needed dispensation for the plural holding of sees), he made an arrangement with the fugger banking house. Genial Jacob Fugger advanced the money to Pope leo x in return for one–half of the sum that would be collected from the preaching of an indulgence in Albrecht's dioceses. As the indulgence (for the building of St. Peter's in Rome) had not been allowed to be preached in these dioceses as yet, it was believed that large sums would be raised. In January of 1517 Albrecht authorized Johann tetzel to preach the indulgence. Martin luther posted his 95 theses in protest against the indulgence, Tetzel, and the archbishop.
Albrecht had been strongly influenced by the humanistic atmosphere of the University of Frankfurt– on–der–Oder, which his brother, Joachim I, founded with Albrecht's assistance in 1506. As an admirer of Erasmus he did not hesitate to criticize the Church and advocate reform. Thus he was not unsympathetic to the attacks upon the Church by Luther and his followers in their early stages. However, there was more of Erasmus than Luther in the young humanist and, rather than break with Rome, as did the latter, he supported reform within the Church. As the Protestant Revolt gained momentum, Albrecht aligned his religious and political policies closer to those of his brother in support of the papacy. He founded the University of Halle (papal permission granted in 1531) and introduced reforms in the University of Mainz. In 1541 he invited (Blessed) Peter Faber, SJ, to Mainz, where the Jesuit quickly became the heart of the Counter Reformation in western Germany. A lover of the arts and music, with good taste in architecture, Albrecht is one of the finest examples of a 16th century German Renaissance prince.
Bibliography: j. janssen, History of the German People at the Close of the Middle Ages, tr. m. a. mitchell and a. m. christie, 17 v. (London 1896–1925). j. heidemann, Die Reformation in der Mark Brandenburg (Berlin 1889). l. pastor, The History of the Popes From the Close of the Middle Ages, 40 v. (London–St. Louis 1938–61). j. lortz, Die Reformation in Deutschland, 2 v. (Freiburg 1940). h. holborn, A History of Modern Germany: The Reformation (New York 1959). e. w. zeeden, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche 2, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 1:291–292. j. pietsch, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912—) 1:1494–96. w. delius, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart 3, 7 v. (3d ed. Tübingen 1957–65) 1:218.
[j. g. gallaher]