A noble family of the Rhineland, many of whose members have appeared as ecclesiastics, particularly in the service of the bishop of Worms as early as the middle of the 12th century. The following are notable in the history of the family.
Johann von. Bishop of Worms, chancellor of the University of Heidelberg, and humanist; b. Oppenheim, Aug. 14, 1455; d. Heidelberg, July 27, 1503. As a result of his studies at Erfurt and throughout Italy he developed a lasting interest in classical literature and became a champion of the Christian humanism of his time. He became chancellor of the University of Heidelberg (1481) and through the influence of the Elector of the Palatinate, was appointed bishop of Worms in 1482. He showed skill as a diplomat in various missions of the Elector and Emperor Frederick III (reigned 1440–93), while not neglecting the administration of his diocese. Through his wholehearted support Worms and Heidelberg became centers for humanistic pursuits, and to the "Sodalitas litteraria Rhenana" came such scholars as Johann reuch lin, Johannes trithemius, Conrad Celtis, Sebastian brant, Willibald pirkheimer, and Dalberg's great friend, Rudolphus Agricola. He also gathered rare books and MSS into a valuable library.
Wolfgang von. Elector and archbishop of Mainz; b. 1537; d. Mainz, April 5, 1601. On April 20, 1582, he was elected to the archbishopric of Mainz over Julius echter von mespelbrunn, bishop of Würzburg, a leading figure in the Catholic Counter Reformation. Dalberg was chosen because of his tendency toward compromise, and during the first part of his tenure he appeared weak-willed and compliant in his attitude toward the Protestants. Concentrating his efforts on maintaining a neutral position in the religious strife of the period, he refused, for example, to promulgate the reform bull In coena Domini (1584) of Gregory XIII. As the radical aspects of the Reformation became more evident, and in the light of the pronouncements of the Council of Trent, he drew away from this position, and cooperated with a program of diocesan reform under pressure of the papal legate, Ludovico Madruzzo.
Adolf von. Prince-abbot of Fulda; b. May 29, 1678;d. Hammelburg on the Saale, Lower Franconia, Nov. 3,1737. Elected prince-abbot of the Benedictine monastery of Fulda (1724), Dalberg, in virtue of his quasi-episcopal powers, held a diocesan synod in 1729. He hoped to make Fulda the seat of learning it had been in the Middle Ages, and founded there a university that was later named after him, the "Alma Adolphina." Here he formed the faculties of philosophy and theology by uniting the already existing schools of the Jesuits and Benedictines, and also set up departments of law and medicine. A charter of foundation was granted (1732) and confirmed by Emperor Charles VI in 1733. The university was inaugurated on Sept. 19, 1733. The suppression of the Jesuits caused the university to pass into the hands of the Benedictines. They were forced to abandon it in 1805 because of the secularization of the monastery three years earlier.
Johann Friedrich Hugo Nepomuk Eckenbrecht von. Ecclesiastic, pianist, composer; b. Herrnsheim, May 17, 1752; d. Aschaffenburg, July 26, 1812. After his theological studies he served as a canon in the cathedrals of Trier, Worms, and Speyer. His wide interests are seen in two early works on meteorology and penal law (1782). Soon, however, he gave his entire attention to musical theory and aesthetics, and published Blicke eines Tonkünstlers in die Musik der Geister (Mannaheim 1787), Untersuchen über den Ursprung der Harmonie, and Die Äolsharfe, ein allegorischer Traum (Erfurt 1801). His works show the influence of Jean Jacques Rousseau and Johann Herder. His compositions are much in the style of Wolfgang Mozart. Dalberg gave concerts as a pianist, wrote several vocal works, and set to music Johann Schiller's Ode an die Freude (1799).
Bibliography: Johann. k. morneweg, Johann von Dalberg, ein deutscher Humanist und Bischof (Heidelberg 1887). g. ritter, Die Heidelberger Universität, I: Des Mittelalter, 1386–1508 (Heidelberg 1936–). h. raab, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 3:124. r. aubert, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912–) 14:19–20. Wolfgang. h.e. heim, Wolfgang, Erzbischof und Kurfürst von Mainz (Mainz 1789). l. a. veit, Kirche und Kirchenreform in der Erzdiözese Mainz (Freiburg 1920). r. aubert, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, 14:22–23. l. lenhart, Neue deutsche Biographie (Berlin 1953–) 3:490. Adolf. g. richter and l. pralle, eds., Quellen und Abhandlungen zur Geschichte der Abtei und Diözese Fulda (Fulda 1904–). Johann Friedrich. k. m. komma, Neue deutsche Biographie (Berlin 1953–) 3:488–489. Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. f. blume (Kassel-Bassel 1949–) 2:1869–71. Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, ed. n. slonimsky (5th, rev. ed. New York 1958) 341–342.
[g. j. donnelly]