Fürstenberg, Franz von
FÜRSTENBERG, FRANZ VON
Priest, statesman, and educator who reformed education in the Diocese of Münster and influenced Catholic education throughout the Germanies; b. Herdringen, Westphalia, Aug. 7, 1729; d. Münster, Sept. 16, 1810. He attended the universities of Cologne and Salzburg and completed his studies in jurisprudence at the Sapienza in Rome. The Fürstenberg family, which takes its name from the castle of Fürstenberg on the Ruhr, ruled over large tracts of land in Westphalia and was among the most important Catholic lines in the Germanies. As a member of this family, Franz Friedrich Wilhelm had many paths of preferment open to him, but choosing to enter the service of the Church, he was ordained in 1757.
In 1761 the elector of Cologne, later the prince-bishop of Münster, appointed von Fürstenberg as a member of his curia. In 1770, after passing through numerous lower offices, von Fürstenberg became vicar-general of the diocese. Since the prince-bishop was also a temporal ruler, many secular administrative duties were attached to the office of vicar-general, in which capacity he effected several economic and agricultural reforms, improved the military system, and in 1773 established a college of medicine. His service on the curial staff also resulted in some administrative changes in church and state, accomplished by establishing a corps of educated and trained officials. The educational practices then in vogue, however, which leaned toward the classics and nonpractical subjects, seemed constructed to frustrate the vicar-general's purposes.
Von Fürstenberg's desire for administrative reforms focused his attention on education. Wishing to make the Gymnasium more practical, with greater emphasis on subjects that prepared young men for civil or Church service, he included the vernacular, German, in the curriculum; gave greater prominence to natural sciences and mathematics; and deemphasized the classics. To supply teachers for this new type of Gymnasium, in 1783 von Fürstenberg opened and entrusted to the priest-educator, Bernard overberg, a normal school that became a model for the Catholic schools in the Germanies. The University of Münster received new financial grants and increased its influence during von Fürstenberg's tenure as vicargeneral.
Bibliography: j. e. wise, The History of Education: An Analytic Survey from the Age of Homer to the Present (New York 1964). j. esterhues, Lexikon der Pädagogik 2:192–193.
[e. g. ryan]