Joachim of Brandenburg

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The name of two imperial electors (father and son) of the 15th and 16th centuries.

Joachim I, Catholic elector; b. Feb. 21, 1484; d. Stendal, July 11, 1535. He inherited the electorate of Brandenburg upon the death of his father, John, on Jan. 9, 1499, and soon restored sorely needed law and order. In 1506 he founded the University of Frankfurt-an-der-Oder, and in 1524 he added the county of Ruppin to the family holdings. His hostility to the teachings of Martin Luther prolonged the influence of Catholicism in Brandenburg until the reign of his son Joachim II. In his political alignments and alliances, such as the Swabian League, he followed a proimperial, propapal policy. In 1530 he was among the few Catholic princes ready to go to war for these convictions. Not only was he intolerant of Protestantism, but as early as 1510 he had banished the Jews from his lands. Upon his death in July 1535, he divided Brandenburg between his two sons, Joachim II and John, in violation of the Dispositio Achillea's provision for the establishment of primogeniture.

Joachim II, Protestant elector; b. Jan. 9, 1505; d. Kopenick, Jan. 3, 1571. In 1535 he received only the old and middle marks of Brandenburg with the title of elector, while his brother John inherited the new mark and the title of margrave. John immediately embraced Lutheranism, but not until 1539 did Joachim II allow Lutheran preachers to enter Brandenburg. Joachim did not break with Rome at once. Rather, he followed the example set by Henry VIII in England. Monasteries and convents were closed, and the bishops came under state control. This new settlement was approved by the Emperor Charles V in 1541. Joachim's main reason for embracing the reform faith seems to have been the desire for personal wealth resulting from the confiscation of church lands, rather than religious conviction. By the time Joachim died in 1571, Brandenburg was one of the principal Protestant strongholds in Germany. In 1537 he gained a claim to Silesia (the duchies of Liegnitz, Brieg, and Wohlau) for the Hohenzollern family. This claim was later to be the basis upon which Frederick the Great relied in 1740 when he annexed the three Silesian duchies.

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 18961925). f. voigt, Geschichte des brandenburgish-preussischen Staates (3d ed. Berlin 1878). j. heidemann, Die Reformation in der Mark Brandenburg (Berlin 1889), j. lortz, Die Reformation in Deutschland, 2 v. (Freiburg 193940). f. l. carsten, The Origins of Prussia (Oxford 1954). h. holborn, A History of Modern Germany: The Reformation (New York 1959). s. skalweit, Lexicon für Theologie und Kirche 5:974975.

[j. g. gallaher]