« Adalbert (Adelbert, Aldebert) Adalbert of Hamburg-Bremen Adalbert of Prague »

Adalbert of Hamburg-Bremen

ADALBERT OF HAMBURG-BREMEN (formerly often called Albert): Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen 1045 (1043 ?)–1072; d. at Goslar Mar. 16, 1072. He came of a noble Saxon-Thuringian family, is first heard of as canon of Halberstadt, and followed the head of his chapter, Hermann, to Bremen when the latter was made archbishop, in 1032; on Hermann’s death, three years later, he returned to Halberstadt and became provost there himself. He is probably the Adalbert who early in 1045 was acting as chancellor for Henry III. in Italian affairs. Henry nominated him to the archbishopric of Hamburg, probably in 1045, though some recent historians have placed the date at 1043. He soon showed that he had a lofty conception of the dignity of his office; and his ambition was supported by many advantages—a handsome and imposing presence, intellectual force, and the reputation of singular personal purity and moderation at a time when such qualities were rare. The reign of Henry III. was the period of his success and domination. King and archbishop, endowed with similar gifts, were attracted to each other, and found it necessary to make common cause against the Saxon dukes of the Billung house, who had already troubled the Church of Hamburg. Adalbert’s frequent absences from his diocese gave the Billungs opportunity to attack it; but the archbishop, often accompanied by his vassals, could not avoid spending considerable time on the king’s business. He accompanied Henry on his campaign of 1045, and went to Rome with him in the next year, taking part in the synods which deposed the three rival 31 claimants for the papal see (Benedict IX., Sylvester III., and Gregory VI.). Henry was minded to make him pope, but he firmly declined, and suggested the candidate on whom the choice finally fell, Suidger, bishop of Bamberg (see Clement II.).

Adalbert returned with Henry in May, 1047, and devoted himself to diocesan affairs. In the territories of the Abodrites (Obotrites) Gottschalk had gained supreme power, and worked with Adalbert for the introduction of Christianity (see Gottschalk, 2). Norway, Sweden, and Denmark had all recognized the spiritual jurisdiction of Hamburg; but an effort was now made to break away from it. Svend Estridsen, king of Denmark after 1047, made an alliance with Henry through Adalbert’s mediation, and brought forward a plan for the establishment of a separate ecclesiastical province in Denmark, with an archbishop and seven suffragans. Adalbert naturally could not look with complacency on the withdrawal of so large a part of his jurisdiction, after the sacrifices which the Church of Hamburg had made in the previous two hundred years for the evangelization of the northern kingdoms; and he feared that Sweden and Norway would follow. Yet he could not deny that there was some justification for Svend’s desire. The emperor and Pope Leo IX., who took part in the Council of Mainz in 1049, seemed not indisposed to grant it. Adalbert offered to consent, on condition that he should have the rank of patriarch for the whole north. This, he thought, would solve the difficulty; one archbishop could not be subject to another, but might be to a patriarch. The project grew on him; and he planned the establishment of eleven new German sees to serve as a basis for his dignity. He did not contemplate any immediate rejection of Rome’s suzerainty; but it was obvious that his plan might easily give him a position in the north not far short of that which the pope held in the south. Leo died in 1054, and Henry in 1056; and further thought of so far-reaching a scheme had to be postponed.

Deprived of Henry’s, support, Adalbert suffered much at the hands of the Billung dukes. Henry’s son and successor (but five years old at his father’s death) in 1062 fell into the power of Anno, archbishop of Cologne; but the latter was soon forced to share his power with Adalbert, and then to see it passing more and more into his rival’s hands. Of the two, Adalbert had much the better influence on the young king. He reached the height of his power when he had the king proclaimed of age at Worms (Mar. 29, 1065), and practically held the government in his own hands. But in Jan., 1066, the princes, with Anno at their head, forced Henry to banish Adalbert from court; and his remaining years were clouded by many troubles. New assaults of the Billungs forced him to flee from Hamburg. Paganism once more got the upper hand among the Wends, who laid waste the neighboring Christian lands; in Sweden the Church had to fight for its very existence. He was recalled to court in 1069, but did not succeed in restoring the prestige of his position. He still worked for the consolidation of the royal power in Germany, but had to leave the Saxon problem behind him unsolved. He bore long physical sufferings with remarkable firmness, laboring to the last for the king and for his diocese. He wished to be buried at Hamburg; but the destruction of that city by the Wends prevented this; and his body was laid in the cathedral of Bremen, the rebuilding of which he had himself completed.

(Carl Bertheau.)

Bibliography: Bruno, De bello Saxonico, in MGH, Script., v. (1844) 327-384 (2d ed., by W. Wattenbach, in Script. rer. Germ., sæc. xi, 1880); Adam of Bremen, Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiæ pontificum, in MGH, Script., vii. (1846) 267-389 (printed separately, Hanover, 1846; 2d ed., 1876), Germ. transl. by J. C. M. Laurent (2d ed., by W. Wattenbach, Leipsic, 1888); Chronicon Gozecensis, in MGH, Script., x. (1852) 140-157; Colmar Grünhagen, Adalbert Erzbischof von Hamburg, Leipsic, 1854; Lambert, Annales, in MGH, Script., xvi. (1859), 645-650 (2d ed., by Holder-Egger, in Script. rer. Germ., 1894); E. Steindorff, Jahrbücher des deutschen Reichs unter Heinrich III., 2 vols., Leipsic, 1874-81, and in ADB, i. 56-61; G. Dehio, Geschichte des Erzbistums Hamburg-Bremen, i. 178-277, Berlin, 1876; R. Ballheimer, Zeittafeln zur hamburgischen Geschichte, pp. 18-24, Hamburg, 1895; Hauck, KD, iii. 649-664.

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