« Basedow, Johann Bernhard Basel, Bishopric of Basel, Confession of »

Basel, Bishopric of

BA´SEL, BISHOPRIC OF: The origin of this diocese probably goes back into the Roman period. Just above Basel, at the present Kaiseraugst, lay the Roman city of Augusta Rauricorum, which retained its importance well into the fourth century. Historical analogy justifies the supposition that Christianity was not unknown there. By the end of the fourth century the town must have sunk into decay, since the Notitia provinciarum Galliæ does not mention it. As, however, in the seventh century we hear of a bishop Ragnachar of Augusta, we are led to infer the retention of an older title; and when we find him also designated as Bishop of Augusta and Basel, we are able to understand this by the supposition that the see was transferred from the old decayed town to the rising city of Basel, which is mentioned as early as 374 by Ammianus Marcellinus. Apparently, then, Christianity in this region survived all the storms which raged there in the fifth and sixth centuries. After the establishment of Frankish rule, the diocese included the Alemannic districts between the Rhine and the Aar, the Alsatian Sundgau, the Burgundian Sorengau, and the northeastern part of the Elsgau. Its boundary, accordingly, was formed partly by the two rivers, partly by a line drawn from the Aar to the Doubs, thence to the southern slope of the Vosges, then along their crest, then to the Rhine at Breisach. [The Benedictine monk Hatto or Haito (q.v.), bishop c. 805-822, was a trusted counselor of Charlemagne and his envoy to the emperor Nicephorus at Constantinople. At the end of the tenth century the bishopric developed into an imperial principality. It was at Basel that in 1061 Cadalus of Parma was elected by the imperialists as antipope against Alexander II (see Honorius II, Antipope); and Bishop Burkhard of Hasenburg (1071-1107) was one of the most influential counselors of Henry IV. Under the Hohenstaufen emperors also, the bishops of Basel were usually on the imperial side. After the council (see Basel, Council of), the next important event in the history of the diocese is the outbreak of the Reformation, which occurred in the episcopate of the wise and pious Christopher of Utenheim (1502-27), and in spite of his efforts led to much turbulence and the ultimate suppression of the Roman Catholic religion in 1529. The university was suspended, and most of the professors left the town with Erasmus and Glarean. The bishop went to Pruntrut and the chapter to Freiburg, whence it did not return to the diocese until 1678. A succession of zealous prelates strove to undo the work of the Reformation (see Jacob Christopher, Bishop of Basel). The territory of the diocese was incorporated with the French Republic, and at the Congress of Vienna with the cantons of Bern and Basel. In 1828 the see was reerected, and at present includes the Roman Catholic population of the cantons of Basel, Solothurn, Bern, Aargau, Zug, Lucerne, Schaffhausen, and Thurgau; the bishop resides in Lucerne.]

A. Hauck.

Bibliography: The Series episcoporum Basiliensium to 1060 A.D. is in MGH, Script., xiii (1881), 373-374; Monuments de l’histoire de l’ancien évêché de Bâle, ed Trouillat, Basel, 1858; J. J. Merian, Geschichte der Bischöfe von Basel, Basel, 1802; E. Egli, Kirchengeschichte der Schweiz, Zurich, 1893.

« Basedow, Johann Bernhard Basel, Bishopric of Basel, Confession of »
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