ERTHAL, är"täl', FRANZ LUDWIG VON: Bishop of Würzburg and Bamberg; b, at Lohr-on-the-Main (26 m. e.s.e. of Frankfort) Sept. 16, 1730; d. at Würzburg Feb. 16, 1795. He belonged to an old Frankish noble family and was early des tined for the Church. He studied theology and law at Würzburg and Mainz, and enlarged his legal knowledge in the papal chancery and at Vienna. In 1779 he was made bishop of Würzburg, and a few weeks later bishop of Bamberg. The tradi tional Würzburg policy, confessional considerations, and fear of the dangerous Prussians induced him to join the ranks of the imperial party. His relations to the Vatican were proper, but he was bent on maintaining his own sovereignty against both emperor and curia. A child of the time, he ruled in accordance with the maxim of enlightened despotism, " everything for the people, but every thing through the ruler "; yet he was no tyrant, but governed as a benevolent patriarch, watching over all things, arranging all things, the head of the family, living only for his children. It was with the greatest reluctance that he ever imposed the death penalty. Under his. mild rule the prisons were emptied, the finances and the entire civil service were regulated, and the poor laws were made to accord with the modern principle that only the disabled are to be helped and begging must cease. Lotteries were abolished and schools-primary, intermediate, and high-were fostered with zeal and knowledge. His natural inclination toward the practical and useful is apparent in the administration of his episcopal office and animates his pastoral letters and still more his " sermons for the people." These sermons seldom treat of doctrine or contain cold philosophical discussions, but speak with seriousness and emphasis of Christian living in a language somewhat uncouth and heavy, but of heart-winning simplicity. While they are not free from allusions to the gracious effects of the mystery of the altar or of the mass, on the whole they are truly Evangelical, not decked out with emotional legendary stories, and without confessional polemics. He visited his bishoprics, which constituted a kind of theocracy, as a simple priest, preaching in the most modest village church, examining the clergy vigorously and with justice, and admitting to it only the moat worthy pupils of his seminary. The active, ascetic, feeble man wished for no pleasures, and stood alone on the height of his ruling office, which brought him only duties and cares. In vain will one seek among the German Roman Catholic ecclesiastical princes a more noble personality, a .more worthy priest and a more earnest Christian.
Bibliography: F. Leitachuh, Franz Ludwig von Erthal, Bamberg, 1894; Zum Gedächtnis des Fürstbischofs Franz Ludwig von Erthal, in Archiv des historierhen Vereins von Unterfranken and Aschaffenburg, vol. xxxvii., Würzburg, 1895.
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