Between Opposition and Collaboration

Nobles, Bishops, and the German Reformations in the Prince-Bishopric of Bamberg, 1555–1619


Author: Richard Ninness
This study of the Catholic Prince-Bishopric of Bamberg and its largely Protestant aristocracy demonstrates that shared family ties and traditional privilege could reduce religious based conflict. These findings raise fundamental questions about current interpretations of the Reformation era. Prince-bishops regularly appointed Lutheran nobles to administrative positions, and those Lutheran appointees served their Catholic overlords ably and loyally. Bamberg was a center for social interaction, business transactions, and career opportunities for aristocrats. As these nobles saw it, birthright and kinship ties made them suitable for service in the prince-bishopric. Catholic leaders concurred, confessional differences notwithstanding. This study tells the complicated story of how Lutheran nobles and their Catholic relatives struggled to maintain solidarity and cooperation during an era of religious strife and animosity

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Richard J. Ninness, Ph.D. (2006) in History, University of Pennsylvania, is Assistant Professor at Touro College in New York City.
"To Ninness’s credit, he has discovered that noble, familial alliances were the true authorities of this prince-bishopric. [...] Ninness reminds us that this is a fascinating and complex moment in early modern German history, one that is well served by this fine study." – Erica Bastress-Dukeheart, in: H-HRE, H-Net Reviews, May 2013
"This study, which looks at the role of the imperial knights in the governance and politics of the prince-bishopric of Bamberg in the late sixteenth century, advances our understanding of how the imperial church in particular, and the Empire more generally, responded to the challenges posed by the Reformation." – Marc R. Forster, in: German Studies Review'(GSR) 36/1 (February 2013), 167-170
"This interesting story is told in an able analysis based on solid archival research." – R. Po-chia Hsia, Pennsylvania State University, in: The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 63/4 (October 2012), pp. 820-821
"[H]istorical realities revealed by Ninness’s careful study of the prince-bishopric of Bamberg. Hopefully it will inspire historians to take up a similar approach for other areas of the Empire." – C. Scott Dixon, in: The Catholic Historical Review 98/3 (July 2012)

1 Lay of the Land
2 The Protestant Reformation and Aristocratic Control of Bamberg
3 The Aristocratic Church and Resistance to Reform
4 Protestant Officials as Agents of the Counter-Reformation
5 The Counter-Reformation and the Alienation of the Imperial Knights, 1594–1599
6 Confession and the Limits of Cooperation

Conclusion The Prince-Bishopric of Bamberg and the Imperial Knights

All those interested in the Reformation, church history, nobles, and early modern Germany.