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Statuary St. Englebert

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St. Englebert

St Engelbert, also known as Count Engelbert II of Berg, was born around 1185-1186 in Burg an der Wupper, Germany. He was Archbishop of Cologne and a saint; he was the victim of a notorious murder by a member of his own family in 1225. He was declared a Martyr in 1226.

Early life

Engelbert was born in 1185 or 1186 in Schloss Burg (the present Burg an der Wupper), the younger son of Count Engelbert I of Berg (d. 1189) and his wife Margarete of Guelders. He was educated at the cathedral school in Cologne. From 1198 (at the age of twelve or thirteen) he held the office of Provost of St. George in Cologne and from 1199 to 1216 he also held the office of cathedral provost at Cologne Cathedral. He further acquired at various times a number of other provostships: in St. Severin in Cologne, Aachen, Deventer and Zutphen. Although in 1203 he was elected Bishop of Munster he declined, because of his age.

In 1206, on account of his support for his cousin Adolf I of Altena, Archbishop of Cologne, in the interests of Philip of Swabia against Otto of Brunswick, he was excommunicated by Pope Innocent III, but on his submission in 1208 he was pardoned. In 1212, as an act of penance for his earlier rebellion, he took part in the Albigensian Crusade. He gave his allegiance to the future Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor after the Battle of Bouvines in 1214.

Archbishop of Cologne and after

Engelbert was elected Archbishop of Cologne as Engelbert I on 29 February 1216 and was consecrated on 24 September 1217, in which office he remained until his violent death.

Engelbert came to enjoy the trust of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, becoming imperial administrator (Reichsprovisor) in 1220 and guardian of the Emperor's son Henry (Henry (VII) of Germany), whom he crowned in Aachen in 1222 as King of the Romans at the age of twelve. The archbishop remained the king's tutor and guardian until his death.

It is not clear to what extent Engelbert was personally involved with the important treaty Confoederatio cum principibus ecclesiasticis ("Treaty with the ecclesiastical princes"), which Frederick signed on 26 April 1220, although as Administrator of the German Kingdom (Gubernator Regni Teutonici) he must have had at least some input. Clearly, however, in the increased powers it gave to all ecclesiastical princes it was of benefit also to the archbishops of Cologne, and the establishment and development of the new powers was part of Engelbert's archiepiscopal strategy.

When Engelbert succeeded, the rights and territories of the archdiocese were in bad order, following a long period of civil unrest in Germany. He engaged himself at once in a series of campaigns and strategies to win them back and safeguard them, principally against the Dukes of Limburg and their allies the Dukes of Cleves. Engelbert in turn set up alliances with Brabant and Namur.

He had also to defend his personal inheritance against the Limburgers. In 1218 his brother Count Adolf VI of Berg died without male issue. Duke Walram III of Limburg considered himself entitled to inherit the County of Berg, as his son Heinrich (later Duke Henry IV of Limburg) was married to Irmgard of Berg, Count Adolf's only daughter. According to the Salic law, however, Engelbert was the heir of his brother and father. He won the dispute in two feuds. In 1220 a peace was concluded and Limburg's claim settled by the payment of a year's revenues.

Engelbert granted municipal rights to many places, including Wipperfurth, Attendorn, Brilon, Siegen, Werl and Herford, Vianden, Hamm, Neuerburg and Manderscheid.

During the whole of his career as archbishop, Engelbert continued to fight for the re-establishment and security of the Archdiocese of Cologne both as an ecclesiastical authority and also as a secular territory. (It was said of him that despite his personal piety he was more of a monarch than a churchman). Not only did he constantly battle, by all means necessary, for the secular well-being of the lands of the archdiocese, of which he may be counted the de facto founder as a significant state; he also took energetic measures for the effective regulation of the City of Cologne itself; and he was a zealous champion of the religious throughout his archdiocese.


Engelbert earned the respect and affection of his subjects through his devotion to justice and his energy in maintaining law, and took great pains to ensure the well-being of the religious within his authority. However, his effectiveness in achieving his goals by all means necessary, including military action, his allegiance to the pope and the emperor, and his uncompromising defence of the law and the rights of religious persons and bodies, brought him into conflict with the nobility, including his own family, and this led to his death.

His cousin Count Frederick of Isenberg was Vogt of Essen Abbey, and was abusing his position by defrauding the nuns. Engelbert was determined to protect their interests, and sought to bring Frederick to justice. On 7 November 1225 as they returned together from Soest, where they had attended a judicial hearing, to Cologne in a defile near the present-day Gevelsberg near Schwelm, he was killed, possibly murdered, by Frederick.

It seems probable that behind the attack, which may have been intended to take Engelbert captive rather than kill him, was a whole group of disaffected nobility, in whose view the archbishop represented a major threat to their interests.

Engelbert's body was taken to Cologne on a dung-cart, and when examined, found to have forty-seven wounds.


Engelbert's body was buried in Cologne Cathedral on 24 February 1226 on the order of Cardinal Conrad of Urach, the papal legate, who declared him a martyr (because he had died in defence of nuns). He is venerated by many as a saint. His successor as archbishop, Heinrich von Mullenark, commissioned the monk Caesarius von Heisterbach to compose a biography, presumably in preparation for canonisation. The biography was duly written but for some reason the canonisation never took place. His remains are preserved today in a baroque shrine prepared on the authority of Archbishop Ferdinand von Bayern, who in 1618 also ordered the celebration of his feast on 7 November.

The text in this box was generated from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the CC-BY-SA.

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Title: New Wood or Marble Statue of St. Englebert
Item Number: KRNM-1056
KRNM-1056: New wood or marble statue of St. Englebert. All King Richard's furniture is hand crafted to order utilizing the finest quality materials and techniques. Our pr...