Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Archbishop of Trier and Elector of the Holy Roman Empire, born 1285; died 1354; he belonged to the noble family of the Counts of Luxemburg, or Lutzelburg, and was a brother of the Emperor Henry VII. When he was only three years of age, his father, Count Henry III, was killed in battle. The charge of Baldwin's education, therefore, devolved on his mother, Beatrix of Avesnes, and his brother, the future emperor. Being exceptionally talented, he was sent at the early age of thirteen to the University of Paris, where, under the direction of two private tutors, he received a thorough education. In 1305, when the Archbishop of Mainz died, Henry wished to procure this archiepiscopal see and electorate for his brother, and sent his former physician, Peter Aichspalter, then Bishop of Basle, to Pope Clement V, at Avignon, with instructions to use his influence in behalf of Baldwin. The pope, however, refused to entrust the most important archiepiscopal see of Germany to a youth who was then only nineteen years old. When Aichspalter, shortly after, cured the pope of a severe sickness, he was himself made Archbishop of Mainz, with the understanding, it seems that Baldwin was to succeed the aged Archbishop Diether of Trier. Accordingly, when Diether died in 1307; Baldwin became Archbishop and Elector of Trier. He was consecrated, March 11, 1308, at Poitiers by the pope himself and took possession of his archbishopric on the June 2nd, in the same year.

Though only twenty-two years old, Baldwin had many Qualities which fitted him for the triple office of bishop, prince, and elector. Without levying special taxes he paid off within a short time the many debts incurred by his predecessor, and he fearlessly asserted his rights of sovereignty over the refractory municipal authorities of Trier. Shortly after the new archbishop's consecration the Emperor Albert was murdered (May, 1308), and Baldwin, acting with Archbishop Aichspalter of Mainz, prevailed upon the other electors to award the imperial crown to Henry of Luxemburg. During the short reign of Henry VII (1309-13) Baldwin was his brother's most influential adviser and accompanied him in his expeditions through the empire and to Rome. After Henry's death he desired as emperor his nephew, King John of Bohemia, then only eighteen years old. However, seeing the futility of his efforts to win the other electors for King John, and fearing the election of Frederick of Austria, who was hostile to the house of Luxemburg, Baldwin urged the election of Louis of Bavaria. But all his attempts to gain over the opposing electors were unsuccessful, and a double election resulted. During the civil war of eight years which ensued he fought on the side of Louis the Bavarian, and contributed largely to his final success. In the conflict between Louis and Pope John XXII, which was equally disastrous to Church and Empire, Baldwin also sided with Louis, and for this reason did not receive the papal approbation when the Cathedral Chapter of Mainz postulated him as successor to Aichspalter (who died 5 June, 1320). Upon the death, in 1328, of Matthias, whom the pope had appointed Archbishop of Mainz, to succeed Aichspalter, Baldwin was again postulated as archbishop by the Cathedral Chapter of Mainz, took possession of the archdiocese, and administered it nearly nine Tears (1328-37), despite the protests of the pope, who had appointed Henry Virneburg to the position. On the 16th of July, 1338, he took an important part in the meeting of the imperial electors at Rense, near Coblenz, where they protested against all papal interference in the election of the emperors and decided that the emperor elected by them could exercise his imperial authority without the approbation of the pope. When Clement I renewed the excommunication of Louis the Bavarian, and there was hope that Charles IV, a grandnephew of Baldwin would receive the imperial crown, Baldwin finally abandoned the Bavarian and at a meeting at Rense (11 July, 1346) prevailed upon the other electors to declare Louis deposed and elect Charles IV emperor. Baldwin crowned the new emperor at Aachen, 26 July, 1349.

Within his own diocese Baldwin successfully fought against the many robber-barons who at that time infested Europe. He destroyed their strongholds and forced the barons to submit to the laws or leave his domain. He promoted commerce by erecting the bridge which still spans the River Moselle at Coblenz. Numerous churches in various parts of the diocese were built by him, and many wholesome decrees were passed at the synods which he convoked. But Baldwin, the bishop, dwindles beside Baldwin, the soldier and statesman. During the forty-six years of his reign (1308-54) the destinies of the German Empire largely guided by the powerful hands of this prelate-prince. He was a shrewd diplomat and a brave soldier, but above all he was a member of the house of Luxemburg, and its aggrandizement was the mainspring of his political activities. The Avignonese popes, John XXII and Clement VI, may have set up unjust claims in regard to the imperial Office, but there is no justification for Baldwin's siding with Louis the Bavarian even after that emperor was deservedly excommunicated. There may have been palliating circumstances as to his administration of the Archdiocese of Mainz in opposition to the pope's command, but, as a subject of the pope, he should have submitted. He was the author of the so-called "Balduineum," a collection of documents relating to the possessions and privileges of Trier, together with a series of pictures bearing on Henry's expedition to Rome, which was republished at Berlin in 1881. His remains lie in the Cathedral of Trier.

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 2:19-22
19 So you are no longer aliens or foreign visitors; you are ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 19:2-3, 4-5
2 day discourses of it to day, night to night hands on the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 6:12-16
12 Now it happened in those days that he went onto the mountain to pray; ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 28th, 2016 Image

St. Jude Thaddaeus
October 28: St. Jude, known as Thaddaeus, was a brother of ... Read More