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Matthew Lang

Cardinal, Bishop of Gurk and Archbishop of Salzburg, b. at Augsburg in 1468; d. at Salzburg, March 30, 1540

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Lang, MATTHEW, cardinal, Bishop of Gurk and Archbishop of Salzburg, b. at Augsburg in 1468; d. at Salzburg, March 30, 1540. After receiving a secular education at Ingolstadt, Tubingen, and Vienna, he entered the chancery of Archbishop Berthold von Henneberg of Mainz, became secretary of Emperor Maximilian I in 1494, imperial councillor in 1501, and chancellor in 1508. The emperor esteemed him very highly, and gave him many ecclesiastical benefices. After being raised to the nobility with the title of “von Wellenburg” in 1498, he became provost of the cathedral of Augsburg in 1500, and shortly after also of that of Constance. In 1503 he was appointed coadjutor, and on October 5, 1505, Prince Bishop of Gurk. Though bishop, he remained in the imperial chancery as a layman, not even once visiting his diocese as long as he was Bishop of Gurk (from 1505 to March 11, 1522). As imperial legate he directed the emperor’s negotiations with France, Venice, Hungary, and the pope from 1508 to 1515. On March 10, 1511, Pope Julius II created him cardinal, but kept him in petto until November 24, 1512. Despite imperial influence he was unsuccessful in his aspirations to the Sees of Mainz, Magdeburg, Halberstadt, and Trent, but was finally appointed coadjutor of the See of Salzburg in 1514, against the express wish of Archbishop Leonard Keutschach of Salzburg. After the death of the latter, in June 8, 1519, Lang became Archbishop of Salzburg. On September 24, 1519, he was ordained priest and on the next day consecrated bishop. Though originally a promoter of the schismatic Council of Pisa, he later effected a settlement between the pope and the emperor, and joined the Lateran Council on December 3, 1512. It was due chiefly to his influence that Charles V was elected emperor in 1519. He also induced Charles V in 1521 to take measures against Luther, suppressed the Peasants’ War in his domain between 1525 and 1526, insisted on church reform at the synods which he held in Muhldorf in 1522 and 1537, and joined the league of Catholic princes at Ratisbon on July 7, 1524. In 1529 he received the title of “Primate of Germany“. Cardinal Lang was a friend of letters, but a proud and ambitious prince of the Church. His suppression of Protestantism and his ecclesiastical reforms were dictated rather by political than religious motives.

MICHAEL OTT


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