« Prince von Metternich Metz Jean Clopinel de Meun »



A town and bishopric in Lorraine.


In ancient times Metz, then known as Divodurum, was the capital of the Celtic Mediomatrici, and at the beginning of the Christian era was already occupied by the Romans. As the junction of several military roads, and as a well-fortified town, it soon became of great importance. One of the last strongholds to surrender to the Germans, it survived the attacks of the Huns, and finally passed, about the end of the fifth century, through peaceful negotiations into the hands of the Franks. Theodorick of Austrasia chose it in 511 as his residence; the reign of Queen Brunhild reflected great splendour on the town. Though the first Christian churches were to be found outside the city, the existence in the fifth century of the oratory of St. Stephen within the city walls has been fully proved. In the beginning of the seventh century the oldest monastic establishments were those of St. Glossinde and St. Peter. Under the Carlovingians the town preserved the good-will of the rulers, whose family seat was near by; Charles the Bald was crowned in the Basilica, and here Louis the Pious and his son Drogo are buried. In 843 Metz became the capital of the Kingdom of Lorraine, and several diets and councils were held there. Numerous books of Holy Writ, the product of the Metz schools of writing and painting, such as the famous "Trier Ada" manuscript and the Sacramentary of Drogo (now at Paris), are evidence of the active intellectual lives that were led.

In 870 the town became part of the East Frank kingdom, and belonged (911-25) as part of Lorraine to France. The increasing influence of the bishops in the city became greater when Adalbert I (928-62) obtained a share of the privileges of the counts; until the twelfth century, therefore, the history of the town is practically identical with that of the bishops (see below). In 1039 a splendid edifice was built to take the place of the old church of St. Stephen.

In the twelfth century began the efforts of the burgesses to free themselves from the domination of the bishops. In 1180 the burgesses for the first time formed themselves into a close corporation, and in 1207 the Tredecem jurati were appointed as municipal representatives, but they were still nominated directly by the bishop, who had also a controlling influence in the selection of the presiding officer of the board of aldermen, which first appears in the eleventh century. The twenty-five representatives sent by the various parishes held an independent position; in judicial matters they helped the Tredecem jurati and formed the democratic element of the system of government. The other municipal authorities were chosen by the town aristocracy, the so-called Paraiges, 1. e. the five associations whose members were selected from distinguished families to protect the interests of their relatives. The other body of burgesses, called a Commune, also appears as a Paraige from the year 1297; in the individual offices it was represented by double the number of members that each of the older five Paraiges had. Making common cause, the older family unions and the Commune found it advantageous to gradually increase the powers of the city as opposed to the bishops, and also to keep the control of the municipal government fully in their hands and out of that of the powerful growing guilds, so that until the sixteenth century Metz remained a purely aristocratic organization. In 1300 the Paraiges gained the right to fill the office of head-alderman, during the fourteenth century the right to elect the Tredecem jurati, and in 1383 the right of coining. The guilds, which during the fourteenth century had attained great independence, were completely suppressed (1383), and the last revolutionary attempt of the artisans to seize control of the city government (1405) was put down with much bloodshed.

The city had often to fight for its freedom; from 1324-27 against the Dukes of Luxemburg and Lorraine, as well as against the Archbishop of Trier; in 1363 and 1365 against the band of English mercenaries under Arnold of Cervola, in the fifteenth century against France and the Dukes of Burgundy, who sought to annex Metz to their lands or at least wanted to exercise a protectorate. Nevertheless it maintained its independence, even though at great cost, and remained, outwardly at least, part of the German Empire, whose ruler, however, concerned himself very little with this important frontier stronghold. Charles IV in 1354 and 1356 held brilliant diets here, at the latter of which was promulgated the famous statute known as the "Golden Bull". The town therefore felt that it occupied an almost independent position between France and Germany, and wanted most of all to evade the obligation of imperial taxes and attendance at the diet. The estrangement between it and the German States daily became wider, and finally affairs came to such a pass that in the religious and political troubles of 1552 the Protestant party in Germany betrayed Metz to France. By an agreement of the German princes, Moritz of Saxony, William of Hesse, John Albrecht of Mecklenburg, and George Frederick of Brandenburg, with Henry II of France, ratified by the French king at Chambord (15 January), Metz was formally transferred to France, the gates of the city were opened (10 April), and Henry took possession as vicari us sacri imperii et urbis protector (18 April). The Duke of Guise, commander of the garrison, restored the old fortifications and added new ones, and successfully resisted the attacks of the emperor from October to December, 1552; Metz remained French. The recognition by the empire of the illegal surrender came at the conclusion of the Peace of Westphalia. By the construction of the citadel (1555-62) the new government secured itself against the citizens, who were discontented with the turn of events. Important internal changes soon took place. In place of the Paraiges stood the authority of the French king, whose representative was the governor. The head-alderman, now appointed by the governor, was replaced (1640) by a Royalist Mayor. The aldermen were also appointed by the governor and henceforth drawn from the whole body of burgesses; in 1633 the judgeship passed to the Parliament. The powers of the Tredecem jurati were also restricted, in 1634 totally abolished, and replaced by the Bailliage royal.

Among the cities of Lorraine, Metz held a prominent position during the French occupation for two reasons: In the first place it became one of the most important fortresses through the work of Vauban (1674) and Cormontaigne (1730); secondly, it became the capital of the temporal province of the three bishoprics of Metz, Toul, and Verdun, which France had seized (1552) and, by the Peace of Westphalia, retained. In 1633 there was created for this "Province des trois évêchés" (also called "Généralité des trois évêchés" or "Intendance de Metz") a supreme court of justice and court of administration, the Metz Parliament. In 1681 the Chambre Royale, the notorious Assembly chamber, whose business it was to decide what fiefs belonged to the three bishoprics which Louis XIV claimed for France, was made a part of this Parliament, which lasted, after a temporary dissolution (1771-75), until the final settlement by the National Assembly in 1789, whereupon the division of the land into departments and districts followed. Metz became the capital of the Department of Moselle, created in 1790. The revolution brought great calamities upon the city. In the campaigns of 1814 and 1815 the allied armies twice besieged the city, but were unable to take it. During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 Metz was the headquarters and rendezvous of the third French Army Corps under Bazaine. Through the operations of the German army, Bazaine, after the battles of Colombey, Mars-la-Tour, and Gravelotte (14-18 August) was besieged in Metz. The German army of investment was commanded by Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia; as the few sorties of the garrison were unable to break the German lines, Metz was forced to surrender (27 October), with the result that 6000 French officers and 170,000 men were taken prisoners. By the Treaty of Frankfort, Metz became once more a German city, and since then has been made a most important garrison and a first-class fortress. The city, after the levelling of the fortifications on the south and east (1898), secured space for growth and development. In 1905 the city had 60,419 inhabitants, of whom 43,082 were Catholics, 15,556 Protestants, and 1691 Jews; by 1910 the number of inhabitants, through the absorption of several villages, has increased to 68,100.


The first fully authenticated bishop is Sperus or Hesperus, who took part in the Synod of Clermont (535). The most important of the early bishops is the holy Arnulf (611-27), founder of the race of the Carlovingians. His remains were transferred in 643 by his successor Abbo (627-42) to the church of St. John outside the city and henceforth known as St. Arnulf's church. The bishops were usually abbots of the monastery of St. Arnulf. The boundaries of the diocese stretched originally to the Rhine, but after the See of Strasburg was founded, only to the Vosges mountains; from the top of the northern Vosges mountains the diocese embraced the upper Saar and adjoining districts, and extended to the Moselle and a little beyond Diedenhofen; the southern boundary followed the left tributary of the Moselle, Rupt de Mad, then up the Moselle to the mouth of the Meurthe, and in a slight curve to the upper Meurthe. This district, which is not to be confounded with the temporal province, comprised practically the diocese up to the nineteenth century. Prominent bishops of the eighth century included Chrodegang (742-46), who founded the Abbey of Gorze and gave to his clergy a special rule for a canonical life, modelled after the Benedictine rule, the basis of the vita communis of the regular clergy. Then followed Angilram (768-91), the friend of Charles the Great, who, like his predecessor, received the pallium. Yet the archiepiscopal dignity was not transferred to the see itself; Metz was always regarded as being a suffragan of Trier. Bishop Drogo (823-55), son of the Emperor Charles, remained loyal to his brother Louis the Pious, and exerted considerable influence. In the administration of the dioceses, the suffragan bishops Amalarius and Lantfried supported him. In the important position Metz assumed after the division of the Frankish dominions into West and East Franconia, the German rulers took care that only men who would be loyal to them were appointed to the episcopal see. After the unworthy Wigerich or Witger of Lorraine (917-27), Henry I appointed the Swabian Bruno, who, in the second year of his administration, blinded by the inhabitants of Metz, returned to his hermitage. Adalbert (928-62), although at first an opponent of Otto I, received on the death of the Duke of Metz (945) a portion of the privileges of count, a fact which went far to increase the secular power of the bishops; in 959, through the division of the Duchy of Lorraine into Upper and Lower Lorraine, the diocese was withdrawn from the ducal authority and placed immediately under the imperial. After the death of Adalbert, Otto's brother, Bruno of Cologne, governed the see; then Dietrich II (964-84), a cousin of Otto; Adalbert II (984-1005); Adalbert III (1006); Dietrich III (1006-47), brother of the Empress Kunigunde; Adalbert IV (1047-72), all closely related to the reigning house. In spite of this, however, the choice of bishops was generally an excellent one. The first church reform movement of which the monasteries of St. Clement, St. Arnulf, and St. Glossinde were the focus, originated with Adalbert I and Bruno; under Dietrich I the monastery of St. Symphorus was again restored, and the new cathedral of St. Stephen built by Dietrich III in 1039.

This friendly relation received a serious set-back through the investiture controversy, which many bishops carried on with the assistance of the emperor's adversaries. The Saxon Herman (1073-90) appealed to the pope and was in consequence deposed by the emperor, and two other bishops appointed in his stead. Until the conclusion of the Concordat of Worms a papal and an imperial bishop were continually opposed to each other. Even Stephen of Bar (1120-63), appointed by Calixtus II, only obtained possession of his see after this Concordat. In an endeavour to free themselves from the episcopal power, the inhabitants of Metz sought to make use of these quarrels between the emperor and the bishop, but Stephen once more restored the sovereignty of the bishops. Bishop Bertrand (1179-1212) gave the city the system of government described above. Under his successor Conrad I of Scharfenberg (1212-24) the first settlements of the new orders of Mendicant Friars, the Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians, and Carmelites, were made in the diocese. With John of Aspremont (1224-38), the first bishop to be elected solely by cathedral chapter, and Jacob of Lorraine (1239-60), who once more upheld the rights of the bishops against the city, the development of the temporal possessions of the bishopric came to a halt. These temporal possessions were obtained through the gifts of the Carlovingians, always friendly to Metz. In 770 it received full rights over the property of the Senones Abbey under Drogo, over the Maursmünster Abbey, in 923 over Zabern, in 931 over Saarburg, and many others. On the dissolution of the old countships in the tenth century, the bishopric, subject only to the imperial government, enlarged its possessions and acquired sovereignty in the old District of Moselle, in the Saar District, and in the Blies District. The most important acquisitions at that time and later were rémilly (984), Saarbrücken (998), the lordship of Püttlingen (1135), and lützelburg (1143), the fiefs of the countship of Dagsburg (1225), the lordship of Briey (1225), Rixingen and Mörsberg (1255). Throughout the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries began the decline of these possessions, principally on account of the quarrels of almost all the bishops; namely, Rainald of Bar (1302-16), Adhemer of Monteil (1327-61), under whom the present cathedral was begun, Dietrich IV Bayer of Boppard (1365-84) with the Dukes of Lorraine and the Counts of Bar and Luxemburg. During the thirteenth century sovereignty over the city of Metz and its environs (the pays Messin) was lost; the continual need of money by the bishops and the cathedral chapter forced them to pledge the title deeds of their domains, fiefs, and taxes to the Dukes of Lorraine, the Counts of Bar, the city of Metz, and even to the burgesses.

Another element was the fact that during the great Western Schism, for a long time two bishops had made the diocese a scene of strife, until Rudolf of Coucy received general recognition (1387-1415). His successors Conrad II Bayer of Boppard (1415-59), and George I of Bavaria (1459-84) were the last German bishops of the old see to once more work for the maintenance of a loyal sentiment in the city and see. With Henry II of Lorraine (1484-1505) began and continued during the next one hundred and twenty years, the long line of bishops of the ducal house of Lorraine which had incessantly aimed to increase its domains at the expense of the bishopric and was well supported therein by the kindred bishops through the transfer of numerous enfeoffments and mortgages. One benefit, derived through the bishops, was that the Catholic faith was preserved in their diocese and in this they had the powerful support of their house. In this way, Cardinal John IV of Lorraine (1518-43 and 1548-50), who exercised authority over no less than twelve bishoprics withstood the Reformation. Charles I of Guise, appointed by the Cardinal of Lorraine, retained only the temporal administration of the bishopric, and appointed in succession as bishops for the spiritual government, Cardinal Robert of Lenoncourt (1551-55) who after the reversion of the city of Metz to France tried to enforce the bishops' claim to sovereignty over the city and declared himself Prince et Seigneur de la ville, Francis de Beauquerre de Péguillon (1555-68), and Cardinal Louis of Lorraine (1568-78). Others who also worked conscientiously, by furthering the internal reforms in conformity with the decrees of the Council of Trent, were Charles II of Lorraine (1578-1607); Cardinal Annas von Givry (1608-12), and Henry of Bourbon, Marquis of Verneull (1612-52). Under the last bishop the see was transferred to France in accordance with the Peace of Westphalia. Through sales, mortgages, and loans, the temporal property had become very much dismembered; but France wanted as far as possible, to re-establish a complete district out of the transferred districtus Metensis. The Assembly Chamber decided what enfeoffment and dependancies had belonged to the newly acquired district, and confiscated a considerable number owing to the frivolous Assembly quarrel. The Province des Trois évêches (see above) was formed out of the temporal provinces of the bishoprics of Metz, Toul, and Verdun, also out of lands relinquished by the Spaniards.

Under French rule the conflict over the right of filling the episcopal see at once broke out, which right Louis XIV claimed and in 1664 obtained from Alexander VII. As a general rule the crown nominated worthy prelates for the bishopric: George II of Aubusson (1668-97), Henri Charles du Cambout (1697-1732) and Claude de Rouvray Saint-Simon (1733-60) who in 1736 assumed the title of prince bishop. The last prince bishop, Cardinal Louis de Montmorency-Laval (1761-1802) fled to Germany on the outbreak of the French revolution (died 1808 at Altona). The Revolution and the Constitution civile du clergé broke up the old organization of the dioceses and installed a constitutional bishop, who, however, in 1793, was thrown into jail. The Concordat between the pope and Napoleon (1801) restored the bishopric with a different diocese, the three Departments of Moselle, Ardennes, and Forêts were allotted to it, and it was placed under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Besançon. Peter Francis Bienaimé (1802-06), the first bishop of the new diocese, divided the territory into 90 proper and 1251 auxiliary parishes. In 1817 that portion of the Departments of Ardennes and Forêts which became Prussian territory was separated (the bishop was Joseph Jauffret, 1806-23) and in 1821 the remainder of Ardennes and Forêts, so that Metz had only 30 parishes and 418 subordinate parishes. After Jauffret, who instituted the yearly diocesan synod, followed Jacob Francis Besson (1824-42), then Paul George Maria Dupont des Loges (1843-86), founder of the boys' training school in Montigny near Metz. In 1871 the diocese became part of the German Empire, and the new boundaries of Lorraine became also the boundaries of the bishopric. In 1874 it was separated from the Metropolitanate of Besançon and placed immediately under the Holy See. The Kulturkampf destroyed many institutions in Metz founded by the Catholics and bishops of that city. On the death of Dupont des Loges, who on account of his outspoken French opinions, was always at loggerheads with the German Government, succeeded in 1886 Ludwig Fleck, coadjutor bishop from 1881, and after him the Benedictine Willibord Benzler, former Abbot of Maria-Laach (born 16 October, 1853).

The present Diocese of Metz comprising the District of Lorraine covers an area of 2400 square miles and on 1 December, 1905, numbered 533,389 Catholics, 74,167 Protestants, 1060 Dissenters, and 7165 Jews. The see is divided into 4 archdiaconates, and 36 archpresbyterates; in 1910 it contained 641 parishes besides 73 missions; 893 secular, and 36 regular, priests. The bishop has 3 vicars-general. The Cathedral Chapter consists of 9 titular and 24 honorary canons. The diocesan institutions are the seminary for priests at Metz with 10 professors, the small seminary at Montigny near Metz, the cathedral school of St. Arnulf at Mets, and St. Augustine's Institute at Bitach. The following orders and congregations had houses in 1910 in the diocese: the Conventuals, 1 house with 7 fathers, and 7 brothers; the Franciscans, 1 house, 4 fathers, and 6 brothers; the Redemptorists, 1 house, 11 fathers, and 4 brothers; the Fathers of the Holy Ghost, 1 house, 5 fathers, and 13 brothers; the Christian Brothers, 2 houses, and 20 brothers; the Brothers of Mercy, 3 houses, and 13 brothers. Orders of nuns: the Benedictine Abbey at Oriocourt, 36 sisters; 21 Barefoot Carmelites of Metz; 37 Sisters of the Visitation of Metz; 554 Sisters of Sainte Chrétienne, the mother-house at Metz, and 25 convents; 715 Sisters of Providence, with the mother-house at Peltre, and 140 branches; 508 Sisters of Divine Providence with the mother-house at Mets, and 116 convents; 96 Sisters of Christian Doctrine, 4 convents; 40 Sisters of Compassion with 1 branch; 62 Sisters of the Good Shepherd, 2 houses; 25 Sisters of the Poor Child Jesus at Plappeville; 14 Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Mary at Vic; 47 Dominicans, 5 houses; 124 Sisters of the Maternity, 6 houses; 144 Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul, 17 branches; 77 Sisters of Charity, the mother-house at Strasburg, 11 houses; 81 Borromeans, 9 convents; 20 Little Sisters of the Poor at Mets; 23 Sisters of Hope at Metz; 18 Sisters of the Divine Saviour, 3 houses; 80 Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 5 branches; 73 Franciscans of the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary, 3 convents; 4 Franciscans from the mother-house at Luxemburg in Rettel; 13 Tertiaries of St. Francis, 3 houses, 2 servants of Mary from the mother-house of St. Firmin at Nancy, 1 house. The most important churches of the dioceses are the cathedral of St. Stephen, a magnificent Gothic structure, the main parts of which were built in the fourteenth century; it was completed in 1546, and in 1875 it was completely restored; the Gothic churches of Metz, St. Vincent (thirteenth and fourteenth centuries), St. Martin (twelfth and thirteenth centuries), St. Segolana (thirteenth and fourteenth centuries), the collegiate church at Gorze (twelfth century), the late Gothic parish church at Mörchingin, the church of St. Peter at Finstingen, etc.

Histoire Générale de Metz par des religieux Bénédictins (6 vols., Metz, 1709-90); D'HANNONCELLES, Metz ancien (2 vols., Metz, 1856); WESTPHAL, Gesch. der Stadt Metz (3 vols., Metz, 1876-78); SAUERLAND, Die Immunität von Metz (Metz, 1887); KRAUS, Kunst und Altertum in Lothringen (Strasburg, 1889); Technischer Führer durch Metz (Metz, 1894); KEUNE, Metz, seine Geschichte und Sammlungen (Metz, 1907). Histories: L'Austrasie (Metz, 1837-67): Mémoires de l'Académie de Metz (Metz, 1819-); Jahrbücher der Gesellschaft für lothringische Geschichte und Altertumskunde (Metz, 1888); Gallia Christiana, XIII; LEPAGE, L'Ancien Diocèse de Metz et Pouillés de ce diocèse (Nancy, 1872); DOERING, Beiträge sur ältesten Geschichte des Bisthums Metz (Innsbruck, 1886); Revue ecclésiastique de Metz (Metz, 1890 — especially 1890 and 1891); FRITSCH, s. v., in Die katholische Kirche unserer Zeit und ihre Diener, II Münich, 1900), 198-205; Die alten Territorien des Bezirks Lothringen, II, ed. DU PREL (Strasburg, 1909).


« Prince von Metternich Metz Jean Clopinel de Meun »
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