Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Stedingers

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(a word meaning those living along a shore)

A tribe of Frisian peasants in Northern Germany who revolted against their lord, the Archbishop of Bremen, and had to be subdued by arms. The Stedingers refused to pay tithes and to perform forced labour as serfs. These duties were demanded of them with considerable severity, and Archbishop Gerhard II of Bremen (1219-58) sent troops against them. His army, however, was defeated in 1229, whereupon the Stedingers destroyed churches and monasteries, and ill-treated and killed priests. A synod held at Bremen, 17 March, 1230, accused them, in addition to the acts of violence above-mentioned, of contempt for the authority of the Church and for the sacraments, as well as of superstitious practices; it also excommunicated them. The Stedingers refused to submit, and Gregory IX commissioned the Bishop of Lübeck and the Dominicans to labour among them for the extirpation of unbelief. The Emperor Frederick II placed the rebels under the ban of the empire, and on 9 Oct., 1232, Gregory IX issued a Bull commanding the Bishops of Lübeck, Minden, and Ratzeburg to preach a crusade against them. An army was collected and advanced against the Stedingers, but it was defeated in the winter of 1232-33. A new crusading army defeated a part of the tribe, but the other part was once more victorious. The pope now issued another Bull, addressed to several bishops of Northern Germany, commanding a fresh crusade, and on 27 May, 1234, the Stedingers were completely defeated near Bremen. The majority of them now submitted; on 24 August, 1236, Gregory IX commanded that they should be relieved from excommunication after performing penance and satisfaction, and should be received again in the Church. The Stedingers were not heretics, but rebels against lawful ecclesiastical and secular authority.

HAHN, Geschichte der Ketzer im Mittelalter, III (Stuttgart, 1845); SCHUMACHER, Die Stedinger; Beitrag zur Geschichte der Wesermarschen (Bremen, 1865); FELTEN, Papst Gregor IX (Freiburg im Br., 1886), 220 sq.

J. P. KIRSCH.