Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Wilhelm V, Duke of Bavaria

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 15
Wilhelm V, Duke of Bavaria

by Klemens Löffler


Son of Duke Albrecht V. Born at Munich, 29 September, 1548; died at Schlessheim, 7 February, 1626. He studied in 1563 at the University of Ingolstadt, but left on account of an outbreak of the pest. Nevertheless, he continued his studies elsewhere until 1568, and retained throughout life a keen interest in learning and art. In 1579 he became the reigning duke. He made a reputation by his strong religious opinions and devotion to the Faith, and was called "the Pious". His life was under the direction of the Jesuits. He attended Mass every day, when possible several times a day, devoted four hours daily to prayer, one to contemplation, and all his spare time to devotional reading. He received the sacraments weekly, and twice a week in the Advent season and during Lent. Whenever possible he took part in public devotions, processions, and the pilgrimages; thus in 1585 he went on a pilgrimage to Loreto and Rome. His court was jestingly called a monastery, and his capital the German Rome. He founded several Jesuit monasteries, in particular that of St. Michael at Munich, and contributed to the missions in China and Japan. He did everything possible in Bavaria and the German Empire to further the Catholic Counter-Reformation, and laboured to prevent the spread of Protestantism. Thus it was largely through his efforts that the Archbishopric of Cologne did not become Protestant, due mainly to the vigorous support he gave his brother Ernst, who had been elected archbishop against Gebhard Truchsess. On the other hand, the manner in which he bestowed benifices upon members of his family makes an unpleasant impression at the present day, though, at that time, this was not considered so unseemly. In the end his brother Ernest had, besides other benefices, five dioceses, and Wilhelm's son Ferdinand was bishop of an equal number; another son intended for the clerical life, Philip, was made Bishop of Ratisbon in 1595 and cardinal in 1596, but died in 1598. Wilhelm had his eldest son Maximilian educated with much care, and in 1597 he resigned the government to Maximilian and led a retired life, devoted to works of piety, asceticism, and charity, and also to the placid enjoyment of his collections of works of art and curiosities.

SCHREIBER, Gesch. des bayrischen Herzogs Wilhelm V. (Munich, 1860); JANSSEN, Gesch. des deutschen Volkes, IV, V, passim; RIEZLER, Gesch. Bayerns, IV (Gotha, 1899), 625-80.

Klemens Löffler.