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The Landshut War of Succession and the exile of Trithemius

The provinces of the Holy Roman Empire at the close of the Middle Ages did not represent natural administrative divisions: rather, they were created by continuous splits and mergers on the principle that every prince must have a territory to rule. When Georg, duke of Bavaria-Landshut, died without a male heir in 1503, his kinsman Albrecht, duke of Bavaria-Munich, saw his chance to unify the two domains under his rule, two centuries after they were divided between branches of the house of Wittelsbach. Georg, however, had planned otherwise, as had his ally Philip the Elector Palatine. Georg's daughter Elisabeth was married to Philip's son Rupprecht and their infant son Ottheinrich was the rival candidate for the succession.

Philip, the power behind his son and grandson, raised armies and formed a coalition of provinces. Albrecht did the same and, crucially, won the support of Maximilian I, who waived imperial claims in the matter as part of a political bargain. In a summer of warfare in 1504, Philip's forces had some initial success, but the balance of forces was against him and, worse still, Rupprecht and Elisabeth both died of natural illness that year. Enemy forces raided the Palatinate and Philip sued for peace. A peace conference the following year granted the succession to Albrecht with the consolation prize of a small domain for little Ottheinrich to rule.

With the invasion of the Palatinate, Trithemius enters the story. Farms supplying his monastery were devastated and its sister monastery of Limburg was completely destroyed. Furthermore, Maximilian I had placed Philip and all his supporters, of whom Trithemius was one, under imperial ban, an act which deprived them of all legal rights and protection. During this period Trithemius moved his monastic library to a stronghold of Philip's for safekeeping. In the spring of 1505, after the ceasefire but before the peace settlement, he went to confer with Philip about the sacked monastery. Events overtook him when hostile troops violated his own monastery in his absence: it is here, at the start of 18 months of exile, that the published correspondence begins.

Chronology

19 September 1496
Georg of Bavaria-Landshut settles the succession on his daughter Elisabeth and her future sons.

10 February 1499
Marriage of Rupprecht and Elisabeth

10 April 1502
Birth of Ottheinrich

1 December 1503
Death of Georg: on his deathbed he appoints Rupprecht as his Statthalter. Elisabeth assumes the regency.

13 December 1503
The Diet of Lower Bavaria meets. Albrecht claims the succession, supported by the estates.

5 February 1504
Council at Augsburg. Maximilian I offers his support to the highest bidder.

23 April 1504
Maximilian declares his support for Albrecht and places Philip and his supporters under ban.

21 June 1504
Hostilites begin at Landau an der Isar

28 June 1504
Trithemius moves to Kreuznach with his library, staying there for 22 weeks.

20 August 1504
Death of Rupprecht

30 August 1504
Sack of Limburg monastery

10 September 1504
Philip calls a ceasefire

14 September 1504
Death of Elisabeth

1 April 1505
Trithemius leaves Sponheim to visit Philip.

6 April 1505
Troops loyal to Johann von Simmern violate the monastery of Sponheim.

9 April 1505
The news reaches Trithemius at Heidelberg: he takes up residence there with Philip, the Elector Palatine: during this period he also stays with Johannes Damius at Neuburg and with abbot Macharius of Limburg at Speyer.

11 June 1505
Joachim invites Trithemius to visit him.

1 July 1505
Trithemius meets Joachim at Bonn. They proceed to Cologne for the peace conference.

14 July 1505
Peace negotiations begin at Cologne.

29 July 1505
Trithemius meets Maximilian I and wins his support.

30 July 1505
The peace conference closes. Trithemius returns to Speyer.

27 August 1505
Trithemius departs for Brandenburg

26 April 1506
Founding of the university of Frankfurt an der Oder.

14 May 1505
Trithemius leaves Brandenburg, journeying in stages to Heidelberg.

4 September 1505
Trithemius offered the abbacy of St James, Würzburg.

3 October 1506
Trithemius arrives at Würzburg.

15 October 1506
Trithemius installed as abbot of St James, Würzburg.