Claim to Absolute Power

The exhibition theme in the Assembly Hall of the Estates in the Neue Residenz ...
Klicken um Bild zu vergrößern
... with its resplendent stucco ceiling of 1602 ...
Klicken um Bild zu vergrößern
... is dedicated to the absolutist sovereign archbishops
Klicken um Bild zu vergrößern

Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg and Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau


The two powerful Salzburg prince archbishops Cardinal Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg (1519–1540) and Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau (1587–1612) never met, but they have a great deal in common. They take pleasure in ostentatiously presenting themselves in all their power and prestige and share a political conviction: they see themselves as above the law and are convinced that the moral duty to provide for the well-being of their subjects lies exclusively in their hands as rulers.



Within this absolutist framework, the prince archbishops organise the state and jurisdiction, which intervenes in all spheres of their subjects’ life. Though the laws aspire primarily to maintain the power and riches of the princes, at the same time they enhance the security of law and order in daily life and in the economy. But: it is this claim to power that baulks all endeavours on the part of the people to gain more freedom and responsibility for their own lives. Does this philosophy of absolutist power still have a lasting effect today?


Riches from the Mountains

Salzburg’s wealth is based on the high revenue from mining – mainly salt, cooper, gold and silver – and the timber industry. The salt trade with transport via the Salzach and Inn rivers yields high profits. In addition there is income from trade in luxury goods, arriving in Salzburg mainly from Venice.


The Hunt: a Princely Privilege

The hunt remains the privilege of the sovereign prince until the end of the archbishopric. Especially in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the hunt develops into an extravagant circus for the princes to flaunt their power and pomp and the courtly society to entertain themselves.




Biography Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg 


Biography Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau
Visit us on Facebook