A timelapse of a changing land. Leaders, Reformation and Thirty Years’ War – turbulent times are depicted by documents, images, models and scenarios.
The Duchy of Westphalia was one of the historic territories of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. Emperor Frederick I transferred his Duchy of Westphalia and Engern to the archbishop of Cologne in 1180.
The new rank meant that the archbishops, whose possessions in Westphalia had already been fragmented, now had a political programme to pursue: consolidation through territorial possessions. Consequently, archbishop Engelbert v. Berg founded 11 towns in the early thirteenth century, among them Attendorn, Schmallenberg, Brilon, Wipperführt and Siegen.
In 1248, archbishop Konrad von Hochstaden acquired the castle and dominion of Waldenburg from Countess Mechthild von Sayn.
The duchy became a closed territory when Bilstein Castle was occupied in 1445 in the turmoil of the battles fought in the Soest feud, amongst others by citizens from Attendorn, Olpe and Drolshagen. The attempts made by the archbishop Truchsess von Waldenburg to include the Duchy of Westphalia in the Reformation movement failed and Westphalia remained Catholic. This did not even change as a result of the Thirty Years’ War.
As stipulated by the Reform Catholicism of Trent, the great devastations were remedied, and numerous Baroque furnishings were created, some of which were remarkable.
The archbishops of Cologne were the sovereigns of Westphalia, which formed part of the Electorate of Cologne, from 1180 to 1803. They came from the German high nobility. What is more, the bishops were among the seven Electors of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, who elected the German Emperor. Consequently, their policymaking stood in the context of the European struggles for power and influence.
Olpe and the High Sauerland District. In addition, it included large parts of the District of Soest as well as the towns of Menden, Balve and Iserlohn, which are located in today’s Mark District (Märkischer Kreis).
The Duchy was a country of its own that continued in its existence until the German mediatisation in 1803. In 1803, it was transferred to Hesse-Darmstadt, and in 1816 to the Kingdom of Prussia, where it was included in the Province of Westphalia.