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d. The first centuries

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urban history

The first centuries


Salzburg in its early years
A history about church, might and castle building

A gift from the Duke of Bavaria Theodo to the Bishop Hrodphert (Rupert) is the reason why the churchman eventually settled down in the Iuvavum in the 7th century. Hdrophert was descended from a Franconian noble family resident in the city of Worms. At some point Rupert was no longer welcomed at home and decided to leave. He ended up at the Bavarian Herzhogshof, where he quickly gained popularity and received a missionary mandate. Theodo’s gift, which included big parts of the Salzpfannen of Reichenhall, facilitated his mission tremendously - especially in economic aspects. Hdrophert renewed the local monkhood (today St. Peter’s Abbey), built a considerable church and founded a convent for women of Nonnberg for the Bavarian Duke, who appointed his niece Erintrudis as first abbess. The convent was also used as a “private monastery”. It offered space to protect the female family members from harm.

In 739 the pope gave St. Boniface the order to erect a diocese in Salzburg. In St. Boniface’s biography from the year 755 the proper name “Salzpurch” pops up for the first time. The name seems – given the flourishing salt trade – unsurprising. The diocese and successful missions in south and east are the reason why the bishop and his entourage gained more and more power in the Bavarian sphere of influence.

The Irish abbot, later also known as Bishop Virgil, functioned as the catalyst for the aspiring development. He loved the arts and sciences. Illuminators and goldsmiths had high season at that time. Virgil’s attitudes were ultramodern; he hypothesized that humans lived on the underside of the flat earth as well - head over heels.

Virgil erected a cathedral construction, which was enormous for that time. Maybe it was supposed to serve as a coronation church for the Duke Tassilo III. While Charlemagne was in power, Virgil was struggling with Tassilo’s high political expectations. In order to fully celebrate the consecration of the cathedral in 774, Virgil engaged someone to bring the bones of Rupert, who had died in Worms, “back home”. From then on the Ruperti-Kirtag is annually celebrated on the 24th of September.

Bishop Virgil was the one to start the so-called fraternity book of St. Peter. The names of Rupert’s successors are listed in the fraternity book: Vitalis, Flobrigis, Anzogulus … Merely from the point of view from their sound, these names could be related to floristic. The knowledge about these people is unfortunately close to nil.

At the time of Charlemagne Salzburg had already become the metropolis of Bavaria (778) and was led by the Archbishop of Salzburg.

Salzburg: the heart of Bavaria?

Salzburg’s metropolitan position was primarily attributable to the Bishop Arn of Salzburg who was arbitrating for King Karl. King Karl was soon crowned emperor in the city of Rome. He was very grateful and visited with the young Archbishopric Salzburg. Believe it or not, it is possible that the restaurant Peterskeller originated in this time, given the opulent banquets that frequently took place back then.

Emperor Otto III. conferred the right to mint and issue coins as well as other market and toll rights to the booming municipality of Salzburg. About 125 years later the first judge of the town is marked down in an official document.

When the emperor and Pope were at odds over who had the right to appoint bishops, the church authorities of Salzburg were put to the test in the art of diplomacy. Archbishop Gebhard had a high position at the imperial court and did nonetheless take the side of Pope Gregor VI.

In order to protect himself from the Emperor Heinrich VI., Gebhard built numerous castles. One of them is the Hohensalzburg, which was first mentioned in 1077. Within the next 600 centuries Gebhard’s successors were endeavoured to keep working on the castle – that way the Hohensalzburg could become the beloved landmark that it is today.

Could you even imagine the cityscape without this oversized building?

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