The elector and cardinal of Mainz, Archbishop Albrecht of Brandenburg, is today mainly known as the man who triggered the Reformation. He stood for reconciliation rather than confrontation. It was only when he saw his power directly threatened as a result of the Peasants’ War, in 1524, an indication of the explosive potential of the masses, did Albrecht become a bitter adversary of Martin Luther. He expelled all Protestant clergymen from office in his bishoprics and instigated Catholic reforms at all levels.
Archbishop Albrecht was perhaps the only German Renaissance prince of the church who matched his Italian counterparts: art was for him a means of self-glorification and aggrandisement. The court orchestra he established in Halle an der Saale is depicted in several paintings. His court painter was none other than Mathias Grünewald, whilst Albrecht Dürer also painted several portraits of him.
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