Lorenz von Bibra

Prince Bishop of Würzburg
Duke in Franconia

Born in 1459, he attended school at Cloister Vessra and university at Heidelberg, Erfurt, and Paris. In 1487, he wrote a letter of introduction to Pope Innocent VIII for his half brother Wilhelm, who was being sent to the Vatican as an emissary of Archbishop Herman of Cologne. In 1490, Wilhelm became ill when returning from Rome as an emissary of Kaiser Friedrich. Wilhelm’s tombstone is still to be seen in the Pelligrini Chapel of the Saint Anastasia Church in Verona.

Lorenz was a popular and well-respected ruler. He was often called upon to serve as an arbitrator to solve disputes. A humanist and renaissance man, he sought to bring reforms to the Catholic church from within. He met with and got along well with Martin Luther. This was both right before Luther’s disputes with the Catholic Church heated up and right before Lorenz died in 1519.  Following the meeting in Würzburg, Lorenz offered (apparently declined) an escort to Luther and wrote a letter of recommendation to Duke Frederick the Wise of Saxony. Frederick the Wise was the second most powerful man in the Holy Roman Empire and became Luther’s greatest protector and champion during the Reformation. This letter has caused speculation over Lorenz’s sympathies.   

Contrary to his successor, Lorenz also had good relations with the famous sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider who at a time also served as mayor of Würzburg. Lorenz commissioned him to make an altar for the new church in Bibra.

Lorenz also commissioned Riemenschneider to do both his predecessor’s and his own grave marker in the cathedral in Würzburg. Today, the two gravestones stand side by side, same stone and motif, but in two different styles, late gothic and renaissance.

Vischer bronze grave plate

Engraving from old Würzburg Domherren book

Lorenz’s entrails grave at Marienburg Church

Engraving of Lorenz’s coat of arms

Lorenz von Bibra coin

A painting recently sold at auction

Detail from Riemanschneider grave

Another portrait at the Marienburg