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Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn (1597)
Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn (1545-1617) was elected prince-bishop of Würzburg in 1573 at the age twenty-eight. He is considered the first entirely successful Counterreformation bishop in the Holy Roman Empire. At the time, Würzburg was a deeply indebted and heavily Protestant city. Echter implemented a strict austerity policy, which was accompanied by a number of administrative reforms. He also commissioned new churches, schools, and a hospital for orphans and the poor. With the help of the Jesuits, he managed to reconvert a large portion of the population to Catholicism. Protestants who were unwilling to convert back were expelled from the city. Echter was also responsible for the expulsion of the Jewish population and for a marked increase in the persecution and execution of “witches.” Woodcut, Dominicus Custos, 1597.