THE ARCHBISHOPRIC or MAGDEBURG was carved out of the bishopric of Halberstadt when it was founded in 968, and its history is largely bound up with that of the city and of the prelates who have ruled the see. The first archbishop was Adalbert, and he and his successors had six or seven suffragan bishops. Several of the archbishops took very prominent parts in German politics. Early in the 15th century their residence was fixed at Halle, and about the same time it became the custom to select them from one of the reigning families of Germany, most often from the house of Brandenburg, The doctrines of the reformers made their appearance in the diocese early in the 16th century, and soon Archbishop Sigismund, a son of Joachim II., elector of Brandenburg, openly avowed his adherence to Lutheram'sm. After the issue of the edict of restitution by the emperor Ferdinand II. in 1629, there were three rival candidates for the see, and their struggles added to the confusion caused by the Thirty Years' War. By the peace of Prague, however, in 1635, the archbishopric was given to Augustus, prince of Saxe-Weissenfels, who retained it until his death in 1680. In 1773 the area of the see was over 2000 sq. m. It included 29 towns and over 400 villages and contained about 250,000 inhabitants.
See the Regesta archiepiscopatus magdeburgensis, edited by G. A. von Mulyerstedt (Magdeburg, 1876-1899) ; and K. Uhlirz, Geschichle des ErzbistUms Magdeburg unter den Kaisern aus sachsischem Hause (Magdeburg, 1887).
Distinct both from the archbishopric and from the city was the BURGRAVIATE OF MAGDEBURG. The office of burgrave dates from the time of Charlemagne, although its holder was not at first called by this name, and it soon became one of great importance. The burgrave was the king's representative; he was charged with the administration of the royal estates in a given district, and in general with watching the royal interests therein. The burgraviate of Magdeburg was held by several countly families in turn until 1 269, when it was purchased by Archbishop Conrad II., who, however, soon sold it. In 1294 it was again united with the archbishopric and the prelates retained it until 1538; then in 1579 Augustus, elector of Saxony, made an arrangement which again gave the office to the archbishops, who held it until the secularization of the see.
The MAGDEBURG CENTURIES (Magdeburger Zenturien) is the name given to the first general history of the Christian Church written from a Protestant point of view. It was compiled in Magdeburg, and the history is divided into periods of one hundred years each. It was written in Latin in 1562, its principal author being the reformer Matthias Flacius, who was assisted by other Lutheran theologians. The cost of the undertaking was borne by some of the German Protestant princes. As the Historia ecclesiae Christi it was first published at Basel in seven volumes (1559-1574). It deals with the history of the Church down to 1400, and considering the time at which it was written it is a remarkable monument to the scholarship of its authors. The earlier part of it has been translated into German (Jena, 1560-1565).
See E. Schaumkell, Beitrag zur Entstehungsgeschichte der Magdeburger Zenturien (Ludwigslust, 1898).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)