Prince Archbishop

Marcus Sitticus von Hohenems


A restless prince-archbishop who loved pomp

In a reign of just seven years, Marcus Sitticus left an indelible mark on Salzburg

From a good family

Marcus Sitticus was born in Hohenems on 24 June 1574. He was a member of the family of the Lords of Ems and the fourth child of Jakob Hannibal I of Hohenems and his wife, Hortensia, née Borromeo.

Even though his relatives consistently encouraged him, he felt his older brother Kaspar was being favoured over him.

A lover of pomp but not a well man

He was appointed a canon of the Bishopric of Constance at the age of just 13 years by his uncle, Marco Sittico Altemps ‒ a post that his cousin Wolf Dietrich had to relinquish on being elected Archbishop of Salzburg. He subsequently joined the cathedral chapter in Salzburg and later in Augsburg.

It seems that as archbishop, Marcus Sitticus suffered from haemorrhoids and other bowel disorders. This prince, with his love of display, died at the age of 45 on 9 October 1619.

Portrait of Marcus Sitticus, including Hellbrunn Palace and the Salzburg Cathedral (1612); Painting of Arsenio Donato Mascagni

Hellbrunn Palace with its world-famous fountains: the palace complex was constructed by Santino Solari. (Picture: Tourismus Salzburg)

The Blue Saloon of Residenz Palace (Picture: Helge Kirchberger Photography)

A ruler with his own mind

The then 38-year-old Mark Sittich owed his elevation to Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg to major intervention in the election process by the Roman Curia. He took over from his imprisoned cousin, Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau.

He received the Holy Orders from the hands of the Bishop of Chiemsee. Seinen Cousin Wolf Dietrich hielt er bis zu dessen Lebensende auf der Festung Hohensalzburg gefangen, aus Angst, dieser könne Unruhen auslösen.

Despite the circumstances of his appointment, Marcus Sitticus had no intention of becoming the puppet of Bavaria or Austria noch von Österreich, sondern führte die Politik Wolf Dietrichs fort. Er trat ebenfalls nicht der Katholischen Liga bei – was der bayerischen Politik entschieden widerstrebte. Dadurch konnte aber Salzburg aus dem Dreißigjährigen Krieg herausgehalten werden.

In 1613, Marcus Sitticus commissioned a comprehensive survey of the holdings of his archdiocese.

Meetings in Hellbrunn Palace

Marcus Sitticus had a particular predilection for establishing new religious fraternities. Clad in their red habits, the members of his „Corpus Christi“fraternity paraded through the streets of the city every month.

On 16 July 1619, he was able to play host to Archduke Ferdinand, der auf der Reise nach Frankfurt am Main war, wo er zum Kaiser des Heiligen Römischen Reiches gewählt werden sollte. Als Marcus Sitticus sich an der Mittagstafel gegenüber Ferdinand setzen wollte, wurde er von diesem an seine Seite gezogen und aufgefordert, doch neben ihm zu sitzen, wo sie sich ganz „fröhlich und lustig“ verhielten. Später erschien James Hay, the envoy of James I of England. In the afternoon, Marcus Sitticus gave his guest a tour of Hellbrunn and its spectacular fountains.The crowning event of the day was a performance of L’Orfeo von Monteverdi.

Construction projects

  • Salzburg Cathedral
  • Hellbrunn Palace and its fountains
  • Erzbischöfliche Residenz
  • Franciscan Church
  • Chapel of St. Borromeo (Hellbrunn)
  • Chapel of St. Mark and hospital 
  • Old University and Sacellum
  • Gstättentor and Klausentor
  • Franziskustor
  • Sebastianstor (Linzergasse)
  • Renovation of Townhall

Marcus Sitticus' most important building project was the reconstruction of Salzburg Cathedral. For this purpose, he summoned Santino Solari to Salzburg in 1613 who worked as court architect in the city until his death in 1646.

He also commissioned Santino Solari to construct Hellbrunn Palace (at the time considered a very contemporary villa rustica in the Italianate style) as his country seat, together with its park and the world-famous fountains. (Picture: Altstadt Verband, Sajovic)

The coat of arms of Marcus Sitticus

Marcus Sitticus von Hohenems had a coat of arms divided into various segments. Below against a blue background is a gold ibex (the device of the Hohenems family) and above is the coat of arms of the Archdiocese of Salzburg (a black lion to the left and a silver stripe on a red field to the right).

Above the shield is a scarlet cardinal's hat (known as a galero) with six tassels on each side, to which the Archbishop of Salzburg is entitled.

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