Wolfger of Erla

Wolfger was born around the year 1140 at Erla, in Lower Austria, and probably entered the church only as a widower. On 11 March 1191, he was elected bishop to the see of Passau. He joined the Crusade and went to the Holy Land alongside Frederick of Austria who died there on 16 April, 1198. Wolfger then accompanied his corpse to Austria, where he was again in Passau on 30 June of that same 1198. On 24 June 1204 he was elected patriarch and in the following August he went to Aquileia to take officially over his see. In January 1209 the emperor Otto confirmed the duchy of Friuli to Wolfger, as well as the other traditional rights and his claims over the Carniola and Istria, and appointed him his imperial legate in Italy. From the 1 September 1209 to 2 July 1210 Wolfger was alongside Otto in his journey in Italy. He then came back to Aquileia, where he withdrew from the Emperor’s politics that would have thereafter lead Otto to the excommunication. Further on, coming closer to Frederick II, on 14 February 1214 he obtained from the latter confirmation of his rights over the Aquileian Church, including the Carniola and Istria. In November 1215, albeit well in the years, he attended the Lateran Council. Wolfger was considered an excellent manager and expert in financial matters. He took care of the road maintenance, the voyager’s safety and provided financial means for the Christians captured in the East. He was a greater patron of poetry and literature than other princes: his court was frequented by Walther von der Vogelweide, the most famous German poet of the Middle Ages, and Tommasino dei Cerchiari, whose mother tongue was Romanic but composed his Welscher Gast in German in 1215-1216. Wolfger died on 23 January 1218.

For further information see the entry Folchero da Erla, patriarca d’Aquileia written by Reinhard Härtel, in Nuovo Liruti, Dizionario biografico dei Friulani, 1, Il Medioevo, edited by C. Scalon, Udine, Forum, 2006, 324-333.

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