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William V, Duke of Bavaria (29 September 1548 - 7 February 1626), called the Pious, (German: Wilhelm V., der Fromme, Herzog von Bayern) was Duke of Bavaria from 1579 to 1597.

Education and early life

William was born in Landshutmarker, the son of Albert V and Anna of Austria .

He received a Jesuit education and showed keen attachment to the Jesuit Counter Reformation tenets. His title 'the Pious' was given to him because he devoted his daily routine to masses (when possible, several times a day), prayer, contemplation, and devotional reading. He took part in public devotions, processions, and pilgrimages.

His residence as crown prince was the ancient fortified Wittelsbach seat Trausnitz Castlemarker in Landshutmarker. Its upgrading from a Gothic fortification into a renaissance complex of truly representational proportions including the construction of an arcaded inner court were achieved in the decade between 1568 and 1578.


Like his Wittelsbach father and grandfather, William was a strong supporter of the counter-reformation. He secured the archbishopric of Cologne for his brother Ernest with his campaign in 1583; his brother Ferdinand commanded the Bavarian army in the first 18 months of the Cologne Warmarker in an effort to secure the Electorate. Eventually, the Spanish army, under the command of Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma expelled the Calvinist contender for the Electorate, Gebhard Truchsess von Waldburg, and Ernst secured sole possession of both the Electorate and the Archdiocese of Cologne. This dignity remained in the possession of the family for nearly 200 years.

Two of his sons also followed ecclesiastical careers: Philipp Wilhelm of Wittelsbach became the Bishop of Regensburg and eventually a Cardinal, and Ferdinand succeeded his uncle, to become Archbishop of Cologne.

During his reign non-Catholics were forced to leave Bavaria, and the so-called Geistlicher Rat, an ecclesiastical council, was formed to advise William on theological affairs, independent of the traditional privy council or the treasury, which administered secular affairs. The Geistlicher Rat supervised and disciplined the duchy’s Catholic clergy through regular visitations; it controlled the Catholicism of all the state officials by issuing certificates documenting their annual confession and communion; it funded new Catholic schools, new Catholic colleges, new houses of religious orders, especially the missionary and educational ones, such as the Jesuits and Capuchins for men and the Ursulines for women. William is responsible for numerous executions due to Witch-hunt in his duchy.

The Jesuit Michael's Churchmarker and Old Academymarker were built in Munich between 1583 and 1597 as spiritual centers for the counter-reformation. William's spending on Church-related projects, including funding missionaries outside Bavaria— as far away as Asia and the Americas— put tremendous strain on the Bavarian treasury. William abdicated on October 15, 1597 in favour of his son, Maximilian I and retired into a monastery where he spent the remainder of his life in contemplation and prayer. He died in 1626 in the Schleissheim Palacemarker. He is buried in the Michael's Church.

Family and children

Married Renata of Lorraine (1544-1602) in Munichmarker on 22 February 1568. They had 10 children, three of whom died in infancy or childhood. The remainder went on to careers or marriage:


William V's ancestors in three generations
William V, Duke of Bavaria Father:

Albert V, Duke of Bavaria
Paternal Grandfather:

William IV, Duke of Bavaria
Paternal Great-grandfather:

Albert IV, Duke of Bavaria
Paternal Great-grandmother:

Kunigunde of Austria
Paternal Grandmother:

Marie of Baden-Sponheim
Paternal Great-grandfather:

Philipp I, Margrave of Baden-Sponheim
Paternal Great-grandmother:

Elizabeth of the Palatinate

Anna of Austria
Maternal Grandfather:

Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor
Maternal Great-grandfather:

Philip I of Castile
Maternal Great-grandmother:

Joanna of Castile
Maternal Grandmother:

Anna of Bohemia and Hungary
Maternal Great-grandfather:

Vladislaus II of Bohemia and Hungary
Maternal Great-grandmother:

Anna of Foix-Candale

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