The son of the Burggrave of Friedberg, private councillor to the elector of Mainz, and of Maria Sophia Anna, countess of Eltz-Kempenich, Carl Theodor von Dalberg entered university in Heidelberg to study law (1759-1761). On becoming an administrator for the elector of Mainz, Dalberg (1744-1817), became Vicar General in 1768 and governor of Erfurt in 1771. Author of several works of science, he corresponded with Goethe, Wilhelm von Humboldt and Schiller in Weimar. His ecclesiastical career was exceedingly successful, succeeding the archbishop elector Friedrich Karl von Erthal in both Mainz and Worms in 1802, and then succeeding the Prince Bishop of Constanz, Maximilien von Rodt in 1800. The Reichdeputationshauptschluss of 1803 made him archbishop of Regerburg. He became the first Prince Primate of the Confederation of the Rhine. His seat of office was moved from Mainz to Ratisbon, the town in which he died in 1817. Initially very favourable to Napoléon, he however changed his policy in 1812 and was forced to resign in 1813. He was replaced by Eugène de Beauharnais, whom Napoleon had already in 1810 appointed as Dalberg’s successor at the head of the Confederation of the Rhine. After 1813 he went to Zurich to re-enter his religious career. He was the last bishop of Constanz, since the diocese was dissolved after his death. Dalberg was a pious cleric who worked hard to reorganise the church suffering from secularisation.
– William D. Godsey, Jr, Nobles and Nation in Central Europe – Free Imperial Knights in the Age of Revolution, 1750-1850, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004
– Helmut Almer (ed.), Carl von Dalberg. Der letzte geistliche Reichsfürst, Schriftenreihe der Universität Regensburg, vol. 22, Regensburg: Universitätsverlag, 1995
– Hans Bernd Spies (ed.) Carl von Dalberg, 1744-1817. Beiträge zur seine Biographie, Veröffentlichungen des Geschichts- und Kunstvereins Aschaffenburg e.V., vol. 40, Aschaffenburg: Geschichts- und Kunstvereins, 1994
Peter Hicks, June 2006