Up until the regulation of the diocese carried out under Joseph II the majority of parishes in the Archduchy of Austria below the Enns were subordinated either to the Diocese of Vienna (as of 1722 the Archdiocese) or the Diocese of Passau. Only a few parishes belonged to other dioceses, for example the Archdiocese of Salzburg, the Diocese of Wiener Neustadt and the Diocese of Raab [Győr].
Due to its geographically large size the Diocese of Passau was divided into two administrative units already in the 14th century. Many of the parishes in the Archduchy of Austria below the Enns – from the Ybbs River in the west to the Piesting River in the south – belonged to the eastern part of the Diocese of Passau. Referred to as the Lower Officialat, the eastern part of the diocese was administered by its own official who carried out all of the usual episcopal functions, including that of legal jurisdiction.
The research team of the first project investigated the practices of the ecclesiastical courts from 1558 until 1783 using the protocol books of the Consistory of the Lower Officialat of the Diocese of Passau (henceforth shortened to LO Passau Consistory) and the (Arch)diocese of Vienna. The protocol books of both consistories are now stored in the diocese archive in Vienna
Magistrates and local courts
The sources for the practices of the secular courts between 1783 and 1850 included the court documents of the Viennese city magistrate. These are to be found in the Viennese city archives and document the divorces of couples whose place of residence was in the Inner City or in one of the adjacent suburbs located between the Glacis and the “Linienwall” (the street now referred to as the “Gürtel”).
In order to broaden the perspective to smaller cities and rural areas, in the second project we also investigated the magistrates’ documents of four markets and cities: Eggenburg, Langenlois, Perchtoldsdorf and Tulln. The source materials can be found partly in the city archives, and partly in the Provincial Archive of Lower Austria.
We studied the divorce proceedings from couples living in villages and “scattered houses” in two dominions: Sitzenberg, a noble dominion, and Seitenstetten, a churchly dominion. The records from both of these dominions are stored in the Provincial Archive of Lower Austria.
Catholic Marriage courts
The analysis of the marital proceedings carried out between 1857 and 1867 is based on remaining documents of the Marriage Courts of the Archdiocese of Vienna and the Marriage Court of the Diocese of St. Pölten. The record files of the Marriage Courts of the Archdiocese of Vienna are now to be found in the Viennese Diocesan Archives, while the documents from the Marriage Court of the Diocese of St. Pölten are stored in the Diocesan Archive in St. Pölten.
Andrea Griesebner/Georg Tschannett, translation Jennifer Blaak
Last update: Andrea Griesebner, February 1, 2019