178 turn to his country of birth, Klesl replaced him as religious éminence grise at the university, where he served as chancellor and subsequently also rector, and even continued the well-established correspondence with the Bavarian court.74 Klesl did not enter Bavarian service, to be sure, but he, too, considered it bene?icial to establish good contacts to the powerful vanguard of Catholic restoration in the empire. The Wittelsbachs could not only support him at the courts of Vienna and Prague, where Protestant and irenicist councilors impeded stricter policies, but also use their authority over Bavarian exclaves in the archduchy in favor of recatholization.75 Like Eder before him, Klesl combined confessional zeal with personal ambition. Soon after his graduation and ordination to the priesthood, he was appointed provost of St. Stephen’s Cathedral and high-ranking of?icial of the diocese of Passau, whose ecclesial jurisdiction included the archduchy. He subsequently rose to court chaplain and bishop of both Wiener Neustadt and Vienna. At the same time, he also held expressly political of?ices, such as privy councilor and special emissary of the emperor in sensitive international matters. Klesl’s foremost objective, however, was the restoration of Catholic supremacy in the hereditary lands. In his eyes, the internal rejuvenation of the Catholic clergy formed a prerequisite for any successful offensive against Lutheranism. As the diocese’s vicar-general for Lower Austria, Klesl was well-positioned to initiate reforms. He encountered substantial resistance, however, not only from the clerics whose conduct he reprimanded but also from his superiors in Passau, who advised him to show patience and proceed more cautiously. Not even the concubinate could be eradicated, complained Klesl to William of Bavaria, because suitable replacements for dismissed clerics were in short supply.76 In 1590, Rudolf II appointed Klesl reformer general of Lower Austria, formally entrusting him with the recatholization of the territory. This promotion also marked a subtle but signi?icant change in governmental policy. The publicly con?irmed concessions to the nobility remained in force, but only in the narrowest interpretation possible; the numerous decrees against religious transgressions were strictly enforced. Klesl delineated his strategy in a memorandum to the vice regent, Archduke Ernst.77 Since he considered it impossible to immediately rescind the religious privileges of the noble estates, he advised to concentrate the initial efforts on non-protected groups. Most important was the ?inal eradication of heterodoxy in Vienna and other municipalities by preventing the attendance of Lutheran services in surrounding communities. To accomplish this objective, Klesl not only suggested stricter punishments, but also the repossession of key 74 For this correspondence, see Bibl: ‘Briefe Melchior Klesls’, 640-673. 75 Ibid., 668-670. 76 Ibid., 657. 77 The memorandum is printed in Bibl: ‘Eine Denkschrift’, 164-171.
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