The Diocese of Paderborn was founded in 799 by Pope Leo III. In the early years it was subordinated to the bishop of Würzburg. Since 855 the clergy had the right to elect the bishop. The diocese included the larger part of Lippe, Waldeck, and nearly half of the County of Ravensberg.
In 1180 when the Duchy of Saxony ceased to exist, the rights which the old dukedom had exercised over Paderborn were transferred to the Archbishopric-Electorate of Cologne. The claims of the archbishops of Cologne were settled in the 13th century, almost wholly in favor of Paderborn. Under Bernhard II of Ibbenbüren the bailiwick over the diocese, which since the middle of the 11th century had been held as a fief by the Counts of Arnsberg, returned to the bishops. This was an important advance in the development of the bishops' position as a secular ruler in his temporalities, forming a Hochstift of imperial immediacy since. From this time on the bishops did not grant the bailiwick as a fief, but managed it themselves, and had themselves represented in the government by one of their clergy. They strove successfully to obtain the bailiwicks over the abbeys and monasteries situated in their diocese.
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