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Archbishop Ernst was the son of Duke Albrecht of Bavaria and Anna of Austria. He was the first of the five Cologne Archbishops from the House of Wittelsbach. Ernst was destined early for the clergy and was educated by Jesuits. Before his election he was already Bishop of Freising, Hildesheim and Lüttich. Since he came from the Wittelsbach dynasty, the Curia considered him a protector of Catholicism in the northwestern part of the empire. Since his personal life was not in tune with the spirit of the Catholic Restoration, his nephew Ferdinand was named Coadjutor in 1595. After that Ernst withdrew completely from governing and spent his time in Westphalian Arnsberg. The establishment of a permanent papal nunciate in Cologne came about during his time in office in 1584.
Resting place: Cologne Cathedral, in front of the Chapel of the Three Holy Kings