Paderborn a German city, the seat of several important ecclesiastical councils, and till 1803 ranking as a free imperial bishopric, owes its foundation to Charlemagne, who nominated the first bishop in 795. During the Middle Ages it was one of the most flourishing of the Hanseatic cities, while it was also numbered among the free imperial, cities. In 1604 it was forcibly deprived by the prince-bishop, Theodor of Furstenberg, of many of the special rights and prerogatives which it had enjoyed since its foundation, and was compelled to acknowledge the Roman Catholic as the predominant Church, in the place of Protestantism, which had been established during the time of Luther. The last prince-bishop was Francis Egon, of Furstenberg, 1789-1803. At that time Paderborn was, in accordance with a decree of the imperial commissioners, attached as a hereditary principality to Prussia, which had taken forcible possession of the territory; and, after being for a time incorporated in the kingdom of Westphalia, it was restored to Prussia in 1813, and is now the chief town of a district in the Prussian province of Westphalia. It is situated in 51° 43' N. lat., and 8° 45' E. long., in a pleasant and fruitful district, is built at the source of the Pader, which bursts forth from below the. cathedral with sufficient force to drive mills within twenty paces of its point of exit, and has a population of 11,279. The city has narrow, dark, old-fashioned streets, presenting no special attractions, although it has some interesting buildings, as, for instance, the fine old cathedral, completed in 1143, with its two magnificent fagades, and containing the silver coffin in which are deposited the remains of St. Liborins. It continues to be the seat of a Roman bishop and chapter. There are as yet but few Protestants in Paderborn. The Gustavus Adolphus Society has established and aids several Protestant societies.
The most important of the councils held at Paderborn was that of A.D. 777, called under the government of Charlemagne to confirm the newly baptized Saxons in the faith. It was ordered by the emperor, who aimed at a centralization of power in his vast possessions, that all should take an oath to abide forever in the Christian faith; and they that refused to do so were punished with the loss of all their property. See Labbe, Concil. 6:1823; Hefele Conciliengesch. iii, 580, 583, 593; Milman, Hist. Latin Christianity, ii, 479; Giefers, Die Anfange des Bisthums Paderborn (1860); Bessen, Gesch. des Bisthums Paderborn (1820, 2 vols. 8vo).