Confessor of the Queen, Prime Minister and Leader of the Inquisition in Spain, Cardinal in Rome.
(One among many Neidhart/Nithart name bearers)
His name was commonly written in different ways: Nidhardus, Neidarth, Nidhard, Neüthardt, Neidthardt. However the most frequently used spellings seems to be Nidhard.or Neidhardt
Johann Eberhard Nidhard was born on December 8, 1607 at the castle of Falkenstein (Upper Austria). He joined the Jesuits Society of Jesus) for his novitiate in Vienna on October 6, 1631. Professor of Philosophy, then of ethics and canon laws at the Graz University in Austria, he was later designated to teach dogmatic theology and the art of debating. Ferdinand III, Emperor of Austria requested him to become the spiritual advisor of Archduchess Mary-Ann. He followed her in Spain when she married Philippe IV in 1649.
When King Philippe IV died on Sept 9, 1665, foolishly the Queen appointed Nidhard as State Advisor. The Kingdom had become impoverish and weak under the responsibility of Olivarès. Nidhard who succeeded him was unable to improve the situation. This was an embarrassing situation for Nidhard who felt at home only with philosophy and canon laws. It was a bigger problem for the Society as he did not have the qualities needed to be a state leader. On top of this, being an Austrian, he was suspect to the eyes of the Spanish people Don Juan of Austria (Don John), bastard of Philippe IV, who was an ambitious man, fought him inexorably until he got him out of that position and Spain as well.
The Queen had wanted Nidhard to receive the cardinalship. With this in mind she managed to have him appointed as the Inquisitor general by Pope Alexander VII. Nidhard refused the cardinalship. When Don John got him out, the Queen agreed to his departure and appointed him as Ambassador extraordinary to the Vatican under Popes Clement IX and Clement X. She managed to have him, by papal order, sacred Archbishop of Edesse and Cardinal of St Barthelemy en l'Ile in Rome on February 22, 1672.
Nidhard died on February 1, 1681 and was buried in the Church of Gésù in Rome. Nidhard published two books in Latin. One on the Immaculate Conception de Virgin Mary and another one about the narration of his disagreement with Don John.
There exists a narration of his Episcopal ordination dated May 16, 1672:
On January 24 1672 , in the Church of Gésù in Rome, in the private Chapel of the congregation of the Nobles, Cardinal Federico Sforza, assisted by Giacomo Altoviti, Patriarch of Antioche, and Gilla Colonna, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, sacred Johann Eberhard Nidhard, S.J. titular Archbishop of Edesse. Born in the castle of Falkenstein in the diocese of Passau on December 8, 1607, Jesuit on October 5 1631, elected to the Archiepiscopate of Edesse on November 16,1671,Cardinal in pectore reservatur on February 22 1672.
There are numerous documents available with the Jesuit company in Rome, but only consultable in the archives in Rome.
If someone happens to visit these archives, please look at Cardinal Nidhard and sent us whatever you can find which can complete this page.
Neidhard coats of arms, portraits and some biography.
Picture of his tombstone in the Church of Jésù in Rome, shared with another cardinal.