Albert. V., duke of Bavaria (b. Feb. 29, 1528; d. Oct. 24, 1579), was the Son of Duke William IV., whom he succeeded in 1550. The rulers of Bavaria had remained faithful to the Roman Catholic Church during the progress of the Reformation; but in spite of their endeavors the new ideas gained many adherents among both the nobility and the citizen class. Albert was educated at Ingolstadt under good Catholic teachers. In 1547 he married a daughter of Emperor Ferdinand I., the union ending the political rivalry between Austria and Bavaria. Albert was now free to devote himself to the task of establishing Catholic conformity in his dominions. Incapable by nature of passionate adherence to any religious principle, and given rather to a life of idleness and pleasure, he pursued the work of repression because he was convinced that the cause of Catholicism was inseparably connected with the fortunes of the house of Wittelsbach. He took little direct share in the affairs of government and easily lent himself to the plans of his advisers, among whom during the early part of his reign were two sincere Catholics, Georg Stockhammer and Wiguleus Hundt. The latter took an important part in the events leading up to the treaty of Passau (1552) and the peace of Augsburg (1555).

The real beginning of the Counterreformation in Bavaria may be dated from 1557, when the Jesuits first established themselves in the duchy. In summoning them to Bavaria Albert and his advisers were actuated by the desire to use their services as educators in raising the mass of the clergy from their condition of moral and intellectual stagnation. The Jesuits speedily made themselves masters of the University of Ingolstadt and through the chancellor, Simon Thaddaus Eck, exercised a predominant influence at court. Eck was ably seconded by his associates, who obtained control of the education of the youth and of the clergy, and by their preaching and writings checked the spread of the reformed ideas among the masses of the people. Till 1563 concession still had a part in the programme of the leaders, who hoped that the bestowal of communion in both kinds upon the laity and the abolition of celibacy in the priesthood would bring back many to the fold. Political events, however, led to an abandonment of the conciliatory policy. In 1563 Joachim, Count of Ortenburg, introduced the Augsburg Confession in his dominions, which he held as a direct fief of the empire. Albert discerned in this act a serious menace to the integrity of Bavaria, and took possession of the principality. Thenceforth the reformed religion, as closely connected with political insubordination, was made the object of a ruthless persecution. The opposition of the nobility was speedily overcome, and conformity to the teachings of the Church was enforced under pain of exile. By means of frequent visitations among the clergy and the people, the reorganization of the school system, the establishment of a strict censorship, and the imposition upon all public officials and university professors of an oath of conformity with the decisions of the Council of Trent, heresy was completely stamped out in Bavaria before 1580. The progress of the Counterreformation in the empire was materially helped by Bavaria. Albert made his territory a refuge for Catholic subjects of Protestant rulers and was urgent in counseling Emperor Maximilian II. against concessions to the Protestants. At his death Bavaria was the stronghold of the Catholic reaction in Germany, and next to Spain, the most formidable opponent of the Reformed faith in Europe.