Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. The largest territory of the empire after 962 was the Kingdom of Germany, though it came to include the neighboring Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, numerous other territories. On 25 December 800, Pope Leo III crowned the Frankish king Charlemagne as Emperor, reviving the title in Western Europe, more than three centuries after the fall of the earlier ancient Western Roman Empire in 476; the title continued in the Carolingian family until 888 and from 896 to 899, after which it was contested by the rulers of Italy in a series of civil wars until the death of the last Italian claimant, Berengar I, in 924. The title was revived again in 962 when Otto I was crowned emperor, fashioning himself as the successor of Charlemagne and beginning a continuous existence of the empire for over eight centuries.
Some historians refer to the coronation of Charlemagne as the origin of the empire, while others prefer the coronation of Otto I as its beginning. Scholars concur, however, in relating an evolution of the institutions and principles constituting the empire, describing a gradual assumption of the imperial title and role; the exact term "Holy Roman Empire" was not used until the 13th century, but the concept of translatio imperii, the notion that he—the sovereign ruler—held supreme power inherited from the ancient emperors of Rome, was fundamental to the prestige of the emperor. The office of Holy Roman Emperor was traditionally elective, although controlled by dynasties; the German prince-electors, the highest-ranking noblemen of the empire elected one of their peers as "King of the Romans", he would be crowned emperor by the Pope. The empire never achieved the extent of political unification as was formed to the west in France, evolving instead into a decentralized, limited elective monarchy composed of hundreds of sub-units: kingdoms, duchies, prince-bishoprics, Free Imperial Cities, other domains.
The power of the emperor was limited, while the various princes, lords and cities of the empire were vassals who owed the emperor their allegiance, they possessed an extent of privileges that gave them de facto independence within their territories. Emperor Francis II dissolved the empire on 6 August 1806 following the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine by emperor Napoleon I the month before. In various languages the Holy Roman Empire was known as: Latin: Sacrum Imperium Romanum, German: Heiliges Römisches Reich, Italian: Sacro Romano Impero, Czech: Svatá říše římská, Polish: Święte imperium rzymskie, Slovene: Sveto rimsko cesarstvo, Dutch: Heilige Roomse Rijk, French: Saint-Empire romain. Before 1157, the realm was referred to as the Roman Empire; the term sacrum in connection with the medieval Roman Empire was used beginning in 1157 under Frederick I Barbarossa: the term was added to reflect Frederick's ambition to dominate Italy and the Papacy. The form "Holy Roman Empire" is attested from 1254 onward.
In a decree following the 1512 Diet of Cologne, the name was changed to the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, a form first used in a document in 1474. The new title was adopted because the Empire had lost most of its Italian and Burgundian territories to the south and west by the late 15th century, but to emphasize the new importance of the German Imperial Estates in ruling the Empire due to the Imperial Reform. By the end of the 18th century, the term "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation" had fallen out of official use. Besides, contradicting the traditional view concerning that designation, Hermann Weisert has stated in a study on imperial titulature that, despite the claim of many textbooks, the name "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation" never had an official status and points out that documents were thirty times as to omit the national suffix as include it. This, or the shortened "Roman Empire of the German Nation", is used in Germany to refer to the Holy Roman Empire. In a famous assessment of the name, the political philosopher Voltaire remarked sardonically: "This body, called and which still calls itself the Holy Roman Empire was in no way holy, nor Roman, nor an empire."
As Roman power in Gaul declined during the 5th century, local Germanic tribes assumed control. In the late 5th and early 6th centuries, the Merovingians, under Clovis I and his successors, consolidated Frankish tribes and extended hegemony over others to gain control of northern Gaul and the middle Rhine river valley region. By the middle of the 8th century, the Merovingians had been reduced to figureheads, the Carolingians, led by Charles Martel, had become the de facto rulers. In 751, Martel's son Pepin became King of the Franks, gained the sanction of the Pope; the Carolingians would maintain a close alliance with the Papacy. In 768, Pepin's son Charlemagne became King of the Franks and began an extensive expansion of the realm, he incorporated the territories of present-day France, northern Italy, beyond, linking the Frankish kingdom with Papal lands. In 797, the Eastern Roman Emperor Constantine VI was removed from the throne by his mother Irene who declared herself Empress; as the Church regarded a male Roman Emperor as the head of Christendom, Pope
Hesse or Hessia the State of Hesse, is a federal state of the Federal Republic of Germany, with just over six million inhabitants. The state capital is Wiesbaden; as a cultural region, Hesse includes the area known as Rhenish Hesse in the neighbouring state of Rhineland-Palatinate. The German name Hessen, like the name of other German regions is derived from the dative plural form of the name of the inhabitants or eponymous tribe, the Hessians, short for the older compound name Hessenland; the Old High German form of the name is recorded as Hessun, in Middle Latin as Hassia, Hassonia. The name of the Hessians continues the tribal name of the Chatti; the ancient name Chatti by the 7th century is recorded as Chassi, from the 8th century as Hassi or Hessi. An inhabitant of Hesse is called a "Hessian"; the American English term Hessian for 18th-century British auxiliary troops originates with Landgrave Frederick II of Hesse-Cassel hiring out regular army units to the government of Great Britain to fight in the American Revolutionary War.
The English form Hesse is in common use by the 18th century, first in the hyphenated names Hesse-Cassel and Hesse-Darmstadt, but the latinate form Hessia remains in common English usage well into the 19th century. The German term Hessen is used by the European Commission in English-language contexts because their policy is to leave regional names untranslated; the synthetic element hassium, number 108 on the periodic table, was named after the state of Hesse in 1997, following a proposal of 1992. The territory of Hesse was delineated only as Greater Hesse, under American occupation, it corresponds only loosely to the medieval Landgraviate of Hesse. In the 19th century, prior to the unification of Germany, the territory of what is now Hesse comprised the territories of Grand Duchy of Hesse, the Duchy of Nassau, the free city of Frankfurt and the Electorate of Hesse; the Central Hessian region was inhabited in the Upper Paleolithic. Finds of tools in southern Hesse in Rüsselsheim suggest the presence of Pleistocene hunters about 13,000 years ago.
A fossil hominid skull, found in northern Hesse, just outside the village of Rhünda, has been dated at 12,000 years ago. The Züschen tomb is a prehistoric burial monument, located between Lohne and Züschen, near Fritzlar, Germany. Classified as a gallery grave or a Hessian-Westphalian stone cist, it is one of the most important megalithic monuments in Central Europe. Dating to c. 3000 BC, it belongs to the Late Neolithic Wartberg culture. An early Celtic presence in what is now Hesse is indicated by a mid-5th-century BC La Tène-style burial uncovered at Glauberg; the region was settled by the Germanic Chatti tribe around the 1st century BC, the name Hesse is a continuation of that tribal name. The ancient Romans had a military camp in Dorlar, in Waldgirmes directly on the eastern outskirts of Wetzlar was a civil settlement under construction; the provincial government for the occupied territories of the right bank of Germania was planned at this location. The governor of Germania, at least temporarily had resided here.
The settlement appears to have been abandoned by the Romans after the devastating Battle of the Teutoburg Forest failed in the year AD 9. The Chatti were involved in the Revolt of the Batavi in AD 69. Hessia, from the early 7th century on, served as a buffer between areas dominated by the Saxons and the Franks, who brought the area to the south under their control in the early sixth century and occupied Thuringia in 531. Hessia occupies the northwestern part of the modern German state of Hesse, its geographic center is Fritzlar. To the west, it occupies the valleys of the Rivers Lahn, it measured 90 kilometers north-south, 80 north-west. The area around Fritzlar shows evidence of significant pagan belief from the 1st century on. Geismar was a particular focus of such activity. Excavations have produced bronze artifacts. A possible religious cult may have centered on a natural spring in Geismar, called Heilgenbron; the village of Maden, now a part of Gudensberg near Fritzlar and less than ten miles from Geismar, was an ancient religious center.
By the mid-7th century, the Franks had established themselves as overlords, suggested by archeological evidence of burials, they built fortifications in various places, including Christenberg. By 690, they took direct control over Hessia to counteract expansion by the Saxons, who built fortifications in Gaulskopf and Eresburg across the River Diemel, the northern boundary of Hessia; the Büraburg
Germany the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north and the Czech Republic to the east and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, Luxembourg and the Netherlands to the west. Germany includes 16 constituent states, covers an area of 357,386 square kilometres, has a temperate seasonal climate. With 83 million inhabitants, it is the second most populous state of Europe after Russia, the most populous state lying in Europe, as well as the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is a decentralized country, its capital and largest metropolis is Berlin, while Frankfurt serves as its financial capital and has the country's busiest airport. Germany's largest urban area is the Ruhr, with its main centres of Essen; the country's other major cities are Hamburg, Cologne, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, Dresden, Bremen and Nuremberg. Various Germanic tribes have inhabited the northern parts of modern Germany since classical antiquity.
A region named Germania was documented before 100 AD. During the Migration Period, the Germanic tribes expanded southward. Beginning in the 10th century, German territories formed a central part of the Holy Roman Empire. During the 16th century, northern German regions became the centre of the Protestant Reformation. After the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire, the German Confederation was formed in 1815; the German revolutions of 1848–49 resulted in the Frankfurt Parliament establishing major democratic rights. In 1871, Germany became a nation state when most of the German states unified into the Prussian-dominated German Empire. After World War I and the revolution of 1918–19, the Empire was replaced by the parliamentary Weimar Republic; the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 led to the establishment of a dictatorship, the annexation of Austria, World War II, the Holocaust. After the end of World War II in Europe and a period of Allied occupation, Austria was re-established as an independent country and two new German states were founded: West Germany, formed from the American and French occupation zones, East Germany, formed from the Soviet occupation zone.
Following the Revolutions of 1989 that ended communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe, the country was reunified on 3 October 1990. Today, the sovereign state of Germany is a federal parliamentary republic led by a chancellor, it is a great power with a strong economy. As a global leader in several industrial and technological sectors, it is both the world's third-largest exporter and importer of goods; as a developed country with a high standard of living, it upholds a social security and universal health care system, environmental protection, a tuition-free university education. The Federal Republic of Germany was a founding member of the European Economic Community in 1957 and the European Union in 1993, it is part of the Schengen Area and became a co-founder of the Eurozone in 1999. Germany is a member of the United Nations, NATO, the G7, the G20, the OECD. Known for its rich cultural history, Germany has been continuously the home of influential and successful artists, musicians, film people, entrepreneurs, scientists and inventors.
Germany has a large number of World Heritage sites and is among the top tourism destinations in the world. The English word Germany derives from the Latin Germania, which came into use after Julius Caesar adopted it for the peoples east of the Rhine; the German term Deutschland diutisciu land is derived from deutsch, descended from Old High German diutisc "popular" used to distinguish the language of the common people from Latin and its Romance descendants. This in turn descends from Proto-Germanic *þiudiskaz "popular", derived from *þeudō, descended from Proto-Indo-European *tewtéh₂- "people", from which the word Teutons originates; the discovery of the Mauer 1 mandible shows that ancient humans were present in Germany at least 600,000 years ago. The oldest complete hunting weapons found anywhere in the world were discovered in a coal mine in Schöningen between 1994 and 1998 where eight 380,000-year-old wooden javelins of 1.82 to 2.25 m length were unearthed. The Neander Valley was the location where the first non-modern human fossil was discovered.
The Neanderthal 1 fossils are known to be 40,000 years old. Evidence of modern humans dated, has been found in caves in the Swabian Jura near Ulm; the finds included 42,000-year-old bird bone and mammoth ivory flutes which are the oldest musical instruments found, the 40,000-year-old Ice Age Lion Man, the oldest uncontested figurative art discovered, the 35,000-year-old Venus of Hohle Fels, the oldest uncontested human figurative art discovered. The Nebra sky disk is a bronze artefact created during the European Bronze Age attributed to a site near Nebra, Saxony-Anhalt, it is part of UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme. The Germanic tribes are thought to date from the Pre-Roman Iron Age. From southern Scandinavia and north Germany, they expanded south and west from the 1st century BC, coming into contact with the Celtic tribes of Gaul as well
The German Empire known as Imperial Germany, was the German nation state that existed from the unification of Germany in 1871 until the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918. It was founded in 1871 when the south German states, except for Austria, joined the North German Confederation. On 1 January 1871, the new constitution came into force that changed the name of the federal state and introduced the title of emperor for Wilhelm I, King of Prussia from the House of Hohenzollern. Berlin remained its capital, Otto von Bismarck remained Chancellor, the head of government; as these events occurred, the Prussian-led North German Confederation and its southern German allies were still engaged in the Franco-Prussian War. The German Empire consisted of 26 states, most of them ruled by royal families, they included four kingdoms, six grand duchies, five duchies, seven principalities, three free Hanseatic cities, one imperial territory. Although Prussia was one of several kingdoms in the realm, it contained about two thirds of Germany's population and territory.
Prussian dominance was established constitutionally. After 1850, the states of Germany had become industrialized, with particular strengths in coal, iron and railways. In 1871, Germany had a population of 41 million people. A rural collection of states in 1815, the now united Germany became predominantly urban. During its 47 years of existence, the German Empire was an industrial and scientific giant, gaining more Nobel Prizes in science than any other country. By 1900, Germany was the largest economy in Europe, surpassing the United Kingdom, as well as the second-largest in the world, behind only the United States. From 1867 to 1878/9, Otto von Bismarck's tenure as the first and to this day longest reigning Chancellor was marked by relative liberalism, but it became more conservative afterwards. Broad reforms and the Kulturkampf marked his period in the office. Late in Bismarck's chancellorship and in spite of his personal opposition, Germany became involved in colonialism. Claiming much of the leftover territory, yet unclaimed in the Scramble for Africa, it managed to build the third-largest colonial empire after the British and the French ones.
As a colonial state, it sometimes clashed with other European powers the British Empire. Germany became a great power, boasting a developing rail network, the world's strongest army, a fast-growing industrial base. In less than a decade, its navy became second only to Britain's Royal Navy. After the removal of Otto von Bismarck by Wilhelm II in 1890, the Empire embarked on Weltpolitik – a bellicose new course that contributed to the outbreak of World War I. In addition, Bismarck's successors were incapable of maintaining their predecessor's complex and overlapping alliances which had kept Germany from being diplomatically isolated; this period was marked by various factors influencing the Emperor's decisions, which were perceived as contradictory or unpredictable by the public. In 1879, the German Empire consolidated the Dual Alliance with Austria-Hungary, followed by the Triple Alliance with Italy in 1882, it retained strong diplomatic ties to the Ottoman Empire. When the great crisis of 1914 arrived, Italy left the alliance and the Ottoman Empire formally allied with Germany.
In the First World War, German plans to capture Paris in the autumn of 1914 failed. The war on the Western Front became a stalemate; the Allied naval blockade caused severe shortages of food. However, Imperial Germany had success on the Eastern Front; the German declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare in early 1917, contributed to bringing the United States into the war. The high command under Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff controlled the country, but in October after the failed offensive in spring 1918, the German armies were in retreat, allies Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire had collapsed, Bulgaria had surrendered; the Empire collapsed in the November 1918 Revolution with the abdications of its monarchs. This left a postwar federal republic and a devastated and unsatisfied populace, which led to the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazism; the German Confederation had been created by an act of the Congress of Vienna on 8 June 1815 as a result of the Napoleonic Wars, after being alluded to in Article 6 of the 1814 Treaty of Paris.
German nationalism shifted from its liberal and democratic character in 1848, called Pan-Germanism, to Prussian prime minister Otto von Bismarck's pragmatic Realpolitik. Bismarck sought to extend Hohenzollern hegemony throughout the German states, he envisioned a Prussian-dominated Germany. Three wars led to military successes and helped to persuade German people to do this: the Second Schleswig War against Denmark in 1864, the Austro-Prussian War in 1866, the Franco-Prussian War against France in 1870–71; the German Confederation ended as a result of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 between the constituent Confederation entities of the Austrian Empire and its allies on one side and the Kingdom of Prussia and its allies on the other. The war resulted in the partial replacement of the Confederation in 1867 by a North German Confederation, comprising the 22 states north of the Main; the patriotic fervour generated by the Franco-Prussian War overwhelmed the remaining opposition to a unified Germany in the four stat
Duchy of Franconia
The Duchy of Franconia was one of the five stem duchies of East Francia and the medieval Kingdom of Germany emerging in the early 10th century. The word Franconia, first used in a Latin charter of 1053, was applied like the words Francia and Franken, to a portion of the land occupied by the Franks, it stretched along the valley of the River Main from its confluence with the Upper Rhine up to the Bavarian March of the Nordgau, in the areas of the present-day Bavarian region of Franconia, the adjacent southern parts of the Free State of Thuringia, northern Baden-Württemberg and Hesse. It included several Gaue on the left bank of the Rhine around the cities of Mainz and Worms comprising present-day Rhenish Hesse and the Palatinate region. Located in the centre of what was to become the German kingdom about 919, it bordered the stem Duchy of Saxony in the north, Austrasian Lorraine in the west, the Duchy of Swabia in the southwest and the Duchy of Bavaria in the southeast; the duchy evolved during the decline of the Carolingian Empire, when it was a part of the core Frankish realm of Austrasia, got its form when the northwestern parts of Austrasia became a new realm called Lotharingia.
Unlike the other stem duchies, Franconia did not evolve into a stable political entity, though the local Salian counts held large estates in the western parts. In 906 the Conradine relative Count Conrad the Younger in the Lahngau is mentioned as a dux Franconiae. Upon the extinction of the East Frankish Carolingians in 911, he was elected the first German king and was succeeded as Franconian duke by his younger brother Eberhard. However, the Conradines did not prevail against the rising Saxon Ottonians: In 919 Duke Henry of Saxony succeeded Conrad as German king and the Franconian stem duchy was seized by Henry's son King Otto I of Germany after an unsuccessful revolt of Duke Eberhard was shattered at the 939 Battle of Andernach. King Otto did not appoint a new duke of Franconia, the duchy was fragmented into several counties and bishoprics, which reported to the German kings directly; the Salian counts in Rhenish Franconia were sometimes mentioned as Franconian dukes and they became Germany's royal and imperial dynasty in 1024.
In 1093 their Franconian territories were granted as a fief to the palatine count of Aachen, which would evolve into the important German principality of Electoral Palatinate. With the advancement of Count Conrad the Red, Rhenish Franconia became the heartland of the Salian dynasty, which provided four emperors in the 11th and 12th centuries: Conrad II, Henry III, Henry IV, Henry V, it contained the cities of Mainz and Worms, the latter two being the administrative centres of countships within the hands of the Salian descendants of Conrad the Red. These counts were sometimes referred to as the Dukes of Franconia. Emperor Conrad II was last to bear the ducal title; when he died in 1039, Rhenish Franconia was governed as a constellation of small states, like the cities of Frankfurt and Worms, the Prince-bishoprics of Mainz and Worms, as well as the Landgraviate of Hesse part of Thuringia. Alongside these powerful entities were many smaller, petty states. In 1093, Emperor Henry IV gave the Salian territories in Rhenish Franconia as a fief to Henry of Laach, the Count palatine of Lower Lorraine at Aachen.
His lands would evolve into the important principality of Electoral Palatinate. While Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in 1168 granted the ducal title to the Prince-Bishops of Würzburg in Eastern Franconia, Rhenish Franconia was divided and extinguished, its territories became part of the Imperial Upper Rhenish Circle in 1500. Henry, as "Margrave of the Franks" and "Duke of the Austrasians" Conrad the Elder is sometimes treated retrospectively as the ruler of Franconia Conrad I, the Younger King of Germany from 911 Eberhard Otto of Worms, called "duke of the Franks of Worms" Conrad, son of prec. Titled "duke of Worms"... Frederick, called himself "Duke of Franconia" towards his death Conrad II, titled "duke of the East Franks" In 1168 the duchy of Franconia was bestowed by the Emperor Frederick I on the Bishopric of Würzburg; the bishops continued to rule until the bishopric was secularized in 1803 and absorbed into the Electorate of Bavaria. When the Grand Duchy of Würzburg, the Archbishopric of Mainz and most other parts of Franconia became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1814, the kings assumed the ducal title.
The present head of the House of Wittelsbach, Duke of Bavaria is still traditionally styled as His Royal Highness the Duke of Bavaria, Duke in Swabia and Franconia, Count Palatine of the Rhine. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed.. "Franconia". Encyclopædia Britannica. 11. Cambridge University Press. P. 15. Franken. Article in: Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, 4. Aufl. 1888–1890, Bd. 6, S. 491 f. Jackman, Donald C.. The Konradiner: A Study in Genealogical Methodology. Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann. Lyon, Jonathan R.. Princely Brothers and Sisters: The Sibling Bond in German Politics, 1100–1250. Cornell University Press
Princes of the Holy Roman Empire
Prince of the Holy Roman Empire was a title attributed to a hereditary ruler, nobleman or prelate recognised as such by the Holy Roman Emperor. Possessors of the princely title bore it as immediate vassals of the Empire, secular or ecclesiastical, who held a fief that had no suzerain except the Emperor. However, by the time the Holy Roman Empire was abolished in 1806, there were a number of holders of Imperial princely titles who did not meet these criteria. Thus, there were two principal types of princes; the first came to be reckoned as "royalty" in the sense of being treated as sovereigns, entitled to inter-marry with reigning dynasties. The second tier consisted of high-ranking nobles whose princely title did not, imply equality with royalty; these distinctions evolved within the Empire, but were codified by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 when it created the German Confederation and recognised a specific, elevated status for the mediatized princes of the defunct Empire. The actual titles used by Imperial princes varied for historical reasons, included archdukes, margraves, counts palatine, "princely counts", as well as princes.
Moreover, most of the German fiefs in the Empire were heritable by all males of a family rather than by primogeniture, the princely title being shared by all agnatic family members and female. The estate of imperial princes or Reichsfürstenstand was first established in a legal sense in the Late Middle Ages. A particular estate of "the Princes" was first mentioned in the decree issued by Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in 1180 at the Imperial Diet of Gelnhausen, in which he divested Duke Henry the Lion of Saxony and Bavaria. About fifty years Eike of Repgow codified it as an emanation of feudal law recorded in his Sachsenspiegel, where the lay princes formed the third level or Heerschild in the feudal military structure below ecclesiastical princes; the princely states of the Holy Roman Empire had to meet three requirements: territorial rule and the droit de régale, i.e. sovereign rights, over an immediate fief of the Empire a direct vote and a seat in the Imperial Diet direct support for the expenses and the military ban of the Empire.
Not all states met all three requirements, so one may distinguish between effective and honorary princes of the Holy Roman Empire. The Princes of the Empire ranked below the seven Prince-electors designated by the Golden Bull of 1356, but above the Reichsgrafen and Imperial prelates, who formed with them the Imperial Diet assemblies, but held only collective votes. About 1180 the secular Princes comprised the Herzöge who ruled larger territories within the Empire in the tradition of the former German stem duchies, but the Counts of Anhalt and Namur, the Landgraves of Thuringia and the Margraves of Meissen. From the 13th century onwards, further estates were formally raised to the princely status by the emperor. Among the most important of these were the Welf descendants of Henry the Lion in Brunswick-Lüneburg, elevated to Princes of the Empire and vested with the ducal title by Emperor Frederick II in 1235, the Landgraves of Hesse in 1292; the resolutions of the Diet of Augsburg in 1582 explicitly stated that the status was inextricably linked with the possession of a particular Imperial territory.
Elevated noble families like the Fürstenberg, Liechtenstein or Thurn und Taxis dynasties subsequently began to refer to their territory as a "principality" and assumed the awarded rank of a Prince as a hereditary title. Most of the Counts who ruled territories were raised to Princely rank in the decades before the end of the Empire in 1806. Ecclesiastical Princes were the Prince-Bishops as well as the actual Prince-abbots, they comprised a number of political entities which were secularized and mediatized after the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, resp. fell to France or the independent Swiss Confederacy. The honorary status of prince of the Holy Roman Empire might be granted to certain individuals; these individuals included: Rulers of states of the Empire who did not hold an individual seat in the princely chamber of the Imperial Diet, but held a seat as a count and shared with other counts in the one vote exercised by each of the four regional comital councils or Grafenbanken. Sovereigns outside the Empire, such as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
The Prince of Piombino was another example. Nobles allowed to bear the princely title, but who had neither a vote nor a seat in the Imperial Diet, individual or shared, such as the House of Kinsky; this included nobles who lacked immediacy, but who were allowed, motu proprio, by the Emperor to enjoy the title and rank of prince of an Imperial state. Although this courtesy tended to become hereditary for families, the right to princely status was called Personalist and could be revoked by the Emperor. Foreigners of note, such as the Princes of Belmonte, the Princes Chigi, the Princes Orsini, the Princes Orloff, the Princes Potemkin, Lubomirski, or Radziwiłł Subjects of the Empire who were given a princely title by an Emperor, but who held no territory or sovereignty at all; this status was granted to the morganatic wives and children of electoral and immediate families, a
North German Confederation
The North German Confederation was the German federal state which existed from July 1867 to December 1870. It was said to be lead by Prussia; some historians use the name for the alliance of 22 German states formed on 18 August 1866. In 1870–1871, the south German states of Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, Württemberg and Bavaria joined the country. On 1 January 1871, the country adopted a new constitution, written under the title of a new "German Confederation" but gave it the name "German Empire" in the preamble and article 11; as the state system remained the same in the German Empire, the North German Confederation continues as the German nation state which still exists. The federal constitution established a constitutional monarchy with the Prussian king as the bearer of the Bundespräsidium, or head of state. Laws could only be enabled with the consent of the Federal Council. During the four years of the North German Confederation, a conservative-liberal cooperation undertook important steps to unify Germany with regard to law and infrastructure.
The political system remained the same in the years after 1870. The North German Confederation had nearly 30 million inhabitants, of whom eighty percent lived in Prussia. Three quarters of the people of the 1871 Empire had been "North German"'. For the most of 1815–1848, Austria and Prussia worked together and used the German Confederation as a tool to suppress liberal and national ambitions in the German population. In 1849, the National Assembly in Frankfurt elected the Prussian king as the Emperor of a Lesser Germany; the king refused and tried to unite Germany with the Erfurt Union of 1849–1850. When the union parliament met in early 1850 to discuss the constitution, the participating states were only those in Northern and Central Germany. Austria and the southern German states Württemberg and Bavaria forced Prussia to give up its union plans in late 1850. In April and June 1866, Prussia proposed a Lesser Germany again. Corner stone of the proposal was the election of a German parliament based on universal male suffrage.
The proposal explicitly mentioned the Frankfurt election law of 1849. Otto von Bismarck, the minister-president of Prussia, wanted to gain sympathy within the national and liberal movement of the time. Austria and its allies refused the proposal. In summer 1866 Austria and Prussia fought with their respective allies in the Austro-Prussian War. Prussia and Austria signed a final peace treaty of Prague. Austria affirmed the Prussian view. Prussia was allowed to create a "closer federation" in Germany north of the river Main. Bismarck had agreed on this limitation with the French emperor Napoleon III prior to the peace talks; the liberals in the Prussian parliament favored a wholesale annexation of all North German territories by Prussia. In a similar way, Sardinia-Piemont had created the kingdom of Italy, but Bismarck chose a different approach. Prussia did only incorporate the former military opponents Hannover, Hesse-Kassel, Hesse-Nassau, the free city of Frankfurt. Schleswig and Holstein became a Prussian province, too.
On 18 August 1866, Prussia and a larger number of North and Central German states signed a Bündniß. The treaty created a military alliance for one year, it affirmed that the states wanted to form a federal state based on the Prussian proposals of June 1866. They agreed to have a parliament elected to discuss a draft constitution. In 1866, other states joined the treaty. Saxony and Hesse-Darmstadt, former enemies in the war of 1866, had to agree their accession to the new federation in their respective peace treaties. Bismarck sought advice from conservative and democratic politicians and presented a draft constitution to the other state governments, it was his intention to make the new federal state look like a confederation in the tradition of the German Confederation. This explains several provisions in the draft constitution. Bismarck wanted to make the federal state more attractive to southern German states which might join. At the same time, in late 1866, Prussia and the other states prepared the election of a North German parliament.
This konstituierender Reichstag was elected in February 1867 based on state laws. The konstituierender Reichstag gathered from February to April. In close talks with Bismarck it altered the draft constitution in some significant points; the konstituierender Reichstag was not a parliament but only an organ to discuss and accept the draft constitution. After that, the state parliaments ratified it. In August, the first Reichstag of the new federal state was elected. During the four years of the North German Confederation its major action existed in legislation unifying Northern Germany; the Reichstag decided on laws concerning, for example: free movement of citizens within the territory of the Confederation a common postal system common passports equal rights for the different religious denominations unified measures and weights penal code The North German Confederation became a member of the Zollverein, the German customs union of 1834. The North German Constitution of 16 April 1867 created a national parliament with universal suffrage (for men above the a