Electorate of the Palatinate
1356 - 1777


Mannheim after 1720
Electoral Rhenish
Council of Electors
Confirmed Electors 1356
To Bavaria 1623 - 1648
Abolished 1777

The Electorate of the Palatinate was a state of the Holy Roman Empire, based along the Upper Rhine around Heidelberg and Mannheim. The Electorate of the Palatinate emerged from the County Palatine of Lotharingia of the Ezzonian Dynasty. After their extinction in 1195/1196/6, the Counts Palatine lost their military importance and were reduced to their territories along the Rhine, and became known as the County Palatine of the Rhine. The Counts Palatine obtained electoral dignity and became known henceforth as the "Electorate of the Palatinate", although it is not entirely clear when this occurred: in 1196 they inherited territories of the Duchy of Franconia after the fall of the Hohenstaufens as well as their electoral rights, and the Counts Palatine were in personal union with the Wittelsbach Dukes of Bavaria and their electoral rights from 1214. In 1289 the electoral rights of the Wittelsbachs were placed in the Palatinate and the House of Wittelsbach was partitioned into Palatinian and Bavarian lines in 1294, which lead to over a century of wrangling between the branches of the family for the electorship. The Golden Bull of 1356 placed the rights in the Palatinate. In 1777 the Electors Palatine inherited Bavaria, and the electoral dignity of the Palatinate came to an end.

Palatinate (1289 - 1449)

Louis the Severe, also Duke of Upper Bavaria, in 1289 put the electoral dignity of the Wittelsbachs in the Palatinate of the Rhine and enlarged it with the Upper Palatinate and Sulzbach, Bavarian territories north of the Danube. In 1301 Louis' successor Rudolph I was forced under pressure from King Albert I to declare his brother Louis IV co-Duke of Bavaria in 1301. The two brothers developed a bitter relationship, and at the election of 1314 Rudolph voted against his brother, who still won regardless. In 1317 Louis deprived Rudolph of the Palatinate and his territories in Upper Bavaria, though not his electoral title, on condition they would both be restored after their conflict was resolved. Rudolph died in 1319, and his after the death of his eldest son Adolph in 1327, the conflict was still not resolved.

In 1329 the Peace of Pavia was signed ending the conflict, and the Palatinate and electoral title passed to Rudolph's second son Rudolph II. Rudolph began to remove the government of the Palatinate from Upper Bavaria to the Rhine. From 1338 he rotated the electoral dignity with his younger brother Rupert I, who succeeded him in 1353. The Golden Bull in 1356 definitively ended the dispute with Bavaria when it made him the Wittelsbach elector. After Rupert I's death, Rupert II, the son of the Elector Adolph, succeeded him with the support of King Wenceslaus. Rupert II was succeeded by his son Rupert III in 1398.

Rupert III was elected the King of Germany in 1400. His reign was a marked failure whose only great success was an alliance with England and the establishment of a land peace along the Lower and Middle Rhine with the support of the Archbishops of Cologne, Mainz and Trier. After his death in 1410 his sons partitioned the Palatinate between them, beginning the process of the creation of many minor states of the House of Wittelsbach. His eldest son Louis III inherited the electoral title while his other sons created new states in Palatinate-Mosbach, Palatinate-Neumarkt and Palatinate-Simmern and Zweibrücken. Louis III was a member of the Parakeet Society and the League of Constance from 1415. In 1444 his successor Louis IV lead the defence of the Empire against the Armagnacs.

Palatinate (1449 - 1559)

After Louis IV's death in 1449, his brother Frederick I usurped the Palatinate and title from his son Philip, and in an alliance with Duke Louis IX of Bavaria-Landshut managed to prevent the Emperor deposing him and restoring Philip. During the Mainzer Feud he managed to enlarge the Palatinate, and in the Baden-Palatinian War of 1462 captured and ransomed Christopher I of Baden-Baden, George of Metz and Ulrich V of Württemberg for considerable funds and territory. In 1474 the Palatinate was placed under the Imperial Ban. After his death in 1476 Philip finally became the Elector Palatine. Philip fought the Landshut War of Succession from 1503 until 1505, which resulted only in the creation of Palatinate-Neuburg for his grandsons.

His son and successor Louis V managed to get the Palatinate removed from the Ban in 1518. At the Imperial election the next year he received an enormous sum of money from the Fuggers after voting for the Habsburg Charles V. In 1546 the Elector Frederick II officially converted his state to Lutheranism, but quickly reverted to Catholicism to save the Palatinate and his family from the wrath of the Emperor. After his death in 1556 he was succeeded by the morbidly obese Otto Henry of Palatinate-Neuburg. Otto Henry formally converted his state to Lutheranism in 1557.

Palatinate (1559 - 1685)

In 1559 Otto Henry died and the senior branch of the Palatinian Wittelsbachs died with him. The Electorate of the Palatinate passed to Frederick III of Palatinate-Simmern, whose reign was quickly overcome by a controversy between Lutherans and Calvinists. In 1561 he converted the state to Calvinism after developing an intense dislike of Lutherans. His actions about it alarmed both the Emperor and the Protestant League who feared the failure of the Peace of Augsburg, and at the Imperial Diet of Augsburg in 1566 received a unanimous decision by all the princes, bishops, abbots, counts and free cities for the reversion of his changes. He rejected the demand, although no action was taken against him, and he then attempted to spread the Reformation to the Upper Palatinate where he was fiercely and successfully resisted.

In 1608 Frederick III's grandson Frederick IV became the head of the Evangelical League. Frederick IV's son Frederick V sparked the Thirty Years' War in 1618 by accepting the crown of Bohemia by the rebelling estates. The Protestant states refused to assist him and signed the Treaty of Ulm in 1620, and after defeat at the Battle of White Mountain fled back to the Palatinate. In 1622 he fled again to the Netherlands, and the following year both the Palatinate and its electoral vote were given to Maximilian I, Duke of Bavaria. The Peace of Westphalia returned to Palatinate and electoral dignity to Frederick's son Charles I Louis, although the Upper Palatinate was retained permananently by Bavaria.

Palatinate (1685 - 1815)

After the death of Charles I's successor Charles II in 1685, the Nine Years' War (Palatinian War of Succession) broke out over the succession between France and Palatinate-Neuburg in 1688. Philip William of Neuburg, the Palatinian heir, fled to Neuburg an der Donau as French soldiers occupied the Palatinate and began the systematic destruction of it. In 1697 Philip William's heir John William, Elector Palatine was recognised as the elector, and he began a process of Catholicisation of the Palatinate. John William was succeeded by his brother Charles III Philip in 1716, and in 1720 moved the capital of the Palatinate from Heidelberg to the newly built city of Mannheim.

After Charles III's death in 1742, the Neuburg line of the House of Wittelsbach became extinct and the Palatinate passed to Charles IV Theodore of Palatinate-Sulzbach. In 1777 Charles Theodore also inherited the Duchy of Bavaria, and the electorship and independence of the Palatinate became extinct. In 1799 Maximilian I Joseph, Charles Theodore's successor, brought all of the Palatinian territories together as a single rule. In 1795 the Palatinate on the left bank of the Rhine was annexed by France in the wars of the French Revolution. In 1803 the territories on the right bank were divided between Baden and Hesse-Darmstadt. After the Congress of Vienna in 1814/1815/5, the right bank Palatinian territories were confirmed as lost, but the left bank territories were enlarged and reorganised as the Bavarian Palatinate.

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Electorate of the Palatinate. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.
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