Skip to main content
Select Source:

Palatinate

PALATINATE

PALATINATE. The Electoral Palatinate (Kurpfalz) was a historical German principality consisting of the "Lower Palatinate" on the Upper Rhine with its capital in Heidelberg and the North Bavarian territory known as the "Upper Palatinate" along the Bohemian border.

MEDIEVAL ORIGINS

The origins of the Palatinate lay in the medieval period, when the Lotharingian count palatine (Latin, comes palatinus ; German, Pfalzgraf ) secured a territorial base in the Upper Rhine region. The Wittelsbach dynasty acquired the Palatinate with the sanction of Emperor Frederick II in 1214. The Treaty of Pavia (1329) assigned control of the Lower and Upper Palatinate to the elder branch of the Wittelsbach family. (Their Wittelsbach cousins continued to rule over the duchy of Bavaria and would prove formidable rivals.) The Golden Bull(1356) sealed the right of the "count palatine on the Rhine" (henceforth known as the "elector palatine") to take part in imperial elections. The elector palatine was the first secular prince of the empire and acted as vicar when the imperial office was vacant. The Palatinate housed the empire's third oldest university with the foundation of the University of Heidelberg in 1386. With Rupert (ruled 14001410), the Palatine Wittelsbachs produced a German king, but Rupert's division of his patrimony weakened the electorate's territorial base and created an abundance of cadet lines. Despite these alienations, vigorous electors such as Frederick I, the Victorious (ruled 14511476) augmented the Palatine territory. Heidelberg served as an epicenter of the humanist movement in Germany in the late 1400s. However, the Palatinate's drive to emerge as the preeminent power in southern Germany stalled during the Bavarian Succession War (Landshuter Erbfolgekrieg), 15031505.

REFORMATION

The military setbacks of the early 1500s determined the tentative role that Elector Louis V (ruled 15081544) would play in the early years of the Reformation. Although the Heidelberg Disputation (1518) won Luther many followers in the region, Louis remained loyal to the Catholic Church. Palatine forces played a significant role in putting down the Knights' Revolt (15221523) and the Peasants' War (15241525). Frederick II (ruled 15441556) first moved the Palatinate in a Protestant direction by promulgating a Lutheran church order in 1546, but the imposition of the Augsburg Interim in 1548 halted this development. The Reformation took root in earnest with the accession of Elector Otto Henry (ruled 15561559), a classic Renaissance prince and patron of the arts. He established Lutheranism but sowed the seeds of future discord by appointing professors of varying Protestant convictions to the resurgent University of Heidelberg.

The old electoral line died out with Otto Henry's passing of the Palatinate to Frederick III, the Pious (ruled 15591576) of the cadet line Palatinate-Simmern. By converting to Reformed (Calvinist) Protestantism with the publication of the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), Frederick initiated the "Second Reformation" of the Palatinate. Though Emperor Maximilian II (ruled 15641576) sought to exclude Frederick from the religious peace, the 1566 Augsburg Diet sealed the de facto legality of the Palatine religious settlement. The University of Heidelberg became a leading intellectual center of Reformed Protestantism. The Palatinate played an increasingly militant role in European politics, and Palatine forces took part in the French Wars of Religion. Yet another confessional change occurred with the accession of Louis VI (ruled 15761583), who reestablished Lutheranism. The Reformed faith survived in a small principality carved out of the electoral domains for Frederick's like-minded son John Casimir (d. 1592). After Louis's premature death, John Casimir emerged as the dominant figure in the regency government of Frederick IV (ruled 15831610) and returned the Palatinate to its Reformed activism.

THE THIRTY YEARS' WAR

The incompatibility of pairing an ambitious foreign policy with limited domestic resources reached its denouement during the reign of Elector Frederick V (ruled 16101623). In the years preceding the war, the Palatinate emerged as a militant Protestant power under the influence of Christian von Anhalt and organized the Protestant Union (1608), which was countered by the Catholic League (1609). When the largely Protestant Bohemian Estates revolted against the Catholic Habsburg King Ferdinand II, igniting the Thirty Years' War, Frederick accepted elevation to the throne of Bohemia (1619). The union of Bohemia and the Palatinate proved short-lived, as Bavarian and imperial forces defeated Frederick at White Mountain on 8 November 1620, earning him the moniker the "Winter King." Hostilities also ravaged the Palatine home territories, and Spanish and Bavarian troops occupied the Palatinate. Frederick went into exile, and Emperor Ferdinand II transferred the Palatine electoral dignity and the Upper Palatinate to Maximilian I of Bavaria. The Bavarians shipped the Bibliotheca Palatina, the famous library of the Palatinate, to the Vatican in 1622 as repayment for papal support. With the exception of a brief Swedish interlude in the early 1630s, the Lower Palatinate remained occupied by Bavarian and Spanish forces for the remainder of the war. The war had a devastating impact on the Palatinate; depopulation estimates in the range of 7580 percent represented the highest losses of any major territory of the empire.

ABSOLUTISM AND TERRITORIAL DISSOLUTION

Frederick's heir Charles Louis (ruled 16491680) regained the Lower Palatinate and a compensatory eighth electoral vote in the Peace of Westphalia (1648), allowing the territory to begin to recover some of its lost prestige. Unfortunately, the marriage of the Palatine princess "Liselotte" (Elisabeth Charlotte, princess palatine and the duchess of Orleans) into the French royal house later provided a casus belli upon the death of the childless Elector Charles II (ruled 16801685) and the contested succession of Philip William (ruled 16851690) of Palatinate-Neuburg. In the War of the League of Augsburg (Pfälzischer Erbfolgekrieg, 16881697) the French King Louis XIV's forces laid waste to the entire Palatine region. The war prompted another wave of emigration resulting in the resettlement of many "Palatines" to the mid-Atlantic colonies of British North America.

The Palatinate experienced a baroque cultural effervescence and a series of rapid dynastic successions in the eighteenth century. The accession of the Catholic house of Palatinate-Neuburg (1685), which also possessed the wealthy duchy of Jülich-Berg, led to the legalization of Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Reformed Protestantism. John William (ruled 16901716) promoted Jesuits at the University of Heidelberg and oversaw the physical division of many of the territory's churches. Friction with Heidelberg's Reformed burghers led Charles Philip (ruled 17161742) to move his court to Mannheim (1720), which emerged as a cultural magnet. Centuries of animosity between the sundry branches of the Wittelsbach dynasty ended with joint inheritance agreements in 1771 and 1774. However, the Palatinate became a backwater when Charles Theodore (ruled 17421799; after 1777 also elector of Bavaria) of Palatinate-Sulzbach moved the court and administration to Munich after inheriting Bavaria. Unsuccessful plans to exchange the Bavarian territories with Emperor Joseph II (ruled 17651790) for the Austrian Netherlands led to the War of the Bavarian Succession (Bayerischer Erbfolgekrieg) in 17781779. After frequent occupation by French troops in the revolutionary wars, the former territories of the Electoral Palatinate were divided between several neighboring principalities in the imperial recess of 1803.

See also Bavaria ; Holy Roman Empire ; League of Augsburg, War of the (16881697) ; Peasants' War, German ; Thirty Years' War (16181648) ; Westphalia, Peace of (1648) ; Wittelsbach Dynasty (Bavaria) .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Clasen, Claus-Peter. The Palatinate in European History 15591618. Rev. ed. Oxford, 1966. Competent but dated survey of the origins of the Thirty Years' War.

Cohn, Henry J. The Government of the Rhine Palatinate in the Fifteenth Century. London, 1965. Premier English-language study of the Palatinate with broader relevance than its title suggests.

Press, Volker. Calvinismus und Territorialstaat: Regierung und Zentralbehörden der Kurpfalz 15591619. Stuttgart, 1970. Definitive study of Palatine politics and administration in the era of Second Reformation.

Schaab, Meinrad. Geschichte der Kurpfalz. 2 vols. Stuttgart, 19881992. Excellent overview of the entire period. Superb maps, dynastic charts, and bibliography.

Wolgast, Eike. Reformierte Konfession und Politik im 16. Jahrhundert. Studien zur Geschichte der Kurpfalz im Reformationszeitalter. Heidelberg, 1998. Concise survey of the sixteenth century with an invaluable bibliography.

Charles D. Gunnoe, Jr.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Palatinate." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Palatinate." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/palatinate

"Palatinate." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Retrieved October 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/palatinate

Palatinate

Palatinate (pəlăt´Ĭnāt´), Ger. Pfalz, two regions of Germany. They are related historically, but not geographically. The Rhenish or Lower Palatinate (Ger. Rheinpfalz or Niederpfalz), often called simply the Palatinate, is a district (c.2,100 sq mi/5,440 sq km) of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate (Ger. Rheinland-Pfalz). The Rhenish Palatinate extends from the left bank of the Rhine and borders in the S on France and in the W on the Saarland and Luxembourg. Neustadt an der Weinstrasse is the capital; Ludwigshafen, Kaiserslautern, Pirmasens, and Speyer are the chief cities. It is a rich agricultural region, famed for its wines. The Upper Palatinate (Ger. Oberpfalz) is a district (c.3,725 sq mi/9,650 sq km) of NE Bavaria, separated in the east from the Czech Republic by the Bohemian Forest. Regensburg is the capital. Agriculture and cattle raising are the chief occupations.

The name of the two regions came from the office known as count palatine, a title used in the Holy Roman Empire to denote the secular prince who ruled a region in the absence of the Holy Roman Emperor; the title was used in other European countries during the medieval and early modern periods. Rights of office varied, but in general the palatine had superior judicial functions and enjoyed privileges superior to those of other nobles.

History

Emperor Frederick I bestowed (1156) the title count palatine on his half-brother Conrad, who was in possession of territories on both sides of the Rhine. More extensive than the present Rhenish Palatinate, these territories also included the northern part of modern Baden (but not the bishopric of Speyer and other enclaves in the palatine lands W of the Rhine). When Conrad's line died out, the Palatinate passed (1214) to the Bavarian Wittelsbach dynasty. The Wittelsbachs enlarged their holdings along the Bohemian border, which were constituted as the Upper Palatinate. In 1356 the German princes were granted the Golden Bull, which gave them the right to vote in the election of the Holy Roman Emperor. Their territories were henceforth called the Electoral Palatinate (Ger. Kurpfalz).

The Rhenish Palatinate flourished in the 15th and 16th cent., and its capital, Heidelberg, was a center of the German Renaissance and Reformation. The election (1619) of Elector Frederick V (see Frederick the Winter King) as king of Bohemia precipitated the Thirty Years War, in which the Palatinate was ravaged both by the imperial forces under Tilly and by the Protestant army under Mansfeld. The Upper Palatinate and the electoral vote were taken from Frederick and transferred to Bavaria, but at the Peace of Westphalia (1648) a new vote was created for Frederick's successor, Charles Louis, and the Rhenish lands, devastated in the war, were returned to his control. The Upper Palatinate remained a part of Bavaria. The region became involved in the War of the Grand Alliance with Louis XIV, who ordered the destruction (1688–89) of the Rhenish Palatinate. In 1720 the capital was transferred to Mannheim.

The palatine lands west of the Rhine were conquered by France in the French Revolutionary Wars. In 1803, Maximilian ceded the palatine lands E of the Rhine to Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, and Nassau, but in 1806 he became king of a much-enlarged Bavaria, and at the Congress of Vienna (1815) he recovered part of the Rhenish Palatinate W of the Rhine, including Speyer and other enclaves. Several districts, however, were awarded to Prussia, Hesse, and Oldenburg. The Upper Palatinate was increased by the addition of Regensburg, which replaced Amberg as capital. Both the Rhenish and the Upper Palatinate became integral parts of Bavaria. After World War II the Rhenish Palatinate became (1946) a district of the newly created state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Palatinate." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Palatinate." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/palatinate

"Palatinate." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved October 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/palatinate

Palatinate

Palatinate Historic state of the Holy Roman Empire, including the present German state of Rhineland-Palatinate and parts of adjacent states. It was ruled from 1156 by the Counts Palatine. It was a centre of the German Reformation and was a major battleground in the 17th century.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Palatinate." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Palatinate." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/palatinate

"Palatinate." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved October 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/palatinate

Palatinate

Palatinate •gamut •imamate, marmot •animate •approximate, proximate •estimate, guesstimate, underestimate •illegitimate, legitimate •intimate •penultimate, ultimate •primate • foumart • consummate •Dermot •discarnate, incarnate •impregnate • rabbinate •coordinate, inordinate, subordinate, superordinate •infinite • laminate • effeminate •discriminate • innominate •determinate • Palatinate • pectinate •obstinate • agglutinate • designate •tribunate • importunate • Arbuthnot •bicarbonate • umbonate • fortunate •pulmonate •compassionate, passionate •affectionate •extortionate, proportionate •sultanate • companionate •principate • Rupert • episcopate •carat, carrot, claret, garret, karat, parrot •emirate • aspirate • vertebrate •levirate •duumvirate, triumvirate •pirate • quadrat • accurate • indurate •obdurate •Meerut, vizierate •priorate • curate • elaborate •deliberate • confederate •considerate, desiderate •immoderate, moderate •ephorate •imperforate, perforate •agglomerate, conglomerate •numerate •degenerate, regenerate •separate • temperate • desperate •disparate • corporate • professorate •commensurate • pastorate •inveterate •directorate, electorate, inspectorate, protectorate, rectorate •illiterate, literate, presbyterate •doctorate • Don Quixote • marquisate •concert • cushat • precipitate

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Palatinate." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Palatinate." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/palatinate

"Palatinate." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved October 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/palatinate