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The terms high-pin (as Metropolitan Bistum Erzstift ), and later in the course of territorial liberation Archbishopric or Archbishopric or Prince pin or Fürsterzstift generally refer to a spiritual territory in Holy Roman Empire to 1803 in which the state sovereignty by a bishop as country Prince , the Prince Bishop , was exercised. At the time, these territories were often referred to as monasteries and, if they were located in the empire, also special imperial monuments . High monasteries or bishoprics formed imperial estates , which had a seat and vote on the clerical bench of the Diet of the Old Kingdom .


Word origin

The second part of the word Hochstift identifies the lands as pens in the sense of donations by kings and dukes to a cathedra with religious and regulatory objectives. The first part of the word distinguishes them from monasteries and other foundations without state sovereignty.

Hochstift versus Princely Diocese

The simplistic equation Hochstift equals Fürstbistum is often confusing, since both terms were used in parallel until the beginning of the 19th century. Both terms are also used side by side in historical literature. In historical studies, however, the term Hochstift is avoided when listing the imperial estates of the Holy Roman Empire (electorate, prince-bishopric, county, imperial city, etc.).

Since the term Hochstift increasingly stands for a regional designation - even if only ideal - the term prince-bishopric should be used to denote the historical territory that at the same time denoted an imperial estate of the Holy Roman Empire until the Imperial Deputations' main conclusion in 1803.

Usage today

Nowadays the term Hochstift is still used in the area of ​​the Hochstift Paderborn for the area of ​​the districts Paderborn and Höxter . This name is also used in the Fulda area today, for example for the Hochstift beer brand . In Hildesheim , however, only the term Stift (Stiftsdörfer) is used . In the area of ​​the former Hochstift Münster , a distinction is made between the (southern) Oberstift and the (northern) Niederstift . However, these are purely historical-geographical names.

The Meissen Monastery , founded in 968, still exists today as a corporation under public law of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony .

The plurality of pin is pens or donor .

Definition of terms

Bishoprics were areas in which bishops in their capacity as princes the secular exercised territorial sovereignty and will bishoprics called (see also church leaders ). The secular domain of an archbishop was called the archbishopric or prince-archbishopric .

The concept of the bishopric or prince-bishopric is to be distinguished from the diocese , the diocese in which the bishop exercised ecclesiastical supervision. The latter also included areas that were under the government of other princes, sometimes even the (secular) rule of other bishops, and was based solely on canon law , while the monasteries were subject to imperial law .

The ore and high monasteries, as well as the imperial direct territories of the imperial-free monasteries, were ruled by clergy of the Roman Catholic Church , but were not institutions under canon law, but formally scepter fiefs of the Roman-German king to a certain prelate chair . Therefore, after the Reformation, the factual appropriation of secularized imperial abbeys by neighboring territorial princes or the administration of archbishopric and bishoprics by Protestant bishops, unless confirmed by the emperor as liege lord, violated imperial law, which Emperor Ferdinand II at the height of his power in the thirties The war in 1629 was the occasion for his edict of restitution - a political measure that snubbed the Protestant imperial estates and significantly prolonged the war.

The Hochstifte (as well as the imperial prelatures ) were obliged to serve in the army as part of royal service, which was regulated in the imperial register from 1521 . In practice, the military tasks were mostly from the Count's bailiffs perceived the bishoprics and monasteries with their Rittergefolge, sometimes the bishops but also put himself at the head of their banns.

According to the imperial register of 1521, the ecclesiastical imperial princes - in addition to the three ecclesiastical electors (the Archbishopric of Kurmainz , Kurköln , Kurtrier ) - included the archbishops of Salzburg , Magdeburg , Bremen and Besançon , as well as 46 other prince-bishops. There were also a large number of imperial prelates. The spiritual imperial princes were reduced to 33 by 1792, including the three electors, the two archbishops of Salzburg and Besançon, 22 prince-bishops and some prince abbots. Shortly before the secularization of 1802/1803, the immediate imperial spiritual states comprised 25 ore and high monasteries and 44 prince provosts and imperial provosts . With more than three million inhabitants, one eighth of the population of the Holy Roman Empire lived “under the crook ”, in terms of area, with almost 95,000 square kilometers, even a quarter of the empire belonged to the “ Germania Sacra ”.


" Living under a crook is good!"

- German proverb

The saying is based on the fact that the ecclesiastical tithe , which also had to be paid as a tax in the secular territories, also compensated for the additional duties to be paid to the sovereign.

List of ore or priests

The following ore or high pens each have their own Wikipedia article:

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Hochstift  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. In Grimm's German dictionary, under pen, the development from pen to pens to the then long-established donor is described; according to Duden, pencils are now common, but donors are less common