Imperial postal service

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Post house sign Imperial Reichspost with Salvaguardia 1770

The Imperial Postal Service was the first national postal company in the Holy Roman Empire . It was based on a mail shelf belonging to Rudolf II and was thus officially under the protection of the emperor. In times of war, the post stations were given a Salvaguardia to protect them from enemy attacks. The operators of the Imperial Post Office were members of the Taxis family, who changed their name to Thurn und Taxis from 1650 with the approval of the Kaiser and provided postmaster general without interruption . The head office was in Brussels , the capital of the Spanish Netherlands, until 1701 , but was relocated to Frankfurt during the War of the Spanish Succession and to Regensburg in 1748 . With the laying down of the imperial crown in 1806 by Emperor Franz II and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, the Imperial Post Office ended.

This article summarizes the development of the imperial imperial post up to the end of the Thirty Years' War, the subsequent disputes with the newly created independent state post offices, the expansion of the postal network up to the loss of territory at the end of the 18th century and the final dissolution in the time of Napoleon . The organization and activities of (Thurn und) Taxis in the international postal system can only be touched on in passing.


Leonhard I of Taxis

With the final appointment of Postmaster General Leonhard I von Taxis by Emperor Rudolf II in 1595, preparations began for the establishment of an Imperial Post Office. From 1597 until his death in 1612, Leonard I von Taxis managed this facility from the Brussels headquarters. In addition, he worked as postmaster general in the Spanish Netherlands on behalf of the Spanish Habsburgs .

With the Kaiserliche Reichspost the emperor gained a free message transmission outside his own sphere of influence. He based this claim on a mail shelf that the other German princes did not recognize, but initially tolerated. If the postal network was to be expanded, imperial letters of recommendation were therefore necessary.

The Imperial Post Office was under the protection of the Emperor and was accessible to anyone interested in return for payment. At first there were only two postal courses in what is now Germany. The focus was on the Dutch postal route , which was also a transit course. It led from Brussels via Namur , Flamisoul near Bastogne , Lieser , Wöllstein , Rheinhausen , the Duchy of Württemberg , Augsburg , Innsbruck and Trento to Italy. A branch line ran from Cologne via Wöllstein to Augsburg. The post offices between Wöllstein and Cologne were subordinate to the Cologne postmaster Jacob Henot . For this Henot received an imperial grant of 500 guilders annually from the Augsburg Reichspfennigamt .

The post office keepers on the Dutch line , which also served as a transit route for the Spanish Habsburgs, were paid for by the Brussels headquarters. The Spanish crown guaranteed the emperor the payment of his posts through sufficient subsidies. After the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 and increasing difficulties with France, the connection from Spain to the Netherlands via France and the English Channel was permanently disrupted. That is why the land route from Italy to Brussels gained importance through the Holy Roman Empire.

Competitive situation

The income of the imperial imperial post from the external transport went in full to the family of the taxis in Brussels. Together with the Spanish grants, this income was enough to ensure that everything ran smoothly.

Serious competitors of the Imperial Post Office were the messengers of the cities. You had a monopoly in private communication in the German Reich decades before. Thanks to a clever network, letters could be sent to any major location. The most important messenger agencies were in Augsburg, Frankfurt am Main , Hamburg , Cologne , Leipzig and Nuremberg .

Even before the establishment of the Reichspost, the emperor had tried unsuccessfully to restrict the messenger service. But now he intensified his efforts to prevent such activities. The reasons given for a ban were the underlaid changing stations of the messenger services, where it was possible to change riders and horses, as well as the use of the post horn . On November 6th, 1597, Emperor Rudolf II issued a decree in which he forbade secondary messengers and butcher mail in the empire and its hereditary lands .

Changes and further development

The postmaster from Cologne, Jacob Henot , was assigned to the postmaster general in Brussels according to the postal regulations of 1596. On May 29, 1598, Henot engaged the Frankfurt messenger master Weigand Uffsteiner as the imperial postmaster in Frankfurt for a third postal route between Cologne and Frankfurt. There was a dispute over this.

Lamoral of Taxis 1619

At the instigation of Lamoral von Taxis, Emperor Rudolf II assigned the post office in Cologne and the posts to Wöllstein to Leonhard I von Taxis, his son Lamoral and grandson Leonhard on October 25, 1603 . Lamoral waived the annual grant of 500 guilders. On March 28, 1604 Henot was deposed as postmaster in Cologne and replaced by Johann von Coesfeld , who was married to a woman from the Taxis family.

On September 6, 1604, the Augsburg postmaster Octavio von Taxis appointed Peter Amerath postmaster in Frankfurt. The messenger post between Frankfurt and Rheinhausen was converted into a riding post. Riding messengers were also deployed between Cologne and Frankfurt. On January 16, 1608, Emperor Rudolf II elevated Leonhard and Lamoral von Taxis to the status of hereditary imperial barons. Leonhard von Taxis died at the beginning of May 1612.

The Reichspost under Emperor Matthias and Lamoral von Taxis

First expansion of the existing postal rates

After the death of Emperor Rudolf II in Prague on January 20, 1612, Archduke Matthias was elected German King and Emperor on July 13, 1612 in Frankfurt.

On July 20, 1615, Lamoral von Taxis undertook to send Ordinaripost from Cologne via Frankfurt and Nuremberg to the Bohemian border. From there, the Imperial Post, which was under the control of the Emperor, was supposed to continue operations to Prague. This connection was important to the emperor because the Prince-Bishop of Mainz resided in Aschaffenburg as Chancellor . As a thank you, the House of Taxis received the post of general postmaster to the Erbmannslehen from the Kaiser on July 27, 1615. Since then, the Brussels taxis have called themselves general inheritance postmasters .

At the end of August 1615, Johann von Coesfeld began setting up a postal course from Cologne to Prague and appointed Hans Georg Haid postmaster in Nuremberg. The Nuremberg city council and the local messenger establishment opposed the imperial request and caused difficulties for the imperial imperial post for several years.

Establishment of new postal courses under Johann von den Birghden

Johann von den Birghden

After Hans Georg Sulzer resigned as postmaster in Frankfurt, Johann von den Birghden received the certificate of appointment on October 24, 1615. Von den Birghden made a decisive contribution to the expansion of the Imperial Post Office. As a Lutheran, he was able to organize mail routes to Leipzig and Hamburg in just a few months .

On November 20, 1615, Johann von den Birghden appointed the Leipzig messenger Johann Sieber as imperial postmaster against the resistance of the Frankfurt messenger Johann Adam Uffsteiner . Von der Birghden was supported by the Saxon Elector, who on May 30, 1616 forbade Uffsteiner to send letters to Leipzig. By the end of June 1616, a postal route from Frankfurt via Fulda , Suhl and Erfurt to Leipzig had been set up.

Thereafter, von den Birghden organized a mail course from Hamburg to Cologne via Rotenburg , Detmold , Unna and Schwelm until the end of August 1616 . Some towns along the route protested in vain. In Hamburg, Johann von den Birghden appointed Albrecht Kleinhans postmaster.

Situation at the beginning of the Thirty Years War

Historical background

On May 23, 1618 there was a class uprising in Prague with the participation of Count Heinrich Matthias von Thurn , which ended with the Prague window lintel . This triggered the Bohemian-Palatinate War in the summer of 1618 with the defection of Lusatia, Silesia and Bohemia from the Habsburgs. In 1619 Moravia, Upper and Lower Austria fell.

After the death of Emperor Matthias on March 20, 1619, the Inner Austrian Archduke Ferdinand of Graz was elected King and Emperor as Ferdinand II on August 28, 1619 in Frankfurt.

Even as Archduke Ferdinand was deposed from the estates as the Bohemian King on August 22, 1619. His successor was the Elector Palatine Friedrich V.

On November 18, 1620, the Habsburgs defeated the Bohemians in the Battle of White Mountain near Prague. The Palatine Elector and Bohemian Winter King was ostracized and fled to Holland.

Reinstatement of Henot as imperial postmaster

In 1623 the dismissed postmaster from Cologne, Jacob Henot, forced his reinstatement as postmaster in Cologne after a long legal dispute on the decision of the Vienna Imperial Court Council. Emperor Ferdinand II decreed on April 3, 1623 that Johann von Coesfeld had to cede the office to Henot. The handover took place on May 6, 1623. Henot received the posts between Cologne and Wöllstein back, but not the posts on the route from Cologne to Frankfurt.

Centralization of Taxis under Leonhard II

Leonhard II of Taxis

On June 8, 1624 Lamoral von Taxis and his son Leonhard were raised to the status of hereditary imperial count.

After Lamoral's death on July 7th. In 1624, the Reichspostlehen was officially transferred to Leonhard II von Taxis on August 17, 1624.

Lamoral von Taxis had given its subordinate postmasters and organizers plenty of leeway. In some cases he had even given them the post offices as " afterlehen ". Leonhard II tried to reverse this. He planned an organization controlled centrally from Brussels. From now on, the superior postmasters were called post administrators in the parlance of the Imperial Post Office .

After Jacob Henot's death on November 17, 1625, his son succeeded him as postmaster in Cologne. However, he had to resign on an imperial order. To make matters worse, his sister Katharina was accused and arrested as a witch in Cologne on January 10, 1627. At that time, Leonhard II von Taxis was in Cologne from January 2nd to 17th, 1627.

After the successful elimination of the Henots in Cologne and the reinstatement of Coesfeld, Leonhard II's next goal was to remove the Frankfurt postmaster. Since Johann von den Birghden was a Lutheran, it was easy for Leonhard to defame him at the imperial court. On March 3, 1627 he received the order from the emperor to remove Johann von den Birghden from his office on suspicion of hostile conspiracy. Leonhard then appointed the Catholic Gerard Vrints as Birghden's successor in Frankfurt.

Alexandrine von Taxis as interim manager

Alexandrine of Taxis

After the unexpected death of Leonhard II von Taxis on May 23, 1628, his widow Alexandrine took over the management of the Imperial Postal Service on behalf of the underage son Lamoral Claudius Franz von Taxis . Emperor Ferdinand II confirmed this representation on August 1, 1628.

Swedish takeover of the Reichspost under Johann von den Birghden

In July 1630 Sweden entered the Thirty Years War with the attack against Pomerania. After the Swedish King Gustav Adolf entered Frankfurt on November 27, 1631, the imperial postmaster Gerald Vrints fled the city. At the express request of the Swedes, Johann von den Birghden took over the postmaster's office in Frankfurt in December 1631. On December 4, 1631 he received the letter of appointment as postmaster general of the empire from Gustav Adolf. Birghden organized the following postal courses within a very short time:

Frankfurt-Hamburg with 20 items in 5.5 days
Frankfurt-Leipzig with 15 items in 2.5 days
Frankfurt-Strasbourg with 11 items in 2.0 days
Frankfurt-Metz with 12 posts and on to Paris in 6.0 days
Frankfurt-Schaffhausen and Madrid in 15.0 days
Frankfurt-Zurich-Venice with 29 items

Route shifts

Due to the Swedish successes, Countess Alexandrine, Leonhard's widow, lost almost all important post offices in the empire between 1632 and 1635. The only remaining routes for the Imperial Post were the routes from Brussels to Cologne and the Dutch postal route , which, in line with the war situation in the peripheral regions of Germany, led via Flamisoul near Bastogne , Nancy , Breisach and then via Füssen to Italy or Vienna.

With the defeat of the Swedes at Nördlingen on September 6, 1634, the advance of the Swedes was stopped. On May 30, 1635, the Prague peace treaty took place between the emperor and Electoral Saxony.

After the reconquest of Frankfurt by the imperial family , Johann von den Birghden resigned from his office on May 22, 1635. The Swedish post office was closed on June 11, 1635. Gerard Vrints returned to Frankfurt and reopened the imperial post office in October 1635.

From 1636, the Reichspost rode the old route of the Dutch postal route again, but routes were relocated again after that. After the occupation of the Hunsrück and the Palatinate by the French and the fire in the Rheinhausen post office, the Dutch postal route was diverted from Lieser via the Southern Eifel, Lay near Koblenz , Dietkirchen near Limburg , Frankfurt and Nuremberg to Augsburg between 1646 and 1651 .

By regaining most of the postal rates and expanding the existing postal network, Countess Alexandrine succeeded in securing the supremacy of the Imperial Postal Service. In the preparatory phase of the peace negotiations, which came to an end in the Peace of Westphalia , she set up postal routes to Osnabrück and Münster, thereby giving the Imperial Post Office a head start in terms of communication.

Johann von den Birghden's aftermath

Johann von den Birghden, who died in Frankfurt on March 4, 1645, was unable to rehabilitate himself after the Peace of Prague and the general amnesty that had been announced. But his work left traces. He was the founder of the first postal newspaper and was the first to have postal posters printed with all routes and tariffs.

Its technical and organizational improvements were taken over by both the Imperial Post Office and the Protestant imperial estates when they founded their own regional post offices. A first attempt was made in 1638, when Christian Ludwig von Braunschweig-Lüneburg, with the approval of Landgravine Amalie Elisabeth von Hessen-Kassel, had a riding post laid from Bremen via Rotenburg, Hanover , Kassel to Frankfurt.

The Imperial Postal Service under Lamoral Claudius Franz von (Thurn und) Taxis

Lamoral Claudius Franz von Taxis

After reaching the age of majority, Emperor Ferdinand III enfeoffed. Lamoral Claudius Franz von Taxis on September 11, 1646 with the general inheritance postmaster's office. With this assumption of office, the Taxis family began to grow into a large company. Lamoral Claudius strove not only to improve the social position of his family, but also to achieve a monopoly of the Imperial Post in the Empire.

The role of the Imperial Postal Service in the peace negotiations

During the peace negotiations from 1644 to 1648, which preceded the Peace of Westphalia in Münster and Osnabrück, the Imperial Post Office under Countess Alexandrine and from 1646 under her son Lamoral Claudius Franz von Taxis took over the transmission of messages for all parties. Based on the already existing route Cologne-Schwelm- Unna- Lipperode- Detmold- Bückeburg - Nienburg -Rotenburg-Hamburg relay between Detmold-Osnabrück, Bückeburg-Osnabrück, Cologne- Lünen -Münster, Münster-Osnabrück and as an extension the route Cologne- Roermond- Brussels decorated.

Situation after the Thirty Years War

Peace post 1648

The Peace of Westphalia in Münster and Osnabrück on October 24, 1648 gave the imperial estates greater independence from the emperor. The Protestant principalities particularly benefited from this. Duke Maximilian of Bavaria received the Upper Palatinate and was allowed to keep the fifth electoral dignity inherited from the Electoral Palatinate . The Palatinate Karl Ludwig received the Lower Palatinate and a newly created eighth electoral dignity. In many cities, there was an easing of the nightly closing of city gates. At the same time, the correspondence between the cities increased. The start of the introduction of stagecoaches made travel easier from now on. Above all, the Protestant territories benefited from this, giving them the opportunity to independently develop and operate mail and travel services.

The formation of independent regional post offices

With the establishment of a Brandenburg-Prussian state post in 1649 and the prohibition of imperial post lines in this territory, the postal routes Berlin - Kleve , Berlin-Hamburg, Berlin- Danzig and from 1652 even a connection from Berlin to Wroclaw were established under state control .

In Saxony , Hesse-Kassel and Braunschweig- (Hanover) -Lüneburg, state post offices were also founded. There, however, the already existing postal rates of the Imperial Post Office, which ran from Frankfurt to Leipzig and from 1645 via Erfurt, Braunschweig, Celle, Lüneburg to Hamburg, were respected , as long as they were operated as transit routes.

During the Thirty Years' War, the urban messengers were able to maintain their dominant position in private communication. After the Thirty Years' War, however, the Imperial Post Office and the State Post Office increasingly gained the upper hand in competition with the delivery companies, and in the 18th century urban delivery companies only played a regional role.

The emperor's protest against the territorial post offices of the evangelical princes, citing the imperial post office shelf , was unsuccessful. After all, Austria also had its own regional post office, where the Imperial Post Office was not allowed to operate. So the ban of Brandenburg not to tolerate any postal rates of the Imperial Postal Service on its territory continued to exist.

Agreements with the independent regional post offices

Lamoral Claudius Franz von Taxis , who was officially allowed to rename himself and his descendants to " von Thurn und Taxis " since 1650 with the permission of the emperor , tried repeatedly after the end of the Thirty Years' War to shut down or push back the Protestant state postal service with the help of the emperor. However, the increasing competitive pressure had no impact on the economic situation of the Imperial Post Office under the Thurn- und Taxis, but led to an increase in profits due to the increasing mail traffic. In the three spa towns of Mainz, Trier and Cologne, only the military campaigns of the French King Louis XIV, which were soon to begin, hampered the continuous expansion of the Imperial Postal Service. In the Electoral Palatinate, Baden, Hessen-Darmstadt , Württemberg, Bavaria and Tyrol, on the other hand, the Reichspost could continue to work unhindered. Difficulties with the local rulers were eliminated through contracts.

In 1658 a postal conference with representatives from Hessen-Kassel, Braunschweig-Lüneburg, Brandenburg and Sweden was called in Hildesheim to counterbalance the Imperial Post. The subsequent dispute between Sweden and Brandenburg, however, prevented further cooperation.

At the next Hildesheim Postal Conference in 1666, the northern German imperial estates reached an agreement with the Imperial Post Office. Thereupon the Brandenburgische Landespost was recognized by the Kaiser in the same year.

A final attempt to enforce the imperial mail shelf throughout the Holy Roman Empire was made on July 8, 1669 through an appraisal of the Imperial Court. It was submitted to the Perpetual Reichstag meeting in Regensburg for a legal decision. There was no vote on it.

Under Lamoral Claudius Franz, the Imperial Post Office began its first attempts to introduce driving mail and stagecoaches after a number of competing state post offices had already made advance payments. According to Wolfgang Behringer , however, the Fahrpost was initially more of a losing business and was only expanded for reasons of competition.

Term of office of Eugen Alexander von Thurn und Taxis

Eugen Alexander von Thurn and Taxis

Lamoral Claudius Franz von Thurn und Taxis died on September 13, 1676. His successor as general inheritance postmaster was his son Eugen Alexander von Thurn und Taxis . This was elevated to the hereditary Spanish prince on February 19, 1681 by the Spanish King Charles II. At the same time he received a patent for the establishment of a principality in Hainaut and a transfer as a fief. On October 4, 1695, Emperor Leopold I also elevated Eugen Alexander von Thurn und Taxis to the hereditary imperial prince status .

Disputes with the independent state postal service

The disputes between the Imperial Post Office and the independent state post offices continued.

In 1682 Franz-Ernst von Platen took over the Landespostanstalt Braunschweig-Lüneburg by buying it from Franz Stechinelli . Agreements were made with the Swedes in the Bremen- Verden area and with Hessen-Kassel. On July 30, 1693, all facilities of the Imperial Imperial Post in the area of ​​Kurhannover were abolished. The transit route to Bremen and Hamburg remained as the Duchy of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel did not follow this policy.

On August 1, 1691, Duke Maximilian Emanuel of Bavaria also appointed his own senior postmaster in Munich. He, too, strove for his own regional postal service. This was the first time that a Catholic prince threatened the expansion of the Imperial Postal Service.

On November 23, 1695, the Imperial Post Office reached a settlement with the Post Office in Brandenburg regarding reciprocal mail delivery, issues of delimitation were contractually regulated. Nevertheless, there were still conflicts because Brandenburg expanded its territories and the ownership situation changed to the detriment of the Reichspost.

On October 17, 1698, Emperor Leopold I issued a new Imperial Postal Code that applied to the Imperial Postal Service until 1803. The content was, among other things, the provision of two covered carriages at all post offices.

The War of the Spanish Succession and the abandonment of the Brussels headquarters

On November 1, 1700, the Spanish King Charles II died without leaving any heirs. He was succeeded on November 24th 1700 by the French Duke Philip of Anjou , a Bourbon. With the extinction of the Habsburg line in Spain, the Brussels Thurn und Taxis were no longer tied to the Spanish royal family. The dispute over the succession to the throne between Austria and France led to the War of the Spanish Succession in 1701 and the formation of the Great Hague Alliance with England, Habsburg and Holland. The troops of Louis XIV invaded the Spanish Netherlands again and occupied Brussels on February 21, 1701.

Eugen Alexander von Thurn und Taxis lost all of his Dutch possessions except for his residence in Brussels. On March 17, 1701, the governor of the Spanish Netherlands, Duke Maximilian Emanuel of Bavaria, issued a new postal order based on the French model. This involved leasing the Dutch Post Generalate to Léon Pajot . On September 19, 1701, the Spanish King Philip V announced the end of the post generalate exercised by Thurn and Taxis in the Netherlands. This ended after two hundred years the Dutch transit mail route from Brussels to Italy, which was the most important state communication link in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries.

At the beginning of 1702, Eugen Alexander left Brussels and moved to Frankfurt am Main, where a new headquarters for the Imperial Post Office was established. In the further course of the War of Succession, fighting broke out in Bavaria, Italy and the Netherlands. The Grand Alliance remained successful in all battles. The occupation of Bavaria by Austria led to the takeover of all postal facilities by the Imperial Reichspost and to the abandonment of Bavaria's own state post office.

In 1708, the Brunswick Welfenhaus was admitted to the Electoral Council as the 9th member (Kurhannover) and the electoral dignity was reintroduced for the Bohemian King. This led to a further expansion of the company's own postal routes until 1714.

In 1708, the Elector of the Palatinate, Johann Wilhelm, tried to set up his own regional post office and failed, as did the renewed attempt in 1726.

After the loss of the Dutch Postal Generalate, Eugen Alexander tried several negotiations with the Habsburgs to get the Dutch Postal Generalate back. In 1708, the Dutch postal system was instead taken over by Marquese di Roffrano , who leased it to Francois Jopain until 1725 .

Organization of the imperial post in the 18th century

Post house sign of the Imperial Post Office, mid-18th century

After the headquarters of the Imperial Post Office was relocated to Frankfurt am Main, a hierarchical organization was created with upper post offices, immediate post offices and directing post offices that were directly subordinate to the headquarters. The subordinate post offices had an obligation to report to the upper post offices. Simple post offices were only used to change horses and distribute letters. The headquarters were in Frankfurt from 1702 to 1748. Further upper post offices existed in Cologne, Maaseik as a border station to the Dutch Post Generalate, Hamburg, Nuremberg and Augsburg. All in all, these upper post offices generated almost 85% of the riding post revenue.

Conducting post offices were, for example, in Mainz, Koblenz, Ulm, Würzburg, Bremen, Braunschweig, Erfurt, Duderstadt and Munich. The conducting post offices in Münster, Trier, Lübeck, Elberfeld, Hildesheim, Osnabrück and Paderborn generated the lowest income. Regensburg, where the permanent Reichstag has been meeting since 1669, was upgraded from the directing post office to the upper post office until late despite the low volume of mail.

The driving mail, which initially generated little income, was settled separately from the letter mail centrally at the upper post offices in Augsburg, Nuremberg, Frankfurt and Cologne. It did not develop into a main business until the second half of the 18th century.

Term of office of Anselm Franz von Thurn und Taxis

Anselm Franz von Thurn and Taxis

After the death of Eugene Alexander on February 21, 1714, his son Anselm Franz took over the post generalate in the Holy Roman Empire and thus the management of the Imperial Post Office.

After the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, Austria received the Spanish Netherlands, but it was not until 1725 that the House of Thurn und Taxis was able to lease the Dutch postal service for an annual sum of 80,000 guilders. The amount increased to 125,000 guilders in 1729 and 135,000 livres in 1769. This re-established the cross-border postal connection from the Austrian Netherlands via Luxembourg, Kurtrier , the Electoral Palatinate , the Duchy of Württemberg and Tyrol to Italy under the management of the House of Thurn and Taxis.

On May 22nd, 1722 a contract between the Reichspost and the Landespost von Prussia / Brandenburg on the delimitation of the postal areas was negotiated in Wesel. It came into force on April 9, 1723.

On March 30, 1729, a contract was signed for the construction of a princely palace in Frankfurt , which was built between 1729 and 1739.

Term of office of Alexander Ferdinand von Thurn und Taxis

Alexander Ferdinand von Thurn and Taxis

After the death of Anselm Franz von Thurn und Taxis on November 8, 1739 in Brussels, his son Alexander Ferdinand von Thurn und Taxis took over the Reichspostgeneralat. At this time all other post offices in the empire, with the exception of the Archduchy of Tyrol, were nationalized.

The time under Emperor Charles VII.

On October 20, 1740, the Habsburg Emperor Charles VI died. His death in the same year triggered the War of the Austrian Succession , which lasted until 1748.

The electors did not elect Maria Theresa's husband Franz von Lothringen and Toscana, but on January 14, 1742, Duke Karl Albrecht of Bavaria in Frankfurt as German King and Emperor, who was crowned as Charles VII on February 12, 1742 in Frankfurt Cathedral . On May 21, 1742, Charles VII arranged for the Perpetual Reichstag to be relocated from Regensburg to Frankfurt and on July 4, 1742, appointed Prince Alexander Ferdinand von Thurn und Taxis as principal commissioner and thus the emperor's deputy in the Reichstag. However, the charter was not ratified until July 1743.

On July 2, 1744, Charles VII raised the Reichspostgeneralate to the throne. The sudden death of the Wittelsbach emperor on January 20, 1745 and the election of the husband of Maria Theresa (Franz I) as German king and emperor brought Karl Alexander von Thurn und Taxis, who was a partisan of Charles VII, also in his position as Head of the Imperial Post Office in trouble.

The Reichspost under Emperor Franz I.

Franz I arranged for the Perpetual Reichstag to return to Regensburg in the fourth quarter of 1745, and Joseph Wilhelm Ernst von Fürstenberg was appointed Principal Commissioner. Alexander Ferdinand von Thurn und Taxis' support for the Wittelsbach Emperor did not ultimately lead to the loss of the post generalate. Alexander Ferdinand sent the Privy Council and Nuremberg Chief Postmaster Michael von Lilien to Vienna for mediation. Michael von Lilien's most important offer was to set up a new secret mail surveillance system for the Reichspost for the emperor. With this he achieved that the Imperial Post Office remained under the direction of the Thurn und Taxis.

In contrast to its own Hofpost, the Viennese government had to respect the autonomy of the Reichspost in order to maintain its influence on this company. In a gesture of reconciliation, Maria Theresa then appointed Alexander Ferdinand von Thurn und Taxis to the Privy Council on December 26, 1745, and Emperor Franz I renewed all previous patents on May 3, 1746 for the operation of the imperial post.

On January 25, 1748, Alexander Ferdinand was reappointed by Emperor Franz I as Principal Commissioner at the Perpetual Diet in Regensburg. To do this, he had to commit to relocating his residence and the post office from Frankfurt to Regensburg.

On June 25, 1748, the Imperial Post Office in Vienna signed a contract with the Elector of Hanover on the delimitation of posts in the Hanover and Braunschweig-Lüneburg area.

On April 12, 1755, the Berlin Postal Treaty between Prussia and the Reichspost came into being. A year later the Seven Years' War began , which led to a lasting disruption in the relationship between the Reichspost and the Prussian Post.

Term of office of Karl Anselm von Thurn und Taxis

Karl Anselm von Thurn und Taxis, porcelain portrait by Johann Peter Melchior

After Alexander Ferdinand's death on March 17, 1773, Karl Anselm von Thurn und Taxis took over the management of the Imperial Post Office. Emperor Joseph II appointed him on April 27, 1773 as his principal commissioner for the Regensburg Reichstag.

On March 4, 1774, Karl Anselm extended the lease for the Dutch Post by 25 years. The lease sum was now 135,000 guilders.

On July 12, 1774, a contract was signed between the court chamber and the imperial Reichspostgeneralat on the Austrian foreland and transit through Tyrol.

Bavaria also signed a postal contract with the Imperial Post Office on August 23, 1784, which ensured the continued existence of the Post Office in Bavaria.

Inventory by 1790

Up until 1790, the Reichspost's income from mail, freight transport and the operation of stagecoaches grew continuously. The production and distribution of news in the form of newspapers was also part of the business. Thanks to these sources of income, the 18th century was financially the most successful century in their history for the Thurn und Taxis. The family had amassed significant fortunes as early as the 17th century, but by the 18th century the family got rich thanks to income from the post office.

The following upper post offices were subordinate to the Imperial Post Office: Augsburg, Bremen, Braunschweig, Duderstadt , Erfurt, Frankfurt, Freiburg, Hamburg, Hildesheim, Cologne, Koblenz, Lübeck, Mainz, Maaseik , Mannheim, Munich, Münster, Nuremberg, Paderborn, Regensburg, Ulm and Würzburg . In addition, there was the postal service leased from the Thurn and Taxis in Tyrol and Upper Austria, as well as the post office in the Austrian Netherlands.

Territorial loss of the Reichspost from 1790

After the loss of the Dutch post in Brabant and Flanders, the post offices of the Imperial Post in the territories of Hanover and Braunschweig were closed in 1790.

The Revolutionary Wars with France followed. Under Franz II , who had been emperor since July 5, 1792, the Habsburgs succeeded in briefly recapturing the Austrian Netherlands in 1793, but in 1794 the Austrian Netherlands and the areas on the left bank of the Rhine with Trier and Cologne were finally lost , Bonn and Koblenz.

The latter meant a further weakening of the imperial post office. With the Treaty of Lunéville on February 9, 1801, the loss of all imperial post lines in the areas on the left bank of the Rhine was sealed.

When Prussia received Geldern, Cleve, Moers, Hildesheim, Münster, Paderborn, Eichsfeld, Erfurt, Goslar, Mühlhausen, Nordhausen, Quedlinburg, Elten, Essen, Werden, Herford, and Kappenburg in May 1802 for the loss of its left bank areas, the imperial family left Reichspost lost further postal stations.

The end of the Imperial Post under Karl Alexander von Thurn und Taxis

Karl Alexander von Thurn and Taxis

After the death of Carl Anselm von Thurn und Taxis on November 13, 1805, his son Karl Alexander von Thurn und Taxis succeeded him as postmaster general.

After the Peace of Pressburg in December 1805, the operation of the Imperial Post Office in Württemberg was discontinued and continued under state management. In contrast, on February 24, 1806, Karl Alexander von Thurn and Taxis was awarded the Bavarian Post as a feudal throne. On May 2, 1806, a loan agreement between Baden and Karl Alexander von Thurn und Taxis was signed to operate the post office.

The founding of the Rhine Confederation on July 12, 1806 actually meant the end of the old German Empire and thus also the end of the Imperial Post Office, including the Post Generalate of Thurn and Taxis. On August 6, 1806, Franz II laid down the German imperial crown. The Imperial Post Office, organized and directed by the Thurn und Taxis, no longer existed, but the Thurn-und-Taxis-Post survived as a private company until 1867.

Stations of the Imperial Post Office

See also

Literature (selection)

  • Wolfgang Behringer : Thurn and Taxis. The history of your post office and your company. Piper, Munich et al. 1990 ISBN 3-492-03336-9 .
  • Wolfgang Behringer: In the sign of Mercury. Imperial Mail and the Communication Revolution in the Early Modern Age (= publications by the Max Planck Institute for History. Vol. 189). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2003, ISBN 3-525-35187-9 (Also: Bonn, University, habilitation paper).
  • Martin Dallmeier: Sources on the history of the European postal system. 1501–1806 (= Thurn and Taxis Studies. Vol. 9). 3 volumes. Michael Lassleben, Kallmünz 1977–1987;
  • Martin Dallmeier and Martha Schad, The Princely House of Thurn and Taxis, 300 years of history in pictures . Verlag Pustet, Regensburg 1996 ISBN 3-7917-1492-9
  • Engelbert Goller: Jakob Henot (died 1625), postmaster of Cologne. A contribution to the history of the so-called Post Reformation at the turn of the XVI. Century. Georgi, Bonn 1910, (Bonn, University, dissertation, 1910).
  • Ludwig Kalmus: World History of the Post. With special consideration of the German-speaking area. Publishing house for military and specialist literature Göth, Vienna 1937.
  • Ernst Kießkalt: The creation of the post. G. Duckstein, Bamberg 1930.
  • Karl Heinz Kremer: Johann von den Birghden. 1582-1645. Imperial and royal Swedish postmaster in Frankfurt am Main (= press and history. Vol. 15). Edition Lumière, Bremen 2005, ISBN 3-934686-25-7 .
  • Otto Lankes: The post office in Augsburg from its beginnings to 1808. Described from archival sources. Munich 1914, (Munich, Technical University, dissertation, 1914).
  • Max Piendl: The Princely House of Thurn and Taxis. On the history of the house and the Thurn-und-Taxis-Post. Pustet, Regensburg 1980, ISBN 3-7917-0678-0 .
  • Ernst-Otto Simon: The postal route from Rheinhausen to Brussels over the centuries. In: Archive for German Postal History. 1, 1990, ISSN  0003-8989 , pp. 14-41.
  • Heinrich von Stephan : History of the Prussian Post from its origin to the present. Publishing house of the Royal Secret Upper Hofbuchdruckerei (R. Decker), Berlin 1859, ( digitized version ).
  • Lamoral Taxis-Bordogna, Erhard Riedel: On the history of the barons and counts Taxis-Bordogna-Valnigra and their hereditary post offices in Bolzano, Trient and on the Adige (= Schlern-Schriften. 136, ZDB -ID 503740-2 ). Wagner, Innsbruck 1955.

Individual evidence

  1. Dallmeier, Sources for the History of the European Postal Service, Volume II, Urkundenregesten , pp. 58–59.
  2. ^ Karl Heinz Kremer: "Johann von den Birghden 1582-1645", Edition Lumiere Bremen, ISBN 3-934686-25-7 , pp. 338–346, see also: Wolfgang Behringer: "Imzeichen des Merkur", p. 212 .
  3. On the year of death see the monograph Karl Heinz Kremer: Johann von den Birghden. edition lumière, Bremen 2005, ISBN 3-934686-25-7 , p. 468 with quotation of the former grave inscription: “ Epitaphium Birghdianum. In 1645 the 4th of March in Christ, his Redeemer, the noble and fortress Mr. Johannes von den Birghden fell asleep. Rom. Kays. May. Erb - aristocratic servant, old postmaster and prince. Würtenbergischer Rath, his age 63rd year. “Since a number rotated in the ADB, the year 1654 is often incorrectly given as the year of death in the literature.
  4. Wolfgang Behringer: Thurn and Taxis , Piper 1990, p. 95.
  5. Wolfgang Behringer: Thurn and Taxis , Piper 1990, p. 123.
  6. a b Wolfgang Behringer: Thurn and Taxis , Piper 1990, p. 133.
  7. Wolfgang Behringer: Thurn and Taxis , Piper 1990, p. 111 and p. 123.
  8. Document of October 8, 1701 with reference to the decree of September 19, 1701, Dallmeier, Sources Part II, Urkundenregesten , p. 246.
  9. a b Wolfgang Behringer: Thurn and Taxis , Piper 1990, pp. 131-132.
  10. Ludwig Kalmus: Weltgeschichte der Post , 1937, pp. 413-414.