Electorate of Bavaria

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Territory in the Holy Roman Empire
Electorate of Bavaria
coat of arms
Coat of arms of the Electorate of Bavaria
Electorate of Bavaria (red)
Location of the Electorate of Bavaria (red) in the Holy Roman Empire in 1648
Arose from Duchy of Bavaria
form of rule Duchy, Electorate
ruler /
imperial circle Bavarian imperial circle
Capitals /
dynasties Wittelsbacher
denomination /
Roman Catholic
merged into 1777: personal union with Kurpfalz ( Kurpfalz-Bavaria )

1806: Elevation to the Kingdom of Bavaria

The Electorate of Bavaria refers to the Duchy of Bavaria since the Dukes of Bavaria acquired the electorate in 1623 until the Bavarian electorate expired in 1806. The Electorate of Palatinate-Baiern existed from 1777, with the (eighth) Palatine Electorate dying out according to the provisions of the Peace of Westphalia , while the Bavarian remained. A few months after the Kingdom of Bavaria was proclaimed in 1806, when Bavaria joined the Confederation of the Rhine , all references to membership and functions in the Reich , including electoral dignity, ended.



Originally, according to the house contract of Pavia , the electoral dignity was to be held alternately by the Palatinate and the Bavarian line of the Wittelsbach dynasty. With the Golden Bull of 1356, only the Palatinate Wittelsbacher were given the electoral dignity , while the Bavarian line got nothing. Since then, Bavarian dukes have repeatedly tried in vain to become electors as well. After the end of the Landshut War of Succession , the Duchy of Bavaria was reunited by the Cologne arbitration on July 30, 1505, with territorial losses, while the Palatinate continued to be split into various lines, including the Heidelberg electoral line. Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria took part in the Schmalkaldic War on the side of Charles V in 1546–47 , but he too did not succeed in acquiring the Palatinate electorate. In 1583, Wilhelm V got involved in the Cologne War after the Archbishop of Cologne, Gebhard Truchsess von Waldburg , had converted to Protestantism. He supported the conquest of the archdiocese by his brother Ernst financially and with his own troops. As a result, the Bavarian Wittelsbachs provided the Elector and Archbishop of Cologne without interruption until 1761 .

Obtaining the electoral dignity in the Thirty Years' War and peace policy

In 1620, the troops of the Catholic League , led by the Bavarian general Tilly , defeated the Bohemian-Palatinate Protestants in the Battle of White Mountain near Prague . As a thank you, Duke Maximilian I of Bavaria received the personal title of elector in 1623 and the hereditary title of elector in 1628, as well as the parts of the Upper Palatinate that had been pledged to him as war reparations. In the Peace of Westphalia of 1648, Bavaria's electoral dignity and territorial gains were confirmed. After the war, Maximilian began to rebuild his country. In order to have the financial means to do this, the army was dismissed as soon as possible.

Under Maximilian's successor, Elector Ferdinand Maria , the alliance with Vienna was replaced by a policy of neutrality between the Habsburgs and France. When King Ferdinand IV died in 1654, the French Cardinal Jules Mazarin proposed the Bavarian Elector in 1655 as his successor. After much hesitation, Ferdinand Maria finally rejected this on August 24, 1657. Instead, in a treaty of Waldmünchen on January 12, 1658, he undertook to support the election of the Habsburg Leopold as emperor (see Vicariate coins 1657 ). In return, the Habsburgs decided the protracted dispute between Ferdinand Maria and his cousin Karl Ludwig von der Pfalz over the important office of imperial vicar in Ferdinand Maria's favour. After the death of Emperor Ferdinand III. In 1657, the first interregnum after the Peace of Westphalia, the dispute between the Wittelsbachers in Bavaria and the Palatinate over the vicariate had taken on a downright dramatic form, which found expression above all in the massive obstruction of the Imperial Chamber Court in Speyer, which led to outright riots. It also almost came to an armed conflict between Bavaria and the Palatinate. Inside, the focus was on regenerating the land. In the 17th century, as a result of the effects of the Thirty Years' War and the growing power of the provincial principality (according to the ideas of absolutism ), the decline of the estates also began in Bavaria . In 1669 the estate parliament was convened for the last time. At the same time, the arrival of the Italian Baroque in Bavaria began, which soon encompassed all areas of culture.

Great Power Politics and the Wittelsbach Empire

Elector Max Emanuel as general during the War of the Spanish Succession (representation from 1910)

While Ferdinand Maria had renounced the imperial crown in 1657 due to his reserved policy towards the Habsburgs , his son Maximilian II Emanuel , initially as an ally of the Viennese court and later through an alliance with Louis XIV , strove to increase in rank. Even after his time as general in the emperor's Turkish wars , Max Emanuel was often out of the country from 1691 as general governor of the Spanish Netherlands . The alliance with the king of France against the emperor on the basis of the Bavarian diversion brought the Bavarian elector the imperial ban , the execution of which led to the Austrian occupation of Bavaria in the War of Spanish Succession in 1704 and to the temporary loss of the Bavarian electorate and the Upper Palatinate to the Palatine Wittelsbacher Johann Wilhelm . The Imperial Administration in Bavaria exercised governmental power in Upper and Lower Bavaria for ten years. Only after France had reached an agreement with the victorious naval powers of England and Holland was it also able to restore Bavaria in the interest of balancing the empire. In 1715 Max Emanuel was able to return to Bavaria as Elector. With the Wittelsbach house union of 1724, the internal family dispute, in particular with the line of Elector Charles III ruling in the Electoral Palatinate , could be resolved. be settled with Philip . The elector's attention was still focused entirely on increasing rank and the alliances required for this.

Max Emanuel's son and successor Karl Albrecht continued Max Emanuel's policies, neglecting domestic and economic reforms. Karl Albrecht pursued a policy of friendly adherence to the Habsburgs , but also purposefully continued his father's policy of acquiring the Habsburg inheritance and the crown of the empire. The renewal of the alliance with France in 1727 served this purpose. In the Austrian question of succession, he moved away from the recognition of the pragmatic sanction by his father. In 1732/33 he protested against the recognition of the pragmatic sanction by the Reich together with the Electoral Palatinate and Electoral Saxony , who were also in Wittelsbach. The elector was unable to pay off the high debts of his predecessor. Karl Albrecht obtained the Bohemian royal crown in 1741 and the imperial crown in 1742 , but for lack of power at the price of a renewed Habsburg occupation of Bavaria in the course of the War of the Austrian Succession .

Retreat to internal reforms and neutrality

A few months after the start of his reign in 1745, Elector Maximilian III resigned. Joseph followed up on the great power ambitions of his predecessors and devoted himself to internal reforms. As an enlightened prince, Max III. nevertheless attached to a patrimonial understanding of the state, he regarded the state as his private property. An urgently needed reform of the state administration was therefore omitted. However, the elector tried to improve the state apparatus. The legal codification of civil law as well as criminal law under the direction of Council Chancellor Wiguläus von Kreittmayr was of great importance . In view of the country's poor financial situation, the main focus was on budgeting and stimulating the economy.

During the Seven Years' War he deliberately stood aside. In the run-up to this, he had already secured subsidies of 360,000 fl. a year from France in the six-year Treaty of Compiègne (July 26, 1756) and also promised to protect Bavaria from Austria's wishes to round it up - although the Habsburgs and Bourbons had been May Allies were ( First Treaty of Versailles ). In return, Bavaria guaranteed to coordinate its foreign policy with France and not to act against Versailles' allies. After the outbreak of the war, the electorate dutifully added a 5,000-man contingent to the imperial army. Irrespective of this, a year later, in accordance with the two Munich military conventions of March 29 and July 31, 1757, an auxiliary corps of a further 4,000 and 2,800 men, respectively, was deployed under French command. With the increasing exhaustion of all warring parties, Bavaria summoned the remnants of those almost 7,000 auxiliary troops back home in 1759, especially since Maximilian III. Joseph didn't want to get on bad terms with the Prussian ruler Friedrich II . After Britain and France signed the Preliminary Peace of Fontainebleau on November 3, 1762 (leading to the Peace of Paris on February 10 ), French troops withdrew from the empire. Shortly thereafter, on November 24, the Palatinate signed an armistice with Prussia. On December 4, Württemberg even signed a neutrality agreement with Prussia – which represented a clear breach of the law: the execution of the Reich, which had been jointly decided against Prussia by a Reichstag, could only be lifted again by means of a Reichstag resolution. Nevertheless, on January 6, 1763, Bavaria also declared itself neutral. Other imperial estates quickly followed suit. Also at the suggestion of Max III. Joseph and Karl Theodors von der Pfalz , the Reichstag had been discussing a declaration of neutrality by the Reich since January 17 . The imperial court bowed to the power of the factual and declared - to save face - on January 20 that it no longer needed the imperial contingents set up in 1757. On February 11, 1763, the empire declared itself neutral. On February 15, 1763, the Peace of Hubertusburg concluded between Prussia and Austria ended the Seven Years' War.

Electoral Palatinate-Bavaria and the Coalition Wars

In 1778, after the Bavarian line of the Wittelsbachs had died out, the War of the Bavarian Succession broke out, and Bavaria was united with the Electoral Palatinate under Elector Karl Theodor , to which the Rhenish duchies of Jülich and Berg also belonged in personal union . After the merger, the area was called Pfalz-Baiern . After Bavaria fell to Karl Theodor as a result of this inheritance, one of the electoral dignitaries expired ( Causa palatina ), while the other continued to exist. Which cure expired was a point of contention in the Reich journalism of the time. Johann Jakob Moser correctly pointed out that from 1778 onwards only "Palatinate" was called in the electoral college. On the other hand, the entire Electoral Palatinate that was not yet occupied by France had to be ceded to Baden in 1803 , but the Duke of Bavaria naturally remained Elector. After the Peace of Westphalia, it was also regulated that in the event of a collapse, the newly created, then eighth electoral dignity for the Palatinate would expire. Benjamin Thompson , Count von Rumford, American by birth, reformed the army and initiated social reforms (insulation, Rumford soup , Rumford cooker, establishment of schools for soldiers' children, workhouses and factories).

From 1793, during the French Revolution and the subsequent Napoleonic era, the territory of Kurpfalz-Bavaria experienced extensive territorial changes and expansions. Until the winter of 1793, Karl Theodor was able to keep his country out of the war that was beginning. In 1794, in the course of the First Coalition War , in which Palatinate Bavaria fought on the side of the coalition, the Duchy of Jülich was occupied by French troops, and a little later the part of the Electoral Palatinate on the left bank of the Rhine was actually separated from the part on the right bank of the Rhine as a result of the French occupation. In the Peace of Lunéville in 1801, Elector Maximilian IV Joseph , who had ruled since 1799, had to relinquish his possessions on the left bank of the Rhine. With that he lost the parts of the Electoral Palatinate on the left bank of the Rhine and the Duchy of Jülich . As a compensation, however, Bavaria was able to expand its national territory considerably through the mediatization and secularization decreed in the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss in 1803 . However, in 1803 it lost the remaining part of the Electoral Palatinate on the right bank of the Rhine to Baden .

Acquisition of Tyrol and elevation to kingdom

The electorate existed until 1806, when Bavaria was proclaimed a kingdom . It had its origins in the Franco-Bavarian Treaty of Brno of December 10-12, 1805 and in the Peace of Pressburg on December 26, 1805 between the plenipotentiaries of the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and the Roman-German and Austrian Emperor Franz II. /I concluded peace treaty , because Austria now had to cede the counties of Tyrol and Vorarlberg to Bavaria. Duke and Elector Maximilian IV Joseph was proclaimed Maximilian I Joseph on January 1, 1806 in Munich as the first king of Bavaria. The formal exit of Bavaria from the Reich association, renouncing the electoral dignity, did not take place until July 1806 with the Rheinbund Act .

Position of the Bavarian Electors in the Empire

Pfalz-Baiern 1779 after the loss of the Innviertel in surface color and later development

The Archduke office was associated with the Palatinate electoral dignity . When Friedrich V of the Palatinate lost the electorate in 1623, the office of arch-steward fell to Bavaria and in 1706 as a result of the outlawing of the Elector of Bavaria again to the Electoral Palatinate, in 1714 again to Bavaria, which held the office until the Bavarian Wittelsbacher family (1777) when this arch office fell back to the Palatinate branch of the Wittelsbach family until the dissolution of the empire in 1806.

By virtue of his electoral titles, the Elector of Bavaria was a member of the Council of Electors in the Reichstag ; he also held the office of Imperial Vicar along with the Elector of Saxony , which he held during periods of vacancy after the Emperor's death in 1657–1658, 1740–1742, 1745, 1790 and 1792. In the Council of Princes in the Reichstag prior to the personal union of 1777, he held the votes as Duke of Bavaria and (after 1770) the Princely Landgrave of Leuchtenberg . In the Bavarian Reichskreis he was, together with the Archbishop of Salzburg , head of the Bavarian Circle, a circle that was territorially dominated by the Electorate of Bavaria. The Bavarian Elector also held lands in the Swabian Circle . After 1777, the electoral dignity of the Palatinate ceased to exist in accordance with the regulations of the golden bull and the Peace of Westphalia due to the collapse of the ruling house. The Palatine Wittelsbachs now ruled the duchy of Bavaria, Palatinate-Neuburg , as well as the Electoral Palatinate , the duchies of Jülich and Berg , Palatinate-Sulzbach , Palatinate-Veldenz , and other smaller areas.


Already after the reunification of the partial duchies of Bavaria-Munich and Bavaria-Landshut and after the enactment of the primogeniture law , the duchy was reorganized in 1507 for administrative purposes into the four rent offices of Landshut , Straubing , Munich and Burghausen , which lasted until 1799/1802, with Munich and Burghausen formed the "Oberland", Landshut and Straubing the "Unterland". Later, with the acquisition of the Upper Palatinate in 1628, the Amberg Rentamt was added. The territorial expansion of the electorate was otherwise small compared to other powers: After the rule of Mindelheim had been won in 1616 and the Electoral Palatinate areas of the Upper Palatinate in 1623/28, the rule of Wiesensteig followed in 1642/1753 , followed by the town and rule of Wertingen in 1700 and the rule of Hohen Reichen in 1734 the County of Hohenwaldeck and 1740-68 the Lordship of Sulzbürg - Pyrbaum . In 1779 the Innviertel ( Innbaiern ), which had been part of the Burghausen Rentamt , was lost to Austria. The highest-level administrative unit in the electorate was the electorate .

In the course of the Napoleonic Wars , extensive areas were annexed to Bavaria. The associated increase in power was one of the reasons why Bavaria was proclaimed a kingdom. In the Treaty of Lunéville in 1801, Kurpfalz-Bavaria, like other German states, had to give up its areas on the left bank of the Rhine. With that it lost the Rhine Palatinate . The Duchy of Jülich also had to give it up . On the basis of the Treaty of Schönbrunn negotiated in 1805 , it ceded the Duchy of Berg on the east bank of the Rhine to France in 1806 in exchange for the Principality of Ansbach . As a substitute, however, Bavaria was able to rebalance its national territory through the mediatization and secularization decreed in the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss in 1803 in exchange for Franconia and areas in Swabia . In 1805, Bavaria tied itself to Napoleon's France by the Treaty of Bogenhausen . Austria's defeat in the Battle of Austerlitz was followed by the Peace of Pressburg . included the cession of Tyrol and Vorarlberg to Bavaria.

See also

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  1. In Article III of the Treaty of Osnabrück it was stipulated: But if it were to happen / that the Wilhelmische Mannliche Lini died out / and the Palatinate remained / then not only the Upper Palatinate / but also the Chur-Dignitet, which the dukes had in Bavaria / to the still living Pfaltzgraffen / so in the meantime be enfeoffed / fall back / and the eighth Chur position is completely extinguished. So, however, the Upper Palatinate / vff should reach the [18] still living Palatinate Count / that the rightful heirs of the Lord Elector in Bavaria should nevertheless be entitled to their claims / and beneficia, if they are due to them by legal process / be reserved. The regulation can also be found in the Treaty of Münster with the same content
  2. Marianne Sammer: Wilhelm V. Catholic Reform and Counter-Reformation . In: Alois Schmid and Katharina Weigand (eds.): The rulers of Bavaria . 25 historical portraits of Tassilo III. until Ludwig III. Beck, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-406-48230-9 , p. 193 ( limited preview in Google Book Search). .
  3. The Vicariate Comparison. (PDF) Retrieved 4 August 2017 .
  4. Maximilian III. Joseph, Elector of Bavaria (pdf) , in: www.deutsche-biographie.de ; accessed January 11, 2021
  5. Max Spindler (ed.): Handbook of Bavarian History, Vol. 2: The old Bavaria. The territorial state from the end of the 12th century to the end of the 18th century , 2nd revised edition, Munich 1988, ISBN 3406 323200 , p. 300,000 fl. But Alois Schmid is different: Max III. Joseph and the European powers. The foreign policy of the Electorate of Bavaria from 1745 to 1765. Oldenbourg, Munich 1987, ISBN 3-486-53631-1 , p. 347. Older secondary sources also cite a subsidy payment of 360,000 florins . See Stichaner (1842), p. 19; Marcel Dunan: Napoleon et l'Allemagne. Le système continental et les débuts du royaume de bavière 1806-1810 , Paris 1942, p. 9
  6. Joseph von Stichaner: History of the Bavarian subsidies: from 1740 to 1762. Speech for the celebration of the Ludwig Day August 25, 1842 , Munich 1842, p. 19ff
  7. Michael Kotulla: German constitutional history: From the Old Reich to Weimar (1495 to 1934), Heidelberg 2008, ISBN 978-3-540-48707-4 , p. 199
  8. Alois Schmid: Max III. Joseph and the European powers. The foreign policy of the Electorate of Bavaria from 1745 to 1765. Oldenbourg, Munich 1987, ISBN 3-486-53631-1 , p. 472
  9. Article III of the Treaty of Osnabrück , see above.
  10. Medieval Lexicon: Truchsess. Bilder-Conversations-Lexikon, p. 15347 (cf. BC-Lexikon Vol. 4, p. 486)
  11. Medieval Lexicon: Truchsess. Bilder-Conversations-Lexikon, p. 15347 (cf. BC-Lexikon Vol. 4, p. 486)