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Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor with haloes (1400-1806) .svg
Territory in the Holy Roman Empire
coat of arms
Black St George's Cross.svg Coat of arms of the Archdiocese of Cologne.png
Electorate of Cologne with Vest Recklinghausen and Duchy of Westphalia (1560)
Electorate of Cologne with Vest Recklinghausen and Duchy of Westphalia (1560)
Alternative names Electorate of Cologne, Churcöln, Archbishopric Cologne, Kurerzstift Köln
Arose from Originated in the 10th century
Form of rule Electoral principality / corporate state
Ruler / government Prince archbishop , administrator or vacant : cathedral chapter
Today's region / s DE-NW , DE-RP
Parliament Kurfürstenbank , Electoral Council
Reichskreis Kurheinisch
Capitals / residences Cologne , from 1597 Bonn
Denomination / Religions Roman Catholic , in the 16th century temporarily Lutheran and Calvinist
Language / n German

Incorporated into left bank of the Rhine: 1798/1801 Département de la Roer , Département de Rhin-et-Moselle ;

on the right bank of the Rhine: 1803 to the Duchy of Nassau , Landgraviate Hessen-Darmstadt , Grafschaft Wied -Runkel

Kurköln , also Archbishopric and Electorate of Cologne , was one of the original seven electorates of the Holy Roman Empire . It formed the secular domain of the archbishops of Cologne and is to be distinguished from their much larger archbishopric , which included several suffragan dioceses and other areas that were only under the ecclesiastical, but not the state, authority of the archbishop . From the late Middle Ages it is also to be distinguished from the city of Cologne, which broke away from the archbishopric in 1288 ( Battle of Worringen ) and the archbishop was only allowed to enter for religious acts; the official elevation of the city of Cologne to a Free Imperial City did not take place until 1475.

The electorate existed from the middle of the 10th century until the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss in 1803 and from 1512 belonged to the Kurrheinische Reichskreis . Its core area extended on the left bank of the Rhine between Andernach and Rheinberg . To the north-east of this was Vest Recklinghausen as an exclave . The Duchy of Westphalia also belonged to the Electorate, with a focus on the Sauerland , which was able to preserve self-administration rights and other privileges to a considerable extent.

Kurköln bordered the duchies of Berg , Jülich , Geldern and Kleve as well as the county of Mark . Its capital and residence city had been Bonn since 1597 . Other important administrative centers were Neuss , Ahrweiler and Andernach .


The diocese and archbishopric are established

Depiction of Archbishop Brun in St. Andreas, Cologne
Map of the Archbishopric (yellow) by Joan Blaeu from 1645

Even before the year 313, Roman Cologne was the seat of a diocese . After the conquest by the Franks around 450 it was elevated to an archbishopric . The suffragan dioceses of Liège , Münster , Osnabrück and Minden and until 834 Hamburg-Bremen and until 1559 Utrecht were subordinate to him .

Around the old Roman cities in the Rhineland - including Bonn, Cologne, Jülich , Neuss and Xanten - the archbishops had acquired secular goods and manors early on. Later possessions were added in Westphalia with a focus on Soest , Medebach and Attendorn . Many old possessions were given up to equip monasteries and foundations or were lost as fiefs in the 11th century.

The gradual development of the secular possessions and rights of the archdiocese to become an electoral state is closely related to that of the Ottonian-Salian imperial church system : After the uprisings of several dukes , including two of his own brothers, Otto the Great transferred the city and the archbishopric of Cologne to his brother Brun in 953 the Duchy of Lorraine . Part of this duchy, a strip about 25 kilometers deep on the left bank of the Rhine , which stretched from Rolandseck in the south to Rheinberg in the north, remained with the successors of Bruns as secular property, in which they exercised the sovereignty . They used their position as important pillars of the empire and the imperial church to assert themselves against other Rhenish and Westphalian rulers such as the Lorraine Count Palatine or the Count von Werl .

High Middle Ages

After the death of Henry III. and as a result of the uncertainty of the investiture controversy , the archbishops began to establish a secular domain and to push back competing interests. The actual foundations of the later electoral state were laid under Anno II . During this time the power of the Ezzone was curtailed and Siegburg was taken from them. The core area was expanded in 1067 by the imperial estate around Andernach , later around Deutz , Godesberg , Altenwied office with Linz on the Rhine , and the county of Liedberg . In 1075 Aspel and Rees were added on the right Lower Rhine. Approaches to a more solid Cologne rule in southern Westphalia go back to the time of Friedrich I von Schwarzenburg , who succeeded in wresting considerable rights from the Counts of Arnsberg .

Part of the copy of the Gelnhausen certificate in the historical archive of the City of Cologne (dimensions 29 × 42 cm)

This territory was again greatly enlarged under Archbishop Philipp I von Heinsberg . The archbishops rose to become the strongest regional power during this period.

In 1151 the Archbishops in the Rhineland were finally awarded the Ripuarian (Rhenish) ducal dignity, which they used to further strengthen their position of power. Emperor Friedrich I. Barbarossa awarded the bishop the Duchy of Westphalia and Engern in 1180 with the Gelnhausen certificate for his loyalty in the fight against Duke Heinrich the Lion . Vest Recklinghausen was added around 1230 . However, the Electors of Cologne did not succeed in uniting the two separate Rhenish and Westphalian parts of the country into one closed territory .

Archbishop Konrad von Hochstaden expanded the archbishopric to the south by adding the possessions of his own family, which died out with him. Under him, Kurköln reached its greatest power. Since he had opposed Emperor Frederick II early on and sided with the Pope, the Archbishop gained his special confidence. He declared him and his successors to be apostolic legates qua office. Hochstaden was considered a kingmaker, a position of power that his successors could not maintain.

In the Limburg succession dispute, Archbishop Siegfried von Westerburg was subject to an alliance of the Duke of Brabant , the Counts of Jülich , Kleve , Mark and Berg and the citizens of Cologne at the Battle of Worringen in 1288 and lost control of his own episcopal city. Cologne itself was no longer part of the electoral state, but was henceforth a Free Imperial City with a seat and vote in the Reichstag . Archbishop Engelbert II von Falkenburg had already left the city of Cologne and had his Bonn house expanded into a palace with a hall and chapel in order to reside there. His successors also preferred Bonn as their residence until the city was officially elevated to the status of Electoral Cologne capital and residence in 1597. In the 12th century the archbishop already had a considerable sphere of power, but this still represented a pre-territorial structure without fixed borders. Power was essentially defined by the exercise of sovereign rights. The beginning of the establishment of a permanent rule began in the first half of the 13th century. It was at this time that the term pen for the archiepiscopal territory was used for the first time. The cities and castles of the archbishop were of great importance for the establishment of territorial rule. The various Rhine tolls also played an important role in establishing sovereignty.

Late Middle Ages

The seven electors elect Heinrich of Luxembourg as king. On the left in the picture, recognizable by his coat of arms, the Elector and Archbishop of Cologne

In 1368, Kurköln acquired the county of Arnsberg in the Sauerland . This area became the territorial core of the Duchy of Westphalia . The city of Arnsberg became the seat of the Landdrosten as the representative of the sovereign, (secondary) residence of the elector and the meeting place of the parliament for the duchy. Massive attempts to incorporate the neighboring diocese of Paderborn also failed.

In the Rhineland, in the late Middle Ages, the monastery extended from Rheinberg in the north to Andernach in the south, from Nürburg in the west to Altenried in the east. It was divided into the upper pen north of Cologne and the lower pen south of Cologne. In 1314, the Kurstuhl acquired the county of Hülchrath , neighboring Cologne, which closed the territorial gap between the Upper and Lower Centers in the Rhenish areas, and also in the 14th century the state of Linn and the city of Uerdingen near Krefeld .

At the time of Walram von Jülich between 1332 and 1349, the systematic introduction of the constitution of offices falls. Wilhelm von Gennep and Friedrich III. von Saar Werden have completed the administrative organization. At the local level, official waiters were appointed to collect taxes. Judges and bailiffs were assigned to the officials responsible for the judiciary.

Archbishop Dietrich II von Moers' exaggerated power politics had lasting consequences. In the Soest feud from 1444 to 1449, the electoral state lost control of Soest and Xanten to the Counts of Kleve and Mark . The pursuit of a closed territory and a failed economic policy led increasingly to ruin and thus temporarily to the political inability of Cologne from the first half of the 14th century. Although there were still minor territorial acquisitions, overall territorial development was complete since the middle of the 15th century. Kurköln consisted of an approximately 100 km long and 25 km wide strip of land on the Rhine, which formed the actual electorate, as well as the Duchy of Westphalia and Vest Recklinghausen .

The high indebtedness of the archbishopric by Dietrich von Moers led to the fact that the estates in the Rhenish and Westphalian parts of the electoral state forced hereditary land associations in 1463 . These formed one of the central basic laws of the country until its end. Each new archbishop had to invoke the provisions when he was elected. Among other things, they stipulated the participation of the cathedral chapter and the other estates in central political decisions, such as the declaration of wars and the approval of taxes.

The siege of Neuss was an important part of the Cologne collegiate feud (illustration by Conradius Pfettisheim)

First has Rupert of the Rhine summoned the Erblandesvereinigungen, but soon no longer held it. When he occupied the Zons, which had been pledged to the cathedral chapter, the estates claimed the right of resistance documented in the Hereditary Land Association for themselves and appointed Hermann von Hessen as the monastery administrator. Both sides had supporters inside and outside of the state. The Hessians supported Hermann, Charles the Bold stood on the side of Ruprecht. It came to the Cologne collegiate feud and in its course to the long siege of Neuss . After being captured by Hessian troops, Rupprecht gave up his office.

Early modern age

Reformation and Counter Reformation

Hermann von Wied

Under Hermann V. von Wied there was an attempt in the 1540s to introduce the Reformation in the Electoral State ( Cologne Reformation ). He met resistance, in particular from the ranks of the cathedral chapter and the University of Cologne , but also found support from counts, cities and knighthood at the Landtag of 1543. The Reformation sermon was introduced in cities such as Bonn, Neuss, Kempen and Kaiserswerth. In particular, the defeat of the Protestant princes in the Schmalkaldic War and thus the lack of support from outside led to the failure and resignation of Hermann.

Even after the failure, approaches from Protestant communities were able to hold in the Kurkölner dominion area. Adolf III. von Schaumburg tried to counteract this with moderate success by introducing church reforms (provincial synod, visitations, etc.) and combating Protestantism. In cities such as Bonn, Kempen and Neuss and some subordinate rulers, Protestant life was even able to stabilize with the support of the local rulers. The following electors did little to push back Protestantism. Under Salentin von Isenburg there was a visitation which, in addition to the churches and rulers that had become Protestant, found traces of Lutheran, Calvinist or Anabaptism in 40 of 180 parishes. However, only a small minority of pastors were clearly Protestant.

Under Gebhard I. von Waldburg there was another attempt in the 1580s to transform the archbishopric into a secular principality and to introduce the Reformation. In his place, Ernst von Bayern was elected by the cathedral chapter as the new archbishop and sovereign. Gebhard offered resistance and was defeated in the Cologne War . Immediately after the victory of Ernst von Bayern, counter-reformation measures began. The Reformation was only able to assert itself in a few communities.

From the year Ernst von Bayern was elected in 1583 to 1761, the electorate was ruled continuously by archbishops from the Bavarian branch of the House of Wittelsbach . This enabled him to expand his political influence in the north-west of the empire and, like the Calvinist Wittelsbachers in the Electoral Palatinate , now had a seat in the electoral college. In terms of ecclesiastical politics, church reforms essentially came about under Ferdinand von Bayern . He particularly promoted the Jesuits , but also Capuchins and other orders. Since 1584 Cologne was the seat of a papal nunciature, which became an important engine of counter-reform and church reform. At the time of Ferdinand, Kurköln was one of the centers of witch hunt, especially between 1626 and 1631 . Its efforts to keep the Electorate out of the turmoil of the Thirty Years' War were successful for a long time. Nevertheless, he could not prevent Swedish troops under General Baudissin from marching into the electorate in 1632 and occupying and looting large parts of it.

Development in the 17th / 18th century

Clemens August with all the signs of his spiritual and secular rule: the Kurmantel and Kurhut stand for the Electorate of Cologne, the episcopal pectoral hanging on his chest, the collar of the priest's robe and the miter lying on the table behind the Kurhut symbolize his office as Archbishop of Cologne.

After the Thirty Years' War, Kurköln supported the mostly pro- French and anti- Habsburg politics of the dukes and electors of Bavaria as a secondary school of the Wittelsbach family . Maximilian Heinrich von Bayern in particular directed his policy towards France and against the Reich. He allied himself with Louis XIV in 1671 and took part in the war against the Netherlands . This policy put a heavy burden on the state. At the same time, Max Heinrich also pushed the church reform policy forward.

The period of the Wittelsbach secondary school essentially also saw the modernization of the state top with absolutist tendencies. It was only under Ferdinand of Bavaria that a permanent court council was introduced in the 17th century, bypassing the union of the hereditary lands, in which the cathedral chapter was also involved. He also founded a secret council that was solely responsible to the elector and developed into the actual central government body.

In terms of foreign policy, the 18th century was characterized by changing alliances. Last but not least, the amount of subsidies played a role. In economic terms, development remained limited. In contrast, the electors developed a splendid court holding. During the time of Joseph Clemens von Bayern , Bonn was destroyed during the Palatinate War . He changed sides in 1701 and allied himself with Louis XIV of France in the War of the Spanish Succession . Outlawed by the empire, he had to go into French exile. After returning in 1715, he planned to rebuild Bonn and the electoral palaces, but never saw their completion. His successor, Clemens August I of Bavaria , often changed alliances. He had magnificent palaces and gardens built. All in all, however, he also wasted the income on excessive court rulings and hunting. With Maximilian Friedrich von Königsegg-Rothenfels , the time of the Bavarian princes as electors ended. The new elector pursued an energetic austerity policy and founded the Bonn Academy in 1777 , which became a university in 1784. Under Maximilian Franz von Austria , in the spirit of the Catholic Enlightenment, there were numerous reforms in almost all political areas, but especially in the education system. The university in Bonn was expanded, school education and teacher training improved.

The end of the electoral state

In the Treaty of Lunéville in 1801, all areas on the left bank of the Rhine were ceded to Napoleonic France . The territories of Kurköln on the right bank of the Rhine were secularized as a result of the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss in 1803 and divided into different territories. Westphalia had already been occupied by Hessen-Darmstadt in 1802 . Vest Recklinghausen fell to the Duchy of Arenberg-Meppen in 1803 and then to the Grand Duchy of Berg in 1811 . Smaller areas on the right bank of the Rhine came to the County of Wied- Runkel and in 1806 to the newly created Duchy of Nassau . This ended the history of Kurköln three years before the empire ceased to exist in 1806.

The Congress of Vienna in 1815 assigned the entire territory of the former electoral state to the Kingdom of Prussia . The areas on the left bank of the Rhine initially belonged largely to the Prussian province of Jülich-Kleve-Berg and from 1822 to the whole of the Rhine province . The former Duchy of Westphalia and Vest Recklinghausen, however, were assigned to the Province of Westphalia . Since 1946 the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate have shared the areas of the former electorate of Cologne.


Elector and court

The Archbishop of Cologne had already had the right to be crowned a king since 1028, as the coronation city of Aachen was located in his archdiocese. Since 1031 he was also Arch Chancellor for Imperial Italy . Together with the two Rhenish archbishops of Trier and Mainz as well as the Count Palatine near Rhine , the Margrave of Brandenburg , the Duke of Saxony and the King of Bohemia , they formed the originally seven-member college of electors . This had the sole right to elect the German king since the 13th century .

The Archbishop of Cologne was elected by the cathedral chapter. In order to obtain all episcopal and secular rights, however, papal confirmation and the granting of secular regalia by the emperor were required. In particular, since the Golden Bull Charles IV in 1356, the electors had significant privileges over other princes. This also included unrestricted jurisdiction. With the end of the Thirty Years' War, as imperial princes, they had the right to enter into external alliances, and their internal independence from the emperor was strengthened once again. Inside, however, the sovereign rights were considerably restricted by the estates, especially by the cathedral chapter. It was significant that the elector required the approval of the cathedral chapter in order to convene a state assembly; conversely, the cathedral chapter could, if necessary, convene such an assembly without the consent of the sovereign. Despite the ban by Innocent XII. In 1695, when they were elected, the archbishops had to guarantee the cathedral chapter's old privileges in an election surrender . By conjuring up the Hereditary Lands Association in 1463 and 1590, he had to give the estates a say in key areas such as declaring wars or collecting taxes. Even fundamental changes in religion, such as the introduction of the Reformation, required the approval of the estates.

Court in front of the Chinese pavilion at Schloss Brühl

Despite this de facto power restriction, a large court existed in the early modern period, which under Joseph Clemens of Bavaria was redesigned according to the model of absolutist states, especially the French court in Versailles. At the time of Clemens August I of Bavaria , it received its largely valid shape until the end of the electoral state. At the same time the court was separated from the government authorities. At the head of the court stood the Colonel-Landhofmeister. There were several bars under him. The old court offices from the Middle Ages only had representative functions and were hereditary in noble families. In the 18th century, the Bonn court was probably the most magnificent in all of western and northern Germany. However, the costs were disproportionate to the economic performance of the state. The electors were not infrequently dependent on subsidies from foreign powers for financing, which were usually able to demand political compensation. Under Maximilian Friedrich von Königsegg-Rothenfels and Maximilian Franz von Austria , numerous savings were made, despite adhering to the basic structure of the court.

Cathedral chapter

In the Electorate of Cologne, the cathedral chapter was the first estate among the estates to form the highest governing body of the diocese and the archbishopric under the archbishop. Choosing a successor after his death was his primary authority. Until the end of the Middle Ages it consisted of 72 members, of which only 24 were capitulars with voting rights. Later, their number fell to 24 canons and 24 domicellaries with voting rights . The Pope and Emperor also had a canon of honor that allowed them to have a say in the appointment of new bishops.

The chapter was divided into 16 cathedral counts (or canons) and 8 priests. Only Domgrafen allowed the offices of provost , the Cathedral Dean , the Vice Dean, the choir Bishop , of Schofield vice , the deacon senior and junior deacon hold. In order to be accepted into the cathedral chapter, they had to have 16 ruling noble ancestors on their father's and mother's side and have received sub-deacon ordination. Only the cathedral dean, who directed the chapter, must have been ordained a priest . Since most of the canons owned several canons in different dioceses, only a few actually resided in Cologne. In the 17th and 18th centuries, many cathedral counts came from Swabian families, so that the chapter was ruled by strangers.

Since 1218/19 the number of priests who were also entitled to vote rose to 7, later to 8. In addition to being ordained a priest, they had to hold a degree in theology or jurisprudence by the 15th century at the latest. Since they usually all resided at the cathedral church, they were usually superior to the cathedral counts in number, so that they represented the actual political will center of the chapter. In contrast to the cathedral counts, the priestly lords always came from the city of Cologne or its surrounding area. Since several canons of the University of Cologne had been incorporated, they awarded them to their professors for payment.

The cathedral chapter was essentially supplemented by co-optation. The archbishop had little influence on the composition. Despite all the tensions between the elector and the cathedral chapter, the canons often held important secular offices in the electoral state.

After secularization, the cathedral chapter was limited to 16 posts and two dignities - provost and cathedral dean. Of these, four are still active as non-resident canons at the cathedral church.

prime minister

The “Prime Minister” or “First Minister” was Kurköln's leading minister . The office was created in the 17th century because the archbishops usually did not take care of politics themselves . So the prime minister was the real ruler. Only under the last elector, Maximilian Franz of Austria , who was in charge of government himself, the office was only a nominal one. The Prime Minister was freely appointed by the Archbishop and mostly also held the highest office at court, that of the Obristlandhofmeister.

  1. 1621–1640: Franz Wilhelm Reichsgraf von Wartenberg
  2. 1640–1650: Adolf Sigismund Baron Raitz von Frentz zur Kendenich; House Marshal of the Electorate of Cologne; Court Master of the Electorate of Cologne (1640–1651)
  3. 1650–1682: Count Franz Egon von Fürstenberg
  4. 1682–1688: Wilhelm Egon Graf von Fürstenberg
  5. 1688–1719: Johann Friedrich Karg von Bebenburg
  6. 1723–1733: Ferdinand von Plettenberg
  7. 1733–1750: Ferdinand Leopold von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
  8. 1751–1755: Hermann Werner von der Asseburg
  9. 1756–1766: Franz Christoph Anton von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
  10. 1766–1784: Caspar Anton von Belderbusch
  11. 1784–1785: Carl Otto Ludwig Theodat von und zu Gymnich


As in other countries of the empire, the actual state administration in Kurköln was incumbent on various council colleges in the early modern period. Since their division of tasks was never clearly delimited from one another, there were always overlaps and disputes between the individual bodies. Its members, the councils, were comparable to today's state secretaries. A distinction was made between real councils, which actually dealt with the politics of the country, and the "normal" councils, which bore their honorary title and often received them against payment. The different colleges were:

  • the Secret Council College , which was headed by a Secret Council Chancellor and, in his absence, by the oldest Privy Councilor;
  • the Spiritual Council College, with its own chancellery, headed by a president and managed by a director;
  • the Hofrats-Kollegium , which consisted of two administrative branches, both of which were chaired by the Hofrat President. While the court councilors and the court council chancellery were headed by a director, the leadership of the High Secular Judges' Court in Bonn was the responsibility of the senior bailiff there;
  • the Hofkammer-Rats-Kollegium , which also comprised two strands, both of which were presided over by a president. While court chamber councilors and court chamber chancellery were headed by the director of the court chamber, the "coin" was subordinate to the land rent master;
  • the War Council College . Standing under a President, the War Councils and the War Council Chancellery were headed by a director.


Until the electoral state was dissolved, the triennial state parliaments in the archbishopric, the Duchy of Westphalia and Vest Recklinghausen formed the representative body. They were independent of one another and each met for themselves. The most important of them was the state parliament of the archbishopric, which usually met in the Minorite monastery in Bonn . He authorized the elector to collect the respective taxes and was attended by the estates of Westphalia and Recklinghausen as passive listeners.

At the end of the Middle Ages, four estates were formed in the actual archbishopric: cathedral chapters, counts, knights and cities.

  1. Status: The cathedral chapter, which sent four of its members to the state parliament.
  2. Stand: The owners of a knight's seat who had belonged to the imperial nobility for at least four generations . They were also called counts.
  3. Status: The owners of at least one of the 227 knightly seats of the archbishopric, if they could also prove their nobility. Owning a knight's seat without proof of nobility alone was not enough.
  4. Status: Apart from Deutz and Alpen , it consisted of all 18 cities of the Archbishopric. In it put Andernach the Directorate for the top pin and Neuss the Directorate for the low pin. While the directorate cities sent three members, the sub-directorate cities Ahrweiler , Linz am Rhein , Rheinberg and Kempen could only send two.

In principle, the state parliament took place once a year, mostly in the first half of the year. The venue was the St. Remigius Church in Bonn. Before he was called, the elector had to obtain the approval of the cathedral chapter, which usually happened four weeks before the meeting.

At the beginning of the meeting, all participants heard the Holy Spirit Mass. The sessions were formally opened with the subsequent reading of the state parliament proposal. Then the participants went to their meeting rooms, separated according to their stands.

During the first week, the gravamina was primarily negotiated . Most of these were complaints about violation of the rights of the estates by the electoral government organs. The second phase, the granting of money, was only passed when the elector had passed resolutions that corresponded to the demands of the estates. This did not happen at all booths at the same time as they advised independently of one another. Submissions from individual subjects were dealt with after the question of the grant of funds.

The majority principle applied to the votes among canons, counts and knights, whereas there were considerable differences in the weighting of the cities. Here the voice of a principal city alone counted as much as the votes of all the lower cities combined.

The opinion of the state parliament was basically formed from the lower to the higher classes, i.e. from the cities to the knights and counts to the cathedral chapter. First the cities had to agree with the knights, then the knights with the counts and, in a last step, the counts with the canons of a common position. If a higher class differed in its position on a certain question from the positions voting before it, they had to negotiate again. The whole procedure started all over again. If no agreement was reached, the next higher rank or the electoral government were informed of the differing votes.

The cumbersome procedure strengthened the higher classes in asserting their interests. At the same time, however, it should ensure that the higher level automatically incorporated those of the lower levels into its decisions. This was based on the generally widespread constitutional notion that the country had to face the sovereign "unavoce", that is, with one vote.

While the electors in the core area of ​​their territory were able to curtail the co-determination rights of the state parliaments with a certain degree of success in favor of an absolutist conception of rule, they succeeded only to a limited extent in the neighboring countries, especially in the Duchy of Westphalia. The state parliament retained considerable influence there until the end of the old empire.

Territorial Administration


An office was a well-defined area. Here the archbishop had high and low jurisdiction . The subordinates and glories in them were excluded from these areas . The size of the offices was relatively different. Small offices often only consisted of a city with its immediate surroundings ( Meckenheim , Rhens ), a city with some municipalities in the surrounding area ( Rheinbach , Zülpich , Deutz , Zons ) or several rural communities ( Godesberg , Mehlem , Wolkenburg , Zeltingen , Alken , Königsdorf ). Often not all administrative offices were occupied in an office and sometimes not even that of the bailiff. The latter was often also a bailiff of another, neighboring office. But there were also large offices such as Bonn , Altenwied , Kempen- Oedt, which always had a full staff of officials.

Usually the head of an office was the bailiff, who could be replaced at any time and was always removed from the ministerial nobility until the end of the electoral state. Often represented in their official business by subordinates at an early stage, regular administrators have been appointed in their place since the 17th century. Here, however, the bailiffs retained the title of such. The duties of the bailiff included the military protection of the office entrusted to him, the residents and the sovereign and usable rights of the archbishop to the outside world. Legal peace, security and internal order were also subject to him. Provided with a permanent office, received regular income for the costs of his office, which was usually taken from the income of the sovereign in the office. In later times he also received a fixed salary. In the thirteenth century he was still in front of the court, but the office of judge was soon separated in terms of personnel and was now carried out by the sovereign judges, mayors and bailiffs, who, however, were often administrators or waiters at the same time.

We have also found the waiter's office since the middle of the 14th century. Originally he was only responsible for the upkeep of the staff in the official castles, but soon all of the sovereign income was his responsibility. Originally also often administered by clergymen who knew how to write, since the 18th century the actual administration has often been in the hands of a trustee.


In the subordinates, high and low jurisdiction was often exercised by a nobleman who was not usually enfeoffed in other territories. The subordination was not subject to any office, but formed an independent feudal structure. Archbishop could neither Bede nor treasure demand as sovereign tax and make only a loose protection law. Even constant minor legal wars did not lead to the hoped-for goal of full sovereignty of the "subordinate". Correspondingly, the rulers' ordinances of the archbishop, his edicts regarding tax collection, hunting, court, legal, police, police and tax ordinances also took effect here.


The splendid items were the 227 knight's seats with their aperitifs , whose owners mostly had jurisdiction over the courts. They were exempt from the bede , the treasure and the official duties towards the archbishop as sovereign.


The cities of Kurköln formed regional authorities, which were granted privileges to deal with their affairs largely independently. In the Erblandesvereinigung of 1463, the following cities were named: Bonn , Andernach , Neuss , Ahrweiler , Linz , Rheinberg , Kaiserswerth , Zons , Uerdingen , Kempen , Rheinbach , Zülpich and Lechenich .

coat of arms

The archbishopric and electoral state of Cologne had the following coat of arms: in silver a (often standing) black bar cross . It still appears today in a large number of current district and community coats of arms in the area of ​​the former electoral state and its exclaves Westphalia and Vest Recklinghausen ( see list of coats of arms with the Electoral Cologne cross ).

See also

Portal: Cologne Cathedral  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the subject of Cologne Cathedral


  • Kurköln (state archive and courts), gentlemen, Niederrheinisch-Westfälischer Kreis , additions to volume 1 (= the main state archive Düsseldorf and its holdings, volume 2), edit. by Friedrich Wilhelm Oediger, Siegburg 2nd edition 1994 [1970].
  • Kurköln. Land under the crook: essays and documents (= publications of the state archives of North Rhine-Westphalia, series C: Sources and research, volume 22; series of publications of the district of Viersen 35a), ed. from NRW-Hauptstaatsarchiv Düsseldorf / Kreisarchiv Wesel / Arbeitskreis Niederrheinischer Archivare, Red. Klaus Flink, Kevelaer 1985.
  • Stefan Burkhardt: With staff and sword . Images, bearers and functions of archbishop rule at the time of Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa. The archbishopric of Cologne and Mainz in comparison (= Medieval Research 22), Ostfildern 2008.
  • Georg Droege : Constitution and economy in Kurköln under Dietrich von Moers (1414–1463) (= Rheinisches Archiv 50), Bonn 1957.
  • Eduard Hegel : The Archdiocese of Cologne between Baroque and Enlightenment. From the Palatinate War to the end of the French period 1688–1814 (= History of the Archdiocese of Cologne 4), Cologne 1979.
  • Eduard Hegel: The Archdiocese of Cologne. Between the 19th century restoration and the 20th century restoration. 1815–1962 (= History of the Archdiocese of Cologne 5), Cologne 1987.
  • Wilhelm Janssen : The Archdiocese of Cologne in the late Middle Ages. 1191–1515 (= History of the Archdiocese of Cologne 2), 2 half volumes, Cologne 1995/2003.
  • Hansgeorg Molitor : The Archdiocese of Cologne in the age of religious struggles. 1515–1688 (= History of the Archdiocese of Cologne 3), Cologne 2008.
  • Wilhelm Neuss, Friedrich Wilhelm Oediger: The Diocese of Cologne from the beginning to the end of the 12th century (= history of the Archdiocese of Cologne 1), Cologne 1964 [1991].
  • Sabine Picot: Electoral Cologne territorial policy on the Rhine under Friedrich von Saar Werden (1370–1414) (= Rheinisches Archiv 99), Bonn 1977.
  • Karsten Ruppert: The provincial estates of the Archbishopric of Cologne as organs of political co-determination. In: Jahrbuch für Westdeutsche Landesgeschichte 41 (2015), pp. 51–97.
  • Aloys Winterling : The court of the electors of Cologne 1688–1794. A case study on the importance of “absolutist” court management , Cologne 1986.
  • Josef Niesen : Bonn Personal Lexicon. 3rd, improved and enlarged edition. Bouvier, Bonn 2011, ISBN 978-3-416-03352-7 (including biographies of many people from Kurköln).

Web links

Commons : Kurköln  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Cologne I / 1 In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie . Vol. 19. Berlin / New York, 1990 p. 290
  2. ^ A b Monika Storm: The Duchy of Westphalia, Vest Recklinghausen and the Rhenish Archbishopric of Cologne. Kurköln in its parts. In: Harm Klueting (Ed.): The Duchy of Westphalia. Vol. 1. The Electoral Cologne Westphalia from the beginnings of Cologne rule in southern Westphalia to secularization in 1803. Münster 2009, ISBN 978-3-402-12827-5 , p. 359
  3. ^ Monika Storm: The Duchy of Westphalia, Vest Recklinghausen and the Rhenish Archbishopric of Cologne. Kurköln in its parts. In: Harm Klueting (Ed.): The Duchy of Westphalia. Vol. 1. The Electoral Cologne Westphalia from the beginnings of Cologne rule in southern Westphalia up to secularization in 1803. Münster 2009, ISBN 978-3-402-12827-5 , p. 359 f.
  4. ^ A b Monika Storm: The Duchy of Westphalia, Vest Recklinghausen and the Rhenish Archbishopric of Cologne. Kurköln in its parts. In: Harm Klueting (Ed.): The Duchy of Westphalia. Vol. 1. The Electoral Cologne Westphalia from the beginnings of Cologne rule in southern Westphalia to secularization in 1803. Münster 2009, ISBN 978-3-402-12827-5 , p. 360
  5. ^ Monika Storm: The Duchy of Westphalia, Vest Recklinghausen and the Rhenish Archbishopric of Cologne. Kurköln in its parts. In: Harm Klueting (Ed.): The Duchy of Westphalia. Vol. 1. The Electoral Cologne Westphalia from the beginnings of Cologne rule in southern Westphalia to secularization in 1803. Münster 2009, ISBN 978-3-402-12827-5 , pp. 350–352
  6. ^ A b Hans Georg Molitor: Cologne I / 2 In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie. Vol. 19. Berlin / New York, 1990 p. 297
  7. ^ Hans Georg Molitor: Cologne I / 2 In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie . Volume 19, Berlin / New York 1990, p. 298
  8. Gerhard Schormann: The war against the witches. The extermination program of the Electors of Cologne. Göttingen, 1991.
  9. ^ Hans Georg Molitor: Cologne I / 2 In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie . Volume 19, Berlin / New York 1990, p. 298 f.
  10. ^ A b Rudolf Lill, Erwin Sandmann: Constitution and Administration of the Electorate and Archdiocese of Cologne in the 18th Century. In: Elector Clemens August. Sovereign and patron of the 18th century. DuMont Schauberg, Cologne 1961, p. 47, (exhibition catalog, Augustusburg Palace in Brühl)
  11. ^ Rudolf Lill, Erwin Sandmann: Constitution and Administration of the Electorate and Archdiocese of Cologne in the 18th Century. In: Elector Clemens August. Sovereign and patron of the 18th century. DuMont Schauberg, Cologne 1961, pp. 48–50, (exhibition catalog, Augustusburg Palace in Brühl)
  12. Cf. on this, in particular on the office of court master: Lutz Jansen: Schloß Frens - contributions to the cultural history of a noble residence on the Erft. Association for history and local history Quadrath-Ichendorf e. V., Bergheim 2008, p. 107 m. w. N .; Landschaftsverband Rheinland - LVR archive advice and training center: The documents of the archives of Schloß Frens - Regesten, Volume II: 1566–1649, inventories of non-state archives 51 - 2011, p. 349 ff. M. w. N.
  13. See Karsten Ruppert: Die Landstands des Erzstifts Köln, pp. 51–97.