Count Palatine

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The seven electors elect Henry VII as king. The electors, recognizable by the coats of arms above their heads, are, from left to right, the Archbishops of Cologne, Mainz and Trier, the Count Palatine of the Rhine, the Duke of Saxony, the Margrave of Brandenburg and the King of Bohemia

The count palatine ( Latin comites palatini ) were originally officials and representatives of the king or emperor. You were in front of the court court and held a general managerial role. They also acted as liaisons between supplicants from the empire and the king or emperor. In the Holy Roman Empire there was initially a Count Palatine for each Duchy. Later most of the palatinate counties were incorporated into a more powerful principality. The only remaining Count Palatine near Rhine belonged to the imperial princes from the late Middle Ages and was in fact equal to the dukes . The salutation of the princely Count Palatine (Count Palatine near Rhine) was (Royal) Highness .

Historical development

For the meaning of the Latin word palatinus see under Paladin , because both the word "Pfalzgraf" and the word "Paladin" are derived from Latin palatinus .

In the Merovingian period , more precisely in the course of the 6th century, the title of Count Palatine was mentioned for the first time; he was responsible for the administration of the royal court. In the Carolingian era , the Count Palatinate rose to the highest authority for secular affairs at the royal or imperial court and, in particular, was appointed chairman of the Palatinate Court . In their early days, the bearers of the office of the Count Palatinate were senior royal officials at the court with predominantly administrative and judicial tasks. With their office, the Count Palatinate was often given control of a royal or imperial palace with entourage and associated goods . These castle-like palaces or royal courts were scattered across the kingdom in different duchies .

As part of the development of the German kingdom from the East Franconian on the basis of the tribal duchies of Eastern Franconia , the Count Palatine received extensive special royal rights in order to politically secure the cohesion of the kingship and to keep the powerful dukes in check. Since the end of the 10th century, tribal counts palatine developed in the tribal duchies of Saxony, Bavaria, Swabia and Lorraine as representatives and guardians of royal rights. The dignity of the palatine count was no longer associated with the original task of looking after a royal palace, but included a kind of control function and representation of the king within the tribal duchies and thus also the second position after the duke within the duchy. Associated with this was an increase in rank over other counts of the duchy and the right to exercise the office of judge in lieu of a king. This was accompanied by hunting, customs and coinage law. The most powerful of the Count Palatine, the Count Palatine near Rhine , was the king's deputy in court, imperial vicar in case of vacancies from the throne, and even judge of the king.

Later the designation "Pfalzgraf" became a hereditary title in various German princely houses. From the late Middle Ages, dukes, counts, margraves and palatine counted to the imperial princehood in the Holy Roman Empire , as well as the ecclesiastical princes: archbishops, bishops and the abbesses of imperial abbeys.

Differentiation from similar offices and dignities

A strict separation of duties z. B. between Count Palatine on the one hand and other princely offices did not exist. Mighty Palatine were often in personal union also land or Marquis , Dukes or ecclesiastical princes. This gave the term “Palatinate” a new meaning in the Holy Roman Empire : According to this, Palatinate not only denoted fortified royal courts, but also territories ruled by Count Palatine or Elector Prince.

The rights and duties of the offices and dignities of medieval society were subject to constant changes and also varied from region to region. So complained mid-18th century a historian that in his early explanations of the Golden Bull , the terms comes palatii, steward , chief steward , steward , "House Major and majordom" ( House Meier ) "entirely wrong vermenget together" would. In addition, the comes palatii is a “court judge ” and not a “ court judge ”.

The distinction to the Hofpfalzgrafen is clearer : Although they were often assigned to certain territories in order to exercise their privileges, due to their Hofpfalzgrafenamt they had no sovereign rights , but ultimately functions similar to civil servants .

Merovingian and Carolingian Count Palatine

  • Chrodobertus II., October 2, 678 comes palatinus
  • Grimbert, 691/720 comes palatinus from Neustria , probably son of Chrodobertus II.
  • Robert I (also Rupert I, † before 764) 741/742 comes palatinus , grandson of Chrodobertus II.
  • Anselm († 778 in Roncesvalles ) comes palatinus , son of Rupert I.
  • Adalhard 877
  • Cobbo the Younger ( Ekbertiner )
Counts of Champagne

The Carolingian Lothar ( King of France 954-986) made Odo I , Count of Blois , one of his most loyal allies in the fight against the Robertines alongside the Count of Vermandois , Count Palatine, a title that was hereditary in his family and then on the Champagne sourced.

Count Palatine of Bavaria

The office of the Pfalzgrafenamt was originally connected with the Palatinate in Regensburg and in Bavaria was probably not subordinate to the king, but to the Bavarian duke . It gave the owner a leading position in the duchy in the legal and judicial areas.

Count Palatine of Burgundy

Formed in 1169 by Emperor Friedrich I from the Free County of Burgundy , see here .

Count Palatine of Lorraine

From 985 the Palatinate of Lorraine was anchored in the house of the Ezzone :

After the death of Hermann II. Of Lorraine, his widow married Adelheid the Luxembourg Henry II. Of Laach, who succeeded between 1085/1087 in the County Palatine. The Palatinate County of Lorraine became part of the Palatinate County near the Rhine.

Count Palatine near the Rhine

The Palatinate near Rhine developed from the Palatinate Lorraine in 1085/1087. The ruling Count Palatinate near Rhine are listed in the list of rulers of the Electoral Palatinate . The Count Palatine of the Rhine , who came from the House of Wittelsbach , had been one of the seven electors of the Holy Roman Empire since 1214 and finally since 1356 and, in the absence of the king, his deputy. The important electoral dignity covered the title of Count Palatinate and gradually left the name “Palatinate” as the name for the territories of this “Elector of the Palatinate” (Elector Palatinate ) or for countries with related branches (e.g. Upper Palatinate , Palatinate-Neumarkt , Palatinate -Neuburg ). When the Elector Palatinate inherited the Electorate of Bavaria in 1777 , the dual state " Palatinate-Bavaria " emerged for a short time . The parts of Palatinate Bavaria on the left bank of the Rhine (the Duchy of Jülich and the western Palatinate) were lost to France with the occupation of the Left Bank of the Rhine and the Peace of Lunéville , whose ruler Napoléon Bonaparte raised Bavaria to a kingdom in 1806 . When parts of the old Electoral Palatinate were returned to Bavaria in 1814/15, this changed nothing in the now purely Bavarian state name, and “the Palatinate” was now one of the Bavarian provinces among others. In 1920, the westernmost part of the Palatinate (today the Saarpfalz district ) became part of the Saar area through the Treaty of Versailles . At the time of National Socialism , the so-called Gau Saarpfalz existed . The part of the Palatinate that remained with Bavaria after 1920 was separated from Bavaria in 1946 and united with the southern part of the previous Prussian Rhine Province and Rheinhessen to form the new German state of Rhineland-Palatinate . The change in meaning of the term “Pfalz” lives on in these names to this day.

Count Palatine of Saxony

Count Palatine of Saxony were initially the Counts of Goseck , who inherited office and title to the Counts of Sommerschenburg , who in turn inherited them to the Landgraves of Thuringia :

  • Athelbero (Berno) († 982), 965–966 Count Palatine (in Saxony), Count in Hesse and Liesgau , 972 Count Palatine
  • Thiedrich († 995, probably March 6th), 992 Count Palatine
  • Friedrich († July 1002/15 March 1003) 995–996 Pfalzgraf, count in the Harz and Northern Thuringia gau
  • Burchard I. von Goseck († after November 1017) 991/1017 Count in Hassegau , 1003 Count Palatine (in Saxony), 1004 Count of Merseburg
  • Siegfried († April 25, 1038) 1028 Count Palatine (in Saxony)
  • Friedrich I. von Goseck († probably 1042), 1040 Count Palatine in Saxony, Count in Hassegau
  • Wilhelm IV. († 1062) Count of Weimar , probably Count Palatine of Saxony in 1042
  • Dedo (slain May 5, 1056 in Pöhlde ) son of Frederick I, 1042–1044 Count Palatine,
  • Frederick II († May 27, 1088 in Barby ), brother of Dedos, count palatine in 1056
  • Friedrich III. (murdered February 5, 1087 near Zscheiplitz ), his son
  • Friedrich IV of Putelendorf (Bottendorf an der Unstrut) († 1125 probably June 26th in Dingelstedt am Huy ), his son, 1114 Count Palatine
  • Frederick V of Sommerschenburg († October 18, 1120/21), grandson of Frederick I, Count Palatine in Saxony 1097, Count Palatine of Saxony 1111,
  • Friedrich VI. († May 19, 1162), 1121 Count Palatine, 1123–1124 Count Palatine of Sommerschenburg, son of Frederick V.
  • Hermann II von Winzenburg (murdered January 30, 1152) from the house of the Counts of Formbach , 1129–1130 Count Palatine (of Saxony); Margrave of Meissen deposed in 1130; marries the widow of Frederick VI in 1148.
  • Adalbert († January 15 / March 17, 1179), 1162–1179 Count Palatine of Sommerschenburg, son of Frederick VI.

Landgrave Ludwig III was at the Reichstag in Gelnhausen . of Thuringia on April 13, 1180 appointed Count Palatine of Saxony.

  • Ludwig III. († 1190) 1180 Count Palatine of Saxony, renounced 1181, 1172–1190 Landgrave of Thuringia
  • Hermann I († 1217) 1181 Count Palatine of Saxony, 1190 Landgrave of Thuringia
  • Ludwig IV. († 1227) 1217–1227 Count Palatine of Saxony and Landgrave of Thuringia
  • Heinrich Raspe († 1247) 1228–1247 Landgrave of Thuringia, before 1231–1247 Count Palatine of Saxony and 1246/47 German anti -king

After Heinrich Raspe's death, the office of Count Palatinate of Saxony was initially transferred to the Wettins due to a contingent loan from Emperor Friedrich II .

  • Henry III. the illustrious († 1288) 1247–1265 Landgrave of Thuringia and Palatine of Saxony, 1227–1288 Margrave of Meißen
  • Albrecht II, the Degenerate († 1314) 1265-1314 Landgrave of Thuringia and Palatine Count of Saxony
  • Friedrich I. der Freidige (also: the bitten , † 1323) 1291–1323 Margrave of Meissen and Landgrave of Thuringia, since 1280 – before 1291 Count Palatine of Saxony

Under King Rudolf I of Habsburg , the office of Count Palatinate of Saxony went to the Brunswick Guelph Dukes .

Count Palatine in Swabia

In 1146 the Swabian Palatinate passed to the Count Palatine of Tübingen .


  • Jörg Peltzer : The rank of the Count Palatine near the Rhine. The shaping of the political-social order of the empire in the 13th and 14th centuries (= Rank. Political-social order in medieval Europe. Vol. 2). Thorbecke, Ostfildern 2013, ISBN 978-3-7995-9122-5 .
  • Christof Paulus: The Palatine Office in Bavaria in the early and high Middle Ages (= studies on the Bavarian constitutional and social history. Vol. 25). Commission for Bavarian State History, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-7696-6875-9 .

Individual evidence

  1. ( Memento of the original from January 19, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. Johann Heinrich Drümel: historian Uniform paper by the large-bailiff and ore steward of the Frankish and teutschen Reich (...) , page 44, 1751 Nürnberg