- German Mediatisation
The German Mediatisation was the series of mediatisations and secularisations that occurred in Germany between 1795 and 1814, during the latter part of the era of the French Revolution and then the Napoleonic Era.
Mediatisation – or loss of imperial immediacy – was the process of annexing the lands of one sovereign monarchy to another, often leaving the annexed some rights. Secularisation was the redistribution to secular states of the secular lands held by an ecclesiastical ruler such as a bishop or an abbot.
Following the collapse of the Carolingian Empire, due to the equal heritage splitting prescribed by Salic Law, and the rise of feudalism, much of Europe had been reduced to an array of small, independent statelets. Successive Kings of Germany and Holy Roman Emperors vested temporal authority in many bishoprics, abbacies and convents, and also granted free city rights to many cities and villages throughout Germany. Unlike Western European unitary states like Great Britain, France, or Spain, the German kings were unable to coalesce their realms into a fully centralised kingdom, so over the course of centuries Germany had come to consist of no less than 300 independent sovereign states.
The details of the negotiations were largely arranged by the French minister Talleyrand. The benefiting states were expected to pay fees and to form alliances with Bonaparte's new empire.
The Reichsdeputationshauptschluss (formally the Hauptschluss der außerordentlichen Reichsdeputation, or "Principal Conclusion of the Extraordinary Imperial Delegation") was a resolution passed on 25 February 1803 by the Reichstag (Imperial Diet) of the Holy Roman Empire. It proved to be the last significant law enacted by the Empire before its dissolution in 1806.
Based on a plan agreed in June 1802 between France and Austria, and broad principles outlined in the Treaty of Lunéville of 1801, the law established a major redistribution of territorial sovereignty within the Empire, to compensate numerous German princes for territories to the west of the Rhine that had been annexed by France as a result of the wars of the French Revolution.
The Reichsdeputationshauptschluss was ratified unanimously by the Reichstag in March, 1803, and was approved by the emperor, Francis II, the following month. However, the emperor made a formal reservation in respect of the reallocation of votes within the Reichstag, as the balance between Protestant and Catholic states had been shifted heavily in the former's favour.
From the re-establishment of the Holy Roman Empire by the Salian and Saxon Emperors in the 10th and 11th centuries, the feudal system had turned Germany and northern Italy into a vast network of small statelets, each with its own specific privileges, titles and autonomy. To help administer Germany in the face of growing decentralisation and local autonomy following the rise of feudalism, many bishoprics, abbeys and convents throughout Germany were granted temporal estates and noble titles - such as prince, duke, or count— by successive Holy Roman Emperors. The personal appointment of bishops by the Holy Roman Emperors had sparked the investiture controversy, and in its aftermath the emperors were unable to use the bishops for this end. Following this, the bishops and abbots had begun to run their newfound realms as temporal lords as opposed to spiritual lords. Allegations of corruption and decadence that followed had led to the falling from grace of the ecclesiastical rulers and eventually helped bring about the Protestant Reformation, when several of the former prince-bishoprics were secularized and became the territory of secular princes. In the later sixteenth century the Counter-Reformation attempted to reverse some of these secularizations, and the question of the fates of secularized territories became an important one in the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). In the end, the Peace of Westphalia confirmed the secularizations which had already occurred, but also stabilized the situation to prevent any further changes.
In 1794 the armies of revolutionary France overran the Rhineland, and by the Treaty of Campo Formio in 1797 the Emperor recognized French annexation of all imperial territories west of the Rhine river. The Emperor sought to compensate the now stateless or diminished monarchs who lost their lands by granting them new realms. The only available lands were those held by the Prince-Bishops, so most were secularised and dispersed amongst the monarchs of Germany.
The ecclesiastical states were generally annexed to neighbouring secular principalities. Only three survived as non-secular states: the Archbishopric of Regensburg, which was raised from a bishopric with the incorporation of the Archbishopric of Mainz, and the lands of the Teutonic Knights and Knights of Saint John. Also of note is the former Archbishopric of Salzburg, which was secularised as a duchy with an increased territorial scope, and was also made an electorate.
Monasteries and abbeys lost their means of existence as they had to abandon their land and most were closed. The remaining ecclesiastical states were also secularized after the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. The lands of the Order of St. John were secularized in 1806, Regensburg was annexed by Bavaria in 1809, and in the same year Napoleon dissolved the Teutonic Knights and gave their lands to neighboring princes, particularly the King of Württemberg.
Bishops and archbishops
Abbeys, convents, and provostries
Although the number of German states had been steadily decreasing since the Thirty Years' War, there still remained approximately 200 states by the advent of the Napoleonic Era. The defeat of the First Coalition resulted in the secularisation of the ecclesiastical states and the annexation by France of all lands west of the Rhine.
Allies of Napoleon obtained gains in both territory and status on a number of occasions in the following years.
Mediatisation transferred the sovereignty of small secular states to their larger neighbours. In addition to numerous principalities, all but a handful of the Imperial cities would also be annexed to their neighbours.
In 1803, most of the free cities in Germany were mediatised. On 12 June 1806, Napoleon established the Confederation of the Rhine to extend and help secure the eastern border of France. In reluctant recognition of Napoleon's dismemberment of imperial territory, on 6 August 1806, the Holy Roman Emperor Francis II declared the Empire abolished, and claimed as much power as he could retain as ruler of the Habsburg realms. To gain support from the more powerful German states, the former Holy Roman Emperor accepted, and Napoleon encouraged, those that remained to mediatise minor neighbouring states.
Before the Battle of Waterloo and the exile of Napoleon to Saint Helena, the Congress of Vienna was held from 1814 to 1815 by the Great Powers to re-establish the old borders of Europe. It was decided that Germany would retain the benefit of Napoleon's disrupton of the status quo ante: the mediatised principalities, free cities and secularised states would not be recreated. Instead their former rulers were to enjoy dynastic status, being deemed equal to the still-reigning monarchs for marital purposes, and entitled to claim compensation for their losses. But it was left to each of the annexing states to compensate mediatised dynasties, and the latter had no international right to redress if dissatisfied with the new regime's reimbursement decisions.
- Anhalt-Bernburg-Schaumburg-Hoym: Prince of Anhalt-Bernburg-Hoym 1806
- Arenberg: Prince of Arenberg 1810
- Aspremont-Lynden: Count of Aspremont-Lynden 1806
- Auersperg: Prince of Auersperg 1806
- Bentheim: Count of Bentheim-Bentheim and Steinfurt 1806; Count of Bentheim-Tecklenburg-Rheda 1806
- Bentinck: Baron of Bentinck 1807
- Boyneburg-Bömelberg: Baron of Boyneburg-Bömelberg 1806
- Castell: Count of Castell-Castell 1806; Count of Castell-Rüdenhausen 1806
- Colloredo: Prince of Colloredo-Mansfeld 1806
- Croÿ: Prince of Croÿ-Dulmen 1806
- Dietrichstein: Prince of Dietrichstein 1806
- Erbach: Count of Erbach-Erbach 1806; Count of Erbach-Fürstenau 1806; Prince of Erbach-Schönberg 1806
- Esterházy de Galántha: Prince of Esterházy 1806
- Fugger: Prince of Fugger-Babenhausen 1806; Count of Fugger-Glött 1806; Count of Fugger-Kirchberg-Weissenhorn 1806; Count of Fugger-Kirchheim 1806; Count of Fugger-Nordendorf 1806
- Fürstenberg: Prince of Fürstenberg-Pürglitz 1806
- Giech: Count of Giech 1806
- Grävenitz: Count of Grävenitz 1806
- Harrach: Count of Harrach zu Thannhausen 1806
- Hesse: Elector of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel) 1807; Landgrave of Hesse-Homburg 1806
- Hohenlohe: Prince of Hohenlohe-Bartenstein 1806; Prince of Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen 1806; Prince of Hohenlohe-Jagstberg 1806; Count of Hohenlohe-Kirchberg 1806; Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg 1806; Count of Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfürst 1806
- Isenburg: Prince of Isenburg 1814; Count of Isenburg-Büdingen 1806; Count of Isenburg-Meerholz 1806; Count of Isenburg-Wächtersbach 1806
- Kaunitz-Rietberg: Prince of Kaunitz-Rietberg 1806
- Khevenhüller-Metsch: Prince of Khevenhüller-Metsch 1806
- Königsegg: Count of Königsegg-Aulendorf 1806
- Kuefstein: Count of Kuefstein-Greillenstein 1806
- Leiningen: Prince of Leiningen 1806; Count of Leiningen-Alt-Westerburg 1806; Count of Leiningen-Billigheim 1806; Count of Leiningen-Neudenau; 1806 Count of Leiningen-Neu-Westerburg 1806
- Leyen: Prince of Leyen 1814
- Limburg-Styrum: Count of Limburg-Styrum-Borkelö 1806; Count of Limburg-Styrum-Bronchhorst 1806
- Lobkowicz: Prince of Lobkowicz 1806
- Löwenstein-Wertheim: Count of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg 1806; Prince of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg 1806
- Looz und Corswarem: Duke of Looz-Corswarem 1806
- Metternich: Prince of Metternich 1806
- Neipperg: Count of Neipperg 1806
- Nesselrode: Count of Nesselrode 1806
- Orsini and Rosenberg: Prince of Orsini and Rosenberg 1806
- Ortenburg: Count of Ortenburg-Neuortenburg 1806
- Ostein: Count of Ostein 1806
- Öttingen: Prince of Öttingen-Öttingen 1806; Prince of Öttingen-Spielberg 1806
- Pappenheim: Count of Pappenheim 1806
- Platen-Hallermund: Count of Platen-Hallermund 1806
- Plettenberg: Count of Plettenberg-Wittem 1806
- Pückler and Limpurg: Count of Pückler and Limpurg 1806
- Quadt: Count of Quadt-Isny 1806
- Rechberg and Rothenlöwen: Count of Rechberg and Rothenlöwen 1806
- Rechteren-Limpurg: Count of Rechteren 1806
- Salm: Wild- and Rhinegrave of Salm-Horstmar 1806; Prince of Salm-Kyrburg 1810; Count of Salm-Reifferscheid-Dyck 1806; Count of Salm-Reifferscheid-Hainsbach 1806; Prince of Salm-Reifferscheid-Krautheim 1806; Prince of Salm-Salm 1810
- Sayn-Wittgenstein: Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg 1806; Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohnstein 1806
- Schaesberg: Count of Schaesberg-Thannheim 1806
- Schlitz genannt von Görtz: Count of Schlitz genannt von Görtz 1806
- Schönborn: Count of Schönborn-Wiesentheid 1806
- Schönburg: Count of Schönburg-Penig-Vorderglauchau-Wechselburg 1806; Count of Schönburg-Rochsburg-Hinterglauchau 1806; Prince of Schönburg-Waldenburg 1806
- Schwarzenberg: Prince of Schwarzenberg 1806
- Sickingen: Count of Sickingen 1806
- Sinzendorf: Prince of Sinzendorf 1806
- Solms: Count of Solms-Baruth 1806; Prince of Solms-Braunfels 1806; Prince of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich 1806; Count of Solms-Laubach 1806; Count of Solms-Rödelheim-Assenheim 1806; Count of Solms-Rödelheim und Assenheim 1806; Count of Solms-Wildenfels 1806
_Count_of_ Stadion-Thannhausen_1806;_ Stadion: _Count_of_ Stadion-Thannhausen_1806;_ Count of Stadion-Thannhausen 1806; Count of Stadion-Warthausen 1806
- Starhemberg: Prince of Starhemberg 1806
- Sternberg-Manderscheid: Countess of Sternberg-Manderscheid 1806
_Count_of_ Stolberg-Rossla_1806;_ _Count_of_ Stolberg-Stolberg_1806;_ Stolberg: _Count_of_ Stolberg-Rossla_1806;_ _Count_of_ Stolberg-Stolberg_1806;_ Count of Stolberg-Rossla 1806; _Count_of_ Stolberg-Stolberg_1806;_ Count of Stolberg-Stolberg 1806; Count of Stolberg-Wernigerode 1809
- Thurn und Taxis: Prince of Thurn and Taxis 1806
- Törring: Count of Törring-Jettenbach 1806
- Trauttmansdorff-Weinsberg: Prince of Trauttmansdorff 1806
- Waldbott von Bassenheim: Count of Waldbott von Bassenheim 1806
- Waldburg: Prince of Waldburg-Waldsee 1806; Prince of Waldburg-Wurzach 1806; Prince of Waldburg-Zeil 1806
- Waldeck: Count and Countess of Waldeck-Limpurg 1806
- Wallmoden: Count of Wallmoden-Gimborn 1806
- Wartenberg: Count of Wartenberg-Roth 1806
- Wied: Prince of Wied-Neuwied 1806; Prince of Wied-Runkel 1806
- Windisch-Grätz: Prince of Windisch-Grätz Elder line 1806
- Wurmbrand-Stuppach: Count of Wurmbrand-Stuppach 1806
As the Houses of Ostein, Sinzendorf and Wartenberg became extinct after the mediatisation but before 1830, they are not always counted among the Mediatised Houses. For varying reasons, Aspremont-Lynden, Bentinck, Bretzenheim, Limburg-Styrum and Waldeck-Limpurg are also sometimes excluded. Hesse-Homburg was never considered sovereign by Hesse-Darmstadt and therefore was not technically mediatised, and Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel) was annexed into the Kingdom of Westphalia but later had its sovereignty restored. The Schönburgs had been mediatised to the Elector of Saxony in the 18th century and were only counted amongst the Mediatised Houses at the Electors' insistence.
Abolished free and imperial cities
Most of the mediatisations occurred in 1806 after the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine. Also mediatised 1806–1814 were several states created by Napoleon for his relatives and close allies. These include:
- Prince of Aschaffenburg 1806
- Grand Duke of Frankfurt 1814
- King of Westphalia 1813
- Grand Duke of Würzburg 1814
The only free cities in Germany not abolished in 1803 were:
- Augsburg (abolished 1805)
- Frankfurt (abolished 1866)
- Lübeck (abolished 1937)
- Nuremberg (abolished 1806)
Later mediatisations were:
- Arenberg (annexed to France in 1810, and not re-established in 1814)
- Isenburg and Leyen (mediatised in 1814 by the Congress of Vienna for being too loyal to Napoleon)
- Salm (several states of Salm survived to 1811 and 1813)
- Stolberg-Stolberg and Stolberg-Wernigerode (annexed by Prussia in 1815).
The Reichsdeputationshauptschluss brought about a massive change to the political map of Germany. Literally hundreds of states were eliminated, with only around forty surviving. A number of the surviving states made significant territorial gains (most notably Baden, Bavaria, and Hesse-Darmstadt); and Baden, Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel), and Württemberg gained status by being made electorates (to replace three that had been lost in the changes). Of the imperial cities, only Augsburg, Bremen, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg, Lübeck, and Nuremberg survived as independent entities.
Area and population losses or gains (rounded) Losses Gains Prussia 2.000 km²
Bavaria 10.000 km²
Baden 450 km²
Württemberg 400 km²
- Confederation of the Rhine
- Congress of Vienna
- Holy Roman Empire
- Free imperial city
- Napoleon I
- Treaty of Campo Formio
Texts on Wikisource:
- Arenberg, Jean Engelbert. The Lesser Princes of the Holy Roman Empire in the Napoleonic Era. Dissertation, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., 1950 (later published as Les Princes du St-Empire a l'epoque napoleonienne., Louvain: Publications universitaires de Louvain, 1951).
- Gollwitzer, Heinz. Die Standesherren. Die politische und gesellschaftliche Stellung der Mediatisierten 1815–1918. Stuttgart 1957 (Göttingen 1964)
- Reitwiesner, William Addams. "The Meaning of the Word Mediatized".
- (German) Full text, including the preamble
- (German) PDF of 25 February 1803
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