Abschied see Recess.
Allodial property Land and other assets belonging to a family, separate from any legal jurisdictions they might possess. Often held collectively, in common, and distinct from individual personal possessions.
Amt Dual meaning as either a public post held by an official or an administrative district within a territory.
Arch-offices The ceremonial titles assumed by the electors during the high Middle Ages and associated permanently by the Golden Bull (q.v.) with particular electorates.
Armed Estate A territory possessing a permanent military establishment beyond that required to fulfil imperial obligations.
Benefice Land or other assets conferred as a reward or to facilitate service (see Fief). The term derived from the Old High German lîhan (Lehen), Latinized as Beneficium and meaning to lend, award or confer. It was used widely in the early Middle Ages and did not necessarily entail vassalage until 1166. Its usage during the later Middle Ages was increasingly restricted to denote property and assets endowed to support clergy (see also Fief).
Canton A territorial division for administrative or governing purposes. Its most prominent usage is to denote the self-governing areas combining after 1291 as the Swiss Confederation, though these were actually called ‘places’ (Orte) until the official adoption of the term ‘canton’ in 1798. ‘Canton’ was already the official designation of the regional associations of the imperial knights from the mid-sixteenth century, and was also the label for the recruiting districts introduced into the Prussian monarchy in 1733.
Capitularies Legally binding, written administrative guidelines issued by the Carolingians.
Communalism Collective political action through communal institutions embodying the associative principle binding neighbours together.
Confessionalization The demarcation of religious belief according to confessional orthodoxy, identifying an area and its inhabitants firmly with one variety of Christianity.
Contado Originally ‘the counts’ land’, this term came to mean the hinterland dominated by a town in medieval Italy.
Deditio Ritualized submission to royal (or lordly) authority, primarily used during the Ottonian and Salian eras and usually brokered by third parties to end a dispute in return for a full or partial restitution of lands and titles.
Dienstherrschaft The feudal right to claim labour service from dependent peasants.
Electoral capitulation or Wahlkapitulation Agreements between an emperor, or a spiritual prince, and their electors made prior to the final confirmation of their election, confirming corporate rights and privileges.
Electors The princes entitled to participate in the selection of each emperor. Their privileges were codified by the Golden Bull (q.v.).
Estates A set of complex terms related to the corporate structure of early modern society that was divided into privileged orders of clergy, nobility and commons. Each of these orders was considered an Estate (Stand), as were the recognized subgroups within them. Representative institutions drawing on these groups were also called Estates. Territorial Estates (Landstände) were composed of representatives of the corporate groups from a particular territory. As constituent elements of the Empire, each territory (with certain exceptions) was both an ‘imperial Estate’ (Reichsstand) with a place in the Reichstag, and a Kreisstand with a seat in the relevant Kreis Assembly (q.v.).
Fief The terms feudum and feodum were Latin versions of Old High German words for movable property. Emerging in the ninth century, they were increasingly equated with benefices (q.v.), displacing that term after the mid-twelfth century, though usage was uneven and only became established in north-east Germany a century later. From 1166, both fief and benefice were understood as involving vassalage and were tied to homage.
Gerichtsherrschaft The right of feudal jurisdiction over a given area.
Ghibelline A term coined in the twelfth century to designate imperial supporters, especially in Italy. It derived from Waiblingen in Swabia, then (erroneously) believed to be the Salians’ family home (see also Guelph).
Golden Bull The imperial charter of 1356 codifying the privileges of the electors, or Kurfürsten, who chose each emperor. These rights included the indivisibility of the electorates and their exemption from some forms of imperial jurisdiction.
Gravamina Petitions, especially those from Estates to a ruler.
Grundherrschaft The form of landownership whereby tenants rented plots from their feudal lord.
Guelph A term coined in the twelfth century to designate the emperor’s opponents in Italy. It derived from the Welf family, which had land in Italy and Germany and which played a significant role in opposing Henry IV in the 1080s (see also Ghibelline).
Gutswirtschaft The manorial economy characterizing the area east of the Elbe where lordly estates were worked by dependent serfs and hired labourers producing bulk crops traded on the international market.
Immediacy The status of Reichsunmittelbarkeit, indicating a relationship to the emperor that was direct and not mediated by any intermediate authority or lord.
Imperial church The collective term for the Reichskirche, or ecclesiastical territories.
Imperial city or Reichsstadt A city with the status of immediacy (q.v.), as distinct from a territorial town. The same applied to other terms employing the prefix Reich: imperial knights, imperial counts, imperial prelates.
Imperial Italy The part of northern Italy under the emperor’s feudal jurisdiction that included Milan, Savoy, Genoa, Parma, Tuscany, Mantua, Solferino and other smaller principalities.
Imperial vicar An individual charged with exercising imperial authority during the emperor’s absence, either in a specific locality or across an entire kingdom.
Investiture The Latin terms vestitura and investitura denoted the act of legalizing possession of assets or jurisdictions. The term derived from the papal practice since the seventh century of sending vestments (the pallium) to a new archbishop.
Iter Royal progress through the Empire to seek homage from those not present at the coronation.
Itio in partes The constitutional amendment introduced by the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 that permitted the imperial Estates assembled in the Reichstag to discuss contentious religious issues in two separate confessional blocs, or corpora.
Kreis Formally Reichskreis, or imperial circle. One of the ten regional subdivisions of the Empire into which most territories were grouped.
Kreis Assembly or Kreistag Containing the members of that Kreis to debate common concerns.
Kreis Association A formal alliance between two or more Kreise that had been ratified by the assemblies.
Kreis convenor or Kreisausschreibender Fürst One who coordinated the meetings of the Kreis Assembly and dealt with formal correspondence with the emperor and imperial institutions.
Kurfürsten see Electors.
Landeshoheit see Territorial sovereignty.
Landschaft A form of Estates where commoners predominated.
Landtag Territorial diet, or plenary meeting of the Estates.
Latest Imperial Recess The last concluding document issued by the Reichstag session of 1653–4. The next meeting, of 1663, remained in permanent session and issued legislation as necessary.
Matricular system The system for distributing fiscal and military burdens to the territories based on a list (Matrikel) recording their obligations.
Mediatization The loss of the status of immediacy (q.v.), usually through annexation by another territory.
Ministeriales A term used from the later eleventh century, replacing servientes, which appeared around 1020. Ministeriales were unfree knights bound in servitude to a feudal lord in return for a fief (q.v.), thereby owing military service on the basis of their birth (unfreedom) rather than voluntary submission. Some were also employed as administrators. The ministeriales were unique to Germany, Brabant and Lorraine, and were not found elsewhere in the Empire or Europe. They gradually embraced an aristocratic ethos, converting a relationship based on servitude into more conventional vassalage by 1500.
Ordines Coronation protocols specifying the form and sequence of ceremonial elements.
Police regulation or Polizei, originally spelt Policey Normative legislation issued by established authorities to sustain corporate society by guiding behaviour and addressing social and economic problems.
Privilege of not appealing The privilegium de non appellando exempted territories from the jurisdiction of the two imperial courts. It was usually granted in limited form, though the electors acquired greater exemption.
Public peace The Landfrieden declared permanent in 1495 that required all territories to renounce violence and submit disputes to arbitration through the imperial courts. Further legislation, especially between 1555 and 1570, strengthened these arrangements.
Recess The concluding document of an assembly that listed all agreements and legislation decided at that session.
Reich As a prefix, denoted ‘imperial’, as in Reichsfürst or imperial prince.
Reichsdeputation The Imperial Deputation or special standing committee selected by the Reichstag to discuss important business. The ordinary (ordentliche) Imperial Deputation was established by the public peace legislation to oversee the operation of imperial justice and other measures when the Reichstag was not in session. It was effectively superseded once the Reichstag remained in permanent session after 1663. Extraordinary deputations could still be selected to discuss other business, such as the territorial redistribution of 1801–3.
Reichshofrat The imperial aulic council established in 1497 to safeguard the emperor’s prerogatives. It developed after 1558 as a second supreme court alongside the Reichskammergericht (q.v.).
Reichskammergericht The imperial cameral court created in 1495 and charged with upholding the public peace and acting as a supreme court of appeal. Its judges were mainly appointed by the imperial Estates through the Kreis structure.
Reichsstandschaft The quality of being an imperial Estate (q.v.), entitling representation in the Reichstag.
Reichstag The imperial diet, or assembly of the emperor and imperial Estates.
Revindication Deriving from revindicare (‘to demand back’) and denoting a policy first introduced by Rudolf I in 1273 to recover crown assets alienated since the 1240s and continued intermittently until definitively abandoned in the 1370s.
Roman expedition The journey from Germany to Rome for coronation as emperor by the pope. The practice was initiated by Otto I in 962 and often had the character of a military campaign.
Roman Month The unit of account measuring the financial contributions from the territories paid according to the matricular system (q.v.) for common purposes, usually defence. The term came from the monthly wage bill of the troops intended to escort the emperor to his coronation in Rome.
Romans, king of the The title Römischer König was created in 1376 and given to the successor designate chosen by the electors to succeed an incumbent emperor on his death.
Servitium regis ‘Serving the king’ through counsel, military and material support. The term used for the obligations imposed by vassalage, especially during the early Middle Ages.
Signoria The signoria emerged from the patricians in thirteenth-century Italy to dominate civic government everywhere except in Umbria and Tuscany. The most successful included the Este, Montefeltro, Gonzaga and Visconti families, who all eventually secured the status of imperial prince.
Social discipline The interpretation suggesting that society was transformed by state regulation, encouraging individuals to behave as obedient, thrifty subjects.
Stand, Stände see Estates.
Strator service Acting as ceremonial groom to the pope, involving some or all of the following elements: prostrating oneself before the pontiff, kissing the papal stirrups, and helping the pope to dismount. Allegedly first performed by Pippin on meeting Pope Stephen II in 753, the ceremony was subsequently claimed by popes as a means of asserting superiority over emperors. Last performed by Frederick III, in 1452.
Territorial sovereignty or Landeshoheit Denoting the powers accumulated and developed by the imperial Estates (q.v.) to act on their own initiative in territorial and imperial politics. These powers rested on imperial law and included the right to reform religion, maintain troops, negotiate with foreign governments and issue legislation within the relevant territory, provided these actions were not directed against the integrity and well-being of the emperor and Empire.
Territorialization The process of identifying political power and representation in imperial institutions with a given area.
Umfrage The practice of voicing opinion at the Reichstag and Kreis Assemblies in strict order of precedence determined by formal status.