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Palatinate 14th-18th Centuries (Germany)


Last modified: 2003-07-12 by santiago dotor
Keywords: germany | palatinate | pfalz | lion: rampant (yellow) |
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[Palatinate 14th-18th centuries (Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany)]
by Jaume Ollé

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From the website:

Emperor Frederick I bestowed (1156) the title count palatine on his half-brother Conrad, who was in possession of territories on both sides of the Rhine. More extensive than the present Rhenish Palatinate, these territories also included the northern part of modern Baden (but not the bishopric of Speyer and other enclaves in the palatine lands west of the Rhine). When Conrad's line died out, the Palatinate passed (1214) to the Bavarian Wittelsbach dynasty. The Wittelsbachs enlarged their holdings along the Bohemian border, which were constituted as the Upper Palatinate. In 1356 the German princes were granted the Golden Bull, which gave them the right to vote in the election of the Holy Roman Emperor. Their territories were henceforth called the Electoral Palatinate (Ger. Kurpfalz).

The Rhenish Palatinate flourished in the 15th and 16th cent., and its capital, Heidelberg, was a center of the German Renaissance and Reformation. The election (1619) of Elector Frederick V ('the Winter King') as king of Bohemia precipitated the Thirty Years War, in which the Palatinate was ravaged both by the imperial forces under Tilly and by the Protestant army under Mansfeld. The Upper Palatinate and the electoral vote were taken from Frederick and transferred to Bavaria, but at the Peace of Westphalia (1648) a new vote was created for Frederick's successor, Charles Louis, and the Rhenish lands, devastated in the war, were returned to his control. The Upper Palatinate remained a part of Bavaria. The region became involved in the War of the Grand Alliance with Louis XIV, who ordered the destruction (168889) of the Rhenish Palatinate. In 1720 the capital was transferred to Mannheim.

The palatine lands west of the Rhine were conquered by France in the French Revolutionary Wars. In 1803, Maximilian ceded the palatine lands east of the Rhine to Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, and Nassau, but in 1806 he became king of a much-enlarged Bavaria, and at the Congress of Vienna (1815) he recovered part of the Rhenish Palatinate west of the Rhine, including Speyer and other enclaves. Several districts, however, were awarded to Prussia, Hesse, and Oldenburg. The Upper Palatinate was increased by the addition of Regensburg, which replaced Amberg as capital. Both the Rhenish and the Upper Palatinate became integral parts of Bavaria. After World War II the Rhenish Palatinate became (1946) a district of the newly created state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

Santiago Dotor, 17 October 2001


Palatinate (of the Rhine). A gold lion on a black field. In use from 14th century until the late 18th century.

Norman Martin, April 1998

Palatinate after 1806

The Palatinate (Pfalz) was a historical German duchy, originally located on both sides of the Rhine; its capital was Heidelberg. The area designated by this name today is a result of the territorial re-organisations from 1802 to 1815 in which the parts on the right side of the Rhine were annexed to Baden, and the areas on the left side were enlarged. In 1920 the westernmost parts were allocated to the newly created Saar area. The Palatinate continued to be ruled by Bavaria (as an exclave) until 1945 when the area became a part of the new state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

Stefan Schwoon, 30 January 2001

[During the German Empire 1871-1918] the Pfalz [Palatinate] was a Regierungsbezirk (government district) of Bavaria, hence a proper part of Bavaria. In 1945 it became a part of the French occupation zone and later a part of Rheinland-Pfalz. The rest of Bavaria, being in the American occupation zone, was re-created as a Land on 19 September 1945. I cannot say anything for certain about the use of flags.

Stefan Schwoon, 17 October 2001

As pointed out by Stefan Schwoon, Pfalz was simply the eighth province of Bavaria. However, the term Kreis was used in those times, whereas Regierungsbezirk is the modern term (after 1945). As the Pfalz had been included in the French Occupation Zone, it was no longer part of Bavaria as reconstituted 1945. Before that, there were no differences in the use of symbols between Pfalz and the rest of Bavaria. There were some historically-based differences in the law between Pfalz and the rest of Bavaria, though.

Marcus Schmöger, 17 October 2001

Bavaria lost Pfalz before 1945. The Nazi government started in 1934 to eliminate the German Länder and split them in so-called Gaue. Pfalz was united in 1935 with Saarland to make Saarpfalz. After the conquest of France, Lorraine was added to it and this territory was called Reichsgau Westmark.

J. Patrick Fischer, 17 October 2001