Bishopric of Eichstätt

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Prince-Bishopric of Eichstätt
Hochstift Eichstätt
State of the Holy Roman Empire
Duchy of Bavaria
1305–1802 Electorate of Bavaria

Coat of arms

Principality and Bishopric of Eichstätt, J.B. Homann, c.1717
Capital Eichstätt
Government Prince-Bishopric
Historical era Middle Ages
 -  Diocese established 741
 -  Prince-Bishopric 1305
 -  Joined
   Franconian Circle
 -  Joined
   Catholic League
 -  Mediatised to Bavaria 1802

The Bishopric of Eichstätt was a small ecclesiastical principality of the Holy Roman Empire. Centered on the town of Eichstätt, it was located in the present-day state of Bavaria, somewhat to the west of Regensburg, to the north of Neuburg an der Donau and Ingolstadt, to the south of Nuremberg, and to the southeast of Ansbach.


As of 1789, Eichstätt consisted of two main parts that were geographically separated. The main part was bordered by Bavaria in the north, east, and south, and by the Lordship of Pappenheim and the Margraviate of Brandenburg-Ansbach in the west. The second part was surrounded by the Margraviate of Brandenburg-Ansbach.

The Principality of Eichstätt had an area of 1100 km² and a population of 58,000 (as of 1855).


The Diocese of Eichstätt was established in 741, when the Anglo-Saxon missionary Willibald was consecrated to the episcopate by Saint Boniface and turned to the church of Eichstätt in the German stem duchy of Bavaria. His successors achieved the status of a Prince-Bishop, when they inherited the Franconian territories of their former Vogt officials, the extinct Counts of Hirschberg (at Hirschberg Castle in the present-day town of Beilngries).

In reaction to the Protestant Reformation, Eichstätt joined the Catholic League in 1617. The lands of the bishopric were a centre of the Counter-Reformation and the site of numerous witchcraft trials.

In the course of the 1802 German mediatization following the French Revolutionary Wars, the bishopric was secularized and was in 1803, along with the Archbishopric of Salzburg, given in compensation to Archduke Ferdinand of Habsburg-Lorraine, brother of Emperor Francis II and former Grand Duke of Tuscany. Three years later, following Austria's defeat by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz, the area was given to the Kingdom of Bavaria according the Treaty of Pressburg. From 1817 to 1855, the Principality was recreated as a fief of Bavaria for the benefit of Napoleon's stepson Eugène de Beauharnais.

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