List of Counts Palatine of the Rhine
- 1 Counts Palatine of Lotharingia 915–1085
- 2 Counts Palatine of the Rhine, 1085–1356
- 3 Electors of the Palatinate, 1356–1777
- 4 Electors of Bavaria and Counts Palatine of the Rhine, 1777–1803
- 5 Later history
- 6 Notes
Counts Palatine of Lotharingia 915–1085
The Palatinate emerged from the County Palatine of Lotharingia which came into existence in the 10th century.
- Wigeric of Lotharingia, count of the Bidgau (c. 915/916–922)
- Godfrey, count of the Jülichgau (c.940)
House of Ezzonen
During the 11th century, the Palatinate was dominated by the Ezzonian dynasty, which governed several counties on both banks of the Rhine. These territories were centered around Cologne-Bonn, but extended south to the Moselle and Nahe Rivers. The southernmost point was near Alzey.
- Hermann I of Lotharingia 945–994
- Ezzo of Lotharingia 994–1034
- Otto I of Lotharingia 1034–45 (Duke of Swabia 1045–47)
- Heinrich I of Lotharingia 1045–61
- Hermann II of Lotharingia 1061–85 (in tutelage to Anno II, archbishop of Cologne until 1064)
Counts Palatine of the Rhine, 1085–1356
From c.1085, after the death of the last Ezzonian count palatine, Herman II of Lotharingia, the Palatinate lost its military importance in Lotharingia. The territorial authority of the count palatine was reduced to his counties along the Rhine, henceforth called the County Palatine of the Rhine.
- Heinrich II of Laach 1085–95
- Sigfried of Ballenstadt 1095–1113
- Gottfried of Kalw 1113–29
- William of Ballenstedt 1129–39
- Henry IV Jasomirgott 1139–42
- Hermann III of Stahleck 1142–55
Hohenstaufen Counts Palatine
The first hereditary Count Palatine of the Rhine was Conrad of Hohenstaufen, who was the younger brother of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. The territories attached to this hereditary office began with those held by the Hohenstaufens in Franconia and Rhineland. (Other branches of the Hohenstaufen dynasty received territories including lands in Swabia and Franche-Comté). Part of this land derived from their imperial ancestors, the Franconian emperors, and part from Conrad's maternal ancestors, the Saarbrücken. This explains the composition of the inheritance that comprised the Upper and Rhenish Palatinate in the following centuries.
- Conrad of Hohenstaufen 1156–95
Welf Counts Palatine
In 1195, the Palatinate passed to the House of Welf through the marriage of Agnes, heir to the Staufen count.
Wittelsbach Counts Palatine
During a later division of territory among the heirs of Duke Louis II of Upper Bavaria in 1294, the elder branch of the Wittelsbachs came into possession of both the Rhenish Palatinate and the territories in Bavaria north of the Danube river (the Nordgau) centred around the town of Amberg. As this region was politically connected to the Rhenish Palatinate, the name Upper Palatinate (Oberpfalz) became common from the early 16th century, to contrast with the Lower Palatinate along the Rhine.
Electors of the Palatinate, 1356–1777
The Golden Bull of 1356, in circumvention of inner-Wittelsbach contracts and thus bypassing Bavaria, the Palatinate was recognized as one of the secular electorates. The count was given the hereditary offices of archsteward (Erztruchseß) of the Empire and Imperial Vicar (Reichsverweser) of Franconia, Swabia, the Rhine and southern Germany. From that time forth, the Count Palatine of the Rhine was usually known as the Elector Palatine (Kurfürst von der Pfalz). The position of prince-elector had existed earlier (for example, when two rival kings of Germany were elected in 1257: Richard of Cornwall and Alfonso of Castile), though it is difficult to determine exactly the earliest date of the office.
By the early 16th century, owing to the practice of dividing territories among different branches of the family, junior lines of the Palatine Wittelsbachs came to rule in Simmern, Kaiserslautern and Zweibrücken in the Lower Palatinate, and in Neuburg and Sulzbach in the Upper Palatinate. The Elector Palatine, now based in Heidelberg, adopted Lutheranism in the 1530s and Calvinism in the 1550s.
First Electorate, 1356–1648
|10 January 1356||16 February 1390||As Rupert I above|
|16 February 1390||6 January 1398||Nephew of Rupert I, son of Adolf|
|6 January 1398||18 May 1410||Son of Rupert II, elected King of Germany in 1400|
|18 May 1410||30 December 1436||Son of Rupert III|
|30 December 1436||13 August 1449||Son of Louis III|
|13 August 1449||12 December 1476||Brother of Louis IV|
|12 December 1476||28 February 1508||Son of Louis IV|
|28 February 1508||16 March 1544||Son of Philip|
|16 March 1544||26 February 1556||Brother of Louis V|
|26 February 1556||12 February 1559||Nephew of Frederick II, son of Rupert of Freising|
|Line of Simmern|
|12 February 1559||26 October 1576||When the senior branch of the family died out in 1559, the electorate passed to Frederick III of Simmern, a staunch Calvinist. The Palatinate became one of the major centers of Calvinism in Europe, supporting Calvinist rebellions in both the Netherlands and France.|
|26 October 1576||22 October 1583||Son of Frederick III|
|22 October 1583||19 September 1610||Son of Louis VI. With his adviser Christian of Anhalt, he founded the Evangelical Union of Protestant states in 1608.|
|19 September 1610||23 February 1623||Son of Frederick IV and married to Elizabeth, daughter of James VI of Scotland & I of England. In 1619, he accepted the throne of Bohemia from the Bohemian estates. He was defeated by the Emperor Ferdinand II at the Battle of White Mountain in 1620, and Spanish and Bavarian troops soon occupied the Palatinate itself. He was known as "the Winter King" because his reign in Bohemia only lasted one winter. In 1623, Frederick was put under the ban of the Empire.|
|House of Bavaria, 1623–48|
|Maximilian I of Bavaria||23 February 1623||24 October 1648||Frederick V's territories and his position as elector were transferred to the Duke of Bavaria, Maximilian I, of a distantly related branch of the House of Wittelsbach. Although technically Elector Palatine, he was known as the Elector of Bavaria. From 1648 he ruled in Bavaria and the Upper Palatinate alone, but retained all his electoral dignities and the seniority of the Palatinate Electorate; see further Electorate of Bavaria.|
Second Electorate, 1648–1777
|Restored Simmern Line|
|Charles I Louis
Karl I Ludwig
|24 October 1648||28 August 1680||Son of Frederick V. By the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, Charles Louis was restored to the Lower Palatinate and was given a new electoral title, also that of "Elector Palatine" but lower in precedence than the other electorates.|
|28 August 1680||26 May 1685||Son of Charles I Louis. Last of the Simmern line.|
|26 May 1685||2 September 1690||In 1685, the Simmern line died out and the Palatinate was inherited by Philip William, Count Palatine of Neuburg (also Duke of Jülich and Berg), a Catholic and a maternal nephew of Maximilian I of Bavaria|
|2 September 1690||8 June 1716||Son of Philip William|
|Charles III Philip
Karl III Philipp
|8 June 1716||31 December 1742||Brother of John William and the last of the Neuburg line. He moved the capital of the Palatinate from Heidelberg to Mannheim in 1720.|
|Charles IV Theodore
Karl IV Theodor
|31 December 1742||16 February 1799||The Palatinate was inherited by Duke Charles Theodore of Sulzbach. He also inherited the Electorate of Bavaria when its ruling line became extinct in 1777.|
Electors of Bavaria and Counts Palatine of the Rhine, 1777–1803
|Charles IV Theodore
Karl IV Theodor
|30 December 1777||16 February 1799||The title and authority of Elector Palatine were subsumed into the Electorate of Bavaria. Charles Theodore and his heirs retaining only the single vote and precedence of the Bavarian elector, though they continued to use the title "Count Palatine of the Rhine" (German: Pfalzgraf bei Rhein, Latin: Comes Palatinus Rheni).|
|Maximilian II Joseph||16 February 1799||27 April 1803||Charles Theodore's heir, Maximilian Joseph, Duke of Zweibrücken (on the French border), brought all the Wittelsbach territories under a single rule in 1799. The Palatinate was dissolved in the Wars of the French Revolution. First, its left bank territories were occupied (and then annexed) by France starting in 1795; then, in 1803, its right bank territories were taken by the Margrave of Baden. The Rhenish Palatinate, as a distinct territory, disappeared. In 1806, the Holy Roman Empire was abolished, and all the rights and responsibilities of the electors with it.|
Following the great restorations of 1815, the Lower Palatinate (albeit without any prince-elector role) was restored as one of eight Bavarian Districts. After World War II the American Military Government of Germany took the Lower Palatinate from Bavaria and merged it with neighbouring territories to form a new state called Rhenania-Palatinate (German: Rheinland-Pfalz) with Mainz as the state capital. The people had felt neglected by the governments in Munich for generations and later approved the merger in a plebiscite.
The present head of the House of Wittelsbach, Franz, Duke of Bavaria (born 1933), is still traditionally styled as His Royal Highness the Duke of Bavaria, Duke in Swabia and Franconia, Count Palatine of the Rhine.