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In the Holy Roman Empire, the German language, German term (plural: ) referred to the territory ruled by a bishop as a prince (i.e. prince-bishop), as opposed to his diocese, generally much larger and over which he exercised only spiritual authority. The terms prince-bishopric (, or simply ) and ecclesiastical principality are synonymous with . and referred respectively to the territory ruled by a prince-archbishop and an elector-archbishop while referred to the territory ruled by an imperial abbot or abbess, or a Prince-abbot, princely abbot or abbess. was also often used to refer to any type of ecclesiastical principality. The was made of land mostly acquired in the Middle Ages through donations by the king/emperor, bequests by local lords or through purchase. It was often made of non-contiguous parts, some of which could be located outside the bishop's diocese. While a diocese is a spiritual territorial jurisdiction, a prince-bishopric or was a secular territorial jurisdiction, a fiefdom created and granted by the Holy Roman Emperor. Exercising a double function, an ecclesiastical and a secular one, the prince-bishops were thus subject to two different legal bases and two jurisdictions. The relationship between the two functions was governed in part by the Concordat of Worms of 1122. The prince-bishop, elected by the canons of the cathedral chapter and often belonging to the high nobility, enjoyed imperial immediacy; he wielded the same authority over his principality as any secular prince, such as a duke or a margrave, over his. He had seat and vote at the Imperial Diet (Holy Roman Empire), Imperial Diet. From a high of approximately 40 in the late Middle Ages, the number of was down to 26 by the late 18th century. They had all been secularized and their territory absorbed by secular states by the time the Holy Roman Empire was Dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, dissolved in 1806.


Etymology and related and derived terms

''Das Stift'' [plural: ''die Stifte'' or, in some regions, ''die Stifter'']/''het sticht'' [in Dutch] (literally, the "donation"), denotes in its original meaning the donated or else acquired fund of estates whose revenues are taken to maintain a College (canon law), college and the pertaining church (''Stiftskirche'', i.e. collegiate church) and its collegiate canons (''Stiftsherr[en]'') or canonesses (''Stiftsfrau[en]'').Victor Dollmayr, Friedrich Krüer, Heinrich Meyer and Walter Paetzel, ''Deutsches Wörterbuch'' (started by the Brothers Grimm): 33 vols. (1854–1971), vol. 18 'Stehung–Stitzig', Leipzig: Hirzel, 1941, cols. 2870seq., reprint: Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag (dtv; No. 5945), 1984. . If the ''Stift'' as a fund served to maintain the specific college of a cathedral (a so-called cathedral chapter) then the ''Stift'' was often called ''das Domstift'' (i.e. cathedral donation [fund]). ''Hochstift'' is a compound with ''hoch'' ("high") used for a prince-bishopric, meaning literally a "high [ranking ecclesiastical] donation [fund of estates]". Whereas ''Erzstift'', a compound with ''Erz…'' ("arch[i]…"), was the corresponding expression for a prince-archbishopric. For the three prince-electorates of Cologne (''Kurköln''), Mainz (''Kurmainz'') and Trier (''Kurtrier''), which were simultaneously archbishoprics the corresponding term is ''Kurerzstift'' (electorate-archbishopric). The adjective pertaining to ''Stift'' as a territory is ''stiftisch'' (of, pertaining to a prince-bishopric; prince-episcopal). As a compound, the term ''Stift'' today usually takes the copulative "s" when used as a preceding compound,Victor Dollmayr, Friedrich Krüer, Heinrich Meyer and Walter Paetzel, ''Deutsches Wörterbuch'' (started by the Brothers Grimm): 33 vols. (1854–1971), vol. 18 'Stehung–Stitzig', Leipzig: Hirzel, 1941, col. 2874, reprint: Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag (dtv; No. 5945), 1984. . such as in ''Stiftsadel'' (vassal nobility of a prince-bishopric), ''Stiftsamtmann'' (=official of a ''Stift''), ''Stiftsmann'' (plural: ''Stiftsleute''; =vassal tenant of an estate of a StiftVictor Dollmayr, Friedrich Krüer, Heinrich Meyer and Walter Paetzel, ''Deutsches Wörterbuch'' (started by the Brothers Grimm): 33 vols. (1854–1971), vol. 18 'Stehung–Stitzig', Leipzig: Hirzel, 1941, cols. 2897seq., reprint: Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag (dtv; No. 5945), 1984. .), ''Stiftssasse'' (=subject/inhabitant of a prince-bishopric), Stiftsstände (=estates of the realm, estates of a prince-bishopric as a realmVictor Dollmayr, Friedrich Krüer, Heinrich Meyer and Walter Paetzel, ''Deutsches Wörterbuch'' (started by the Brothers Grimm): 33 vols. (1854–1971), vol. 18 'Stehung–Stitzig', Leipzig: Hirzel, 1941, col. 2900, reprint: Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag (dtv; No. 5945), 1984. .), or ''Stiftstag'' (diet of the estates of a prince-bishopric). Specific prince-bishoprics were often called ''Hochstift/Erzstift X'', as in ''Hochstift Ermland'' or in ''Erzstift Bremen'', with ''stiftbremisch'' meaning of/pertaining to the Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen, as opposed to ''stadtbremisch'' (of/pertaining to the city of Bremen). By contrast, the spiritual entities, the dioceses, are called ''Bistum'' ("diocese") or ''Erzbistum'' ("archdiocese") in German. The difference between a ''Hochstift/Erzstift'' and a ''Bistum/Erzbistum'' is not always clear to authors so that non-scholarly texts often translate ''Hochstift'' or ''Erzstift'' incorrectly simply as diocese/bishopric or archdiocese/archbishopric, respectively.


Notes

{{Authority control Prince-bishoprics of the Holy Roman Empire Catholic Church and finance