The Prince-Bishopric of Würzburg was an ecclesiastical principality of the Holy Roman Empire located in Lower Franconia west of the Prince-Bishopric of Bamberg. Würzburg had been a diocese since 743. As definitely established by the Concordat of 1448, bishops in Germany were chosen by the canons of the cathedral chapter and their election was later confirmed by the pope. Following a common practice in Germany, the prince-bishops of Würzburg were frequently elected to other ecclesisatical principalities as well.[a] The last few prince-bishops resided at the Würzburg Residence, which is one of the grandest baroque palaces in Europe.
As a consequence of the 1801 Treaty of Lunéville, Würzburg, along with the other ecclesiastical states of Germany, was secularized in 1803 and absorbed into the Electorate of Bavaria. In the same year Ferdinand III, former Grand Duke of Tuscany, was compensated with the Electorate of Salzburg. In the 1805 Peace of Pressburg, Ferdinand lost Salzburg to the Austrian Empire, but was compensated with the new Grand Duchy of Würzburg, Bavaria having relinquished the territory in return for the Tyrol. This new state lasted until 1814, when it was once again annexed by Bavaria.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Würzburg was reestablished in 1821 without temporal power.
In 1115, Henry V awarded the territory of Eastern Franconia (Ostfranken) to his nephew Conrad of Hohenstaufen, who used the title "Duke of Franconia." Franconia remained a Hohenstaufen power base until 1168, when the Bishop of Würzburg was formally ceded the ducal rights in Eastern Franconia. The name "Franconia" fell out of usage, but the bishop revived it in his own favour in 1442 and held it until the reforms of Napoleon Bonaparte abolished it.
The charge of the original coat of arms showed the “Rennfähnlein” banner, quarterly argent and gules, on a lance or, in bend, on a blue shield. In the 14th century another coat of arms was created. The coat of arms represents the holism of heaven and earth. The three white pikes represent the trinity of god and the four red pikes, directed to earth, stand for the four points of the compass, representing the whole spread of earth. The red colour represents the blood of Christ.
The Prince-Bishops used both within their personal coat of arms. The Rechen and the Rennfähnlein represented the diocese, while the other (usually two) fields showed the personal coat of arms of the bishop’s family. The coat of arms showed the Rechen in the first and third field, the Rennfähnlein in the second and fourth field.
In 741 or 742 the first bishop of Würzburg was consecrated by Saint Boniface.
Secular power lost in 1803. Territory ceded to Bavaria until 1805.