IMPERIAL IMMEDIACY (German : Reichsfreiheit or Reichsunmittelbarkeit)
was a privileged constitutional and political status rooted in German
feudal law under which the Imperial estates of the Holy Roman Empire
such as Imperial cities , prince-bishoprics and secular
principalities, and individuals such as the
Imperial knights , were
declared free from the authority of any local lord and placed under
the direct ("immediate") authority of the Emperor, and later of the
institutions of the Empire such as the Diet (Reichstag), the Imperial
Chamber of Justice and the
The granting of immediacy began in the Early Middle Ages, and for the immediate bishops, abbots and cities, then the main beneficiaries of that status, immediacy could be exacting and often meant being subjected to the fiscal, military and hospitality demands of their overlord, the Emperor. However, with the gradual exit of the Emperor from the centre stage from the mid-13th century onwards, holders of imperial immediacy eventually found themselves vested with considerable rights and powers previously exercised by the emperor.
As confirmed by the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, the possession of imperial immediacy came with a particular form of territorial authority known as territorial superiority (Landeshoheit or superioritas territorialis in German and Latin documents of the time). In today's terms, it would be understood as a limited form of sovereignty.
* 1 Gradations * 2 Advantages and disadvantages * 3 Problems in understanding the Empire * 4 See also * 5 Citations * 6 References
Several immediate estates held the privilege of attending meetings of the Reichstag in person, including an individual vote (votum virile):
* the seven Prince-electors designated by the Golden Bull of 1356
* the other Princes of the
Holy Roman Empire
* secular: Dukes , Margraves , Landgraves et al. * ecclesiastical: Prince-Bishops , Prince-Abbots and Prince-Provosts .
They formed the Imperial Estates , together with roughly 100 immediate counts, 40 Imperial prelates (abbots and abbesses) and 50 Imperial Cities who only enjoyed a collective vote (votum curiatum).
Further immediate estates not represented in the Reichstag were the
Imperial Knights as well as several abbeys and minor localities, the
remains of those territories which in the
High Middle Ages
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
Additional advantages might include the rights to collect taxes and tolls , to hold a market , to mint coins , to bear arms , and to conduct legal proceedings . The last of these might include the so-called Blutgericht ("blood justice") through which capital punishment could be administered. These rights varied according to the legal patents granted by the emperor.
Disadvantages might include direct intervention by imperial
commissions, as happened in several of the south-western cities after
PROBLEMS IN UNDERSTANDING THE EMPIRE
Holy Roman Empire
The practical application of the rights of immediacy was complex;
this makes the history of the
Holy Roman Empire
A revisionist view popular in Germany but increasingly adopted elsewhere argued that "though not powerful politically or militarily, was extraordinarily diverse and free by the standards of Europe at the time." Pointing out that people like Goethe meant "monster" as a compliment in modern understanding, The Economist has called the Empire "a great place to live ... a union with which its subjects identified, whose loss distressed them greatly" and praised its cultural and religious diversity, saying that it "allowed a degree of liberty and diversity that was unimaginable in the neighbouring kingdoms" and that "ordinary folk, including women, had far more rights to property than in France or Spain".
Imperial Diet (Holy Roman Empire)
Free Imperial City
* ^ Gagliardo, J. G.; Reich and Empire as Idea and Reality, 1763–1806, Indiana University Press, 1980, p. 4. * ^ Lebeau, Christine, ed.; L'espace du Saint-Empire du Moyen-Âge à l'époque moderne, Presse Universitaire de Strasbourg, 2004, p. 117. * ^ James Bryce (1838–1922), Holy Roman Empire, London, 1865. * ^ James Sheehan, German History 1770–1866, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1989. Introduction, pp. 1–8. * ^ "The Holy Roman Empire: European disunion done right". The Economist . December 22, 2012. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
* Braun, B.: Reichsunmittelbarkeit in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland , 2005-05-03. * Bryce, James (1865). Holy Roman Empire. London. * Sheehan, James (1989). German History 1770–1866. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
* GND : 4373403-0 * HDS : 9832