House of Wittelsbach - Reign in The Holy Roman Empire - Palatinate Branch

Palatinate Branch

The Palatinate branch kept the Palatinate until 1918 and succeeded also in Bavaria in 1777. With the Golden Bull of 1356 the Counts Palatine were invested with the electoral dignity. Also princes of the Palatinate branch served as Bishops of the Empire, also as Elector-Archbishops of Mainz and Elector-Archbishops of Trier.

After the death of the Wittelsbach king Rupert of Germany in 1410 began the split of Palatinate lands under numerous branches such as Neumarkt, Simmern, Zweibrücken, Birkenfeld, Neuburg and Sulzbach. When the senior branch of the Palatinate branch died out in 1559, the Electorate passed to Frederick III of Simmern, a staunch Calvinist, and the Palatinate became one of the major centers of Calvinism in Europe, supporting Calvinist rebellions in both the Netherlands and France.

The Neuburg cadet branch of the Palatinate branch kept also the Duchy of Jülich and Berg from 1614 onwards: When the last duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg died without direct heirs in 1609, the War of the Jülich succession broke out, ended by the 1614 Treaty of Xanten, which divided the separate duchies between Palatinate-Neuburg and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. Jülich and Berg fell to the Wittelsbach Count Palatine Wolfgang William of Neuburg.

In 1619, the Protestant Frederick V, Elector Palatine was King of Bohemia but was defeated by the Catholic Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria, a member of the Bavarian branch. As a result the Upper Palatinate had to be ceded to the Bavarian branch in 1623. When the Thirty Years' War concluded with the Treaty of Münster (also called the Peace of Westphalia) in 1648, a new additional electorate was created for the Count Palatine of the Rhine. During their exile Frederick's sons, namely Prince Rupert of the Rhine, gained fame in England.

The house of Palatinate of Zweibrücken-Kleeburg as heir to the Swedish throne ruled simultaneously the duchy of Bremen-Verden (1654–1719).

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. During the reign of Johann Wilhelm (1690–1716) the Electoral residence was moved to Düsseldorf in Berg. His brother and successor Charles III Philip, Elector Palatine moved the Palatinate's capital back to Heidelberg in 1718 and then to Mannheim in 1720. To strengthen the union of all lines of the Wittelsbach dynasty Charles Philip organized a wedding on 17 January 1742 when his granddaughters were married to Charles Theodore of Palatinate-Sulzbach and to the Bavarian prince Clement. In the imperial election a few days later Charles III Philip voted for his Bavarian cousin Prince-Elector Charles Albert. After extinction of the Neuburg branch in 1742, the Palatinate was inherited by Duke Charles Theodore of the branch Palatinate-Sulzbach.

After the extinction of the Bavarian branch in 1777, a succession dispute and the brief War of the Bavarian Succession, the Palatinate-Sulzbach branch under Elector Charles Theodore succeeded also in Bavaria.

With the death of Charles Theodore in 1799 all Wittelsbach land in Bavaria and the Palatinate was reunited under Maximilian IV Joseph, a member of the branch Palatinate-Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld. At the time there were two surviving branches of the Wittelsbach family: Palatinate-Zweibrücken (headed by Maximilian Joseph) and Palatinate-Birkenfeld (headed by Count Palatine William). Maximilian Joseph inherited Charles Thedore's title of Elector of Bavaria, while William was compensated with the title of Duke in Bavaria. The form Duke in Bavaria was selected because in 1506 primogeniture had been established in the House of Wittelsbach resulting in there being only one Reigning Duke of Bavaria at any given time. Maximillian Joseph assumed the title of king as Maximilian I Joseph on January 1, 1806. The new king still served as an Prince-elector until the Kingdom of Bavaria left the Holy Roman Empire (1 August 1806).

Read more about this topic:  House Of Wittelsbach, Reign in The Holy Roman Empire

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