Mediatisation was the process of annexing the lands of one sovereign monarchy to another, often leaving the annexed some rights. Secularisation was the redistribution to secular states of the secular lands held by an ecclesiastical ruler such as a bishop or an abbot.
Following the collapse of the Carolingian Empire, due to the equal heritage splitting prescribed by Salic Law, and the rise of feudalism, much of Europe had been reduced to an array of small, independent statelets. Successive Kings of Germany and Holy Roman Emperors vested temporal authority on many bishoprics, abbacies and convents, and also granted free city rights to many cities and villages throughout Germany. Unlike England and France, for example, the German kings were unable to coalesce their realms into a fully centralised kingdom, so over the course of centuries Germany had come to consist of no less than 300 independent states.
Based on a plan agreed in June 1802 between France and Russia, and broad principles outlined in the Treaty of Lunéville of 1801, the law established a major redistribution of territorial sovereignty within the Empire, to compensate numerous German princes for territories to the west of the Rhine that had been annexed by France as a result of the wars of the French Revolution.
The Reichsdeputationshauptschluss was ratified unanimously by the Reichstag in March, 1803, and was approved by the emperor, Francis II, the following month. However, the emperor made a formal reservation in respect of the reallocation of votes within the Reichstag, as the balance between Protestant and Catholic states had been shifted heavily in the former's favour.
In 1797, Napoleon Bonaparte of France defeated the armed forces of the Holy Roman Emperor and by the Treaty of Campo Formio annexed all the lands of the Holy Roman Empire west of the Rhine River. The Holy Roman Emperor was bound by duty to compensate the now stateless monarchs who lost their lands to grant them new estates. The only available lands were those held by the Prince-Bishops, so they were secularised and dispersed amongst the monarchs of Germany.
The ecclesiastical states were generally annexed to neighbouring secular principalities. Only three survived as non-secular states: the Archbishopric of Regensburg, which was raised from a bishopric with the incorporation of the Archbishopric of Mainz, and the lands of the Teutonic Knights and Knights of Saint John. Also of note is the former Archbishopric of Salzburg, which was secularised as a duchy with an increased territorial scope, and was also made an electorate.
Bishops and Archbishops
Abbeys, Convents and Provostries
Before the Battle of Waterloo and the exile of Napoleon to St. Helena, the Congress of Vienna was held from 1814 to 1815 by the Great Powers to re-establish the old borders of Europe. It was decided that the mediatised monarchs, free cities and secularised states would not be recreated, but instead the monarchs of the mediatised states were to be considered equal to the remaining sovereign monarchs, and they would receive compensation for their loss. As it was left to each of the remaining states to compensate them, and they had no authority to complain to if they weren't fairly reimbursed, many of the monarchs never received their supposed due.
Mediatisation transferred sovereignty of small secular states to their larger neighbours. In addition to numerous principalities, all but a handful of the Imperial cities were also annexed to their neighbours.
As the Houses of Ostein, Sinzendorf and Wartenberg became extinct after the mediatisation but before 1830, they are not always counted among the Mediatised Houses. For varying reasons, Aspremont-Lynden, Bentinck, Bretzenheim, Limburg-Styrum and Waldeck-Limpurg are also sometimes disincluded. Hesse-Homburg was never considered sovereign by Hesse-Darmstadt and therefore was not technically mediatised, and Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel) was annexed into the Kingdom of Westphalia but later had its sovereignty restored. The Schönburgs had been mediatised to the Elector of Saxony in the 18th Century and were only counted amongst the Mediatised Houses at the Electors' insistence.
Most of the mediatisations occurred in 1806 after the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine. The later mediatisations were: Arenberg (annexed to France in 1810, and not re-established in 1814); Isenburg and Leyen (mediatised in 1814 by the Congress of Vienna for being too close to Napoleon); Salm (several states of Salm survived to 1811 and 1813); and Stolberg (annexed by Prussia in 1815).
Also mediatised 1806–14 were several states created by Napoleon for his relatives and close allies. These include:
The only free cities in Germany not abolished 1803 were:
|Baden||450 km² |
|2.000 km² |
|Württemberg||400 km² |
|1500 km² |
The principle that allies of Napoleon could expect to make gains in both territory and status was also established, and was to be repeated on a number of occasions in the following years. The changes of 1803 were also a factor in the end of the Empire in 1806.
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