The Final Recess of the Imperial Deputation of 1803
© by V. Rozn (edited by Guy Stair Sainty)
French Revolutionary wars drastically changed the political map of Central
Europe. In 1793-1794 the French armies occupied lands of the Empire on the left
bank of the Rhine and many rulers, who had had immediate territories were
dispossessed. The Treaty of Lunéville (1801) recognized these losses
and promised to compensate the secular rulers.
Imperial Diet created a special Imperial deputation to distribute the
compensation. By the provision of the Final Recess of the Imperial Deputation (Reichsdeputationshauptschluss)
the secular rulers, who had the status of Imperial Estate, were compensated with
secularized ecclesiastical territories and the territories of Imperial
free cities (Feb 1803). All but three ecclesiastical rulers lost their
possessions. Of the 48 free cities that still existed, only six were left. Most
of the dispossessed secular rulers from the left bank of the Rhine and two
rulers from Italy were restored to their status of sovereign rulers.
The Final Recess changed the composition of the Councils of the Imperial Diet. Now the Council of Electors included the following Electors:
composition of the Council of Princes was also changed. The voices of the
territories annexed by France were excluded - e.g. the voices of Burgundia,
Nomeny, Mömpelgard (Montbeliard), Palatinate-Zweibrücken,Palatinate-Lautern,
Palatinate-Veldenz, Savoy, etc. The voices of the former ecclesiastical
territories, but not of the free cities, went to their new owners, mostly the
Old Princely houses. The Old Princely houses now acquired individual voices for
the territories they had owned for a long time but for which they had not had
any representation in the Imperial Diet: for example Sulzbach, Lower Bavaria and
Berg were granted to Bavaria, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Tirol were granted to
Austria, Blankenburg to Brunswick-Hanover, the Markgraviate of Meissen, the
Burggraviate of Meissen, Thuringia and Querfurt to Saxony, Plön to Holstein,
Hanau to Hesse-Kassel, Tübingen and Teck to Württemberg, etc.
former Duke of Modena received two voices for the former Austrian territories of
Breisgau and Ortenau that he was granted in return for the loss of his Italian
The representation of the New Princely houses was increased. Several houses that had only voices in Colleges of Imperial Counts received individual voices:
Dukes of Looz-Corswarem did not have any representation in the Diet before but
now received one individual voice for Rheina-Walbeck. Salm-Kyrburg had shared an
individual voice with Salm-Salm now got its own individual voice. The houses of
Fürstenberg, Schwarzenberg, Thurn & Taxis were given a second voice.
Emperor Franz II did not consent to the new distribution of voices in the Council of Princes and did not ratify this paragraph of the provision of the Final Recess. This issue was never resolved.
The following houses with the status of Imperial Estate that lost all their
Bretzenheim, Ligne, Aspremont-Lynden, Leiningen, Manderscheid-Sternberg, Mark,
Metternich, Ostein, Plettenberg, Quadt, Salm-Reifferscheidt, Schäsberg,
Sinzendorf, Törring-Jettenbach, Waldbott von Bassenheim, Wallmoden, Wartenberg.
Archduke Ferdinand, the former Grand Duke of Tuscany, a brother of Emperor Franz
II received Salzburg, Eichstaedt, Berchtesgaden and two individual voices in the
Council of Princes and one voice in the Council of Electors. Hercules(Ercole)
d'Este, the former Duke of Modena, was given Breisgau and Ortenau and two
individual voices in the Council of Princes. Hercules' heir was Archduke
Ferdinand, an uncle of Emperor Franz II. The Duke of Arenberg received the
compensation for his mother (born Countess of Mark). The Prince of Dietrichstein
exchanged his lordship Tarasp in Switzerland for Neu-Ravensberg in Swabia.
1803 the Duke of Croy and the Duke of Looz-Corswarem had neither immediate
territories nor the status of Imperial Estate. Their former lands in South
Netherlands were under the Austrian Landeshoheit. Nevertheless both dukes
were given immediate territories; the Duke of Looz-Corswarem was even promised
an individual voice in the Council of Princes.
counts were compensated for their immediate territories (Dyck, Oberstein,
Reipoltskirchen, Schlenacken,etc) but only with an annual rent.
three ecclesiastical rulers survived in 1803. These were:
von Dalberg, Archbishop of Mainz who became secular ruling prince of Regensburg and
Aschafenburg, then Grand Duke of Frankfurt; the Grand Prior of Germany of the Knights of St.
John (the Order of Malta)); and the High-Master of the Teutonic Order.
Six free cities
also preserved their independence, these were Lübeck, Hamburg, Bremen,
Nuremberg (Nürnberg), Augsburg, Frankfurt.