End of the Empire
© by V. Rozn (edited by Guy Stair Sainty)
War of the Third Coalition against France in 1805 led to the defeat of Austria
at thr Battle of Austerlitz. The treaty of Pressburg (Dec 1805) rewarded German
allies of Napoleon I with new territories and titles. The authority of the Roman
Emperor declined, and he lost control over all the Imperial lands in Southwest
Germany which became part of a new Confederation of the Rhine .
the small Imperial Estates had traditionally supported the Emperor through whose
authority they enjoyed their special status, Napoleon I determined that Germany
would instead be composed of several midsize states who would owe their new
power and status to him. In July of 1806 16 rulers of Southwest Germany left the
Empire and created the Confederation of the Rhine (Rheinbund)
under the protection of Napoleon I .
rulers of this region, who were not allowed to join the Confederation, were now mediatized.
The mediatization (Mediatisierung) did not deprive the mediatized
houses of their lands, but it altered their status as reigning houses as their
immediate territories now came under Landeshoheit of the members the
non-sovereign houses that had preserved their status as “of the Imperial
Estate” until 1806, were called Standesherren. The Personalists
were also included in this category. (Most of the Personalists had no
immediate territories and, thus, cannot properly be called mediatized houses).
Officially, Standesherren were now considered as equal (Ebenbürtigkeit)
to the other sovereign houses of Europe, although this new equality was a
concept which did not receive much currency outside the German states. In many
German states Standesherren had the hereditary right to vote in the newly
established Houses of Lords of the individual state parliaments created in
imitation of the British House of Lords. From the end of the 19th century the Almanach
de Gotha listed Standesherren as one separate group in its
second part .
who also lost their immediate status in 1806, did not enjoy the privileges of Standesherren.
In August of 1806 Emperor Franz II laid down the crown of the Holy Roman Empire. All Imperial Estates that were not mediatized now received unlimited sovereignty.
The treaty of Pressburg (Dec 1805) dispossessed Archduke Ferdinand, the heir to
the house of Modena-Este. His lands, Breisgau and Ortenau, were assigned to
Baden. Ferdinand, the brother of Franz II, exchanged Salzburg for Würzburg,
preserving his status of Elector. The
Electors of Württemberg and Bavaria received the title of King. In January of
1806 Napoleon I acquired Kleve from Brandenburg and Berg from Bavaria and gave
them to his brother-in-law Joachim Murat.
The original members of the Confederation:
members of the Confederation:
September of 1806:
December of 1806 all Saxon houses:
April of 1807 less important houses in Thüringen and Westphalia:
December of 1807:
February of 1808:
March of 1808:
October of 1808:
rulers upgraded their titles when they joined the Confederation of the Rhine:
of Leyen-Hohengeroldseck to Prince
1810, there was no sovereign ruler in Europe with a titular rank less than that of Prince.
The houses of Esterhazy, Bentinck, Pappenheim and Croÿ, which did not have the
status of Imperial Estate, were also counted among the Standesherren. The
house of Pappenheim was present in the Imperial Diet as the Imperial Hereditary
houses of Bretzenheim, Ligne, Abensberg & Traun, Nostitz, and Nesselrode (?)
were not included in Standesherren because they lost the status of
Imperial Estate before July of 1806 (when they sold their immediate lands).
Imperial Knights lost their immediate status in 1806. They did not enjoy the
privileges of Standesherren.