Imperial Princes

Imperial Princes

 

in the Holy Roman Empire (prior to 1806), a class of great feudal lords. The class was formed in the second half of the 12th century from among the higher ecclesiastical and secular aristocracy, including archbishops, bishops, abbots, dukes, palatines, margraves, and counts. The imperial princes were invested in their holdings directly by the emperor, enjoyed the rights of supreme jurisdiction in their holdings and of regalia, and were represented in the Reichstag. The most influential imperial princes made up the college of electors. With the decline of central power, these princes became sovereign rulers.

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The imperial princes in turn governed according to a strict code and were backed by a huge standing army and navy.
Others offered their services to imperial princes, imperial estate managers, and local officials.
(88.) Eunuchs also oversaw the management of estates belonging to imperial princes. They were accompanied by servants and several dozen low ranking military officers drawn from the prince's military guard.

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