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PALATINATE. The Electoral Palatinate (Kurpfalz) was a historical German principality consisting of the "Lower Palatinate" on the Upper Rhine with its capital in Heidelberg and the North Bavarian territory known as the "Upper Palatinate" along the Bohemian border.


The origins of the Palatinate lay in the medieval period, when the Lotharingian count palatine (Latin, comes palatinus ; German, Pfalzgraf ) secured a territorial base in the Upper Rhine region. The Wittelsbach dynasty acquired the Palatinate with the sanction of Emperor Frederick II in 1214. The Treaty of Pavia (1329) assigned control of the Lower and Upper Palatinate to the elder branch of the Wittelsbach family. (Their Wittelsbach cousins continued to rule over the duchy of Bavaria and would prove formidable rivals.) The Golden Bull(1356) sealed the right of the "count palatine on the Rhine" (henceforth known as the "elector palatine") to take part in imperial elections. The elector palatine was the first secular prince of the empire and acted as vicar when the imperial office was vacant. The Palatinate housed the empire's third oldest university with the foundation of the University of Heidelberg in 1386. With Rupert (ruled 14001410), the Palatine Wittelsbachs produced a German king, but Rupert's division of his patrimony weakened the electorate's territorial base and created an abundance of cadet lines. Despite these alienations, vigorous electors such as Frederick I, the Victorious (ruled 14511476) augmented the Palatine territory. Heidelberg served as an epicenter of the humanist movement in Germany in the late 1400s. However, the Palatinate's drive to emerge as the preeminent power in southern Germany stalled during the Bavarian Succession War (Landshuter Erbfolgekrieg), 15031505.


The military setbacks of the early 1500s determined the tentative role that Elector Louis V (ruled 15081544) would play in the early years of the Reformation. Although the Heidelberg Disputation (1518) won Luther many followers in the region, Louis remained loyal to the Catholic Church. Palatine forces played a significant role in putting down the Knights' Revolt (15221523) and the Peasants' War (15241525). Frederick II (ruled 15441556) first moved the Palatinate in a Protestant direction by promulgating a Lutheran church order in 1546, but the imposition of the Augsburg Interim in 1548 halted this development. The Reformation took root in earnest with the accession of Elector Otto Henry (ruled 15561559), a classic Renaissance prince and patron of the arts. He established Lutheranism but sowed the seeds of future discord by appointing professors of varying Protestant convictions to the resurgent University of Heidelberg.

The old electoral line died out with Otto Henry's passing of the Palatinate to Frederick III, the Pious (ruled 15591576) of the cadet line Palatinate-Simmern. By converting to Reformed (Calvinist) Protestantism with the publication of the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), Frederick initiated the "Second Reformation" of the Palatinate. Though Emperor Maximilian II (ruled 15641576) sought to exclude Frederick from the religious peace, the 1566 Augsburg Diet sealed the de facto legality of the Palatine religious settlement. The University of Heidelberg became a leading intellectual center of Reformed Protestantism. The Palatinate played an increasingly militant role in European politics, and Palatine forces took part in the French Wars of Religion. Yet another confessional change occurred with the accession of Louis VI (ruled 15761583), who reestablished Lutheranism. The Reformed faith survived in a small principality carved out of the electoral domains for Frederick's like-minded son John Casimir (d. 1592). After Louis's premature death, John Casimir emerged as the dominant figure in the regency government of Frederick IV (ruled 15831610) and returned the Palatinate to its Reformed activism.


The incompatibility of pairing an ambitious foreign policy with limited domestic resources reached its denouement during the reign of Elector Frederick V (ruled 16101623). In the years preceding the war, the Palatinate emerged as a militant Protestant power under the influence of Christian von Anhalt and organized the Protestant Union (1608), which was countered by the Catholic League (1609). When the largely Protestant Bohemian Estates revolted against the Catholic Habsburg King Ferdinand II, igniting the Thirty Years' War, Frederick accepted elevation to the throne of Bohemia (1619). The union of Bohemia and the Palatinate proved short-lived, as Bavarian and imperial forces defeated Frederick at White Mountain on 8 November 1620, earning him the moniker the "Winter King." Hostilities also ravaged the Palatine home territories, and Spanish and Bavarian troops occupied the Palatinate. Frederick went into exile, and Emperor Ferdinand II transferred the Palatine electoral dignity and the Upper Palatinate to Maximilian I of Bavaria. The Bavarians shipped the Bibliotheca Palatina, the famous library of the Palatinate, to the Vatican in 1622 as repayment for papal support. With the exception of a brief Swedish interlude in the early 1630s, the Lower Palatinate remained occupied by Bavarian and Spanish forces for the remainder of the war. The war had a devastating impact on the Palatinate; depopulation estimates in the range of 7580 percent represented the highest losses of any major territory of the empire.


Frederick's heir Charles Louis (ruled 16491680) regained the Lower Palatinate and a compensatory eighth electoral vote in the Peace of Westphalia (1648), allowing the territory to begin to recover some of its lost prestige. Unfortunately, the marriage of the Palatine princess "Liselotte" (Elisabeth Charlotte, princess palatine and the duchess of Orleans) into the French royal house later provided a casus belli upon the death of the childless Elector Charles II (ruled 16801685) and the contested succession of Philip William (ruled 16851690) of Palatinate-Neuburg. In the War of the League of Augsburg (Pfälzischer Erbfolgekrieg, 16881697) the French King Louis XIV's forces laid waste to the entire Palatine region. The war prompted another wave of emigration resulting in the resettlement of many "Palatines" to the mid-Atlantic colonies of British North America.

The Palatinate experienced a baroque cultural effervescence and a series of rapid dynastic successions in the eighteenth century. The accession of the Catholic house of Palatinate-Neuburg (1685), which also possessed the wealthy duchy of Jülich-Berg, led to the legalization of Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Reformed Protestantism. John William (ruled 16901716) promoted Jesuits at the University of Heidelberg and oversaw the physical division of many of the territory's churches. Friction with Heidelberg's Reformed burghers led Charles Philip (ruled 17161742) to move his court to Mannheim (1720), which emerged as a cultural magnet. Centuries of animosity between the sundry branches of the Wittelsbach dynasty ended with joint inheritance agreements in 1771 and 1774. However, the Palatinate became a backwater when Charles Theodore (ruled 17421799; after 1777 also elector of Bavaria) of Palatinate-Sulzbach moved the court and administration to Munich after inheriting Bavaria. Unsuccessful plans to exchange the Bavarian territories with Emperor Joseph II (ruled 17651790) for the Austrian Netherlands led to the War of the Bavarian Succession (Bayerischer Erbfolgekrieg) in 17781779. After frequent occupation by French troops in the revolutionary wars, the former territories of the Electoral Palatinate were divided between several neighboring principalities in the imperial recess of 1803.

See also Bavaria ; Holy Roman Empire ; League of Augsburg, War of the (16881697) ; Peasants' War, German ; Thirty Years' War (16181648) ; Westphalia, Peace of (1648) ; Wittelsbach Dynasty (Bavaria) .


Clasen, Claus-Peter. The Palatinate in European History 15591618. Rev. ed. Oxford, 1966. Competent but dated survey of the origins of the Thirty Years' War.

Cohn, Henry J. The Government of the Rhine Palatinate in the Fifteenth Century. London, 1965. Premier English-language study of the Palatinate with broader relevance than its title suggests.

Press, Volker. Calvinismus und Territorialstaat: Regierung und Zentralbehörden der Kurpfalz 15591619. Stuttgart, 1970. Definitive study of Palatine politics and administration in the era of Second Reformation.

Schaab, Meinrad. Geschichte der Kurpfalz. 2 vols. Stuttgart, 19881992. Excellent overview of the entire period. Superb maps, dynastic charts, and bibliography.

Wolgast, Eike. Reformierte Konfession und Politik im 16. Jahrhundert. Studien zur Geschichte der Kurpfalz im Reformationszeitalter. Heidelberg, 1998. Concise survey of the sixteenth century with an invaluable bibliography.

Charles D. Gunnoe, Jr.

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PALATINATE (Ger. Pfalz ), region in W. Germany, also known as Western or Rhenish Palatinate. In the Middle Ages it was the domain of the counts and electors of the Palatinate, who were closely connected with the ruling house of the duchy of Bavaria. The first mention of Jews in the region is as residents of *Speyer in 1084. Communities existed in *Weinheim, *Kaiserslautern, *Heidelberg, and *Landau, all of which suffered during the *Black Death (1348) persecutions. To the indignation of the populace, Elector Rupert i (1329–90) permitted refugees from the massacres perpetrated in *Worms and Speyer to settle in Heidelberg and other nearby localities. Heidelberg eventually emerged as the leading Jewish community, and in 1369 authorities granted it permission to enlarge its cemetery. The nephew of Rupert i, Rupert ii (1390–98), and his son Rupert iii (1398–1410), king of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor (1400), expelled Jews from the Palatinate. In the course of the 14th and 15th centuries, however, Jews expelled from German cities managed to return and to settle in the villages of the Palatinate. An official inquiry of 1550 revealed the presence of 155 Jewish heads of families. These constituted a *Landjudenschaft, which convened fairly regularly to discuss the problem of tax distribution (which in 1554 was fixed at 1,000 florins annually for a period of six years). Charles Louis (1632–80) introduced taxes on circumcision, burial, and marriage. He also granted the Portuguese and Ashkenazi communities in *Mannheim extraordinary privileges (1660). Mannheim rapidly became the largest Jewish community in the Palatinate, with 63 families in 1697, while Heidelberg had only eight. The increasing Jewish population of the Palatinate, which overflowed into other German states where there were fewer Jews, resulted in the use by Jews of such names as Landau, Weinheim, Mannheim, and Oppenheim, which had their origin in Palatinate localities. The leading Austrian families of *Court Jews, the *Wertheimers and *Oppenheimers, were originally from the Palatinate, as was the *Seligmann-Eichthal family. The electors of the Palatinate employed many Court Jews, purveyors, and military *contractors. One of them, Lemle Moses Reinganum, established a 100,000 florin endowment for Talmud study, the renowned Mannheim Klaus (1706), which remained in existence for more than two centuries.

The number of Jews in the Palatinate continued to increase despite a temporary setback caused by the devastations of the wars of conquest (1688–89) of Louis xiv. In 1722 there were 535 registered Jewish families in the Palatinate, 160 of them in Mannheim. The first *Landrabbiner served in 1706 and the third, David Ullmann (Ulmo), a member of an influential family, was recognized as Landrabbiner in 1728 despite his youth. Although the Landjudenschaft had opposed his nomination, ignored his authority, and demanded that he be examined by three eminent rabbis, Ullmann nevertheless served with official support until 1762. His successor, Naphtali Hirsch *Katzenellenbogen (d. 1800), was also Oberrabbiner (chief rabbi) of the Mannheim Klaus. Elector Charles Theodore (1742–99) attempted to restrict the Jewish population of the Palatinate to 300 after a 1743 inquiry revealed the presence of 488 Jewish families and protracted negotiations over the payment of the 45,000 florins tax burden were conducted with the Landjudenschaft. All "honorable" professions, that of butcher in particular, were declared open to Jews; and Jews were allowed to open cemeteries. The majority of Palatinate Jews were livestock merchants, peddlers, and dealers in wine, hops, tobacco, and other agricultural products. By 1775 the number of Jewish families was 823; a quarter of them lived in Mannheim.

Under French rule (1792–1814) the Jews enjoyed equality but lost it on the return to Bavaria. In 1818 *Napoleon's "Infamous Decree" (1808) was extended indefinitely in the Palatinate. The struggle for Jewish emancipation was led by Elias Gruenebaum (b. 1807), rabbi of Landau (1836–93), an energetic advocate of Reform Judaism in both liturgy and education. Emancipation was granted only in 1848 and 1851. Anti-Jewish disturbances broke out in the villages of the Palatinate in 1819 (see *Hep! Hep!), the early 1830s, and in 1849.

The Jewish population of Rheinbayern (Rhenish Bavaria), which numbered some 2,000 families in 1821, grew to 13,526 persons in 1833 and to 15,412 in 1840 (2.65% of the total population), after which it began to decline (to 10,108 in 1900 and to 6,487 in 1933). In 1840 the population was distributed among 180 localities, 40 of which had at least 100 Jews. Ingenheim, one of the largest, had 551 Jews (one-third of the total population). By October 1937 there remained 4,300 Jews in 67 localities, only nine of which contained more than 100 persons. Those communities that grew after World War i were Ludwigshafen (1,400 in 1931) and Pirmasens (800 in 1931), both of which were themselves part of developing industrial cities. After 1933 the Jews of the primarily rural communities suffered from a relentless campaign to exclude them from the trade in livestock, wine, tobacco, leather, hops, etc., all of which were traditional Jewish occupations. During the Kristallnacht (November 1938) many synagogues of the Palatinate were burned down and hundreds of male Jews were arrested. Jews were also evicted from the villages to the cities and subsequently deported during World War ii. In 1970 there were 668 Jews living in the federal state of Rheinland-Pfalz (300 in Neustadt). The Jewish communities in Rheinland-Pfalz numbered 352 in 1989 and 3,078 in 2004. The increase is explained by the immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union.


H. Arnold, Von den Juden in der Pfalz (1967); H. Schnee, Die Hoffinanz und der moderne Staat, 4 (1963), 178–86; M. Stern, Koenig Ruprecht von der Pfalz in seinen Beziehungen zu den Juden (1898); L. Loewenstein, Geschichte der Juden in der Kurpfalz (1895); R. Herz, Die Juden in der Pfalz (1937): B. Rosenthal, in: mgwj, 79 (1935), 443–50. add. bibliography: R. Bender (ed.), Pfaelzische Juden und ihre Kultuseinrichtungen (Suedwestdeutsche Schriften, vol. 5) (1988); H. Arnold, Juden in der Pfalz. Vom Leben pfaelzischer Juden (19882); H. Morweiser, Pfaelzer Juden und IG-Farben (1988); A. Kuby, Juden in der Provinz (19892); idem (ed.), Pfaelzisches Judentum gestern und heute (1992); P. Karmann (ed.), Juedisches Leben in der Nordpfalz (1992); M. Strehlen (ed.), "Ein edler Stein sei sein Baldachin …," in: Juedische Friedhoefe in Rheinland-Pfalz (Denkmalpflege in Rheinland-Pfalz) (1996); B. Kukatzki, Pfaelzisch-juedischer Alltag im Kaiserreich (1997); idem, Bibliographie zur Geschichte der Juden in der Suedpfalz (Landauer Arbeitsberichte und Preprints, vol. 10) (2001).

[Henry Wasserman]

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The Palatinate was a German principality* that became known for its patronage* of the arts during the Renaissance. Two territories made up the Palatinate. The Rhine or Lower Palatinate was in western Germany along the Rhine and Neckar Rivers. The Upper Palatinate consisted of an area north of the region of Bavaria. Other lands separated the two territories. Heidelberg, the Palatinate's capital, gained a reputation as a literary and cultural center.

The region's ruler, known as the count palatine, served as one of seven German electors who chose the Holy Roman Emperor*. He also represented the emperor when the throne of the Holy Roman Empire was vacant. The borders of the Palatinate changed often. The principality expanded under Elector Frederick I, who ruled from 1449 to 1476, then lost territory as a result of the Bavarian War of Succession in 1504.

In the 1500s many residents of the Palatinate converted to Protestantism. However, their loyalty shifted between the churches established by Martin Luther and by John Calvin. Elector Frederick V, a Protestant, became king of Bohemia in 1619. His rise to power troubled the Catholic Habsburg dynasty, which ruled the Holy Roman Empire, and led to the first phase of the Thirty Years' War. Frederick's army suffered defeat, and he lost his role in electing the emperor. The Peace of Westphalia in 1648 restored the electoral role to the Palatinate.

Rulers of the Palatinate supported artists, writers, and scholars. In 1386 Elector Rupert I founded the University of Heidelberg, which became a center of scholarship and culture. Cultural life also flourished at the court of Frederick I and his nephew Philip. During the late 1400s, Philip's patronage attracted humanists* such as Rudolf Agricola and Conrad Celtis, who founded the Literary Society of the Rhine. Philip also sponsored German literature as well as translations of Latin and Greek works. Heidelberg had one of the best libraries in Germany—the Bibliotheca Palatina. By the early 1600s it contained thousands of books and priceless manuscripts. However, the ruler of Bavaria gave the library to the pope after the Palatinate's defeat in the Thirty Years' War.

(See alsoGerman Language and Literature; Libraries; Princes and Princedoms; Universities. )

* principality

independent state ruled by a prince or count

* patronage

support or financial sponsorship

* Holy Roman Emperor

ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, a political body in central Europe composed of several states that existed until 1806

* humanist

Renaissance expert in the humanities (the languages, literature, history, and speech and writing techniques of ancient Greece and Rome)

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Palatinate Historic state of the Holy Roman Empire, including the present German state of Rhineland-Palatinate and parts of adjacent states. It was ruled from 1156 by the Counts Palatine. It was a centre of the German Reformation and was a major battleground in the 17th century.