It is interesting how coincidences not only determine our personal lives, but also shape the so-called “great” history.

Something that on superficial observation appears to be a natural development (and influenced the fate of our continent for centuries) was the emergence of the Electorate in the former East Frankish Empire.

Yet perhaps it was really fate, for the fact that this could develop, and only in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, can be traced back to one circumstance above all.


In the year 911 Ludwig IV died. (the child) and with it the last king of the Eastern Franconian Empire from the dynasty of the Carolingians. However, the imperial princes of the Eastern Frankish Empire did not appoint the legitimate ruler of the Western Frankish Empire as their monarch, but chose one from their midst in the person of Conrad I.

This was not an unusual procedure at that time, because in the Western Franconia, too, the king was elected by the greats of the empire since 888.


Once in power, a strong king could, through skilful tactics, usually already during his lifetime, press for his own son to be appointed as successor.

In the Western Frankish Empire, this was achieved by the monarchs from the dynasty of the Capetonians, who continuously provided the ruler from 987 to 1328. The fact that there was always a male heir available and thus the crown remained in their house had an important effect: in France a pure hereditary monarchy gradually developed.


In Eastern France, on the other hand, there were repeated changes of ruler, as the dynasties regularly died out in the male line.

Thus, between 1002 and 1152 alone, five different kings were elected who, although related to their predecessors, were not their direct descendants.

Thus, in 1002, there were already other competitors besides Duke Heinrich of Bavaria who had similar degrees of kinship to the late Otto III.

When also 1024, 1125, 1137 and 1152 kings were elected who were not sons of the previous ruler, this tradition of free choice solidified and the inheritance rights were considerably weakened.

Which finally ended in an electoral kingship in which every candidate for the crown had to buy the favor of the electors with gifts and promises.


Originally, all imperial princes were entitled to participate in the election of the king, but there were a number of princes among them who were entitled to a preliminary decision.

These, however, were not, as one might suppose, the most powerful among them, but those who were closest to the king in rank and dignity.

From these first beginnings a solid tribe of seven electors soon developed.

They were these: The Archbishop of Mainz as Imperial Chancellor for Germany, the Archbishop of Cologne as Imperial Chancellor for Italy, and the Archbishop of Trier as Imperial Chancellor for Burgundy.

In addition, there were four secular electors: the King of Bohemia as Archbishop’s gift, the Count Palatine near the Rhine as Archtruchess, the Duke of Saxony as Archmarshal and the Margrave of Brandenburg as Archchamberlain.


In the course of the 17th and 18th centuries, more princes were to be included in this circle, but their importance diminished increasingly until their dignity and power became irrelevant with the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.