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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: September 2012



As we take stock of the three centuries that preceded the Swedish invasion, two themes predominate. In the first case, the dominant principle of government in upper Franconia was that governance was local (örtlich). In the administration of their domains, the princes followed the pattern of the Hohenstaufen emperors, delegating authority to the level below them; meanwhile, local elites sought to transform delegated powers into expressions of their own status and lordship. If anything, this tendency intensified over time. In the fourteenth century, execution of the Landfriede was delegated to the princes; in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, resolution of religious crises was, first unofficially, then officially, passed down to the territories. The downward shift of the burden of religious reform to communities and householders, evident from the 1570s onward, was an extension of what had been the common practice of governance in the empire from the time of the Hohenstaufen. It is in this deeply ingrained habit of passing the responsibility for the execution of policy downward that the formative–and disruptive–power of the princes and the emperors becomes most visible. On account of this practice, all officials were to a degree “princely,” owing their powers and privileges to the prince. At the same time, officials tended to view their offices as recognition of their status and estate. This set into motion one of the principle dynamics of state formation; the tension between the prince and those entrusted with the task of governance.