Friday, February 7, 2014

History of the Empire: The Electorate of Trier

4 FEBRUARY 2014 (ORCNS) - The Electorate of Trier, located in modern-day Germany on the banks of the Moselle River, was an important state of the Holy Roman Empire. Trier itself was once a Roman provincial capital known as Augusta Treverorum. Already an episcopal seat during the time of the Merovingian Dynasty, Charlemagne granted the bishops of Trier independence from local secular government. It was also during the reign of Charlemagne that the See was raised to the dignity of Archdiocese.

Map by de Wit of the Electorate of Trier

The territory was founded as an Electorate in 898, giving the Archbishop a vote in electing the Holy Roman Emperor. The Prince Archbishop also held the high Imperial office of Arch-Chancellor of Gaul, giving him administrative authority in the name of the Emperor over those lands. Other Prince Archbishop Electors included Mainz, Salzburg, and Cologne.

Prince Clemens of Sazony, last reigning
Prince Archbishop of Trier
The State continued until 1801, when it was annexed by Napoleon as part of France. After Napoleon crowned himself Emperor, Trier was part of the Napoleonic Empire until it fall in 1815. Part of the electoral territory was also secularized and annexed in 1803 by the Princely County of Nassau-Weilburg. Today the Diocese of Trier is a spiritual See with no temporal or territorial jurisdiction. The titular Prince Archbishopric under the Holy Roman Empire continues as a part of the patrimony of the See of St. Stephen. The city of Trier itself remains peacefully in the Moselle River valley, about 15 km from the border with the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Several ancient Roman ruins remain, and the city boasts several museums. It is also home to the University of Trier, founded in 1473.