See also: Prince
Prince-bishop is the Titer of nobility which the bishops carried who controlled a principality of Empire or had received the title of prince of the Saint Worsens.
Thus the bishop of Liege, sovereign of the Principauté of Liege was, since the year 985, bishop and prince of Empire. Their palate always exists with Liege (Belgium): the Palate of the Prince-bishops, currently mainly occupied by the Law courts of Liege, a wing being occupied by the Provincial Palate (see Province of Liege).
The three larger ecclesiastical princes of Empire were the three prince-archbishops voter S of Mainz, Cologne and Trier. The first was most important of the Voters: the Bulle of Gold of 1356 stipulated that it was the last of the seven to vote, its voice was thus determining in the event of division with equality of the first six votes.
These high-ranking dignitaries were often temporal chiefs more than spiritual and it was not rare that they were not even priests. Thus Ferdinand of Bavaria, Prince-Archbishop of Cologne at the time of the Guerre Thirty Year old which was frêre of the duke Maximilien Ier of Bavaria was also bishop of Freising, of Hildesheim, Liege, Münster and of Paderborn but was not priest.
The totality of these ecclesiastical principalities were removed at the beginning of the 19th century, when Napoleon organized the Confédération of the Rhine.
The bishop of Durham (in England), carried the title of prince-bishop, because of his role of guard of the palatinat of Northumbrie vis-a-vis the Scot. The title was carried until in 1836.
- List of the prince-bishops of Liege
- a page on the history of the prince-bishops of Liege
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