Bavarian Circle

The Bavarian Circle (German: Bayerischer Reichskreis) was an Imperial Circle of the Holy Roman Empire.

Bavarian Circle
Bayerischer Reichskreis

The Bavarian Circle as at the beginning of the 16th century within the Holy Roman Empire
Historical eraEarly modern period
Today part of Slovenia

The most significant state by far in the circle was the Duchy of Bavaria (raised to an Electorate by Emperor Ferdinand II in 1623) with the Upper Palatinate territories.[1] Other Imperial Estates like the Prince-Archbishopric of Salzburg, the Prince-Bishoprics of Freising, Passau and Regensburg as well as the Imperial city of Regensburg, seat of the Imperial Diet from 1663, had a secondary importance. The elector of Bavaria and the archbishop of Salzburg acted as the circle's directors.[2][3]


The circle was made up of the following states:

Name Type of entity Established Comments
Bavaria Duchy 907 Established in 907, held by the House of Wittelsbach from 1180, Bavaria-Munich and Bavaria-Landshut reunited in 1506, annexed the Upper Palatinate from the Electoral Palatinate in 1628 along with the electoral dignity, inherited as a whole by the Electorate of the Palatinate in 1777.
Berchtesgaden Prince-Provostry 1111 Established in 1111, Reichsfreiheit granted by Frederick I Barbarossa in 1156, 61st seat to the Reichstag
Breitenegg Lordship 1624 Granted to Johann Tserclaes de Tilly by Elector Maximilian I of Bavaria in 1624, Imperial county from 1654, sold to Bavaria in 1792.
Ehrenfels Lordship 1465 Territory around Beratzhausen, Reichsfreiheit granted by Frederick III of Habsburg in 1465, acquired by Palatinate-Neuburg in 1567.
Freising Prince-Bishopric 724 Established by Saint Corbinian in 724, Prince-Bishopric from 1294
Haag County 1245 Reichsfreiheit granted by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen in 1245, Imperial county from 1509, held by the Dukes of Bavaria from 1567.
Hohenwaldeck Lordship 1476 Former Freising territory, Reichsfreiheit granted by Frederick III of Habsburg in 1476, county from 1637, to Bavaria in 1734
Leuchtenberg Landgraviate 1146 Principality from 1433, inherited by the House of Wittelsbach in 1646, to Bavaria in 1712, 72th seat to the Reichstag.
Niedermünster in Regensburg Prince-Abbacy 788 Established about 788, Reichsfreiheit granted by Henry II in 1002.
Obermünster in Regensburg Prince-Abbacy 876 Established before 876, Reichsfreiheit granted by Louis IV of Wittelsbach in 1315.
Ortenburg County 1120 Established about 1120, Reichsfreiheit confirmed in 1479 by Frederick III of Habsburg.
Palatinate-Neuburg Duchy 1505 Wittelsbach territory established in 1505 after the Landshut War of Succession, inherited the Palatinate in 1685, line extinct in 1742, inherited by Palatinate-Sulzbach with 10th vote to the Reichstag
Palatinate-Sulzbach Duchy 1656 Subdivision of Palatinate-Neuburg from 1656, heir of Palatinate-Neuburg and Electoral Palatinate in 1742, both united with Bavaria in 1777.
Passau Prince-Bishopric 739 Established in 739 by Saint Boniface, Reichsfreiheit granted by Otto III in 999.
Regensburg Prince-Bishopric 739 Established in 739 by Saint Boniface, Imperial immediacy from the 13th century
Regensburg Imperial City 1245 Since 1245.
Salzburg Prince-Archbishopric 696 Bishopric established in 696 by Saint Rupert, archbishopric from 798, prince-archbishopric from 1213 with the 5th seat to the Reichstag

Secularised (as the Electorate of Salzburg) and transferred to the Austrian Circle in 1803

St Emmeram in Regensburg Prince-Abbacy 739 Established in 739, held by the Bishops of Regensburg until 975, Reichsfreiheit granted by Adolph of Nassau in 1295.
Störnstein Lordship 1562 Fief of the Bohemian Crown, raised to county and granted to the House of Lobkowicz by Ferdinand I of Habsburg in 1562, gained Reichsfreiheit in 1641.
Sulzbürg-Pyrbaum Lordship 1353 Held by the House of Wolfstein, Reichsfreiheit confirmed in 1353, county from 1673, fell to Bavaria in 1740.


  1. Freeman, Edward Augustus (1882). The Historical Geography of Europe. Vol. I (Second ed.). London: Longmans, Green, and Company. p. 221.
  2. Holberg, Ludvig (1787). Radcliffe, William (ed.). An Introduction to Universal History. Translated by Sharpe, Gregory. London: L. Davis, J. Johnson and R. Baldwin. p. 307.
  3. The Edinburgh Gazetteer, Or Geographical Dictionary. Vol. 1. Edinburgh and London: Archibald Constable and Company. 1822. p. 409.
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