Prussia’s Franconian undertaking. Dynasty, law, and politics in the Holy Roman Empire (1703-1726)
In the early eighteenth century, the question of succession in Bayreuth caused a Hohenzollern internal dispute. King Friedrich I in Prussia wanted to add Bayreuth to his numerous possessions, but a distant cousin made objections and appealed to the emperor’s Reichshofrat (Imperial Aulic Council). The appeal required the Reichshofrat to arbitrate between members of one of the Empire’s most distinguished noble families. The king’s ambitions, moreover, prompted opposition of Franconian princes and counts who feared Prussian aggrandisement. This opposition actively lobbied against the king and supported every Hohenzollern scion willing to challenge Prussia. This article enquires how the Reichshofrat guaranteed the inheritance rights of the Empire’s high nobility even when the political stakes were exceptionally high.