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Prince-abbot

File:Fulda um 1750.jpg
Adolf von Dalberg, Prince-Abbot of Fulda 1726-1737

A Prince-Abbot (German: Fürstabt) is a title for a cleric who is a Prince of the Church (like a Prince-Bishop), in the sense of an ex officio temporal lord of a feudal entity, notably a State of the Holy Roman Empire. The secular territory ruled by the head of an abbey is known as Prince-Abbacy or Abbey-principality. The holder, however, does not hold the ecclesiastical office of a Bishop.

The designated abbey may be a community of either monks or nuns. Thus, because of the possibility of it being a female monastery, an abbey-principality is one of the few cases in which the rule can be restricted to female incumbents, styled Princess-Abbess.

In some cases, the holder was a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire (Reichsfürst), with a seat and a direct vote (votum virile) in the Imperial Diet. Most immediate abbots however, while bearing the title of a "Prince-Abbot", only held the status of an Imperial prelate with a collective vote in the Imperial Diet. Actual Prince-Abbots were:

File:Swabia in the late 18th century.jpg
Imperial abbeys in Swabia the late 18th century
File:Sebastian Hyller portrait.jpg
Abbot Sebastian Hyller of Weingarten (1697–1730). Starting in 1555, the abbots of Weingarten cast the collective vote of the Imperial abbots of Swabia at the Imperial Diet.[1]

The Imperial prelates were represented in the Diet by the envoys of the Swabian and Rhenish College, both holding one collective vote.

Other examples include the Abbot Nullius of Pinerolo in the Piedmont, Italy and Belmont Abbey, North Carolina, which had the status of an Abbey Nullius until 1977.

See also

References

  1. ^ Whaley, J., Germany and the Holy Roman Empire (1493–1806), Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 353
de:Reichsprälat