Friday, September 2, 2011

Confusion in the Land of Unsourced Research

While researching various transcriptions of laws, edicts and bulls, I came across a term that is somewhat confusing at times.  I was attempting to find a transcription of the Treaty of Barcelona 1529, when I came across the 'elector of Augsburg'.  This was the second time I saw a reference to this mysterious individual, the first being in reference to the inn and hotel laws of the time.  I was curious who they might be, but thus far, most references for the 'elector of Augsburg' neglect to give a name of any type.  So this got me thinking...

What is a Kurfürst or Elector in Germanic references?  Roughly translated, a Kurfürst or Prince-Elector was a ruling prince able to elect the Holy Roman Emperor.  During this era, there were only seven Kurfürst, three of which were ecclesiastical and four were secular; namely, the Archbishop of Mainz, the Archbishop of Trier, the Archbishop of Cologne, the King of Bohemia, the Count Palatine of the Rhine, the Duke of Saxony and the Margrave of Brandenburg.

So if there were only seven, who was the elector of Augsburg?  Is there another elector office besides a Prince-Elector?  Or was the elector of Augsburg someone from the above individuals which currently had control of Bavaria?

Bavaria, the country we currently associate with Augsburg, was ruled by the House of Wittelsbach from 1180-1918, which at least makes it somewhat convenient, as they were all in the same family -- though if you've done genealogy as I have, there isn't as much convenient about it as it would sound. The rulers of Upper Bavaria (House Wittelsbach) were the Counts Palatine of the Rhine, which gave them an 'electoral vote' in the election of the Emperor.  This is all well and good, but Augsburg at this point in time was an Imperial City, which made it autonomous.  They even had their own bishop.

Therefore, it was most likely another office entirely, perhaps a lesser office for the 'mayor/leader' of Augsburg.  I suppose another option could be that whomever referred to the 'elector of Augsburg' was incorrect in titling them as an 'elector'.  My example for this reference comes from The History of Catering - 15th Century, (which has either been copied or is a copy of the same information that can be found on many sites, almost verbatim; clue #1? :P) where they state the following:
The first “beer inspection” licenses were paid by the Augsburg Elector in 1530.
I'm afraid this statement didn't make a lot of sense to me to read it as it is.  Who was the Augsburg Elector and why did he pay for the first 'beer inspection' licenses?

And the site continues:
It was also in the same year that the “Reformation gutter Polizey” law was enacted and this replaced many regional regulations.
What was the 'Reformation gutter Polizey'? If it were translated straight across the board, well, it wouldn't.  Taking a free hand at it, I'm willing to deduce it was the 'good reformation policy', which translated back into German is 'Reformation Gute Politik'.  Nothing like taking something that should be simple and making it complicated.

Thus far any searches I'm doing are coming up blank and none of these sites have sources... of course, right?

My kingdom for a few reliable resources!

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