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Veit Ludwig von Seckendorff, Excerpts from Teutscher Fürsten-Staat (1656)

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Cap. II. Of the extent of territorial-princely sovereignty, in consideration of the Imperial Majesty and the Empire

[§ 1.] Lest one derive from the preceding chapter the notion that a German territorial lordship can exercise its sovereignty freely, and without any goal and just measure, we must recall, as was already briefly noted in the first part, that we are speaking of lands that lie within the Roman Empire of the German Nation, and also of such lords and estates who are enfeoffed with their lands and lordships, or at least with the prerogatives [regalia] of the same, by the Imperial Majesty as the highest sovereign in the Empire.

Now, it follows from this that they are also subject to the Emperor and the Empire, and that with receipt of their regalia they recognize the Empire, as is stated in the Imperial Resolution de Anno 1500, entitled The German Order, such that henceforth a German prince or territorial lord has to justify his governance and acts not only in his conscience toward God the Almighty, but that he is also obligated, and for the most part bound by the duties of oath, to render proper respect and obedience toward a properly elected, governing Roman Emperor and the Empire, and to attend to what the Imperial Majesty and the prince electors, princes, and estates of the Empire, in accordance with ancient custom, have arranged and decided and will decide in the future, for himself and in his territorial government, unless he is otherwise authorized through certain privileges, liberties, and stipulations.

In order to better understand this kind of obligation and measure of the sovereignty of the territorial lord, we shall examine and explain the same in terms of the four main points of the territorial-princely government as laid out in the preceding first chapter.

§ 2. With respect to the first, namely the preservation of his princely estate, honor, power, and sovereignty, he is obligated first and foremost to have the honor and sovereignty of the German Empire and of the Imperial Majesty before his eyes, not only (1) with external words and address, in that he calls the Roman Emperor his Most Gracious Lord, and honors him with the title of Your Imperial Majesty, while calling himself, however, an obedient or most obedient prince of the Empire, and does not, as in dealings with others, refer to himself as By the Grace of God, and We, but only I, and whatever other proper ceremonies and courtesies there are.

Rather, he is also (2) directed by his obligations to preserve himself and his land and people within the Roman Empire and under its highest dominion, and not to withdraw himself from it and seek a greater freedom by force or advantage than is his due by ancient custom and law, and even less to submit himself to another prince in the Empire, let alone a foreign one.

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