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The Imperial Circles (German: Reichskreise; sing. Reichskreis) were regional groupings of states in the Holy Roman Empire. Although organised as a means of organising a common defence policy and imperial tax collection, the circles were also used as a means of organisation in the Imperial Diet. All Circles had a regional diet (Kreistag) of which all territories in the circle were participants, although not all estates in the Circles had a seat in the Imperial Diet.

The first six Circles were established in 1500 as part of the Imperial Reform at the Diet in Worms in 1495. The other four circles were created in 1512.

Imperial CirclesEdit

The borders between the circles remained largely unchanged for the duration of the Holy Roman Empire. But the Burgundian and Upper Rhenish circles were decreased during the 17th and 18th Centuries through the secession of the Netherlands and annexation by France. After the French Revolution, all Imperial territories west of the Rhine were annexed by France. The Electoral Rhenish, Upper Rhenish, and Lower Rhenish-Westphalian Circles were decreased substantially in size, while the Burgundian Circle ceased to exist at all.

Not all states and estates were members of the Imperial Circles; the Bohemian Crown lands (Bohemia, Moravia, Lusatia, and Silesia), the Swiss cantons and territories, the states of Italy, and the many Imperial Knights were not members.


Imperial Circles
Austrian | Bavarian | Burgundian | Electoral Rhenish | Franconian | Lower Rhenish-Westphalian
Lower Saxon | Swabian | Upper Rhenish | Upper Saxon

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