The Principality of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, is a small constitutional monarchy in central Europe. It is a member state of the Holy Roman Empire and borders Ducal Saxony, Electoral Saxony, Bavaria, Pflaz-Amberg, Eckental, Erlangen and Wurzburg. The capital is Bayreuth and the population is around 357,000.
The Head of State is Prince Wilhelm II.
The official language is German.
The currency is the Bayreuth Mark (BYM).
Established by Emperor Conrad III the Burgraviate of Nuremberg, under the Raab family, slowly coalesced around the city of Nuremberg. On the extinction of the Raab line in 1192 the territory was inherited by the Hohenzollern Frederick I. The Hohenstaufen emperors severely reduced the influence of the various Burgraviates and gave much of the Burgraves' taxation rights to non-military castellans, in this case the mayors of Nuremberg city itself which became independent in 1219.
At the end of the 14th century the Burgraviate was split between the sons of Frederick V eventually resulting in the separate states of Bayreuth and Ansbach. Bayreuth's proximity to Bohemia made it a close ally of the Luxembourg dynasty and successive princes served as their military commanders. Albert I for instance led the Imperial army against the Hussites, a position which did not prevent Bayreuth and Nuremberg being invaded and ravaged by the heretical army.
Albert's son Sigismund I attempted to reassert rights over Nuremberg and with Emperor Matthew's approval formed a league against it. In 1444 he found a pretext to attack, however Matthew died suddenly, depriving Sigismund of support. The war faltered and, after a comprehensive defeat on the field of Kirchensttenbach, Sigismund I was forced to recognise Nuremberg's independence and its own growing territory. An Imperial Bull the following year effectively set the peace in stone.
The Reformation made a sharp break between the relations of Bayreauth and Ansbach who found themselves on oppose sides of the confessional divide. Iron ore deposits were also mostly exhausted by this time feeding disgruntlement amongst the peasantry and Bayreuth would be much affected by the Peasant Wars. Prince Albert II almost bankrupted the state pursuing war against the rebellious Lutherans and his cruelty to the peasant and anti-monarchist armies was especially vicious. Defeat during the Schmalkaldic Wars broke helped though it retained leadership over the now much-reduced Empire's Franconian areas. Nuremberg meanwhile followed its Lutheran co-religionists into the Schmalkaldic Empire (along with Ansbach) adding yet another grudge between the two.
The Fifty Years War proved disastrous to the entire region. Christian I spent the first few years pursuing a feud with Nuremberg, almost to point of ignoring the wider conflict. In the later years of the war Prince Christian II would be presented with little other option but to swap sides, allying Bayreuth to Svealand and suffering a punitive occupation by Bavaria as a result. At the war's end its eastern flank was absorbed by Electoral Saxony but it was rewarded with parts of the Bishopric of Bamberg. It was left financially ruined and repeated attempts to right the mess would flounder.
Successive princes were plainly incompetent and unsuitable for rule and by the 1760s the principality was effectively ruled by capable Secretaries, often promoted by the better educated and worldly princesses. By this process by 1800 Bayreuth was one of the best ruled states in the region and had enough revenue for Prince Sigismund III to indulge his passion for the arts. The medieval castle at Kulmbach was rebuilt in 'Wilhelmine' style and its walls soon laden with some of the finest paintings of Europe and Leifia. A university was established in Bayreuth city, dedicated to the liberal arts. The university's Film department, currently the only one of its kind in Europe, has trained several noted directors and reputedly has the most complete collection of films in the world.
Meanwhile Christian III's brother Alexander was elected to the Polish-Lithuanian throne through his marriage to King Sigismund III's daughter Elizabeth. This led to a firm Polish alliance which committed Bayreuth's forces to the war against Hungary. Even after Alexander died and was succeeded by his sister-in-law Konstancja, she would formally accept Alexander's infant son Sigismund as her successor, maintaining the alliance throughout the Great Baltic War and the Hungarian Wars.
Prince Frederick Albert would wield the prince's traditional role of Marshall for the final time during the War of Bavarian Succession (or Eleanor's War) (1802-1805). And whilst not employed as commanders Bayreuth's forces saw action during the Iberian Revolution and Imperial-Kalmar Wars. The near constant wars and committed spending on arts severely ran down the principality's treasury and since the close of the Second Imperial-Kalmar War the Landstag has had complete control over the budget and right to declare war.
Bayreuth has a relatively long history of parliamentary government and has a well-established split between the powers of the single-chambered Landstag and the crown. Elections are held as and when they are necessary (but no longer than five years apart).
The current Head of State is Prince Wilhelm II and the Chief Secretary is Leopold Schlumprecht.