The imperial supreme judicial authority under the Emperor Charles VI and the crises in Mecklenburg and East Frisia.
After 1648 the decline of the Holy Roman Empire into disunity
and particularism and the Emperor's loss- of power within the
Empire were almost complete. But the Emperor remained in theory
supreme feudal lord and supreme judge, over all his subjects, mediate
and immediate. This imperial supreme judicial authority was
exercised through the imperial aulic council ("Reichshofrat"),
which remained. active and preserved a small measure of imperial
authority and influence. Jealously guarded by a succession of'
Emperors as the sale remaining imperial organ beyond the control
of the princes, the aulic council did much to keep alive the rule
of law in Germany and, especially in the smaller provinces was
able to prevent blatant breaches of imperial law and the
constitutions of the individual states.
Charles VI, Emperor from 1711 to 1740, had a very advanced
concept of his imperial position and wished to draw the reins
of imperial authority more tightly. Under him the standard of the,
aulic council improved and it experienced its' last period of'
important activity. During Charles' reign long-simmering
constitutional disputes between the rulers and Estates in
Mecklenburg and East Frisia came to crisis and in both cases the
parties appealed to the imperial aulic council in Vienna. ' Major
states of the Empire, especially Hanover and Prussia, and European
powers were deeply interested. in these two strategically important
provinces and the Emperor, in coming to decisions in the cases, had.
to balance the requirements of his supreme judicial office, to act
as an impartial judge, and the needs of Austrian foreign policy,
as the two cases grew into topics of imperial and European diplomacy
In spite of the "ding n demands of the Pragmatic Sanction and the
Emperor's need to woo allies the supreme judicial office was
not sacrificed to Austrian foreign policy.