An archchancellor or chief chancellor was a title given to the highest dignitary of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

, and also used occasionally during the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 to denote an official who supervised the work of chancellors or notaries.

The Carolingian
Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire is a historiographical term which has been used to refer to the realm of the Franks under the Carolingian dynasty in the Early Middle Ages. This dynasty is seen as the founders of France and Germany, and its beginning date is based on the crowning of Charlemagne, or Charles the...

 successors of Pepin the Short appointed chancellors over the whole Frankish realm in the ninth century. Hincmar refers to this official as a summus cancellarius in De ordine palatii et regni and an 864 charter of King Lothair I
Lothair I
Lothair I or Lothar I was the Emperor of the Romans , co-ruling with his father until 840, and the King of Bavaria , Italy and Middle Francia...

 refers to Agilmar, Archbishop of Vienne, as archchancellor, a word which also begins appearing in chronicles about that time. The last Carolingian archchancellor in West Francia was Archbishop Adalberon of Reims (969-988), with the accession of Hugh Capet the office was replaced by a Chancelier de France.

At the court of Otto I
Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor
Otto I the Great , son of Henry I the Fowler and Matilda of Ringelheim, was Duke of Saxony, King of Germany, King of Italy, and "the first of the Germans to be called the emperor of Italy" according to Arnulf of Milan...

, then King of Germany, the title seems to have been an appanage of the Archbishop of Mainz
Archbishopric of Mainz
The Archbishopric of Mainz or Electorate of Mainz was an influential ecclesiastic and secular prince-bishopric in the Holy Roman Empire between 780–82 and 1802. In the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, the Archbishop of Mainz was the primas Germaniae, the substitute of the Pope north of the Alps...

. After Otto had finally deposed King Berengar II of Italy
Berengar II of Italy
Berengar of Ivrea , sometimes also referred to as Berengar II of Italy, was Margrave of Ivrea and usurper King of Italy from 950 until his deposition in 961, the last before Italy's incorporation into the Holy Roman Empire...

 and was crowned Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 in 962, a similar office was created for the Imperial Kingdom of Italy
Kingdom of Italy (medieval)
The Kingdom of Italy was a political entity under control of Carolingian dynasty of Francia first, after the defeat of the Lombards in 774. It was finally incorporated as a part of the Holy Roman Empire in 962....

. By the early eleventh century, this office was perennially held by the Archbishop of Cologne. Theoretically, the archbishop of Mainz took care of Imperial affairs for Germany and the Archbishop of Cologne for Italy, though the latter often used deputies, his see being outside of his kingdom. A third office was created about 1032, when Emperor Conrad II
Conrad II, Holy Roman Emperor
Conrad II was Holy Roman Emperor from 1027 until his death.The son of a mid-level nobleman in Franconia, Count Henry of Speyer and Adelaide of Alsace, he inherited the titles of count of Speyer and of Worms as an infant when Henry died at age twenty...

 acquired the Kingdom of Burgundy
Kingdom of Burgundy
Burgundy is a historic region in Western Europe that has existed as a political entity in a number of forms with very different boundaries. Two of these entities - the first around the 6th century, the second around the 11th century - have been called the Kingdom of Burgundy; a third was very...

Kingdom of Arles
The Kingdom of Arles or Second Kingdom of Burgundy of the High Middle Ages was a Frankish dominion established in 933 from lands of the early medieval Kingdom of Burgundy at Arles...

) upon the death of King Rudolph III
Rudolph III of Burgundy
Rudolf III of Burgundy was the last King of an independent Burgundy. He was the son of Conrad, King of Burgundy, and Matilda of France...

, but it only appears in the hands of the Archbishop of Trier
Archbishopric of Trier
The Archbishopric of Trier was a Roman Catholic diocese in Germany, that existed from Carolingian times until the end of the Holy Roman Empire. Its suffragans were the dioceses of Metz, Toul and Verdun. Since the 9th century the Archbishops of Trier were simultaneously princes and since the 11th...

 in the twelfth century as the chancellory of Arles. It is not known if the office was ever more than a prestigious title for the archbishop.

By the Golden Bull of 1356
Golden Bull of 1356
The Golden Bull of 1356 was a decree issued by the Reichstag assembly in Nuremberg headed by the Luxembourg Emperor Charles IV that fixed, for a period of more than four hundred years, important aspects of the constitutional structure of the Holy Roman Empire...

, Emperor Charles IV
Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles IV , born Wenceslaus , was the second king of Bohemia from the House of Luxembourg, and the first king of Bohemia to also become Holy Roman Emperor....

 confirmed the threefold division of the archchancellory among the three ecclesiastical Prince-elector
The Prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire were the members of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire, having the function of electing the Roman king or, from the middle of the 16th century onwards, directly the Holy Roman Emperor.The heir-apparent to a prince-elector was known as an...

s of the Empire. Actual governmental functions like calling the Imperial election
Imperial election
The election of a Holy Roman Emperor or King of Germany was, from at least the 13th century, accomplished by a small body of the greatest princes of the Empire, the Prince-electors. Appointment as Emperor was normally for life...

s, however, were carried out by the Mainz archbishops alone. The office in this form was part of the constitution of the Empire until the German Mediatisation
German Mediatisation
The German Mediatisation was the series of mediatisations and secularisations that occurred in Germany between 1795 and 1814, during the latter part of the era of the French Revolution and then the Napoleonic Era....

 in 1803, when Mainz was secularised. The last elector, Karl Theodor Anton Maria von Dalberg
Karl Theodor Anton Maria von Dalberg
Karl Theodor Anton Maria von Dalberg was Archbishop-Elector of Mainz, Arch-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Empire, Prince of Regensburg, primate of the Confederation of the Rhine and Grand-Duke of Frankfurt.-Biography:...

, however, retained the title of archchancellor until the dissolution of the Empire in 1806. There was a marked resemblance between the medieval archchancellor and the later chancellors of the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 and the Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

. The title is continued by the present-day Chancellor of Germany.

In France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 the title of "Archchancellor of the Empire" was given to Napoleon I
Napoleon I
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

's chief legal advisor, Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès.


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