Realm knight shank
the realm knight shank was in the holy Roman realm the community of the free uradligen gentlemen, who could retain the direct subordination under emperors and realm on their possessions in Swabia, Franconia and in the Rhine country, without having however on the realm days of the realm seat and voice. The realm knight shank belonged thereby to the low aristocracy without realm condition shank.
you the special protection of the emperor, remained however of Reichstag enjoyed impossible and also not into the realm circle condition were included. Starting from the late Middle Ages the realm knights in knight federations united, itself since the first half the 16. Century to quasi-territorial obligation federations developed. Due to of fiscal claims opposite the realm knights in the year 1542, who were raised because of the threatening danger by the Turks from the emperor, the realm knights had to find an organization form, it on the one hand permitted their rights and Priviligien to retain and on the other side their obligations opposite the emperor to fulfill.
Therefore organized yourself the realm knight shank starting from the center 16. Century in altogether 15 knight places, those again, except for an exception, since 1577 into three knight circles were summarized. The knight places became since that 17. Century, according to the model of the cantons of Swiss confederation, knight canton mentioned. The six cantons desert forest, Gebürg, Rhön Werra, riser forest, Altmühl and building after belonged the Frankish, the five cantons Danube, preserving outer general outer Bodensee, Neckar Black Forest, digester and Kraichgau the Swabian and the three cantons upper Rhine, central Rhine and Niederrhein the rheinischen knight circle on. The canton Niederelsass took as 15. Canton a privileged position.
Since 1577 “designated meetings the realm knight shank took place as „general correspondence days, however remained the circles and particularly the cantons due to the strong territorial anchorage of the knights substantially more important.
The realm knights were consulted very frequently by the emperor for war services and won thereby a very large influence in the military and the administration of the realm, in addition, on the territorial princes.
Each canton had its knight captain and led an aristocracy register (knight register) over to knight shank belonging persons and goods. The knight shank was released from realm taxes and quartering. With the establishment of the Rhine federation in the year 1806 the areas the realm knight shank of the sovereignty of the princes, by whose territories they were surrounded, were subordinated. Most realm knights accepted the baron title.
Another category the realm knight shank was the letter aristocracy raised from the emperor into the realm knight conditions, which did not possess possessions in „the three knight circles “.
- George von Alten: Manual for army and fleet, volume VII, Berlin 1913.