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Prince of the Holy Roman Empire who had a right to participate in electing the German emperor. Beginning c. 1273, and with the confirmation of the Golden Bull, there were seven electors: the archbishops of Trier, Mainz, and Cologne; the duke of Saxony; the count palatine of the Rhine; the margrave of Brandenburg; and the king of Bohemia. Other electorates were created much later for Bavaria (1623–1778), Hanover (1708), and Hesse-Kassel (1803), but by the 17th century the electors' office had become meaningless because the Habsburg dynasty produced the de facto emperors. The office disappeared when the empire was abolished in 1806.
Variants of ELECTOR
elector German Kurfürst.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on elector, visit Britannica.com.