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Fürstentum (Markgraftum) Kulmbach / Bayreuth
Principality (Margraviate) of Kulmbach / Bayreuth
State of the Holy Roman Empire


Coat of arms

Principality of Brandenburg-Bayreuth as at 1791, when it was sold to Prussia
Capital Kulmbach until 1604,
Bayreuth from 1604
Government Principality
 - 1398–1420 (first) John III, Burgrave of Nuremberg
 - 1769–91 (last) Christian Frederick,
Margrave of
Historical era Middle Ages
 - Partitioned from
   Burgraviate of Nuremberg
21 January 1398 1398
 - Reunited with Ansbach 1420–40
 - Joined Franconian Circle 1500
 - Partitioned in twain 1655–1726
 - Line extinct; inherited
   by Ansbach
20 January 1769
 - Ansbach and Bayreuth
   sold to Prussia
2 December 1791 1791

The Principality of Bayreuth (German: Fürstentum Bayreuth) or Brandenburg-Bayreuth was a reichsfrei principality in the Holy Roman Empire centered on the Bavarian city of Bayreuth. Until 1604 it was known as the Principality of Kulmbach German: Fürstentum Kulmbach) or Brandenburg-Kulmbach. The ruling Hohenzollern princes of the land were known as margraves, as the principality was a margravate (but not a march).


The principality was established after the death of Burgrave Frederick V of Nuremberg on 21 January 1398, when his lands were partitioned between his two sons. The elder son, John III, received Bayreuth and the younger, Frederick VI, received Ansbach.

The two principalities were reunited under the younger son, Frederick, after John's death on 11 June 1420. Frederick had become Elector of Brandenburg as Frederick I in 1415, and on his death, 21 September 1440, his territories were divided between his sons; Kulmbach (Bayreuth) went to the eldest, John "the Alchemist", while the second, Frederick, received Brandenburg and Ansbach passed to the third son Albert Achilles.

John the Alchemist renounced his rights in 1457, whereupon Kulmbach (Bayreuth) passed to his brother, Albert Achilles, the Margrave of Brandenburg. Thereafter the Principality of Bayreuth was held by cadet branches of the house of the Margraves of Brandenburg, the rulers being commonly known as the Margraves of Brandenburg-Bayreuth (though Bayreuth is nowhere near Brandenburg). The principality became part of the Franconian Circle in 1500.

In 1655 Bayreuth was partitioned into Brandenburg-Bayreuth and Brandenburg-Kulmbach, but the lands were reunited in 1726. The last line of Brandenburg-Bayreuth died out on 20 January 1769 with the death of Margrave Frederick Christian, and Bayreuth passed to Christian Frederick. On 2 December 1791, Christian Frederick sold the sovereignty of his principalities to King Frederick William II of Prussia, and from 28 January 1792 Bayreuth was ruled by Prussian-appointed governors.

Margraves of Bayreuth

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