The term Prince of the Holy Roman Empire (German: Reichsfürst, Latin: princeps imperii) denoted a secular or ecclesiastical Imperial State, who ruled over an immediate fief directly assigned by the Holy Roman Emperor. There were two principal types of princes; those who had territory and sovereignty and those who were honorary, having the title but no lands or territories and no claim to sovereignty.
The estate of imperial princes or Reichsfürstenstand was first established in a legal sense in the Late Middle Ages. The title of imperial prince and its associated imperial immediacy, however, bestowed a certain degree of legal security that made another, more powerful, nobleman dependent on the prince.
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