Open main menu

AULIC COUNCIL (from the Latin aula, a hall, in German, Reichshofrath), one of the two supreme courts of the old Germanic empire, the other being the imperial chamber (Reichskammergericht). It was called into existence in 1501 by the Emperor Maximilian, and was by him intended to counterbalance the influence of the im perial chamber, which he had been compelled to form by the states six years before. The Aulic Council had in many respects equal power with the chamber ; from its- decisions there was no appeal, and under its special juris diction were included the consideration of the imperial reserved rights, fees, and privileges, the settlement of disputes as to precedence among the several states, and the arrangement of matters relating to the Italian posses sions of the empire. All questions of law could be sub mitted either to this council or to the chamber. The members were at first appointed by the emperor, at whose death the court dissolved, and new appointments were made by his successor. The power of the council increased under several of the emperors ; it was formally recognised as coequal with the imperial chamber ; and after the peace of Westphalia its organisation was altered so as to meet the requirements of the time. It then and afterwards consisted of a president, vice-president, and eighteen councillors, all selected and paid by the emperor, and of a vice-chancellor, whose appointment rested with the electorate of Mainz. Six members were Protestants, and the votes of these six, when unanimous, could not be overturned by any majority of the others. The councillors were divided into two parties the first consisting of the counts and barons, the second of the men of learning, who possessed equal rights with the nobles, but were more highly paid. At the dissolution of the old Germanic imperial system in 1806, the Aulic Council in its former signification came to an end, though an Austrian court bearing the same title still continued to sit in Vienna.