Palatinate pəlăt´ĭnāt˝ [key], Ger. Pfalz, two regions of Germany. They are related historically, but not geographically. The Rhenish or Lower Palatinate (Ger. Rheinpfalz or Niederpfalz), often called simply the Palatinate, is a district (c.2,100 sq mi/5,440 sq km) of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate (Ger. Rheinland-Pfalz). The Rhenish Palatinate extends from the left bank of the Rhine and borders in the S on France and in the W on the Saarland and Luxembourg. Neustadt an der Weinstrasse is the capital; Ludwigshafen, Kaiserslautern, Pirmasens, and Speyer are the chief cities. It is a rich agricultural region, famed for its wines. The Upper Palatinate (Ger. Oberpfalz) is a district (c.3,725 sq mi/9,650 sq km) of NE Bavaria, separated in the east from the Czech Republic by the Bohemian Forest. Regensburg is the capital. Agriculture and cattle raising are the chief occupations.
The name of the two regions came from the office known as count palatine, a title used in the Holy Roman Empire to denote the secular prince who ruled a region in the absence of the Holy Roman Emperor; the title was used in other European countries during the medieval and early modern periods. Rights of office varied, but in general the palatine had superior judicial functions and enjoyed privileges superior to those of other nobles.
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