Aulic Council (Lat. aula, a court or hall; Ger. Reichshofrath), a tribunal under the old German empire, standing at its first institution next in authority to the supreme imperial chamber (Reichskammergericht), to which it was afterward made equal in power. It was formed in 1501 by the emperor Maximilian, chiefly from members of his tribunal for the administration of justice in the Austrian dominions, and, as ultimately organized, consisted of a president, vice president, and 18 councillors, all appointed and paid by the emperor. The authority of the aulic council was confirmed at the peace of Westphalia, made equal to that of the chamber, and sharply defined in the decrees concerning it (Reichshofraths-Ordnungen) of 1559 and 1654. Six of the councillors must be of the Protestant religion, and the unanimous vote of these six could not be entirely overruled by the others, no matter what their majority. The council was divided into two sections, one of nobles (Grafen und Herreri), the other of legal scholars or experts (Gelehrte), all equal in rank, though the last named class received higher salaries than the others. The vice chancellor appointed by the electorate of Mentz also had a seat in the council.
This tribunal had exclusive jurisdiction over feudal affairs connected with the empire, appeals in criminal cases in the states immediately subject to the emperor, and questions concerning the imperial government itself. The members of the council held office, except in extraordinary cases, during one reign; each emperor, immediately on his accession, appointing new ones. The council passed out of existence with the old German empire itself in 1806.