The Upper And Lower Palatinate, two separate states of the old German empire, not contiguous, though under one ruler. Their territory is now comprised in that of Bavaria, Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, and Prussia. The word "palatine is related to palace, and as a title dates from the time of the Merovingian kings of France, connected with whose court was a high judicial officer called the comes palatii, a master of the royal household, who had supreme authority in all causes that came by fiction to the king. When the sovereign chose to confer a peculiar mark of distinction upon the holder of any ].articular fief under him, he granted the right to exercise the same power within his province as the comes palatii exercised in the royal palace. With the function went the title of comes palatinus, or count palatine; and from the ruler the district under him became finally known as a palatinate. - The Upper Palatinate was bounded by Baireuth, Bohemia, Neuburg, Bavaria, and the territory of Nuremberg, and now forms in the kingdom of Bavaria a part of the districts of the Upper Palatinate and Upper Franconia. Its area was about 2,700 sq. m.
The chief town was Amberg. The Lower Palatinate was situated on both sides of the Rhine, and was bounded by Katzenellenbogen, Mentz, Wiirtemberg, Baden, Alsace, Lorraine, and Treves. The chief cities were Mannheim and Heidelberg. Its area was about 3,150 sq. m., and it comprehended the principalities of Simmern, Zweibrücken, Veldenz, Lantern, and the county Palatine properly so called. The hereditary sovereignty of the counts palatine over these districts dated from the 11th century. In the 13th century they assumed the dignity of electors. Rupert III. was elected emperor (1400). On his death the country was divided by his four sons. Frederick III. (1559-'76), of the Simmern line, under which it became reunited, introduced Calvinism. Frederick V. was elected king of Bohemia on the outbreak of the thirty years' war, but lost both his royal and electoral crowns by the defeat at Prague (1620), Maximilian of Bavaria receiving the electoral dignity. Frederick's son Charles Louis regained the Lower Palatinate, as eighth elector, by the peace of Westphalia (1648). He was the last of the Simmern line, which was succeeded by that of Neuburg (1685). During this period the Rhenish Palatinate was repeatedly desolated by the armies of Louis XIV. In 1777 the elector Charles Theodore inherited Bavaria, and the two states were united.
During the wars of the French revolution, France took possession of that part of the Palatinate that lay on the left bank of the Rhine, other parts being ceded to Baden, Nassau, and Hesse-Darmstadt; but after the fall of Napoleon the main portion was returned to Bavaria. At present the Bavarian district of the Upper Palatinate and Ratisbon has an area of 3,731 sq. m.; pop. in 1871, 497,960. The district of the Rhenish (Lower) Palatinate has an area of 2,293 sq. m.; pop. 015,104.