The County Palatine of the Rhine, the Palatinate, is a collection of various non-contiguous territories principally in the western Holy Roman Empire. It is bordered by United Netherlands, Julich, Hordt, Swiss Confederation, the Imperial City of Spires and Burgundy. The population is around 478,000 and the capital is Heidelberg.
The Head of State is Count-Palatine Charles VI William.
The official language is German.
Thanks to its disparate nature several currencies are used within its borders and no monetary uniformity has ever been enforced. The treasury still nominally operates in Cologne Marks (KNM) however.
One the original duchies of Francia the Palatinate originally held territory all along the German Rhine though frequent changes of hands slowly eroded its land. It would fall to the Bavarian Wittelsbachs in 1214 though once again split away in 1329 thanks to split inheritance. Due to its prominent role in the wars against France was raised to an Electorate in 1355 by Emperor Olaf. The Counts adopted Lutheranism in the 1530s following the vast majority of their subjects and would maintain a tentative alliance with the Schmalkaldic Empire through to the outbreak of the Fifty Years War while attempting to eradicate the spread of Calvinism within their territories.
At the outbreak of the Fifty Years War the Palatinate followed Luxembourg onto the Catholic side earning it a special enmity in the Protestant camp. Either way it would have probably had the same fate however. The war was utterly devastating to the Counts and their lands. For the entire duration of the war the counts lived in exile in Antwerp while its cities were flattened and peasants robbed blind. Thanks to Rhine being one of the richest areas of Germany armies frequently descended on the Palatinate to restock, stealing from the towns and peasants, usually at gunpoint. Many towns were completed depopulated by the end of the war either thanks to starvation, the constant marauding of soldiers or the attempt by the Catholics to reconvert the peasantry and at the Treaty of Copenhagen its old allies twisted the knife effectively ratifying all the land grabs that its neighbours had made and portioning out ruined towns to its neighbours.
A strong wave of immigration from the overcrowded and disease ridden cities of Holland repopulated the Palatinate by 1700 (though it would not return to its pre-war population until 1920) and cemented Lutheranism in the area. This fresh populace was used to strong local government by and large meaning the Counts were compelled to leave the local councils to their own devices. As the Imperial states solidified and stopped consciously dividing due to split inheritance in the 18th century the counts attempted to foster a semblance of cohesion and commonality in their remaining territories. This proved difficult as the various landtags and city councils held on to their autonomy with an iron grip. Every victory for central authority would be lost to peasant revolt or worse, war.
Close association with Luxembourg led to frequent involvement in its wars and inevitably, thanks to its position, a heavy toll to its land and people. The many of the battles of the 1st and 2nd Luxembourg-Austria Wars, the Nassau Succession War and the Six-Year War were fought on Palatinate land with heavy involvement from the Count's armies with little in the way of reward. The dispora of 'poor Palatines' fleeing war would be a feature of many European cities.
During the War of Bavarian Succession, or Eleanor's War (1802-1805) the Palatinate actually took the leading role once more. Count Joseph attempted to gain the throne of Bavaria over his cousin Princess Eleanor and, with the might of Luxembourg behind it scored some early victories and would even occupy Munich briefly. However once France joined Austria's side the early advantage disappeared and the Palatinate was firmly defeated by France at the Battle of Ellwangen. The peace treaty was kind however to the Palatinate and Count Joseph was elected Emperor to make up for the loss of Bavaria. The crown gave Joseph no extra leverage over his lands however and he would end his reign depressed and bitter.
Without the territory or resources to enjoy the boom from the industrial revolution the territory is now overshadowed by many of the Rhine cities it once owned or dominated in its heyday. Economically the Palatinate has specialised; become a leader in printing, silks, porcelain and wine production.
The Palatinate is governed in a federal system, much to the counts' continued displeasure. The individual counties have general autonomy and can pass laws, set taxes etc. as long as they do not contradict those of central government. Central government is elected by a general vote every five years while the counties have their own set election times.
The current Head of State is Count-Palatine Charles VI William. He is an elector of the Holy Roman Empire. His current chancellor is Frederick Lohse.