The Imperial City of Spires or Speyer is an Imperial City on the Rhine. The small territory is bordered by the Palatinate to the West and East, and the United Netherlands to the North and South. It also has a short border with Hordt.
Officially the city operates in Imperial Marks (HRM) however in practice the population uses the Luxembourg Guilder (LXG).
Long an important site thanks to its safety from the Rhine's flooding and proximity to the Necker it formed a crossroads between Germania and Gaul in ancient times. The Romans fortified it as Noviomagus and it flourished even as the Empire collapsed being refounded as Nemetae in around 369. As German peoples migrated into the area it would be permanently settled by the Franks and became Spira.
Incorporated into the Kingdom of Austrasia from 600 onwards it fell more and more under the control of the local bishops. The power struggle between the bishops and the populace would define Spires for much of the next half-millennium. Meanwhile the Kingdom of East Francia was falling apart and it fell under the influence of the Salian Dukes of Franconia. Already a occasional site for Imperial Diets the coronation of the local Conrad II in 1024 led to Spires become the centre of Imperial politics, showcased by the construction of a new cathedral and a license to mint coins. In 1294 Emperor Adolf granted the city Imperial Freedom giving it independence from the bishops.
In the early 16th century Spires became the focal point for the Empire's reaction to Luther and the growing disquiet within the church. Diets in 1526 and 1529 attempted to reach a consensus about Luther's teachings at first tolerating them and then in 1529 roundly criticising them and reconfirming the Imperial Ban. Emperor John I had overstepped his authority however and the Lutheran princes and cities condemned the decision. Spires is therefore considered by many to be the birthplace of the new Schism and of Protestantism. After this 'breach' the Imperial Diet would move decisively away from Spires to Regensburg or, more frequently and eventually permanently, Frankfurt.
It is no surprise therefore that Spires sided with the Schmalkaldic League during the two conflicts which divided Germany in 1540 and 50s. However it did not go so far as to join the breakaway Empire. It would however, suicidally as it turned out, back the Schmalkaldic Empire in the Bohemian Revolt which kicked off the Fifty Years War. Repeatedly besieged by the Catholic alliance it finally fell in 1628 after which it repeatedly changed hands, a process which only acerbated disease, hunger and depopulation. Restored in 1668 it took several years before it was repopulated, mostly with Catholics leaving the lands of the pro-French Bishopric of Speyer which Luxembourg would annex in 1699.
Luxembourg's annexation of its neighbours indeed worried many in the city. The overbearing Kings had already demanded and received considerable concessions regarding trade and tariffs. Luxembourg would later cede the Bishopric to Palatinate as long as it accepted the inheritance and absorption of Baden. Even so Luxembourg cemented its grip on the area and merchants from the city were often heard complaining about Limburgers and Dutch out-competing them in their own city.
However this process was arrested by the War of Bavarian Succession or Eleanor's War (1802-1805) The war had mixed results for the city. Luxembourg and Palatinate's alliance held that Spires's sovereignty should be eternally respected, ensuring its continued independent existence, yet its involvement in the war led to invasion and almost total destruction by the French army. Although at this point it could have quite easily been absorbed by either the Palatinate or Luxembourg Emperor Joseph I chose to uphold the alliance treaty and reconfirmed the city's independence. France paid a considerable sum in reparations and the city was rebuild in fine Baroque 'Williamine' style.
Since it was guaranteed by both of its larger neighbours the city governors did not rebuild the walls and it embraced a liberal code of laws which further attracted many new citizens. However over the years since then it has lost much of its importance both politically and economically to the Rhineland cities further north.
The City council (Spires only has minimal territories beyond the city limits) is elected every four years. The current mayor is Johann Purrman.