Wetterau Association of Imperial Counts was an association of countly families in the Wetterau and surrounding areas. It originated in the late Middle Ages and was formally disbanded when the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved in 1806.
== Prelude ==
Until the days of the Hohenstaufen, the Wettrau area was characterized by on the one hand a number of royal possessions, on the other hand a large number of small-scale territories held by counts or knights and imperial cities.
When the Hohenstaufen and Münzenberg families had died out by 1255, the various political forces in the Wetterau area became more apparent, in particular the large countly families of Hanau, Eppsten, Falkenstein and Isenburg-Büdingen. Other forces in the area were the Burgraviate of Friedberg, the Kaiserpfalz at Gelnhausen, associations of the lower nobility, Free Courts (in particular the court at Kaichen) and the cities of Friedberg, Frankfurt, Wetzlar and gelnhausen. Since there was no dominant power and the area was located in the field of tension between the Landgraviate of Hesse and the Archbishopric of Mainz, the King retained his formative influence and his rôle as an alliance partner of the various counts longer than in other areas. The King was represented by a Landvogt until at least 1419. His area of responsibility reached further south and west than the later association of imperial counts. The Vogt was usually a member of one of the leading families of the area and would use his position to pursue his own territorial interests.
The Late Medieval Perpetual Public Peace policy initially led to mixed alliances of higher and lower nobility in the Wetterau, including local knights, lords and counts. These associations formed the nucleus of the area's regional identity in a time of increasing distance between the social classes. Four stabilizing elements can be discerned during the transition from the late Middle Ages to the early modern era:
* The four imperial cities. In the long term, only Frankfurt remained significant;
* A group of knights and other noblemen, concentrated around Friedberg Castle and the Kaiserpfalz in Gelnhausen;
* A number of ''Ganerbschaft'' arrangements, where noble families jointly held an undivided inheritance. These included the Reifenberg, Kronberg, Falkenstein, Lindheim, Dorheim and Staden families, and partially overlapped with the group mentioned previously;
* The Wettrau Association of Imperial Counts, which overlapped with the two groups mentioned previously.
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