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The Palatinate (German: Pfalz from Latin: Palātium, palace; Pfälzer dialect: Palz), historically also Rhenish Palatinate (German: Rheinpfalz), is a region in south-western Germany. It occupies more than a quarter of the German federal state (Bundesland) of Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz). Historically in union with Bavaria, Palatinate itself covers 5,451.23 km sq in area.
The western and northern part of the Palatinate is densely forested and mountainous. The highest point is the Donnersberg (687 m) near Kirchheimbolanden. The Palatinate forest (Pfälzerwald), popular with hikers, covers more than a third of the region and is the largest contiguous forest in Germany.
Most of the cities of the Palatinate (Ludwigshafen, Speyer, Landau, Frankenthal, Neustadt) lie in the Rhine Rift plain in the east of the region, near the Rhine River, which forms the eastern border of the Palatinate.
Traditionally, the Palatinate is divided into the regions of Anterior Palatinate (Vorderpfalz), West Palatinate (Westpfalz), North Palatinate (Nordpfalz), and South Palatinate (Südpfalz).
The following administrative districts and independent cities are part of the Palatinate:
The former Celtic region was conquered by the Roman Empire under Emperor Augustus about 12 B.C., whereafter it was part of the Germania Superior province. During the decay of the Empire, Alamanni tribes settled here, their territory was conquered by Francia under King Clovis I about 496. From 511 onwards the area belonged to the eastern part of Frankish Austrasia, that—as Rhenish Franconia—became part of East Francia according to the 843 Treaty of Verdun.
From the Middle Ages until the end of the 18th century, the Palatinate was divided into several big and small states. The most important of these was the Electorate of the Palatinate (Kurpfalz), a number of territories formerly held by the Counts palatine (Pfalzgrafen) of Lotharingia. In the late 12th century the Counts palatine had achieved the status of a Prince-elector (Kurfürst), i.e. one of the seven nobles with the privilege of electing the King of the Romans, confirmed by the Golden Bull of 1356. In 1214 the Bavarian House of Wittelsbach was enfeoffed with these estates, which they ruled until 1918, together with the collateral branch of Palatinate-Zweibrücken from 1410, until the re-unification with Bavaria under Elector Maximilian I Joseph in 1799. The major ecclesiastical territory in the region was the Bishopric of Speyer. The Imperial city of Landau to preserve its status joined the Alsacien Décapole in 1521. Nevertheless it was seized by France after the Thirty Years' War.
During the French Revolutionary Wars the region was occupied by the forces of the French First Republic in 1794 and after the 1797 Treaty of Campo Formio incorporated into the département of Mont-Tonnerre. With the end of the Napoleonic Wars, a significant stretch of land on the left bank of the Rhine, which included greater parts of the former Electorate of the Palatinate, became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1816 according to the Final Act of the Vienna Congress. Although the territory was geographically separate from Bavaria, it was ruled together with proper Bavaria as a single state for the next 130 years.
Since 1808 the administrative regions in Bavaria had been named after their main rivers. Thus the region after its incorporation into Bavaria was officially called the "Rheinkreis." In 1835 the romantic-minded King Ludwig I of Bavaria ordered the administrative regions to be named by historical allusions. So the region officially became the "Palatinate" (Pfalz). It should be noted here, that the historic Electorate of the Palatinate was centered on the right bank of the Rhine with Heidelberg and Mannheim as its capitals, while the new "Palatinate" that was established in 1815/16 was solely on the left bank of the Rhine, and included territories that had never been part of the historic Palatinate (e.g., the former Bishopric of Speyer or Kirchheimbolanden, which had formerly belonged to the Weilburg branch of Nassau). In order not to confuse the new Palatinate with the historic one (and with the Upper Palatinate), the name Rhenish Palatinate was common, but never official. The term Rhenish Bavaria (Rheinbayern) can also be found sometimes in older maps.
The French had introduced their system of administration and the Code Napoleon in the Palatinate. The Bavarian government preserved both after 1816, which gave the Palatinate a distinct legal status within the Bavarian kingdom. The royal family tried to symbolize the unity with Bavaria by erecting a royal palace in Edenkoben and by the restoration of Speyer Cathedral under direct supervision of King Ludwig I himself. The town Ludwigshafen was named after the king. On the other hand the Palatinate's representatives to the common Bavarian Parliament always prided themselves of their origin from a more progressive region and tried to expand the liberalism, which the French had introduced in the Palatinate, to the whole kingdom. The German historian Heiner Haan described the special status of the Palatinate within Bavaria as a relation of "Hauptstaat" (main state, i.e. Bavaria) and "Nebenstaat" (alongside state, i.e. the Palatinate).
During the revolution of 1848 a separatist movement tried to establish a "Palatinate Republic" which collapsed under a bloody Prussian military intervention. The union persisted after Bavaria became part of the German Empire in 1871, and even after the Wittelsbach dynasty was deposed and Bavaria became a free state of the Weimar Republic in 1918. However after World War I French troops occupied the Palatinate under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The western districts of Sankt Ingbert and Homburg (Saarpfalz) were separated from the Bavarian Palatinate and became part of the newly established Saarland, which according to peace treaty was governed by the League of Nations. In a clear breach of the treaty the French in 1923 encouraged a separatist movement for a Rhenish Republic in the remainder of the Rhenish Palatinate and the Prussian Rhineland. The Bavarian government reacted sharply and even had the leading separatist Franz Josef Heinz assassinated by a squad under the command of Edgar Julius Jung at the Wittelsbacher Hof in Speyer in January 1924. In February 1924 members of the separatist movement were killed in a shooting in Pirmasens. Also in February 1924 a treaty between Bavaria and the inter-allied commission of the Rhineland (the supreme council of the Allied occupation forces) recognised and reassured the Palatinate being a part of Bavaria.
The union with Bavaria was finally dissolved following the reorganisation of German states after World War II during the Allied occupation of Germany. Whereas proper Bavaria was part of the US occupation Zone, the Palatinate was occupied by French Forces. The French reorganised their occupation Zone by founding new states and in 1947, the Palatinate was combined with Rhenish Hesse (Rheinhessen), the former parts of the People's State of Hesse left of the Rhine, and the southern part of the Prussian Rhine Province to form the German federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
The Pennsylvania Dutch spoken by the Amish in the United States is (among other dialects) derived from the German dialect spoken in the Palatinate, which many Palatine refugees brought to the colony in the early decades of the 18th century. The only existing Pennsylvania German newspaper, Hiwwe wie Driwwe is being published bi-annually in the village Ober-Olm, which is located close to Mainz, the state capital. In the same village, one can find the headquarter of the German-Pennsylvanian Association.
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Arguably the most famous dish in Palatinate is the saumagen, literally "sow's stomach", a dish that consists of a thick, crispy-fried casing stuffed with a mixture of pork, potatoes, and seasonings. Other meat dishes of the region include bratwurst, Palatinate liverwurst, a blood pudding sausage called grieweworscht ("griewe" are speck (bacon) cubes, so lit. "sausage with speck cubes"), läwwerknepp or läwwerknedel (liver dumplings), and flääschknepp (meat dumplings). Sauerkraut is the typical side dish in all seasons, but especially in winter, as are mashed potatoes and brown gravy. Also eaten are dampfnudels, which can be served with either sweet sauces or side dishes (such as wine, vanilla sauce or canned fruit such as plums, prunes, or pears) or with savory side dishes (such as potato soup, vegetable soup, goulash, or pepper pork).