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free imperial city

any of the cities and towns of the Holy Roman Empire that were subject only to the authority of the emperor, or German king, on whose demesne (personal estate) the earliest of them originated. The term freie Reichsstadt, or Free Imperial City, was sometimes used interchangeably with Reichsstadt but was rightly applied to only seven cities-Basel, Strasbourg (Strassburg), Speyer, Worms, Mainz, Cologne, and Regensburg-which had won independence from ecclesiastical lords and thus obtained a position indistinguishable from that of the Reichsstadt.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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