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The seven - later nine - members of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire were called prince electors (German: Kurfürst, pl: Kurfürsten) Their role in the election of the emperor was codified in the Golden Bull of 1356.
The original college was made up by:
- Three ecclesiastic electors
- Four secular electors
- In the 17th century, two more secular Lords became electors
The emperor was not necessarily chosen from this body (e.g. Frederick Barbarossa): in fact, the ecclesiastic electors were ineligible.