Meanwhile the rule of the town was extending over more and more territory, so that finally it governed 52 bailiwicks (acquired between 1324 and 1729), the Bernese patricians being thus extremely powerful and forming an oligarchy that administered affairs like a benevolent and well-ordered despotism.
Bern kept the south-west portion (Zofingen, Aarburg, Aarau, Lenzburg, and Brugg), but some districts, named the Freie Amter or "free bailiwicks" (Mellingen, Muri, Villmergen, and Bremgarten), with the county of Baden, were ruled as "subject lands" by all or certain of the Confederates.
The German master - now grand master and German master in one - had his headquarters at Mergentheim in Swabia; the revenues of the states scattered throughout the twelve bailiwicks of Germany sustained him and his Order.
In 180r the bailiwicks to the west of the Rhine were absorbed by France; in 1809 the Order was entirely suppressed, and its lands went to the secular principalities in which they lay.
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