The site of Mainz would seem to mark it out naturally as a great centre of trade, but the illiberal rule of the archbishops and its military importance seriously hampered its commercial and industrial development, and prevented it from rivalling its neighbour Frankfort.
The constitution of 1879 was illiberal in this respect, but a healthier public opinion soon prevailed.
The executive power is vested in a responsible cabinet, consisting of ten ministers, namely, the president of the council, the minister of the interior, of national defence, of education and public worship, of finance, The franchise is " probably the most illiberal in Europe."
To save the constitution an appeal was made to the German Confederation, which Hanover had joined in 1815; but the federal diet declined to interfere, and in 1840 Ernest altered the constitution to suit his own illiberal views.
The downfall of the town was accelerated by the illiberal policy of its patrician rulers; and the French Revolution reduced it to such a degree that in 1796 it offered itself and its territories to the king of Prussia on condition that he would pay its debts.