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The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in
Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...

Western
,
Central Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center (disambiguation), center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions and generalised locations * Central Africa, a region in the centre of Africa ...

Central
and
Southern Europe Southern Europe is the southern region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and ...

Southern Europe
that developed during the
Early Middle Ages The Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6th century to the 10th century. They marked the start of the Middle Ages ...
and continued until its dissolution in 1806 during the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major global conflicts pitting the French Empire#REDIRECT French Empire {{Redirect shell , {{R from ambiguous page {{R from other capitalisation ... and its allies, led by Napoleon I ...
. Until the end of the 15th century, the empire was in theory composed of three major blocks –
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of Italian Peninsula, a peninsula delimited by the Alps and List of islands of Italy, several islands surrounding it, whose ...
,
Germany Germany (german: Deutschland, ), officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in . It is the in Europe after , and the most populous . Germany is situated between the and seas to the north, and the to the south; it covers an area of ...
and
Burgundy Burgundy (; french: link=no, Bourgogne ) is a historical territory and a former administrative region Administration may refer to: Management of organizations * Management Management (or managing) is the administration of an organizati ...
. Later territorially only the Kingdom of Germany and Bohemia remained, with the Burgundian territories lost to
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning Western Europe and Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Ame ...
. Although the Italian territories were formally part of the empire, the territories were ignored in the Imperial Reform and splintered into numerous
de facto ''De facto'' ( ; , "in fact") describes practices that exist in reality, even though they are not officially recognized by laws. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with ''de jure'' ("by law"), which refers to th ...
independent territorial entities. The status of Italy in particular varied throughout the 16th to 18th centuries. Some territories like Piedmont-Savoy became increasingly independent, while others became more dependent due to the extinction of their ruling noble houses causing these territories to often fall under the dominions of the
Habsburgs The House of Habsburg (), alternatively spelled Hapsburg in English (german: Haus Habsburg ; es, Casa de Habsburgo ; hu, Habsburg-család), also known as the House of Austria (german: link=no, Haus Österreich; es, link=no, Casa de Austria), ...
and their
cadet branch #REDIRECT Cadet branch In history and heraldry Heraldry () is a discipline relating to the design, display and study of armorial bearings (known as armory), as well as related disciplines, such as vexillology, together with the study of ceremony, ...
es. Barring the loss of Franche-Comté in 1678, the external borders of the Empire did not change noticeably from the
Peace of Westphalia The Peace of Westphalia (german: Westfälischer Friede, ) is the collective name for two peace treaties signed in October 1648 in the Westphalian cities of Osnabrück Osnabrück (; wep, Ossenbrügge; archaic ''Osnaburg'') is a city in the ...
– which acknowledged the exclusion of Switzerland and the Northern Netherlands, and the French protectorate over Alsace – to the dissolution of the Empire. At the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, most of the Holy Roman Empire was included in the
German Confederation The German Confederation (german: Deutscher Bund) was an association of 39 predominantly German-speaking sovereign states in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common Histo ...

German Confederation
, with the main exceptions being the Italian states. On 25 December 800,
Pope Leo III Leo III (died 12 June 816) was the 96th pope The pope ( la, papa, from el, πάππας, translit=pappas, "father"), also known as the supreme pontiff () or the Roman pontiff (), is the bishop of Diocese of Rome, Rome, chief pastor of th ...

Pope Leo III
crowned the
Frankish king The Franks were originally led by Dux, dukes (military leaders) and Monarch, reguli (petty kings). The Salian Franks, Salian Merovingian dynasty, Merovingians rose to dominance among the Franks and conquered most of Roman Gaul. They also conqu ...
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; 2 April 748 – 28 January 814) was King of the Franks The Franks—Germanic-speaking peoples that invaded the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century—were first led by i ...

Charlemagne
as
Emperor An emperor (from la, imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as a title roughly equivalent to ''commander'' under the Roma ...
, reviving the title in
Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical r ...

Western Europe
, more than three centuries after the
fall Autumn, also known as fall in American English and Canadian English, is one of the four temperate seasons. Outside the tropics, autumn marks the transition from summer to winter, in September (Northern Hemisphere) or March (Southern Hemisphe ...
of the earlier ancient
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprises the western provinces of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican ...

Western Roman Empire
in 476. In theory and diplomacy, the Emperors were considered ''
primus inter pares ''Primus inter pares'' is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power ...
'', regarded as first among equals amongst other Catholic monarchs across Europe. The title continued in the Carolingian family until 888 and from 896 to 899, after which it was contested by the rulers of Italy in a series of civil wars until the death of the last Italian claimant, , in 924. The title was revived again in 962 when
Otto I Otto I (23 November 912 – 7 May 973), traditionally known as Otto the Great (german: Otto der Große, it, Ottone il Grande), was East Francian king from 936 and Holy Roman Emperor from 962 until his death in 973. He was the oldest son of Henr ...

Otto I
, King of Germany, was crowned emperor, fashioning himself as the successor of Charlemagne and beginning a continuous existence of the empire for over eight centuries. Some historians refer to the coronation of Charlemagne as the origin of the empire, while others prefer the coronation of Otto I as its beginning. Scholars generally concur, however, in relating an evolution of the institutions and principles constituting the empire, describing a gradual assumption of the imperial title and role. The exact term "Holy Roman Empire" was not used until the 13th century, before which the empire was referred to variously as ''universum regnum'' ("the whole kingdom", as opposed to the regional kingdoms), ''imperium christianum'' ("Christian empire"), or ''Romanum imperium'' ("Roman empire"), but the Emperor's legitimacy always rested on the concept of ''
translatio imperii ''Translatio imperii'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...

translatio imperii
'', that he held supreme power inherited from the ancient emperors of
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...

Rome
. The
dynastic A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marriage or other relationship). Th ...
office of
Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and officially the Emperor of the Romans ( la, Imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as ...
was traditionally elective through the mostly German
prince-electors Choosing the king. Above: the three ecclesiastical princes choosing the king, pointing at him. Middle: the Count Palatine of the Rhine hands over a golden bowl, acting as a servant. Behind him, the Duke of Saxony with his marshal's staff and th ...
, the highest-ranking noblemen of the empire; they would elect one of their peers as "
King of the Romans King of the Romans ( la, Rex Romanorum; german: König der Römer) was the title used by the German king following his election An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple i ...
" to be crowned emperor by the
Pope The pope ( la, papa, from el, πάππας, translit=pappas, "father"), also known as the supreme pontiff () or the Roman pontiff (), is the bishop of Diocese of Rome, Rome, chief pastor of the worldwide Catholic Church, and head of state o ...

Pope
, although the tradition of papal coronations was discontinued in the 16th century. The empire never achieved the extent of political unification as was formed to the west in the relatively centralized
Kingdom of France The Kingdom of France ( fro, Reaume de France; frm, Royaulme de France; french: link=yes, Royaume de France) is the historiographical name or Hyponymy and hypernymy, umbrella term given to various political entities of France in the Middle Ages ...
, evolving instead into a decentralised, limited elective monarchy composed of hundreds of sub-units:
king King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, queen, which title is also given to the queen consort, consort of a king. *In the context of prehistory, antiquity and contempora ...

king
doms,
principalities A principality (or sometimes princedom) can either be a monarchical feudatory or a sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity that is represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. Intern ...
,
duchies A duchy is a medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe s ...
,
counties A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposes Chambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edinburgh in certain modern nations. The term is derived from the Old French ...
,
prince-bishop A prince-bishop is a bishop who is also the civil ruler of some Secularity, secular principality and sovereignty. Thus the principality or Hochstift, prince-bishopric ruled politically by a prince-bishop could wholly or largely overlap with his ...
rics, Free Imperial Cities, and eventually even individuals enjoying
imperial immediacy Imperial immediacy (german: Reichsfreiheit or ') was a privileged constitutional and political status rooted in German feudal law under which the Imperial state, Imperial estates of the Holy Roman Empire such as Free imperial city, Imperial cities, ...
, such as the
imperial knight The Free Imperial knights (german: link=no, Reichsritter la, Eques imperii) were free nobles of the Holy Roman Empire, whose direct overlord was the Holy Roman Emperor, Emperor. They were the remnants of the medieval free nobility (''edelfrei ...
s. The power of the emperor was limited, and while the various princes, lords, bishops, and cities of the empire were
vassal A vassal or liege subject is a person regarded as having a mutual obligation to a lord Lord is an appellation for a person or deity who has authority, control, or power (social and political), power over others, acting as a master, a chief ...
s who owed the emperor their allegiance, they also possessed an extent of privileges that gave them ''de facto'' independence within their territories. Emperor dissolved the empire on 6 August 1806 following the creation of the
Confederation of the Rhine The Confederated States of the Rhine, simply known as the Confederation of the Rhine, was a confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common acti ...
by Emperor
Napoleon I Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader. He rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led Napoleon Bonaparte's battle record, several successful campaigns during the French Rev ...

Napoleon I
the month before.


Name

The Empire was considered by the Roman Catholic Church to be the only legal successor of the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages and the early modern period. Since Charlemagne, the realm was merely referred to as the ''Roman Empire''. The term ''sacrum'' ("holy", in the sense of "consecrated") in connection with the medieval Roman Empire was used beginning in 1157 under
Frederick I Barbarossa Frederick Barbarossa (1122 – 10 June 1190), also known as Frederick I (german: Friedrich I, it, Federico I), was the Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and officially the Emperor of the Romans ( la, Imperator Romanorum ...

Frederick I Barbarossa
("Holy Empire"): the term was added to reflect Frederick's ambition to dominate Italy and the
Papacy The pope ( la, papa, from el, πάππας, translit=pappas, "father"), also known as the supreme pontiff () or the Roman pontiff (), is the bishop of Diocese of Rome, Rome, chief pastor of the worldwide Catholic Church, and head of state o ...
.Whaley 2011, p. 17 The form "Holy Roman Empire" is attested from 1254 onward. In a decree following the Diet of Cologne in 1512, the name was changed to the ''Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation'' (german: Heiliges Römisches Reich Deutscher Nation, la, Sacrum Imperium Romanum Nationis Germanicæ), a form first used in a document in 1474. The new title was adopted partly because the Empire lost most of its territories in Italy and
Burgundy Burgundy (; french: link=no, Bourgogne ) is a historical territory and a former administrative region Administration may refer to: Management of organizations * Management Management (or managing) is the administration of an organizati ...
to the south and west by the late 15th century, but also to emphasize the new importance of the German
Imperial Estate An Imperial State or Imperial Estate ( la, Status Imperii; german: Reichsstand, plural: ') was a part of the Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Imperium Romanum; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex o ...
s in ruling the Empire due to the
Imperial Reform Imperial Reform ( la, Reformatio imperii, german: Reichsreform) is the name given to repeated attempts in the 15th and 16th centuries to adapt the structure and the constitutional order (''Verfassungsordnung'') of the Holy Roman Empire The Holy ...
. By the end of the 18th century, the term "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation" fell out of official use. Contradicting the traditional view concerning that designation, Hermann Weisert has argued in a study on imperial titulature that, despite the claims of many textbooks, the name ''"Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation"'' never had an official status and points out that documents were thirty times as likely to omit the national suffix as include it. In a famous assessment of the name, the political philosopher
Voltaire François-Marie Arouet (; 21 November 169430 May 1778), known by his ''nom de plume A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' () or a literary double, is a pseudonym A pseudonym () or alias () (originally: ψευδώνυμος in Greek) is a ...

Voltaire
remarked sardonically: "This body which was called and which still calls itself the Holy Roman Empire was in no way holy, nor Roman, nor an empire." In the modern period, the Empire was often informally called the ''German Empire'' () or ''Roman-German Empire'' (). After its dissolution through the end of the
German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Bennington, Vermont Bennington is a New England town, town ...
, it was often called "the old Empire" (). Beginning in 1923, early twentieth-century German nationalists and
Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP), was a far-right Far-right politics, also referred to as the extreme right or right-wing extremism, ...
propaganda would identify the Holy Roman Empire as the "First" Reich (''Erstes Reich'', ''Reich'' meaning empire), with the
German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Bennington, Vermont Bennington is a New England town, town ...
as the "Second" Reich and what would eventually become
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") officially known as the German Reich from 1933 until 1943, and the Greater German Reich from 1943 to 1945, was ...

Nazi Germany
as the "Third" Reich.


History


Early Middle Ages


Carolingian period

As
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in the New Testament of the Christian Bible Roman ...

Roman
power in
Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rat ...

Gaul
declined during the 5th century, local Germanic tribes assumed control. In the late 5th and early 6th centuries, the
Merovingians The Merovingian dynasty () was the ruling family of the Franks from the middle of the 5th century until 751. They first appear as "Kings of the Franks" in the Roman army of northern Gaul. By 509 they had united all the Franks and northern Gaulis ...

Merovingians
, under
Clovis I Clovis ( la, Chlodovechus; reconstructed Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern E ...

Clovis I
and his successors, consolidated
Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mentioned by Graeco-Roman author ...

Frankish
tribes and extended hegemony over others to gain control of northern Gaul and the middle
Rhine river The Rhine (german: Rhein , french: Rhin, nl, Rijn, : ''Rén'', and : ''Rein'', and : ''Ragn'', , , and : ''Rain'', it, Reno, gsw, Rhi(n) including /, , : ''Rhing'', la, Rhenus , : ''Rajna'') is one of the major . The river begins in the Swis ...
valley region. By the middle of the 8th century, however, the Merovingians were reduced to figureheads, and the
Carolingians The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the Carlovingians, Carolingus, Carolings, Karolinger or Karlings) was a Frankish noble family founded by Charles Martel Charles Martel (c. 688 – 22 October 741) was a Frankish statesman and ...
, led by
Charles Martel Charles Martel (c. 688 – 22 October 741) was a Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient n ...

Charles Martel
, became the ''de facto'' rulers. In 751, Martel's son Pepin became King of the Franks, and later gained the sanction of the Pope. The Carolingians would maintain a close alliance with the Papacy.Bryce (1913), pp. 38–42. In 768, Pepin's son
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; 2 April 748 – 28 January 814) was King of the Franks The Franks—Germanic-speaking peoples that invaded the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century—were first led by i ...

Charlemagne
became King of the Franks and began an extensive expansion of the realm. He eventually incorporated the territories of present-day France, Germany, northern Italy, the Low Countries and beyond, linking the Frankish kingdom with Papal lands. Although antagonism about the expense of Byzantine domination had long persisted within Italy, a political rupture was set in motion in earnest in 726 by the
iconoclasm alt=A painting, 288px, In this Elizabethan work of propaganda, the top right of the picture depicts men busy pulling down and smashing icons, while power is shifting from the dying King Henry VIII at left, pointing to his far more staunchly Pr ...
of Emperor
Leo III the Isaurian Leo III the Isaurian ( gr, Λέων Γ ὁ Ἴσαυρος, Leōn ho Isauros; 685 – 18 June 741), also known as the Syrian, was Byzantine Emperor from 717 until his death in 741 and founder of the Isaurian dynasty. He put an end to the Twent ...
, in what
Pope Gregory II Pope Gregory II ( la, Gregorius II; 669 – 11 February 731) was the bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority a ...

Pope Gregory II
saw as the latest in a series of imperial heresies. In 797, the Eastern Roman Emperor
Constantine VI Constantine VI ( gr, Κωνσταντῖνος, ''Kōnstantinos''; 14 January 771 – before 805Cutler & Hollingsworth (1991), pp. 501–502) was Byzantine emperor from 780 to 797. The only child of Emperor Leo IV the Khazar, Leo IV, Constantine ...

Constantine VI
was removed from the throne by his mother
Irene Irene is a name derived from εἰρήνη (eirēnē), the Greek for "peace". See Irene (given name) Irene (Greek: Ειρήνη- ''Eirēnē''), sometimes written Irini, is derived from εἰρήνη, the Greek language, Greek word for "peace". Eiren ...

Irene
who declared herself Empress. As the Latin Church only regarded a male Roman Emperor as the head of
Christendom Christendom historically refers to the "Christian world": Christian state A Christian state is a country that recognizes a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the ...
, Pope Leo III sought a new candidate for the dignity, excluding consultation with the
Patriarch of Constantinople The highest-ranking bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Or ...
.Bryce, pp. 44, 50–52 Charlemagne's good service to the Church in his defense of Papal possessions against the
Lombards The Lombards () or Langobards ( la, Langobardi) were a Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mentioned by G ...
made him the ideal candidate. On Christmas Day of 800, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne emperor, restoring the title in the West for the first time in over three centuries. This can be seen as symbolic of the papacy turning away from the declining
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
towards the new power of
Carolingian The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the Carlovingians, Carolingus, Carolings, Karolinger or Karlings) was a Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historic ...
Francia Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks ( la, Regnum Francorum), Frankish Kingdom, Frankland or Frankish Empire, was the largest History of the Roman Empire, post-Roman barbarian kingdom in Western Europe. It was ruled by the Franks du ...

Francia
. Charlemagne adopted the formula ''
Renovatio imperii Romanorum ''Renovatio imperii Romanorum'' ("renewal of the empire of the Romans") was a formula declaring an intention to restore or revive the Roman Empire. The formula (and variations) was used by several emperors of the Carolingian The Carolingian dy ...
'' ("renewal of the Roman Empire"). In 802, Irene was overthrown and exiled by
Nikephoros I Nikephoros I or Nicephorus I ( el, Νικηφόρος; 750 – 26 July 811) was Byzantine Emperor from 802 to 811, when he was killed in the Battle of Pliska. Prior to his accession, he had served as '' genikos logothetēs'', whence he is som ...
and henceforth there were two Roman Emperors. After Charlemagne died in 814, the imperial crown passed to his son,
Louis the Pious Louis the Pious (16 April 778 – 20 June 840), also called the Fair, and the Debonaire, was King of the Franks The Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Ro ...

Louis the Pious
. Upon Louis' death in 840, it passed to his son Lothair, who was his co-ruler. By this point the territory of Charlemagne was divided into several territories (''cf''.
Treaty of Verdun The Treaty of Verdun, signed on 10 August 843, was the first of the treaties that divided the Carolingian Empire The Carolingian Empire (800–888) was a large Franks, Frankish-dominated empire in western and central Europe during the early Mi ...

Treaty of Verdun
,
Treaty of Prüm A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relation ...
,
Treaty of Meerssen The Treaty of Mersen or Meerssen Meerssen () ( li, Meersje) is a place and a Municipalities of the Netherlands, municipality in southeastern Netherlands. History The Treaty of Meerssen was signed in Meerssen in 870. The Treaty of Meerssen was ...
and
Treaty of Ribemont {{Infobox historical event , Event_Name = Treaty of Ribemont , Image_Name = Vertrag von Verdun und Ribemont.svg, , Image_Caption = Division of the Frankish Empire after the Treaty of Ribemont in 880. {{plainlist, style=padding-left ...
), and over the course of the later ninth century the title of Emperor was disputed by the Carolingian rulers of
Western Francia In medieval history, West Francia (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the ...
and
Eastern Francia East Francia (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman ...
, with first the western king (
Charles the Bald Charles the Bald (13 June 823 – 6 October 877) was a 9th-century king of West Francia (843–877), king of Italy (875–877) and emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (875–877). After a series of civil wars during the reign of his father, Loui ...

Charles the Bald
) and then the eastern (
Charles the Fat Charles III (13 June 839 – 13 January 888), also known as Charles the Fat, was the emperor of the Carolingian Empire from 881 to 888. A member of the Carolingian dynasty, Charles was the youngest son of Louis the German and Hemma, and a great- ...

Charles the Fat
), who briefly reunited the Empire, attaining the prize. After the death of Charles the Fat in 888 the Carolingian Empire broke apart, and was never restored. According to
Regino of Prüm Regino of Prüm or of Prum ( la, Regino Prumiensis, german: Regino von Prüm; died 915 AD) was a Benedictine The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sancti Benedicti, abbreviated as OSB), are a Christian monasticism ...
, the parts of the realm "spewed forth kinglets", and each part elected a kinglet "from its own bowels". After the death of Charles the Fat, those crowned emperor by the pope controlled only territories in Italy. The last such emperor was
Berengar I of Italy Berengar I ( la, Berengarius, Perngarius; it, Berengario; 845 – 7 April 924) was the king of Italy from 887. He was Holy Roman Emperor between 915 and his death in 924. He is usually known as Berengar of Friuli, since he ruled the March of F ...

Berengar I of Italy
, who died in 924.


Formation of the Holy Roman Empire

Around 900, autonomous
stem duchies A stem duchy (german: Stammesherzogtum, from '' Stamm'', meaning "tribe", in reference to the Germanic tribes of the Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani ...
(
Franconia Franconia (german: Franken, ; Franconian dialect: ''Franggn'' ; bar, Frankn) is a region of Germany, characterised by its culture and Franconian languages, Franconian dialect (German: ''Fränkisch''). The three Regierungsbezirk, administrative ...
,
Bavaria Bavaria (; German language, German and Bavarian language, Bavarian: ''Bayern'' ), officially the Free State of Bavaria (German and Bavarian: ''Freistaat Bayern''; ), is a Landlocked country, landlocked Federated state, state (''States of Germany ...
,
Swabia upThe coat of arms of Baden-Württemberg: ''Or, three lions passant sable'', the arms of the Duchy of Swabia, in origin the coat of arms of the House of Hohenstaufen. Also used for Swabia (and for Württemberg-Baden during 1945–1952) are ...
,
Saxony Saxony (german: Sachsen ; Upper Saxon Upper Saxon (german: Obersächsisch, ; ) is an East Central German East Central German (german: Ostmitteldeutsch) is the eastern, non-Franconian languages, Franconian Central German language, part o ...
, and
Lotharingia Lotharingia (Latin: ''regnum Lotharii, regnum Lothariense, Lotharingia'', French: ''Lotharingie'', German: ''Reich des Lothar'', ''Lotharingien'', ''Mittelreich'') was a short-lived medieval successor kingdom of the Carolingian Empire The Caro ...
) reemerged in East Francia. After the Carolingian king
Louis the ChildLouis may refer to: * Louis (given name) Louis is the French language, French form of the Old Frankish language, Old Frankish given name Clovis (given name), Chlodowig and one of two English language, English forms, the other being Lewis (given nam ...

Louis the Child
died without issue in 911, East Francia did not turn to the Carolingian ruler of West Francia to take over the realm but instead elected one of the dukes,
Conrad of Franconia Conrad I (; c. 881 – 23 December 918), called the Younger, was the king of East Francia from 911 to 918. He was the first king not of the Carolingian dynasty, the first to be elected by the nobility and the first to be Anointing, anointed. He was ...
, as ''Rex Francorum Orientalium''. On his deathbed, Conrad yielded the crown to his main rival,
Henry the Fowler Henry the Fowler (german: Heinrich der Vogler or '; la, Henricus Auceps) (c. 876 – 2 July 936) was the Duke of Saxony This article lists dukes, electors, and kings ruling over different territories named Saxony from the beginning of the ...

Henry the Fowler
of Saxony (r. 919–36), who was elected king at the Diet of
Fritzlar Fritzlar () is a small Germany, German town (pop. 15,000) in the Schwalm-Eder-Kreis, Schwalm-Eder district in northern Hesse, north of Frankfurt, with a storied history. The town has a medieval center ringed by a wall with numerous watch towers ...

Fritzlar
in 919. Henry reached a truce with the raiding
Magyars Hungarians, also known as Magyars ( ; hu, magyarok ), are a nation and ethnic group native to Hungary (Hungarian: Magyarország) and Kingdom of Hungary, historical Hungarian lands who share a common Hungarian culture, culture, Hungarian histor ...

Magyars
, and in 933 he won a first victory against them in the
Battle of Riade The Battle of Riade or Battle of Merseburg was fought between the troops of East Francia under King Henry the Fowler, Henry I and the Principality of Hungary, Magyars at an unidentified location in northern Thuringia along the river Unstrut on 1 ...
. Henry died in 936, but his descendants, the Liudolfing (or Ottonian) dynasty, would continue to rule the Eastern kingdom for roughly a century. Upon Henry the Fowler's death,
Otto Otto is a masculine German given name Personal names in German-speaking Europe consist of one or several given names (''Vorname'', plural ''Vornamen'') and a surname (''Nachname, Familienname''). The ''Vorname'' is usually gender-specific. A ...

Otto
, his son and designated successor, was elected King in
Aachen Aachen ( ; Aachen dialect: ''Oche'' ; French language, French and traditional English language, English: Aix-la-Chapelle ; Latin: ''Aquae Granni'' or ''Aquisgranum''; nl, Aken) is, with around 249,000 inhabitants, the 13th-largest city of No ...

Aachen
in 936. He overcame a series of revolts from a younger brother and from several dukes. After that, the king managed to control the appointment of dukes and often also employed bishops in administrative affairs. In 951, Otto came to the aid of
Adelaide Adelaide ( ) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the municipality holding primary status in a Department (country subdivision), department, country, Constituent state, state, province, or other administrative region, usually ...

Adelaide
, the widowed queen of Italy, defeating her enemies, marrying her, and taking control over Italy. In 955, Otto won a decisive victory over the
Magyars Hungarians, also known as Magyars ( ; hu, magyarok ), are a nation and ethnic group native to Hungary (Hungarian: Magyarország) and Kingdom of Hungary, historical Hungarian lands who share a common Hungarian culture, culture, Hungarian histor ...

Magyars
in the
Battle of Lechfeld The Battle of Lechfeld were a series of military engagements over the course of three days from 10–12 August 955 in which the Kingdom of Germany led by king Otto I the Great annihilated the Hungarian army led by ''horka (title), harka ''Bulcsú ...
. In 962, Otto was crowned emperor by
Pope John XII Pope John XII ( la, Ioannes XII; c. 930/93714 May 964), born Octavian, was the bishop of Rome and ruler of the Papal States from 16 December 955 to his death in 964. He was related to the counts of Tusculum, a powerful Roman family which had domi ...

Pope John XII
, thus intertwining the affairs of the German kingdom with those of Italy and the Papacy. Otto's coronation as Emperor marked the German kings as successors to the Empire of Charlemagne, which through the concept of ''
translatio imperii ''Translatio imperii'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...

translatio imperii
'', also made them consider themselves as successors to Ancient Rome. The kingdom lacked a permanent capital city. Kings traveled between residences (called
Kaiserpfalz The term ''Kaiserpfalz'' (, "imperial palace") or ''Königspfalz'' (, "royal palace", from Middle High German Middle High German (abbreviated ''MHG'', german: Mittelhochdeutsch, abbr. ') is the term for the form of German spoken in the Hig ...
) to discharge affairs, though each king preferred certain places; in Otto's case, this was the city of
Magdeburg Magdeburg (; nds, label=Low Saxon Low Saxon or Lower Saxon may refer to: Geography *Lower Saxony Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a German state (''Land'') situated in Northern Germany, nor ...

Magdeburg
. Kingship continued to be transferred by election, but Kings often ensured their own sons were elected during their lifetimes, enabling them to keep the crown for their families. This only changed after the end of the Salian dynasty in the 12th century. In 963, Otto deposed the current Pope John XII and chose
Pope Leo VIII Pope Leo VIII ( 915 – 1 March 965) was a Roman prelate who claimed the Holy See from 963 until 964 in opposition to Pope John XII, John XII and Benedict V and again from 23 June 964 to his death. Today he is considered by the Catholic Churc ...

Pope Leo VIII
as the new pope (although John XII and Leo VIII both claimed the papacy until 964 when John XII died). This also renewed the conflict with the Eastern Emperor in Constantinople, especially after Otto's son
Otto II Otto II (955 – 7 December 983), called the Red (''der. Rote''), was Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and officially the Emperor of the Romans ( la, Imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the ...

Otto II
(r. 967–83) adopted the designation ''imperator Romanorum''. Still, Otto II formed marital ties with the east when he married the Byzantine princess
Theophanu Theophanu (; also ''Theophania'', ''Theophana'', or ''Theophano''; Medieval Greek ; AD 955 15 June 991) was empress of the Holy Roman Empire by marriage to Emperor Otto II, and regent of Empire during the minority of their son, Emperor Otto III ...

Theophanu
. Their son,
Otto III Otto III (June/July 980 – 23 January 1002) was Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and officially the Emperor of the Romans ( la, Imperator Romanorum, german: Kaiser der Römer) during the Middle Ages, and also known as ...

Otto III
, came to the throne only three years old, and was subjected to a power struggle and series of regencies until his age of majority in 994. Up to that time, he remained in Germany, while a deposed duke, Crescentius II, ruled over Rome and part of Italy, ostensibly in his stead. In 996 Otto III appointed his cousin
Gregory VGregory V may refer to: *Pope Gregory V, Pope from 996 to 999 * Gregory V of Cilicia 1193–1194 *Patriarch Gregory V of Alexandria, Patriarch of Alexandria from 1484 to 1486 *Patriarch Gregory V of Constantinople, Patriarch of Constantinople fr ...

Gregory V
the first German Pope. A foreign pope and foreign papal officers were seen with suspicion by Roman nobles, who were led by Crescentius II to revolt. Otto III's former mentor
Antipope John XVI John XVI ( 945 – 1001; born gr, Ιωάννης Φιλάγαθος, Ioannis Philagathos; it, Giovanni Filagato; la, Johannes Philagathus) was an antipope An antipope ( la, antipapa) is a person who, in opposition to the lawful pope ...
briefly held Rome, until the
Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and officially the Emperor of the Romans ( la, Imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as ...
seized the city. Otto died young in 1002, and was succeeded by his cousin
Henry II Henry II may refer to: Kings *Henry II of England (1133–89), reigned from 1154 *Henry II of Jerusalem and Cyprus (1271–1324), reigned from 1285; king of Jerusalem in name only from 1291 *Henry II of Castile (1334–79), reigned 1366–67 and ...

Henry II
, who focused on Germany.
Henry II Henry II may refer to: Kings *Henry II of England (1133–89), reigned from 1154 *Henry II of Jerusalem and Cyprus (1271–1324), reigned from 1285; king of Jerusalem in name only from 1291 *Henry II of Castile (1334–79), reigned 1366–67 and ...

Henry II
died in 1024 and
Conrad II Conrad II ( – 4 June 1039), also known as and , was Emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the fema ...

Conrad II
, first of the
Salian dynasty The Salian dynasty or Salic dynasty (german: Salier) was a dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) i ...
, was elected king only after some debate among dukes and nobles. This group eventually developed into the college of Electors. The Holy Roman Empire eventually came to be composed of four kingdoms. The kingdoms were: *
Kingdom of Germany The Kingdom of Germany or German Kingdom ( la, regnum Teutonicorum "kingdom of the Germans", "German kingdom", "kingdom of Germany") was the mostly Germanic-speaking East Frankish kingdom, which was formed by the Treaty of Verdun The Treaty ...
(part of the empire since 962), *
Kingdom of Italy The Kingdom of Italy ( it, Regno d'Italia) was a state that existed from 1861—when King Victor Emmanuel II of Kingdom of Sardinia, Sardinia was proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy, proclaimed King of Italy—until 1946, when civil discontent l ...
(from 962 until 1801), *
Kingdom of Bohemia The Kingdom of Bohemia ( cs, České království; german: link=no, Königreich Böhmen; la, link=no, Regnum Bohemiae), sometimes later in English literature referred to as the Czech Kingdom, was a medieval In the history of Europe ...
(from 1002 as the
Duchy of Bohemia The Duchy of Bohemia, also later referred to in English as the Czech Duchy, ( cs, České knížectví) was a monarchy A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New Coll ...
and raised to a kingdom in 1198), *
Kingdom of Burgundy Kingdom of Burgundy was a name given to various states located in Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on context. Beginning with foreign exploration during the ...
(from 1032 to 1378).


High Middle Ages


Investiture controversy

Kings often employed bishops in administrative affairs and often determined who would be appointed to ecclesiastical offices. In the wake of the Cluniac Reforms, this involvement was increasingly seen as inappropriate by the Papacy. The reform-minded Pope Gregory VII was determined to oppose such practices, which led to the Investiture Controversy with Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor, Henry IV (r. 1056–1106), the King of the Romans and Holy Roman Emperor. Henry IV repudiated the Pope's interference and persuaded his bishops to excommunicate the Pope, whom he famously addressed by his born name "Hildebrand", rather than his regnal name "Pope Gregory VII". The Pope, in turn, excommunicated the king, declared him deposed, and dissolved the oaths of loyalty made to Henry. The king found himself with almost no political support and was forced to make the famous Walk to Canossa in 1077, by which he achieved a lifting of the excommunication at the price of humiliation. Meanwhile, the German princes had elected another king, Rudolf of Swabia. Henry managed to defeat Rudolf, but was subsequently confronted with more uprisings, renewed excommunication, and even the rebellion of his sons. After his death, his second son, Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor, Henry V, reached an agreement with the Pope and the bishops in the 1122 Concordat of Worms. The political power of the Empire was maintained, but the conflict had demonstrated the limits of the ruler's power, especially in regard to the Church, and it robbed the king of the sacral status he had previously enjoyed. The Pope and the German princes had surfaced as major players in the political system of the empire.


Ostsiedlung

As the result of Ostsiedlung, less-populated regions of Central Europe (i.e. sparsely populated border areas in present-day Poland and the Czech Republic) received a significant number of German speakers. Silesia became part of the Holy Roman Empire as the result of the local Piast dynasty, Piast dukes' push for autonomy from the Polish Crown. From the late 12th century, the Duchy of Pomerania was under the suzerainty of the Holy Roman Empire and the conquests of the Teutonic Order made that region German-speaking.


Hohenstaufen dynasty

When the Salian dynasty ended with Henry V's death in 1125, the princes chose not to elect the next of kin, but rather Lothair III, Holy Roman Emperor, Lothair, the moderately powerful but already old Duke of Saxony. When he died in 1137, the princes again aimed to check royal power; accordingly they did not elect Lothair's favoured heir, his son-in-law Henry X, Duke of Bavaria, Henry the Proud of the House of Welf, Welf family, but Conrad III of Germany, Conrad III of the Hohenstaufen family, the grandson of Emperor Henry IV and thus a nephew of Emperor Henry V. This led to over a century of strife between the two houses. Conrad ousted the Welfs from their possessions, but after his death in 1152, his nephew Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick I "Barbarossa" succeeded him and made peace with the Welfs, restoring his cousin Henry the Lion to his – albeit diminished – possessions. The Hohenstaufen rulers increasingly lent land to ''ministerialia'', formerly non-free servicemen, who Frederick hoped would be more reliable than dukes. Initially used mainly for war services, this new class of people would form the basis for the later Imperial Knight, knights, another basis of imperial power. A further important constitutional move at Roncaglia was the establishment of a new peace mechanism for the entire empire, the Landfrieden, with the first imperial one being issued in 1103 under Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor, Henry IV at Mainz. This was an attempt to abolish private feuds, between the many dukes and other people, and to tie the emperor's subordinates to a legal system of jurisdiction and public prosecution of criminal acts – a predecessor of the modern concept of "rule of law". Another new concept of the time was the systematic founding of new cities by the Emperor and by the local dukes. These were partly a result of the explosion in population; they also concentrated economic power at strategic locations. Before this, cities had only existed in the form of old Roman foundations or older bishoprics. Cities that were founded in the 12th century include Freiburg, possibly the economic model for many later cities, and Munich. Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick I, also called Frederick Barbarossa, was crowned emperor in 1155. He emphasized the "Romanness" of the empire, partly in an attempt to justify the power of the emperor independent of the (now strengthened) pope. An imperial assembly at the fields of Roncaglia in 1158 reclaimed imperial rights in reference to Justinian I's Corpus Juris Civilis. Imperial rights had been referred to as ''regalia'' since the Investiture Controversy but were enumerated for the first time at Roncaglia. This comprehensive list included public roads, tariffs, Coining (mint), coining, collecting punitive fees, and the seating and unseating of office-holders. These rights were now explicitly rooted in Roman law, a far-reaching constitutional act. Frederick's policies were primarily directed at Italy, where he clashed with the increasingly wealthy and free-minded cities of the north, especially Milan. He also embroiled himself in another conflict with the Papacy by supporting a candidate elected by a minority against Pope Alexander III (1159–81). Frederick supported a succession of antipopes before finally making peace with Alexander in 1177. In Germany, the Emperor had repeatedly protected Henry the Lion against complaints by rival princes or cities (especially in the cases of Munich and Lübeck). Henry gave only lackluster support to Frederick's policies, and, in a critical situation during the Italian wars, Henry refused the Emperor's plea for military support. After returning to Germany, an embittered Frederick opened proceedings against the Duke, resulting in a public ban and the confiscation of all Henry's territories. In 1190, Frederick participated in the Third Crusade, dying in the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. During the Hohenstaufen period, German princes facilitated a successful, peaceful Ostsiedlung, eastward settlement of lands that were uninhabited or inhabited sparsely by West Slavs. Germans, German-speaking farmers, traders, and craftsmen from the western part of the Empire, both Christians and Jews, moved into these areas. The gradual Germanization of these lands was a complex phenomenon that should not be interpreted in the biased terms of 19th-century nationalism. The eastward settlement expanded the influence of the empire to include Pomerania and Silesia, as did the intermarriage of the local, still mostly Slavic, rulers with German spouses. The Teutonic Knights were invited to Prussia (region), Prussia by Duke Konrad of Masovia to Christianize the Old Prussians, Prussians in 1226. The Monastic state of the Teutonic Knights, monastic state of the Teutonic Order (german: Deutschordensstaat) and its later German successor state of Prussia were never part of the Holy Roman Empire. Under the son and successor of Frederick Barbarossa, Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor, Henry VI, the Hohenstaufen dynasty reached its apex. Henry added the Norman kingdom of Sicily to his domains, held English king Richard the Lionheart captive, and aimed to establish a hereditary monarchy when he died in 1197. As his son, Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, though already elected king, was still a small child and living in Sicily, German princes chose to elect an adult king, resulting in the dual election of Frederick Barbarossa's youngest son Philip of Swabia and Henry the Lion's son Otto IV, Holy Roman Emperor, Otto of Brunswick, who competed for the crown. Otto prevailed for a while after Philip was murdered in a private squabble in 1208 until he began to also claim Sicily. Pope Innocent III, who feared the threat posed by a union of the empire and Sicily, was now supported by Frederick II, who marched to Germany and defeated Otto. After his victory, Frederick did not act upon his promise to keep the two realms separate. Though he had made his son Henry king of Sicily before marching on Germany, he still reserved real political power for himself. This continued after Frederick was crowned Emperor in 1220. Fearing Frederick's concentration of power, the Pope finally excommunicated him. Another point of contention was the Crusade, which Frederick had promised but repeatedly postponed. Now, although excommunicated, Frederick led the Sixth Crusade in 1228, which ended in negotiations and a temporary restoration of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Despite his imperial claims, Frederick's rule was a major turning point towards the disintegration of central rule in the Empire. While concentrated on establishing a modern, centralized state in Sicily, he was mostly absent from Germany and issued far-reaching privileges to Germany's secular and ecclesiastical princes: in the 1220 ''Confoederatio cum principibus ecclesiasticis,'' Frederick gave up a number of ''regalia'' in favour of the bishops, among them tariffs, Coining (mint), coining, and fortification. The 1232 ''Statutum in favorem principum'' mostly extended these privileges to secular territories. Although many of these privileges had existed earlier, they were now granted globally, and once and for all, to allow the German princes to maintain order north of the Alps while Frederick concentrated on Italy. The 1232 document marked the first time that the German dukes were called ''domini terræ,'' owners of their lands, a remarkable change in terminology as well.


Kingdom of Bohemia

The
Kingdom of Bohemia The Kingdom of Bohemia ( cs, České království; german: link=no, Königreich Böhmen; la, link=no, Regnum Bohemiae), sometimes later in English literature referred to as the Czech Kingdom, was a medieval In the history of Europe ...
was a significant regional power during the Middle Ages. In 1212, King Ottokar I of Bohemia, Ottokar I (bearing the title "king" since 1198) extracted a Golden Bull of Sicily (a formal edict) from the emperor Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, confirming the royal title for Ottokar and his descendants, and the Duchy of Bohemia was raised to a kingdom. Bohemian kings would be exempt from all future obligations to the Holy Roman Empire except for participation in the imperial councils. Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, Charles IV set Prague to be the seat of the Holy Roman Emperor.


Interregnum

After the death of Frederick II in 1250, the German kingdom was divided between his son Conrad IV of Germany, Conrad IV (died 1254) and the Anti-king#Germany, anti-king, Count William II of Holland, William of Holland (died 1256). Conrad's death was followed by the Interregnum, during which no king could achieve universal recognition, allowing the princes to consolidate their holdings and become even more independent as rulers. After 1257, the crown was contested between Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall, Richard of Cornwall, who was supported by the Guelphs and Ghibellines, Guelph party, and Alfonso X of Castile, who was recognized by the Hohenstaufen party but never set foot on German soil. After Richard's death in 1273, Rudolf I of Germany, a minor pro-Hohenstaufen count, was elected. He was the first of the Habsburgs to hold a royal title, but he was never crowned emperor. After Rudolf's death in 1291, Adolf, King of the Romans, Adolf and Albert I of Germany, Albert were two further weak kings who were never crowned emperor. Albert was assassinated in 1308. Almost immediately, King Philip IV of France began aggressively seeking support for his brother, Charles, Count of Valois, Charles of Valois, to be elected the next
King of the Romans King of the Romans ( la, Rex Romanorum; german: König der Römer) was the title used by the German king following his election An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple i ...
. Philip thought he had the backing of the French Pope, Pope Clement V, Clement V (established at Avignon in 1309), and that his prospects of bringing the empire into the orbit of the French royal house were good. He lavishly spread French money in the hope of bribing the German electors. Although Charles of Valois had the backing of Henry VII, Holy Roman Emperor, Henry, Archbishop of Cologne, a French supporter, many were not keen to see an expansion of French power, least of all Clement V. The principal rival to Charles appeared to be Rudolf II, Count Palatine of the Rhine, Rudolf, the Count Palatine. Instead, Henry VII, Holy Roman Emperor, Henry VII, of the House of Luxembourg, was elected with six votes at Frankfurt on 27 November 1308. Given his background, although he was a vassal of king Philip, Henry was bound by few national ties, an aspect of his suitability as a compromise candidate among the electors, the great territorial magnates who had lived without a crowned emperor for decades, and who were unhappy with both Charles and Rudolf. Henry of Cologne's brother, Baldwin, Archbishop of Trier, won over a number of the electors, including Henry, in exchange for some substantial concessions. Henry VII was crowned king at Aachen on 6 January 1309, and emperor by Pope Clement V on 29 June 1312 in Rome, ending the interregnum.


Changes in political structure

During the 13th century, a general structural change in how land was administered prepared the shift of political power towards the rising bourgeoisie at the expense of the aristocratic feudalism that would characterize the Late Middle Ages. The rise of the Free imperial city, cities and the emergence of the new Burgher (title), burgher class eroded the societal, legal and economic order of feudalism. Instead of personal duties, money increasingly became the common means to represent economic value in agriculture. Peasants were increasingly required to pay tribute to their landlords. The concept of "property" began to replace more ancient forms of jurisdiction, although they were still very much tied together. In the territories (not at the level of the Empire), power became increasingly bundled: whoever owned the land had jurisdiction, from which other powers derived. However, that jurisdiction at the time did not include legislation, which was virtually non-existent until well into the 15th century. Court practice heavily relied on traditional customs or rules described as customary. During this time, territories began to transform into the predecessors of modern states. The process varied greatly among the various lands and was most advanced in those territories that were almost identical to the lands of the old Germanic tribes, ''e.g.'', Bavaria. It was slower in those scattered territories that were founded through imperial privileges. In the 12th century the Hanseatic League established itself as a commercial and defensive alliance of the merchant guilds of towns and cities in the empire and all over northern and central Europe. It dominated marine trade in the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and along the connected navigable rivers. Each of the affiliated cities retained the legal system of its sovereign and, with the exception of the Free imperial city, Free imperial cities, had only a limited degree of political autonomy. By the late 14th century, the powerful league enforced its interests with military means, if necessary. This culminated in Second Danish-Hanseatic War, a war with the sovereign Kingdom of Denmark from 1361 to 1370. The league declined after 1450.


Late Middle Ages


Rise of the territories after the Hohenstaufens

The difficulties in electing the king eventually led to the emergence of a fixed college of prince-electors (''Kurfürsten''), whose composition and procedures were set forth in the Golden Bull of 1356, which remained valid until 1806. This development probably best symbolizes the emerging duality between emperor and realm (''Kaiser und Reich''), which were no longer considered identical. The Golden Bull also set forth the system for election of the Holy Roman Emperor. The emperor now was to be elected by a majority rather than by consent of all seven electors. For electors the title became hereditary, and they were given the right to mint coins and to exercise jurisdiction. Also it was recommended that their sons learn the imperial languages – German language, German, Latin, Italian language, Italian, and Czech language, Czech. The shift in power away from the emperor is also revealed in the way the post-Hohenstaufen kings attempted to sustain their power. Earlier, the Empire's strength (and finances) greatly relied on the Empire's own lands, the so-called ''Reichsgut'', which always belonged to the king of the day and included many Imperial Cities. After the 13th century, the relevance of the ''Reichsgut'' faded, even though some parts of it did remain until the Empire's end in 1806. Instead, the ''Reichsgut'' was increasingly pawned to local dukes, sometimes to raise money for the Empire, but more frequently to reward faithful duty or as an attempt to establish control over the dukes. The direct governance of the ''Reichsgut'' no longer matched the needs of either the king or the dukes. The kings beginning with Rudolf I of Germany increasingly relied on the lands of their respective dynasties to support their power. In contrast with the ''Reichsgut'', which was mostly scattered and difficult to administer, these territories were relatively compact and thus easier to control. In 1282, Rudolf I thus lent Austria and Styria (duchy), Styria to his own sons. In 1312, Henry VII, Holy Roman Emperor, Henry VII of the House of Luxembourg was crowned as the first Holy Roman Emperor since Frederick II. After him all kings and emperors relied on the lands of their own family (''Hausmacht''): Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor, Louis IV of Wittelsbach (king 1314, emperor 1328–47) relied on his lands in Bavaria; Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, Charles IV of Luxembourg, the grandson of Henry VII, drew strength from his own lands in Bohemia. It was thus increasingly in the king's own interest to strengthen the power of the territories, since the king profited from such a benefit in his own lands as well.


Imperial reform

The "constitution" of the Empire still remained largely unsettled at the beginning of the 15th century. Although some procedures and institutions had been fixed, for example by the Golden Bull of 1356, the rules of how the king, the electors, and the other dukes should cooperate in the Empire much depended on the personality of the respective king. It therefore proved somewhat damaging that Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor, Sigismund of Luxemburg (king 1410, emperor 1433–1437) and Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick III of Habsburg (king 1440, emperor 1452–1493) neglected the old core lands of the empire and mostly resided in their own lands. Without the presence of the king, the old institution of the ''Hoftag'', the assembly of the realm's leading men, deteriorated. The ''Imperial Diet (Holy Roman Empire), Imperial Diet'' as a legislative organ of the Empire did not exist at that time. The dukes often conducted feuds against each other – feuds that, more often than not, escalated into local wars. Simultaneously, the Catholic Church experienced crises of its own, with wide-reaching effects in the Empire. The conflict between several papal claimants (two anti-popes and the "legitimate" Papacy, Pope) ended only with the Council of Constance (1414–1418); after 1419 the Papacy directed much of its energy to suppressing the Hussites. The medieval idea of unifying all
Christendom Christendom historically refers to the "Christian world": Christian state A Christian state is a country that recognizes a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the ...
into a single political entity, with the Church and the Empire as its leading institutions, began to decline. With these drastic changes, much discussion emerged in the 15th century about the Empire itself. Rules from the past no longer adequately described the structure of the time, and a reinforcement of earlier ''Landfrieden'' was urgently needed. While older scholarship presented this period as a time of total disorder and near-anarchy, new research has reassessed the German lands in the 15th century in a more positive light. ''Landfrieden'' was not only a matter imposed by kings (which might disappear in their absence), but was also upheld by regional leagues and alliances (also called "associations"). Princes, nobles and/or cities collaborated to keep the peace by adhering to collective treaties which stipulated methods for resolving disputes (ad hoc courts and arbitration) and joint military measures to defeat outlaws and declarers of feuds. Nevertheless, some members of the imperial estates (notably Berthold von Henneberg, archbishop of Mainz) sought a more centralized and institutionalized approach to regulating peace and justice, as (supposedly) had existed in earlier centuries of the Empire's history. During this time, the concept of "reform" emerged, in the original sense of the Latin verb ''re-formare'' – to regain an earlier shape that had been lost. When Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick III needed the dukes to finance a Austrian-Hungarian War (1477–1488), war against Hungary in 1486, and at the same time had his son (later Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I) elected king, he faced a demand from the united dukes for their participation in an Imperial Court. For the first time, the assembly of the electors and other dukes was now called the Imperial Diet (Holy Roman Empire), Imperial Diet (German ''Reichstag'') (to be joined by the Imperial Free City, Imperial Free Cities later). While Frederick refused, his more conciliatory son finally convened the Diet at Worms in 1495, after his father's death in 1493. Here, the king and the dukes agreed on four bills, commonly referred to as the Imperial Reform, ''Reichsreform'' (Imperial Reform): a set of legal acts to give the disintegrating Empire some structure. For example, this act produced the Imperial Circle Estates and the ''Reichskammergericht'' (Imperial Chamber Court), institutions that would – to a degree – persist until the end of the Empire in 1806. It took a few more decades for the new regulation to gain universal acceptance and for the new court to begin functioning effectively; the Imperial Circles were finalized in 1512. The King also made sure that his own court, the ''Reichshofrat'', continued to operate in parallel to the ''Reichskammergericht''. Also in 1512, the Empire received its new title, the ''Heiliges Römisches Reich Deutscher Nation'' ("Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation").


Reformation and Renaissance

In 1516, Ferdinand II of Aragon, grandfather of the future Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, died. Due to a combination of (1) the traditions of dynastic succession in Aragon, which permitted maternal inheritance with no precedence for female rule; (2) the insanity of Charles's mother, Joanna of Castile; and (3) the insistence by his remaining grandfather, Maximilian I of the Holy Roman Empire, Maximilian I, that he take up his royal titles, Charles initiated his reign in Castile and Aragon, a union which evolved into Spanish Crown, Spain, in conjunction with his mother. This ensured for the first time that all the realms of what is now Spain would be united by one monarch under one nascent Spanish crown. The founding territories retained their separate governance codes and laws. In 1519, already reigning as ''Carlos I'' in Spain, Charles took up the imperial title as ''Karl V''. The balance (and imbalance) between these separate inheritances would be defining elements of his reign and would ensure that personal union between the Spanish and German crowns would be short-lived. The latter would end up going to a more junior branch of the Habsburgs in the person of Charles's brother Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand, while the senior branch continued to rule in Spain and the Burgundian inheritance in the person of Charles's son, Philip II of Spain. In addition to conflicts between his Spanish and German inheritances, conflicts of religion would be another source of tension during the reign of Charles V. Before Charles's reign in the Holy Roman Empire began, in 1517, Martin Luther launched what would later be known as the Protestant Reformation, Reformation. At this time, many local dukes saw it as a chance to oppose the hegemony of Emperor Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. The empire then became fatally divided along religious lines, with the north, the east, and many of the major cities – Strasbourg, Frankfurt, and Nuremberg – becoming Protestant while the southern and western regions largely remained Roman Catholic, Catholic.


Baroque period

Charles V continued to battle the French and the Protestant princes in Germany for much of his reign. After his son Philip married Mary I of England, Queen Mary of England, it appeared that France would be completely surrounded by Habsburg domains, but this hope proved unfounded when the marriage produced no children. In 1555, Pope Paul IV, Paul IV was elected pope and took the side of France, whereupon an exhausted Charles finally gave up his hopes of a world Christian empire. He abdicated and divided his territories between Philip and Ferdinand of Austria. The Peace of Augsburg ended the war in Germany and accepted the existence of Protestantism in the form of Lutheranism, while Calvinism was still not recognized. Anabaptist, Arminian and other minor Protestant communities were also forbidden. Germany would enjoy relative peace for the next six decades. On the eastern front, the Turks continued to loom large as a threat, although war would mean further compromises with the Protestant princes, and so the Emperor sought to avoid it. In the west, the Rhineland increasingly fell under French influence. After the Dutch revolt against Spain erupted, the Empire remained neutral, ''de facto'' allowing the Netherlands to depart the empire in 1581, a secession acknowledged in 1648. A side effect was the Cologne War, which ravaged much of the upper Rhine. After Ferdinand died in 1564, his son Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian II became Emperor, and like his father accepted the existence of Protestantism and the need for occasional compromise with it. Maximilian was succeeded in 1576 by Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II, who preferred Ancient Greek philosophy, classical Greek philosophy to Christianity and lived an isolated existence in Bohemia. He became afraid to act when the Catholic Church was forcibly reasserting control in Austria and Hungary, and the Protestant princes became upset over this. Imperial power sharply deteriorated by the time of Rudolf's death in 1612. When Bohemians rebelled against the Emperor, the immediate result was the series of conflicts known as the Thirty Years' War (1618–48), which devastated the Empire. Foreign powers, including France and Sweden, intervened in the conflict and strengthened those fighting Imperial power, but also seized considerable territory for themselves. The long conflict so bled the Empire that it never recovered its strength. The actual end of the empire came in several steps. The
Peace of Westphalia The Peace of Westphalia (german: Westfälischer Friede, ) is the collective name for two peace treaties signed in October 1648 in the Westphalian cities of Osnabrück Osnabrück (; wep, Ossenbrügge; archaic ''Osnaburg'') is a city in the ...
in 1648, which ended the Thirty Years' War, gave the territories almost complete independence. Calvinism was now allowed, but Anabaptists, Arminians and other Protestant communities would still lack any support and continue to be persecuted well until the end of the Empire. The Swiss Confederation, which had already established quasi-independence in 1499, as well as the Northern Netherlands, left the Empire. The Habsburg Emperors focused on consolidating their own estates in Austria and elsewhere. At the Battle of Vienna (1683), the Army of the Holy Roman Empire, led by the Polish King John III Sobieski, decisively defeated a large Turkish army, stopping the western Ottoman advance and leading to the eventual dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire in Europe. The army was one third forces of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and two thirds forces of the Holy Roman Empire.


Modern period


Prussia and Austria

By the rise of Louis XIV of France, Louis XIV, the Habsburgs were chiefly dependent on their Habsburg Monarchy, hereditary lands to counter the rise of Prussia, which possessed territories inside the Empire. Throughout the 18th century, the Habsburgs were embroiled in various European conflicts, such as the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714), the War of the Polish Succession (1733–1735), and the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748). The German dualism between Austria and Prussia dominated the empire's history after 1740.


French Revolutionary Wars and final dissolution

From 1792 onwards, French Revolutionary Wars, revolutionary France was at war with various parts of the Empire intermittently. The German mediatization was the series of mediatizations and secularizations that occurred between 1795 and 1814, during the latter part of the era of the French Revolution and then the Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleonic Era. "Mediatization" was the process of annexation, annexing the lands of one Imperial State, imperial estate to another, often leaving the annexed some rights. For example, the estates of the Imperial Knights were formally mediatized in 1806, having ''de facto'' been seized by the great territorial states in 1803 in the so-called ''Rittersturm''. "Secularization" was the abolition of the temporal power of an ecclesiastical ruler such as a bishop or an abbot and the annexation of the secularized territory to a secular territory. The empire was dissolved on 6 August 1806, when the last Holy Roman Emperor Francis II of the Holy Roman Empire, Francis II (from 1804, Emperor Francis I of Austria) abdicated, following a military defeat by the French under Napoleon I of France, Napoleon at Battle of Austerlitz, Austerlitz (see Treaty of Pressburg (1805), Treaty of Pressburg). Napoleon reorganized much of the Empire into the
Confederation of the Rhine The Confederated States of the Rhine, simply known as the Confederation of the Rhine, was a confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common acti ...
, a satellite state, French satellite. Francis' House of Lorraine, House of Habsburg-Lorraine survived the demise of the empire, continuing to reign as Emperor of Austria, Emperors of Austria and King of Hungary, Kings of Hungary until the Habsburg empire's final dissolution in 1918 in the aftermath of World War I. The Napoleonic Confederation of the Rhine was replaced by a new union, the
German Confederation The German Confederation (german: Deutscher Bund) was an association of 39 predominantly German-speaking sovereign states in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common Histo ...

German Confederation
in 1815, following the end of the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major global conflicts pitting the French Empire#REDIRECT French Empire {{Redirect shell , {{R from ambiguous page {{R from other capitalisation ... and its allies, led by Napoleon I ...
. It lasted until 1866 when Prussia founded the North German Confederation, a forerunner of the
German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Bennington, Vermont Bennington is a New England town, town ...
which united the German-speaking territories outside of Austria and Switzerland under Prussian leadership in 1871. This state developed into Federal Republic of Germany, modern Germany. The only princely member states of the Holy Roman Empire that have preserved their status as monarchies until today are the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Principality of Liechtenstein. The only Free Imperial Cities still existing as states within Germany are Hamburg and Bremen. All other historic member states of the Holy Roman Empire were either dissolved or have adopted republican systems of government.


Institutions

The Holy Roman Empire was neither a centralized State (polity), state nor a nation-state. Instead, it was divided into dozens – eventually hundreds – of individual entities governed by
king King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, queen, which title is also given to the queen consort, consort of a king. *In the context of prehistory, antiquity and contempora ...

king
s, dukes, counts, bishops, abbots, and other rulers, collectively known as Princes of the Holy Roman Empire, princes. There were also some areas ruled directly by the Emperor. At no time could the Emperor simply issue decrees and govern autonomously over the Empire. His power was severely restricted by the various local leaders. From the High Middle Ages onwards, the Holy Roman Empire was marked by an uneasy coexistence with the princes of the local territories who were struggling to take power (sociology), power away from it. To a greater extent than in other medieval kingdoms such as
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning Western Europe and Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Ame ...
and Kingdom of England, England, the emperors were unable to gain much control over the lands that they formally owned. Instead, to secure their own position from the threat of being deposed, emperors were forced to grant more and more autonomy to local rulers, both nobles and bishops. This process began in the 11th century with the Investiture Controversy and was more or less concluded with the 1648
Peace of Westphalia The Peace of Westphalia (german: Westfälischer Friede, ) is the collective name for two peace treaties signed in October 1648 in the Westphalian cities of Osnabrück Osnabrück (; wep, Ossenbrügge; archaic ''Osnaburg'') is a city in the ...
. Several Emperors attempted to reverse this steady dilution of their authority but were thwarted both by the papacy and by the princes of the Empire.


Imperial estates

The number of territories represented in the Imperial Diet was considerable, numbering about 300 at the time of the
Peace of Westphalia The Peace of Westphalia (german: Westfälischer Friede, ) is the collective name for two peace treaties signed in October 1648 in the Westphalian cities of Osnabrück Osnabrück (; wep, Ossenbrügge; archaic ''Osnaburg'') is a city in the ...
. Many of these ''Kleinstaaterei, Kleinstaaten'' ("little states") covered no more than a few square miles, and/or included several non-contiguous pieces, so the Empire was often called a ''Flickenteppich'' ("Patchwork, patchwork carpet"). An entity was considered a ''Reichsstand'' (imperial estate) if, according to feudal law, it had no authority above it except the Holy Roman Emperor himself. The imperial estates comprised: * Territories ruled by a hereditary nobleman, such as a prince, archduke, duke, or count. * Territories in which secular authority was held by an ecclesiastical dignitary, such as an archbishop, bishop, or abbot. Such an ecclesiastic or Churchman was a prince of the Church. In the common case of a
prince-bishop A prince-bishop is a bishop who is also the civil ruler of some Secularity, secular principality and sovereignty. Thus the principality or Hochstift, prince-bishopric ruled politically by a prince-bishop could wholly or largely overlap with his ...
, this temporal territory (called a prince-bishopric) frequently overlapped with his often larger ecclesiastical diocese, giving the bishop both civil and ecclesiastical powers. Examples are the prince-archbishoprics of Electorate of Cologne, Cologne, Archbishopric of Trier, Trier, and Archbishopric of Mainz, Mainz. * Free imperial city, Free imperial cities and Imperial Village, Imperial villages, which were subject only to the jurisdiction of the emperor. * The scattered estates of the free Imperial Knights and Imperial Counts, immediate subject to the Emperor but unrepresented in the Imperial Diet. A sum total of 1,500 Imperial estates has been reckoned. For a list of ''Reichsstände'' in 1792, see List of Imperial Diet participants (1792). The most powerful lords of the later empire were the Austrian Habsburgs, who ruled of land within the Empire in the first half of the 17th century, mostly in modern-day Austria and Czechia. At the same time the lands ruled by the electors of Saxony, Bavaria, and Brandenburg (prior to the acquisition of Prussia) were all close to ; the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (later the Elector of Hanover) had a territory around the same size. These were the largest of the German realms. The Elector of the Palatinate had significantly less at , and the ecclesiastical Electorates of Mainz, Cologne, and Trier were much smaller, with around . Just larger than them, with roughly , were the Duchy of Württemberg, the Landgraviate of Hessen-Kassel, and the Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. They were roughly matched in size by the prince-bishoprics of Salzburg and Münster. The majority of the other German territories, including the other prince-bishoprics, were under , the smallest being those of the Imperial Knights; around 1790 the Knights consisted of 350 families ruling a total of only collectively. Imperial Italy was more centralized, most of it c. 1600 being divided between Savoy (Savoy, Piedmont, Nice, Aosta), the Grand Duchy of Tuscany (Tuscany, bar Lucca), the Republic of Genoa (Liguria, Corisca), the duchies of Modena-Reggio and Parma-Piacenza (Emilia), and the Spanish Duchy of Milan (most of Lombardy), each with between half a million and one and a half million people. The Low Countries were also more coherent than Germany, being entirely under the dominion of the Spanish Netherlands as part of the Burgundian Circle, at least nominally.


King of the Romans

A prospective Emperor first had to be elected
King of the Romans King of the Romans ( la, Rex Romanorum; german: König der Römer) was the title used by the German king following his election An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple i ...
(Latin: ''Rex Romanorum''; German: ''römischer König''). List of German monarchs, German kings had been elected since the 9th century; at that point they were chosen by the leaders of the five most important tribes (the Salian Franks of Lorraine (province), Lorraine, Ripuarian Franks of Franconia, Saxons, Bavarians, and Swabians). In the Holy Roman Empire, the main dukes and bishops of the kingdom elected the King of the Romans. In 1356, Emperor Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, Charles IV issued the Golden Bull of 1356, Golden Bull, which limited the prince-elector, electors to seven: the King of Bohemia, the Count Palatine of the Rhine, the Duke of Saxony, the Margrave of Brandenburg, and the archbishops of Electorate of Cologne, Cologne, Mainz, and Trier. During the Thirty Years' War, the Duke of Bavaria was given the right to vote as the eighth elector, and the Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (colloquially, Hanover) was granted a ninth electorate; additionally, the Napoleonic Wars resulted in several electorates being reallocated, but these new electors never voted before the Empire's dissolution. A candidate for election would be expected to offer concessions of land or money to the electors in order to secure their vote. After being elected, the King of the Romans could theoretically claim the title of "Emperor" only after being crowned by the
Pope The pope ( la, papa, from el, πάππας, translit=pappas, "father"), also known as the supreme pontiff () or the Roman pontiff (), is the bishop of Diocese of Rome, Rome, chief pastor of the worldwide Catholic Church, and head of state o ...

Pope
. In many cases, this took several years while the King was held up by other tasks: frequently he first had to resolve conflicts in rebellious northern Italy or was quarreling with the Pope himself. Later Emperors dispensed with the papal coronation altogether, being content with the styling ''Emperor-Elect'': the last Emperor to be crowned by the Pope was Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V in 1530. The Emperor had to be male and of noble blood. No law required him to be a Catholic, but as the majority of the Electors adhered to this faith, no Protestant was ever elected. Whether and to what degree he had to be German was disputed among the Electors, contemporary experts in constitutional law, and the public. During the Middle Ages, some Kings and Emperors were not of German origin, but since the Renaissance, German heritage was regarded as vital for a candidate in order to be eligible for imperial office.


Imperial Diet (''Reichstag'')

The Imperial Diet (''Reichstag'', or ''Reichsversammlung'') was not a legislative body as is understood today, as its members envisioned it to be more like a central forum, where it was more important to negotiate than to decide. The Diet was theoretically superior to the emperor himself. It was divided into three classes. The first class, the Council of Electors, consisted of the electors, or the princes who could vote for King of the Romans. The second class, the Council of Princes, consisted of the other princes. The Council of Princes was divided into two "benches", one for secular rulers and one for ecclesiastical ones. Higher-ranking princes had individual votes, while lower-ranking princes were grouped into "colleges" by geography. Each college had one vote. The third class was the Council of Imperial Cities, which was divided into two colleges: Swabia and the Rhine. The Council of Imperial Cities was not fully equal with the others; it could not vote on several matters such as the admission of new territories. The representation of the Free Cities at the Diet had become common since the late Middle Ages. Nevertheless, their participation was formally acknowledged only as late as 1648 with the
Peace of Westphalia The Peace of Westphalia (german: Westfälischer Friede, ) is the collective name for two peace treaties signed in October 1648 in the Westphalian cities of Osnabrück Osnabrück (; wep, Ossenbrügge; archaic ''Osnaburg'') is a city in the ...
ending the Thirty Years' War.


Imperial courts

The Empire also had two courts: the ''Reichshofrat'' (also known in English as the Aulic Council) at the court of the King/Emperor, and the ''Reichskammergericht'' (Imperial Chamber Court), established with the
Imperial Reform Imperial Reform ( la, Reformatio imperii, german: Reichsreform) is the name given to repeated attempts in the 15th and 16th centuries to adapt the structure and the constitutional order (''Verfassungsordnung'') of the Holy Roman Empire The Holy ...
of 1495 by Maximillian I. The Reichskammergericht and the Auclic Council were the two highest judicial instances in the Old Empire. The Imperial Chamber court's composition was determined by both the Holy Roman Emperor and the subject states of the Empire. Within this court, the Emperor appointed the chief justice, always a highborn aristocrat, several divisional chief judges, and some of the other puisne judges. The Aulic Council held standing over many judicial disputes of state, both in concurrence with the Imperial Chamber court and exclusively on their own. The provinces Imperial Chamber Court extended to breaches of the public peace, cases of arbitrary distraint or imprisonment, pleas which concerned the treasury, violations of the Emperor's decrees or the laws passed by the Imperial Diet, disputes about property between Imperial Estate, immediate tenants of the Empire or the subjects of different rulers, and finally suits against immediate tenants of the Empire, with the exception of criminal charges and matters relating to imperial fiefs, which went to the Aulic Council.


Imperial circles

As part of the Imperial Reform, six Imperial Circles were established in 1500; four more were established in 1512. These were regional groupings of most (though not all) of the various states of the Empire for the purposes of defense, imperial taxation, supervision of coining, peace-keeping functions, and public security. Each circle had its own parliament, known as a ''Kreistag'' ("Circle Diet"), and one or more directors, who coordinated the affairs of the circle. Not all imperial territories were included within the imperial circles, even after 1512; the Lands of the Bohemian Crown were excluded, as were Old Swiss Confederacy, Switzerland, the imperial fiefs in northern Italy, the lands of the Imperial Knights, and certain other small territories like the Lordship of Jever.


Army

The Army of the Holy Roman Empire (German ''Reichsarmee'', ''Reichsheer'' or ''Reichsarmatur''; Latin ''exercitus imperii'') was created in 1422 and as a result of the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major global conflicts pitting the French Empire#REDIRECT French Empire {{Redirect shell , {{R from ambiguous page {{R from other capitalisation ... and its allies, led by Napoleon I ...
came to an end even before the Empire. It must not be confused with the Imperial Army (Holy Roman Empire), Imperial Army (''Kaiserliche Armee'') of the Emperor. Despite appearances to the contrary, the Army of the Empire did not constitute a permanent standing army that was always at the ready to fight for the Empire. When there was danger, an Army of the Empire was mustered from among the elements constituting it, in order to conduct an imperial military campaign or ''Reichsheerfahrt''. In practice, the imperial troops often had local allegiances stronger than their loyalty to the Emperor.


Administrative centres

Throughout the first half of its history the Holy Roman Empire was reigned by a Itinerant court, travelling court. Kings and emperors toured between the numerous
Kaiserpfalz The term ''Kaiserpfalz'' (, "imperial palace") or ''Königspfalz'' (, "royal palace", from Middle High German Middle High German (abbreviated ''MHG'', german: Mittelhochdeutsch, abbr. ') is the term for the form of German spoken in the Hig ...
es (Imperial palaces), usually resided for several weeks or months and furnished local legal matters, law and administration. Most rulers maintained one or a number of favourites Imperial palace sites, where they would advance development and spent most of their time: Charlemagne (
Aachen Aachen ( ; Aachen dialect: ''Oche'' ; French language, French and traditional English language, English: Aix-la-Chapelle ; Latin: ''Aquae Granni'' or ''Aquisgranum''; nl, Aken) is, with around 249,000 inhabitants, the 13th-largest city of No ...

Aachen
from 794), Frederick II (Palermo 1220–1254), Wittelsbacher (Munich 1328–1347 and 1744–1745), Habsburger (Prague 1355–1437 and 1576–1611; and Vienna 1438–1576, 1611–1740 and 1745–1806). This practice eventually ended during the 14th century, as the emperors of the Habsburg dynasty chose Vienna and Prague and the Wittelsbach dynasty, Wittelsbach rulers chose Munich as their permanent residences. These sites served however only as the individual residence for a particular sovereign. A number of cities held official status, where the Imperial Estates would summon at Imperial Diet (Holy Roman Empire), Imperial Diets, the deliberative assembly of the empire. The Imperial Diet (Holy Roman Empire), Imperial Diet (''Reichstag'') resided variously in Paderborn, Bad Lippspringe, Ingelheim am Rhein, Diedenhofen (now Thionville),
Aachen Aachen ( ; Aachen dialect: ''Oche'' ; French language, French and traditional English language, English: Aix-la-Chapelle ; Latin: ''Aquae Granni'' or ''Aquisgranum''; nl, Aken) is, with around 249,000 inhabitants, the 13th-largest city of No ...

Aachen
, Worms, Germany, Worms, Forchheim, Trebur,
Fritzlar Fritzlar () is a small Germany, German town (pop. 15,000) in the Schwalm-Eder-Kreis, Schwalm-Eder district in northern Hesse, north of Frankfurt, with a storied history. The town has a medieval center ringed by a wall with numerous watch towers ...

Fritzlar
, Ravenna, Quedlinburg, Dortmund, Verona, Minden, Mainz, Frankfurt am Main, Merseburg, Goslar, Würzburg, Bamberg, Schwäbisch Hall, Augsburg, Nuremberg, Quierzy-sur-Oise, Speyer, Gelnhausen, Erfurt, Cheb, Eger (now Cheb), Esslingen am Neckar, Esslingen, Lindau, Freiburg, Cologne, Konstanz and Trier before it was moved permanently to Regensburg. Until the 15th century the elected emperor was Coronation of the Holy Roman Emperor, crowned and anointed by the Pope in Rome, among some exceptions in Ravenna, Bologna and Reims. Since 1508 (emperor Maximilian I) Imperial elections took place in Frankfurt am Main, Augsburg, Rhens, Cologne or Regensburg. In December 1497 the Aulic Council (''Reichshofrat'') was established in Vienna. In 1495 the ''Reichskammergericht'' was established, which variously resided in Worms, Germany, Worms, Augsburg, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Speyer and Esslingen am Neckar, Esslingen before it was moved permanently to Wetzlar.


Foreign relations

The Habsburg royal family had its own diplomats to represent its interests. The larger principalities in the HRE, beginning around 1648, also did the same. The HRE did not have its own dedicated ministry of foreign affairs and therefore the Imperial Diet (Holy Roman Empire), Imperial Diet had no control over these diplomats; occasionally the Diet criticised them. When Regensburg served as the site of the Diet, France and, in the late 1700s, Russia, had diplomatic representatives there. Denmark, Great Britain, and Sweden had land holdings in Germany and so had representation in the Diet itself. The Netherlands also had envoys in Regensburg. Regensburg was the place where envoys met as it was where representatives of the Diet could be reached.


Demographics


Population

Overall population figures for the Holy Roman Empire are extremely vague and vary widely. The empire of Charlemagne may have had as many as 20 million people. Given the political fragmentation of the later Empire, there were no central agencies that could compile such figures. Nevertheless, it is believed the demographic disaster of the Thirty Years War meant that the population of the Empire in the early 17th century was similar to what it was in the early 18th century; by one estimate, the Empire didn't exceed 1618 levels of population until 1750. In the early 17th century, the electors held under their rule the following number of Imperial subjects: * Habsburg monarchy: 5,350,000 (including 3 million in the Bohemian crown lands)Wilson, p. 788 * Electorate of Saxony: 1,200,000 * Duchy of Bavaria (later Electorate of Bavaria): 800,000 * Electoral Palatinate: 600,000 * Electorate of Brandenburg: 350,000 * Electorates of Mainz, Trier, and Cologne: 300–400,000 altogether While not electors, the Spanish Habsburgs had the second highest number of subjects within the Empire after the Austrian Habsburgs, with over 3 million in the early 17th century in the Burgundian Circle and Duchy of Milan. Peter Wilson estimates the Empire's population at 25 million in 1700, of whom 5 million lived in Imperial Italy. By 1800 he estimates the Empire's population at 29 million (excluding Italy), with another 12.6 million held by the Austrians and Prussians outside of the Empire. According to an overgenerous contemporary estimate of the Austrian War Archives for the first decade of the 18th century, the Empire—including Bohemia and the Spanish Netherlands—had a population of close to 28 million with a breakdown as follows: * 65 ecclesiastical states with 14 percent of the total land area and 12 percent of the population; * 45 dynastic principalities with 80 percent of the land and 80 percent of the population; * 60 dynastic counties and lordships with 3 percent of the land and 3.5 percent of the population; * 60 imperial towns with 1 percent of the land and 3.5 percent of the population; * Imperial knights' territories, numbering into the several hundreds, with 2 percent of the land and 1 percent of the population. German demographic historians have traditionally worked on estimates of the population of the Holy Roman Empire based on assumed population within the frontiers of Germany in 1871 or 1914. More recent estimates use less outdated criteria, but they remain guesswork. One estimate based on the frontiers of Germany in 1870 gives a population of some 15–17 million around 1600, declined to 10–13 million around 1650 (following the Thirty Years' War). Other historians who work on estimates of the population of the early modern Empire suggest the population declined from 20 million to some 16–17 million by 1650. A credible estimate for 1800 gives 27-28 million inhabitants for the Empire (which at this point had already lost the remaining Low Countries, Italy, and the Left Bank of the Rhine in the 1797 Treaty of Campo Fornio) with an overall breakdown as follows: * 9 million Austrian subjects (including Silesia, Bohemia and Moravia); * 4 million Prussian subjects; * 14–15 million inhabitants for the rest of the Empire. There are also numerous estimates for the Italian states that were formally part of the Empire:


Largest cities

Largest cities or towns of the Empire by year: * 1050: Regensburg 40,000 people. Rome 35,000. Mainz 30,000. Speyer 25,000. Cologne 21,000. Trier 20,000. Worms, Germany, Worms 20,000. Lyon 20,000. Verona 20,000. Florence 15,000. * 1300–1350: Prague 77,000 people. Cologne 54,000 people.
Aachen Aachen ( ; Aachen dialect: ''Oche'' ; French language, French and traditional English language, English: Aix-la-Chapelle ; Latin: ''Aquae Granni'' or ''Aquisgranum''; nl, Aken) is, with around 249,000 inhabitants, the 13th-largest city of No ...

Aachen
21,000 people.
Magdeburg Magdeburg (; nds, label=Low Saxon Low Saxon or Lower Saxon may refer to: Geography *Lower Saxony Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a German state (''Land'') situated in Northern Germany, nor ...

Magdeburg
20,000 people. Nuremberg 20,000 people. Vienna 20,000 people. Danzig (now Gdańsk) 20,000 people. Straßburg (now Strasbourg) 20,000 people. Lübeck 15,000 people. Regensburg 11,000 people. * 1500: Prague 70,000. Cologne 45,000. Nuremberg 38,000. Augsburg 30,000. Danzig (now Gdańsk) 30,000. Lübeck 25,000. Wrocław, Breslau (now Wrocław) 25,000. Regensburg 22,000. Vienna 20,000. Strasbourg, Straßburg (now Strasbourg) 20,000.
Magdeburg Magdeburg (; nds, label=Low Saxon Low Saxon or Lower Saxon may refer to: Geography *Lower Saxony Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a German state (''Land'') situated in Northern Germany, nor ...

Magdeburg
18,000. Ulm 16,000. Hamburg 15,000. * 1600: Milan 130,000. Prague 100,000. Vienna 50,000. Augsburg 45,000. Cologne 40,000. Nuremberg 40,000. Hamburg 40,000.
Magdeburg Magdeburg (; nds, label=Low Saxon Low Saxon or Lower Saxon may refer to: Geography *Lower Saxony Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a German state (''Land'') situated in Northern Germany, nor ...

Magdeburg
40,000. Wrocław, Breslau (now Wrocław) 40,000. Strasbourg, Straßburg (now Strasbourg) 25,000. Lübeck 23,000. Ulm 21,000. Regensburg 20,000. Frankfurt am Main 20,000. Munich 20,000.


Religion

Catholicism constituted the single official religion of the Empire until 1555. The
Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and officially the Emperor of the Romans ( la, Imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as ...
was always a Catholic. Lutheranism was officially recognized in the Peace of Augsburg of 1555, and Calvinism in the
Peace of Westphalia The Peace of Westphalia (german: Westfälischer Friede, ) is the collective name for two peace treaties signed in October 1648 in the Westphalian cities of Osnabrück Osnabrück (; wep, Ossenbrügge; archaic ''Osnaburg'') is a city in the ...
of 1648. Those two constituted the only officially recognized Protestant denominations, while various other Protestant confessions such as Anabaptism, Arminianism, etc. coexisted illegally within the Empire. Anabaptism came in a variety of denominations, including Mennonites, Schwarzenau Brethren, Hutterites, the Amish, and multiple other groups. Following the Peace of Augsburg, the official religion of a territory was determined by the principle cuius regio, eius religio according to which a ruler's religion determined that of his subjects. The Peace of Westphalia abrogated that principle by stipulating that the official religion of a territory was to be what it had been on 1 January 1624, considered to have been a "normal year". Henceforth, the conversion of a ruler to another faith did not entail the conversion of his subjects. In addition, all Protestant subjects of a Catholic ruler and vice versa were guaranteed the rights that they had enjoyed on that date. While the adherents of a territory's official religion enjoyed the right of public worship, the others were allowed the right of private worship (in chapels without either spires or bells). In theory, no one was to be discriminated against or excluded from commerce, trade, craft or public burial on grounds of religion. For the first time, the permanent nature of the division between the Christian churches of the empire was more or less assumed. A History of the Jews in Germany#In the Holy Roman Empire, Jewish minority existed in the Holy Roman Empire.


See also

* Succession of the Roman Empire * Family tree of the German monarchs * List of state leaders in the 10th-century Holy Roman Empire * List of state leaders in the 11th-century Holy Roman Empire * List of state leaders in the 12th-century Holy Roman Empire * List of state leaders in the 13th-century Holy Roman Empire * List of state leaders in the 14th-century Holy Roman Empire * List of state leaders in the 15th-century Holy Roman Empire * List of state leaders in the 16th-century Holy Roman Empire * List of state leaders in the 17th-century Holy Roman Empire * List of state leaders in the 18th-century Holy Roman Empire * List of state leaders in the 19th-century Holy Roman Empire


References


Notes


Citations


Sources

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Further reading

* Arnold, Benjamin, ''Princes and Territories in Medieval Germany''. (Cambridge University Press, 1991) * very old scholarly survey * Coy, Jason Philip et al. ''The Holy Roman Empire, Reconsidered'', (Berghahn Books, 2010) * Donaldson, George. ''Germany: A Complete History'' (Gotham Books, New York, 1985) * Evans, R.J.W., and Peter H. Wilson, eds. ''The Holy Roman Empire 1495–1806'' (2011); specialized topical essays by scholars * Hahn, Hans Joachim. ''German thought and culture: From the Holy Roman Empire to the present day'' (Manchester UP, 1995). * deals with Voltaire's statement * Scribner, Bob. ''Germany: A New Social and Economic History, Vol. 1: 1450–1630'' (1995) * Treasure, Geoffrey. ''The Making of Modern Europe, 1648–1780'' (3rd ed. 2003). pp. 374–426. * * Zophy, Jonathan W., ed. ''The Holy Roman Empire: A Dictionary Handbook'' (Greenwood Press, 1980)


In German

* Heinz Angermeier. ''Das Alte Reich in der deutschen Geschichte''. Studien über Kontinuitäten und Zäsuren, München 1991 * Karl Otmar Freiherr von Aretin. ''Das Alte Reich 1648–1806''. 4 vols. Stuttgart, 1993–2000 * Peter Claus Hartmann. ''Kulturgeschichte des Heiligen Römischen Reiches 1648 bis 1806''. Wien, 2001 * Georg Schmidt. ''Geschichte des Alten Reiches''. München, 1999
Deutsche Reichstagsakten


External links










Comparison of the Holy Roman Empire and the European Union in 2012 by The Economist


Maps



* [https://web.archive.org/web/20161128050315/https://arielis.com/img/archive/holy_roman_empire_1138_1254.jpg The Holy Roman Empire, 1138–1254] * [http://www.mcm.edu/academic/depts/history/maps/HOLYROMEMPIRE.html The Holy Roman Empire c. 1500]
The Holy Roman Empire in 1648


{{Authority control Holy Roman Empire, 960s establishments in the Holy Roman Empire 962 establishments 1806 disestablishments in the Holy Roman Empire, * 1806 disestablishments in Europe Christian states Christian terminology Early Modern period Former confederations Former empires in Europe Former monarchies of Europe History of Catholicism in Europe History of Central Europe House of Habsburg Middle Ages States and territories disestablished in 1806 States and territories established in 800 States and territories established in 962 Western Christianity, Roman Empire