Decline of the Holy Roman Empire

Topics: Protestant Reformation, Holy Roman Empire, Martin Luther Pages: 2 (747 words) Published: October 25, 2012
The Holy Roman Empire was a political entity in Europe set up by the medieval papacy as an attempt to unite Christendom under one power. It is considered to begin the year of 962 with the papal crowning of Otto I as the first emperor and lasted until the final dissolution by Napoleon in 1806. The initial fall of the Holy Roman Empire took place gradually over an enduring period of time as it grew less and less of a force an European politics. A few known reasons for this decline of the emperor were the Protestant Reformation, the Peace of Augsburg, and the Thirty Years War. The Protestant Reformation began in 1517 with Martin Luther’s critique of some Roman Catholic doctrine and a number of specific practices in his 95 Theses. It was clear that this presence of a faith that differed from the majority represented a political threat to the security of the state. Sure enough, this act did not take long to transform religious, cultural, and political life within the Holy Roman Empire. Luther's disagreements influenced other individuals and set off a chain of events that, within a few decades, dismantled Germany's religious unity. By the time Luther was called to the Diet of Worms and excommunicated by Charles V and the rest of his empire in 1521, his teachings were already renowned and he had become a national hero to some. As the Roman Catholic Church's power declined, so did the Holy Roman Empire. Also, many princes saw an occasion to exploit the reformist cause for their own political benefit. Individual monarchs and states began to gain power. Various attempts were made to halt the spread of religious division and then further heal the split. However, stubbornness from both Protestants and Catholics made it inevitable that reunion was impossible. Lutherans made a statement of faith, known as the confession of Augsburg, and presented it. At the refusal of Charles V, protestant territories in the empire formed a military alliance. The emperor could not...
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