Xiao H. Feng(Amy)
Prof. Mary A. O'Donnell
November 26, 2007
HIS 1000C (3:35-4:30)
The Holy Roman Empire was an attempt to revive the Western Roman Empire, whose legal and political structure had deteriorated during the 5th and 6th centuries and had been replaced by independent kingdoms ruled by Germanic nobles. The Roman imperial office had been vacant after Romulus Augustulus was deposed in ad 476. But, during the turbulent early Middle Ages, the popes had kept alive the traditional concept of a temporal realm coextensive with a spiritual realm of the church. The Byzantine Empire, which controlled the Eastern Roman Empire from its capital, Constantinople (now İstanbul, Turkey), retained nominal sovereignty over the territories formerly controlled by the Western Empire, and many of the Germanic tribes that had seized these territories formally recognized the Byzantine emperor as overlord. Partly because of this and also because the popes depended on Byzantine protection against the Lombards, a Germanic tribe in northern Italy, they continued to recognize the sovereignty of the Eastern Empire.
A prospective Emperor had first to be elected King of the Romans. Kings had been elected since time immemorial: in the 9th century by the leaders of the five most important tribes: the Salian Franks of Lorraine, the Riparian Franks of Franconia, and the Saxons, Bavarians, and Swabians; later by the main dukes and bishops of the kingdom; finally only by the so-called Kurfürsten (electing dukes, electors). The Emperor had to be a man of good character over 18 years. All four of his grandparents were expected to be of noble blood. No law required him to be a Catholic, though imperial law assumed that
-The Holy Roman Empire, Bryce, James, St. Martins Press, Inc., New York
he was. He did not need to be a German. At no time could the Emperor simply issue decrees and govern autonomously over... [continues]
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