Holy Roman Empire

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The Holy Roman Empire was a union of territories in Central Europe that centered on Germany, the reign of the Empire was from 962 to 1806. The Holy Roman Empire originates in the eastern half of Charlemagne's empire. The creation of the Empire was an attempt to revive the Western Roman Empire. During this period of time the Empire experienced several different positive and negative times socially, economically, and politically. The name Holy Roman Empire wasn’t always the name of the Empire. It was at first known to be the Empire in the West. As time went on in the 11th century (1034) it was called the Roman Empire or also known as Romanum imperium. The use of this term was under Conrad II, to designate the lands ruled by the emperor. The use of the term Romanum imperium becomes considerably more frequent under Frederick I Barbossa. During the 11th century another term Romanum regnum appears in an official document. Then in the 12th century (1157) the term Holy Empire or sacrum imperium appears. The two expressions Romanum imperium and sacrum imperium are used alongside in official documents for a century; it wasn’t until the 1254 that the name Holy Roman Empire or sacrum Romanum imperium was adopted. From that date, the new phrase never falls out of use although the shorter formulas continue to be used commonly. Over the Empire’s history its territory varies immensely. The principal area of the Empire was always the German States. But at its climax it extended through Germany, Italy, and Burgundy, present day Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Belgium, as well as large parts of modern France and Poland. Through out much of its history the Empire consisted of several smaller principalities, counties, free imperial cities, as well as several kingdoms and other domains. (Bryce, Holy Roman Empire) Eventually The Holy Roman Empire evolved into a limited elective monarchy. At the same time it was a state composed of several states. The head of the empire stood the emperor or the Kaiser. He was the sole ruler and monarch of Germany. The exercise of his power was limited, however, by a body representing the member states, the Imperial Diet or Reichstag. Even though various princes and lords of the Empire were his vassals and subjects, they still possessed a number of privileges. For example, the emperor couldn’t interfere in their affairs as long as they were keeping to the law. The emperor was a limited and elective monarchy for a number of different reasons. Since the end of the Carolingian Dynasty in the early 10th century the empire was an elective monarchy. It was not firmly set in writing until the Constitution of 1338 and the Golden Bull of 1356. The newly elected emperor after victory would swear not to make his office hereditary. The Empire was a limited monarchy, because any exercise of the Emperor's powers that was not purely executive, required the consent of the States of the Empire. This did not take place until the peace of Westphalia in 1648. (Velde, The Holy Roman Empire)

Everyone in society all saw the empire in a different way and had their own ideas of its origins, functions, and justification. People in society including theologians, lawyers, popes, rulers, the practical men, members of high nobility, and several more. There were three views that were predominately important. The first idea being the papal theory, according to which the empire was the secular arm of the church, set up by the papacy for its own purposes. Therefore they were answerable to the pope and, in the last resort to be disposed by the pope. The second idea was the imperial or Frankish theory. The Frankish theory placed a greater emphasis on conquest as the source of the emperor’s power and authority. According to the theory he was responsible directly to God. The third theory was the Roman theory. This theory stated the empire following...
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