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Holy Roman Empire

European political entity (800/962–1806) / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Holy Roman Empire,[lower-alpha 5] also known as the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation after 1512, was a polity in Central and Western Europe, usually headed by the Holy Roman Emperor.[16] It developed in the Early Middle Ages and continued over 800 years until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars.[17]

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Holy Roman Empire
Sacrum Imperium Romanum (Latin)
Heiliges Römisches Reich (German)

Holy Roman Empire of the
German Nation
Sacrum Imperium Romanum Nationis Germanicae (Latin)
Heiliges Römisches Reich Deutscher Nation (German)
800/962[lower-alpha 1]–1806
Quaternion Eagle (1510)
The Holy Roman Empire at its greatest territorial extent (c. 1200–1250), imposed over modern borders
The Holy Roman Empire at its greatest territorial extent (c.1200–1250), imposed over modern borders
Aachen (800–1562)
  • 800–888 (as capital) 800–1562 (Coronation of King of Germany)
Palermo (1194–1254)
Innsbruck (1508–1519)
  • Seat of the Hofkammer and the Court Chancery[4][5]
Vienna (c.1550s–1583, 1612–1806)
Frankfurt (1562–1806)
Prague (1583–1612)
Common languagesGerman, Medieval Latin (administrative/liturgical/ceremonial)
Various[lower-alpha 3]
Official religions:
Catholicism (800–1806)
Lutheranism (1555–1806)
Calvinism (1648–1806)
GovernmentConfederal feudal elective monarchy
Mixed monarchy (after Imperial Reform)[14]
Charlemagne[lower-alpha 1] (first)
Francis II (last)
LegislatureImperial Diet
Historical eraMiddle Ages to early modern period
25 December 800
 East Frankish Otto I is crowned Emperor of the Romans
2 February 962
 Conrad II assumes crown of the Kingdom of Burgundy
2 February 1033
25 September 1555
24 October 1648
2 December 1805
6 August 1806
1150[lower-alpha 4]1,400,000 km2 (540,000 sq mi)
CurrencyMultiple: thaler, guilder, groschen, Reichsthaler
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Blank.png East Francia
Blank.png Kingdom of Italy
Blank.png Carolingian Empire
Confederation of the Rhine Commemorative_Medal_of_the_Rhine_Confederation.svg
Austrian Empire Flag_of_the_Habsburg_Monarchy.svg
Kingdom of Prussia Flag_of_the_Kingdom_of_Prussia_%281803-1892%29.svg
Papal States Flag_of_the_Papal_States_%281825-1870%29.svg
Old Swiss Confederacy Early_Swiss_cross.svg
Kingdom of Sardinia Merchant_Flag_of_the_Kingdom_of_Sardinia_%28c.1799-1802%29.svg
Duchy of Savoy Flag_of_Savoie.svg
Dutch Republic Statenvlag.svg
Kingdom of France Royal_Standard_of_the_King_of_France.svg

On 25 December 800, Pope Leo III crowned Frankish king Charlemagne as Roman emperor, reviving the title in Western Europe more than three centuries after the fall of the ancient Western Roman Empire in 476.[18] The title lapsed in 924, but was revived in 962 when Otto I was crowned emperor by Pope John XII, fashioning himself as Charlemagne's and the Carolingian Empire's successor,[19] and beginning a continuous existence of the empire for over eight centuries.[20][21][lower-alpha 6] From 962 until the twelfth century, the empire was the most powerful monarchy in Europe.[22] The functioning of government depended on the harmonious cooperation between emperor and vassals;[23] this harmony was disturbed during the Salian period.[24] The empire reached the apex of territorial expansion and power under the House of Hohenstaufen in the mid-thirteenth century, but overextension led to a partial collapse.[25][26]

Scholars generally describe an evolution of the institutions and principles constituting the empire, and a gradual development of the imperial role.[27][28] While the office of emperor had been reestablished, the exact term for his realm as the "Holy Roman Empire" was not used until the 13th century,[29] although the Emperor's theoretical legitimacy from the beginning rested on the concept of translatio imperii, that he held supreme power inherited from the ancient emperors of Rome.[27] Nonetheless, in the Holy Roman Empire, the imperial office was traditionally elective by the mostly German prince-electors. In theory and diplomacy, the emperors were considered the first among equals of all Europe's Catholic monarchs.[30]

A process of Imperial Reform in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries transformed the empire, creating a set of institutions which endured until its final demise in the nineteenth century.[31][32] According to Thomas Brady Jr., the empire after the Imperial Reform was a political body of remarkable longevity and stability, and "resembled in some respects the monarchical polities of Europe's western tier, and in others the loosely integrated, elective polities of East Central Europe." The new corporate German Nation, instead of simply obeying the emperor, negotiated with him.[33][34] On 6 August 1806, Emperor Francis II dissolved the empire following the creation – the month before, by Emperor of the French Napoleon I – of the Confederation of the Rhine, a confederation of German client states loyal not to the Holy Roman Emperor but to France.