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An Empires
of History

The Holy Roman Empire (Germany)

Starting Resource: 46
-- From Land: 43
-- From Trade: 3

Capital Territory: Vienna
Nation Class: Large

Total Starting Military
Infantry: 14
Cavalry: 5
Knights: 0
Artillery: 2
Generals: 1
Merchantmen: 2
Frigates: 1
Ships of the Line: 2

Click on the map to view your nation's position and starting troops

The Holy Roman Empire is usually considered to have been founded at the latest in 962 by Otto I the Great. Although some date the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire from the coronation of Charlemagne as Emperor of the Romans in 800, Charlemagne himself more typically used the title king of the Franks. This title also makes clearer that the Frankish Kingdom covered an area that included modern-day France and Germany and was thus the kernel of both countries.

Most historians therefore consider the establishment of the Empire to be a process that started with the split of the Frankish realm in the Treaty of Verdun in 843, continuing the Carolingian dynasty independently in all three sections. The eastern part fell to Louis the German, who was followed by several leaders until the death of Louis the Child, the last Carolingian in the eastern part. The leaders of Alamannia, Bavaria, Frankia and Saxonia elected Conrad I of the Franks, not a Carolingian, as their leader in 911. His successor, Henry (Heinrich) I the Fowler (r. 919 to 936), a Saxon elected at the Reichstag of Fritzlar in 919, achieved the acceptance of a separate Eastern Empire by the West Frankish (still ruled by the Carolingians) in 921, calling himself rex Francorum orientalum (King of the East Franks). He founded the Ottonian dynasty.

Heinrich designated his son Otto to be his successor, who was elected King in Aachen in 936. His later crowning as Emperor Otto I (later called "the Great") in 962 would mark an important step, since from then on the Empire and not the West-Frankish kingdom that was the other remainder of the Frankish kingdoms would have the blessing of the Pope. Otto had gained much of his power earlier, when, in 955, the Magyars were defeated in the Battle of Lechfeld.

In contemporary and later writings, the crowning would be referred to as translatio imperii, the transfer of the Empire from the Romans to a new Empire. The German Emperors thus thought of themselves as being in direct succession of those of the Roman Empire; this is why they initially called themselves Augustus. Still, they did not call themselves "Roman" Emperors at first, probably in order not to provoke conflict with the Roman Emperor who still existed in Constantinople. The term imperator Romanorum only became common under Conrad II later. At this time, the eastern kingdom was not so much "German" as rather a "confederation" of the old Germanic tribes of the Bavarians, Alamanns, Franks and Saxons. The Empire as a political union probably only survived because of the strong personal influence of King Henry the Saxon and his son, Otto. Although formally elected by the leaders of the Germanic tribes, they were actually able to designate their successors.

Conrad III came to the throne in 1138, being the first of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, which was about to restore the glory of the Empire even under the new conditions of the 1122 Concordat of Worms. It was Frederick I "Barbarossa" (king 1152, Emperor 1155 to 1190) who first called the Empire "holy", with which he intended to address mainly law and legislation. Also, under Barbarossa, the idea of the "Romanness" of the Empire culminated again, which seemed to be an attempt to justify the Emperor's power independently of the (now strengthened) Pope. An imperial assembly at the fields of Roncaglia in 1158 explicitly reclaimed imperial rights at the advice of quattuor doctores of the emerging judicial facility of the University of Bologna, citing phrases such as princeps legibus solutus ("the leader is not bound by law") from the Digestae of the Corpus Juris Civilis. That the Roman laws were created for an entirely different system and didn't fit the structure of the Empire was obviously secondary; the point here was that the court of the Emperor made an attempt to establish a legal constitution.

By the time of 1483 the "Empire" was going through a period of internal disunity and was in threat of falling apart to be ruled by the various kings and dukes of the entities that comprised the empire. Perhaps the growing power of the Hapsburgs and fear of civil war kept the empire together more than anything else. While a large economic power, the Holy Roman Empire does not begin the game in a strong position. Its lands are too spread out and it borders many nations large and small. The Empire will require one or two solid allies if it is to survive, much less expand.

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