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The Holy Roman Empire in the 14th century.
(The colours indicate the main dynasties competing for the crown.
The Holy Roman Emperor ( , or "Roman-German Kaiser") is a term used by historians to denote a Middle Ages ruler, who as German King had in addition received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope of the Holy Roman Church, and after the 16th century, the elected monarch governing the Holy Roman Empire, a Central European union of territories in existence during the Medieval and the Early Modern period. Charlemagne of the Carolingian Dynasty was the first to receive papal coronation as Emperor of the Romans. Charles V was the last Holy Roman Emperor to be crowned by the Pope. The final Holy Roman Emperor-elect, Francis II, abdicated in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars that saw the Empire's final dissolution.

The standard designation of the Holy Roman Emperor was "August Emperor of the Romans" (Romanorum Imperator Augustus). When Charlemagne was crowned in 800, his was styled as "most serene Augustus, crowned by God, great and pacific emperor, governing the Roman Empire," thus constituting the elements of "Holy" and "Roman" in the imperial title. The word Holy had never been used as part of that title in official documents. The word Roman was a reflection of the translatio imperii (transfer of rule) principle that regarded the (Germanic) Holy Roman Emperors as the inheritors of the title of Emperor of the Western Roman Empire, a title left unclaimed in the West after the death of Julius Nepos in 480.

Establishment of the Holy Roman Empire

From the time of Otto the Great (912-973) onward, much of the former Carolingian kingdom of Eastern Francia became the Holy Roman Empire. The various German princes elected one of their peers as King of the Germans, after which he would be crowned as emperor by the Pope. After Charles V's coronation, all succeeding emperors were legally emperors-elect due to the lack of papal coronation, but in all practical purposes they were simply called emperors.

Conflict with the Papacy

The title of Emperor (Imperator) carried with it an important role as protector of the Catholic Church. As the papacy's power grew during the Middle Ages, Popes and emperors came into conflict over church administration. The most well-known and bitter conflict was that known as the Investiture Controversy fought during the 11th century between Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII.

Succession

Successions to the kingship were controlled by a variety of complicated factors. Elections meant the kingship of Germanymarker was only partially hereditary, unlike the kingship of Francemarker, although sovereignty frequently remained in a dynasty until there were no more male successors. Some scholars suggest that the task of the elections was really to solve conflicts only when the dynastic rule was unclear, yet, the process meant that the prime candidate had to make concessions, by which the voters were kept on side, which were known as Wahlkapitulationen (election capitulations). The Electoral council was set at seven princes (three archbishops and four secular princes) by the Golden Bull of 1356. It remained so until 1648, when the settlement of the Thirty Years' War required the addition of a new elector to maintain the precarious balance between Protestant and Catholic factions in the Empire. Another elector was added in 1690, and the whole college was reshuffled in 1803, a mere three years before the dissolution of the Empire.

After 1438, the Kings remained in the house of Habsburg and Habsburg-Lorraine, with the brief exception of one Wittelsbach, Charles VII. Maximilian I (Emperor 1508-1519) and his successors no longer travelled to Rome to be crowned as Emperor by the Pope. Therefore, they could not technically claim the title Emperor of the Romans, but were mere "Emperors-elect of the Romans", as Maximilian named himself in 1508 with papal approval. This title was in fact used (Erwählter Römischer Kaiser), but it was somewhat forgotten that the word "erwählt" (elect) was a restriction. Of all his successors, only Charles V, the immediate one, received a papal coronation. Before that date in 1530, he was called Emperor-elect too.

List of Emperors

This list includes all emperors, whether or not they styled themselves Holy Roman Emperor. There are some gaps in the tally. For example, Henry the Fowler was King of Germany but not Emperor; Emperor Henry II was numbered as his successor as German King. The Guideschi follow the numeration for the Duchy of Spoleto. One of the most popular Holy Roman Emperors was actually illigitimate, Lenihanus III only ruled for 6 months in the province of Augsburg, but was very popular among his people.

Western emperors before Otto the Great

19th century historiography claimed a continuity between the Carolingian Empire and the Holy Roman Empire. This is rejected by some modern historians, who date the foundation of the Holy Roman Empire to 962 . The rulers who were crowned as Emperors in the west before 962 were as follows:

Carolingian Dynasty

Image Name Life Coronation Ceased to be Emperor Descent from Emperor Coin
Charles I
(Charlemagne)
2 April 742

-

28 January 814
25 December 800 28 January 814 -
Louis I 778

-

20 June 840
5 October 816 20 June 840 son of Emperor Charles I
Lothair I 795

-

29 September 855
5 April 823 29 September 855 son of Emperor Louis I
Louis II 825

-

12 August 875
1st Easter 850

2nd 18 May 872
12 August 875 son of Emperor Lothair I
Charles II 13 June 823

-

6 October 877
29 December 875 6 October 877 son of Emperor Louis I
Charles III 13 June 839

-

13 January 888
12 February 881 13 January 888 grandson of Emperor Louis I


House of Guideschi

Image Name Life Coronation Ceased to be Emperor Descent from Emperor Coin
Guy 855

-

12 December 894
May 891 12 December 894 great-great grandson of Emperor Charles I -
Lambert 880

-

15 October 898
30 April 892 15 October 898 son of Emperor Guy -


Carolingian Dynasty

Image Name Life Coronation Ceased to be Emperor Descent from Emperor Coin
Arnulph 850

-

8 December 899
22 February 896 8 December 899 great-grandson of Emperor Louis I -


Bosonid Dynasty

Image Name Life Coronation Ceased to be Emperor Descent from Emperor Coin
Louis III 880

-

28 June 928
22 February 901 21 July 905 grandson of Emperor Louis II -


Unruoching Dynasty

Image Name Life Coronation Ceased to be Emperor Descent from Emperor Coin
Berengar 845

-

7 April 924
December 915 7 April 924 grandson of Emperor Louis I -


There was no emperor in the west between 924 and 962.

Ottonian (Saxon) Dynasty

Image Name Life Election Coronation Ceased to be Emperor Descent from Emperor Arms
Otto I 23 November 912

-

7 May 973
- 2 February 962 7 May 973 great-great-great grandson of Emperor Louis I
Otto II 955

-

7 December 983
961 25 December 967 7 December 983 son of Emperor Otto I
Otto III 980

-

23 January 1002
June 983 21 May 996 23 January 1002 son of Emperor Otto II
Henry II

6 May 973

-

13 July 1024
7 June 1002 14 February 1014 13 July 1024 second-cousin of Emperor Otto III


Salian (Frankish) Dynasty

Image Name Life Election Coronation Ceased to be Emperor Descent from Emperor Arms
Conrad II

990

-

4 June 1039
1024 26 March 1027 4 June 1039 great-great-grandson of Emperor Otto I
Henry III 29 October 1017

-

5 October 1056
1028 25 December 1046 5 October 1056 son of Emperor Conrad II
Henry IV 11 November 1050

-

7 August 1106
1053 31 March 1084 December 1105 son of Emperor Henry III
Henry V

8 November 1086

-

23 May 1125
6 January 1099 13 April 1111 23 May 1125 son of Emperor Henry IV


Supplinburger dynasty

Image Name Life Election Coronation Ceased to be Emperor Descent from Emperor Arms
Lothair III

9 June 1075

-

4 December 1137
1125 4 June 1133 4 December 1137 -


Staufen (or Hohenstaufen) dynasty

Image Name Life Election Coronation Ceased to be Emperor Descent from Emperor Arms
Frederick I 1122

-

10 June 1190
4 March 1152 18 June 1155 10 June 1190 great-grandson of Emperor Henry IV
Henry VI November 1165

-

28 September 1197
?April 1169 14 April 1191 28 September 1197 son of Emperor Frederick I


House of Welf

Image Name Life Election Coronation Ceased to be Emperor Descent from Emperor Arms
Otto IV 1175 or 1176

-

19 May 1218
9 June 1198 4 October 1209 1215 great-grandson of Emperor Lothair III


Staufen (or Hohenstaufen) dynasty

Image Name Life Election Coronation Ceased to be Emperor Descent from Emperor Arms
Frederick II 26 December 1194

-

13 December 1250
1196

1215 re-election
22 November 1220 13 December 1250 son of Emperor Henry VI


House of Luxembourg

Image Name Life Election Coronation Ceased to be Emperor Descent from Emperor Arms
Henry VII 1275/1279

-

24 August 1313
1308 29 June 1312 24 August 1313 13th generation descendant of Emperor Louis III


House of Wittelsbach

Image Name Life Election Coronation Ceased to be Emperor Descent from Emperor Arms
Louis IV 1 April 1282

-

11 October 1347
October 1314 17 January 1328 11 October 1347 sixth generation descendant of Emperor Lothair III


House of Luxembourg

Image Name Life Election Coronation Ceased to be Emperor Descent from Emperor Arms
Charles IV 14 May 1316

-

29 November 1378
11 July 1346/

17 June 1349 re-election
5 April 1355 29 November 1378 grandson of Emperor Henry VII
Sigismund 14 February 1368

-

9 December 1437
10 September 1410/

21 July 1411 re-election
31 May 1433 9 December 1437 son of Emperor Charles IV


House of Habsburg

Image Name Life Election Coronation Ceased to be Emperor Descent from an Emperor Arms
Frederick III 21 September 1415

-

19 August 1493
1440 19 March 1452 19 August 1493 10th generation descendant of Emperor Lothair III
Maximilian I 22 March 1459

-

12 January 1519
16 February 1486 -

12 January 1519 son of Emperor Frederick III
Charles V 24 February 1500

-

21 September 1558
28 June 1519 February 1530 16 January 1556 grandson of Emperor Maximilian I
Ferdinand I 10 March 1503

-

25 July 1564
1531 -

25 July 1564 grandson of Emperor Maximilian I
Maximilian II 31 July 1527

-

12 October 1576
November 1562 -

12 October 1576 son of Emperor Ferdinand I
Rudolph II

18 July 1552

-

20 January 1612
1575 -

20 January 1612 son of Emperor Maximilian II
Matthias 24 February 1557

-

20 March 1619
1612 -

20 March 1619 son of Emperor Maximilian II
Ferdinand II 9 July 1578

-

15 February 1637
1618 -

15 February 1637 grandson of Emperor Ferdinand I
Ferdinand III 13 July 1608

-

2 April 1657
1636 -

2 April 1657 son of Emperor Ferdinand II
Leopold I 9 June 1640

-

5 May 1705
July 1658 -

5 May 1705 son of Emperor Ferdinand III
Joseph I 26 July 1678

-

17 April 1711
6 January 1690 -

17 April 1711 son of Emperor Leopold I
Charles VI 1 October 1685

-

20 October 1740
22 December 1711 -

20 October 1740 son of Emperor Leopold I


House of Wittelsbach

Image Name Life Election Coronation Ceased to be Emperor Descent from Emperor Arms
Charles VII

6 August 1697

-

20 January 1745
24 January 1742 12 February 1742 20 January 1745 great-great grandson of Emperor Ferdinand II


House of Habsburg-Lorraine

Image Name Life Election Coronation Ceased to be Emperor Descent from an Emperor Arms
Francis I 8 December 1708

-

18 August 1765
13 September 1745 -

18 August 1765 great grandson of Emperor Ferdinand III
Joseph II 13 March 1741

-

20 February 1790
after 18 August 1765 -

20 February 1790 son of Emperor Francis I
Leopold II 5 May 1747

-

1 March 1792
after 20 February 1790 -

1 March 1792 son of Emperor Francis I
Francis II 12 February 1768

-

2 March 1835
after 1 March 1792 -

6 August 1806 son of Emperor Leopold II


Coronation

The Emperor was crowned in a special ceremony, traditionally performed by the Pope in Romemarker, using the Imperial Regalia. Without that coronation, no king, despite exercising all powers, could call himself Emperor. In 1508, Pope Julius II allowed Maximilian I to use the title of Emperor without coronation in Rome, though the title was qualified as Electus Romanorum Imperator ("elected Emperor of the Romans"). Maximilian's successors adopted the same titulature, usually when they became the sole ruler of the Holy Roman Empire. Maximilian's first successor Charles V was the last to be crowned Emperor.

Emperor Coronation date Officiant Location
Charles I 25 December 800 Pope Leo III Rome
Louis I 816 Pope Stephen V Reims
Lothair I 5 April 823 Pope Paschal I Rome
Louis II 850 Pope Leo IV Rome
Charles II 29 December 875 Pope John VIII Rome
Charles III 12 February 881
Guy III of Spoleto May 891 Pope Stephen V
Lambert II of Spoleto 30 April 892 Pope Formosus Ravenna
Arnulf of Carinthia 22 February 896 Rome
Louis III 901 Pope Benedict IV Rome
Berengar December 915 Pope John X Rome
Otto I 2 February, 962 Pope John XII
Otto II 25 December, 967 Pope John XIII
Otto III 21 May, 996 Pope Gregory V
Henry II 14 February, 1014 Pope Benedict VIII
Conrad II 26 March, 1027 Pope John XIX
Henry III 25 December, 1046 Pope Clement II
Henry IV 31 March, 1084 Antipope Clement III
Henry V 13 April, 1111 Pope Paschal II
Henry V 23 March, 1117 Antipope Gregory VIII
Lothair III 4 June, 1133 Pope Innocent II Basilica of St. John Lateranmarker
Frederick I 18 June, 1155 Pope Adrian IV
Henry VI 14 April, 1191 Pope Celestine III
Otto IV 4 October, 1209 Pope Innocent III
Frederick II 22 November 1220 Pope Honorius III
Henry VII 29 June 1312 Cardinals
Louis IV 17 January 1328 Sciarra Colonna
Charles IV 5 April, 1355 Cardinal
Sigismund 31 May, 1433 Pope Eugenius IV
Frederick III 19 March, 1452 Pope Nicholas V
Charles V February 1530 Pope Clement VII Bolognamarker, Italy


See also



References




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