Don Giovanni is an opera in two acts with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It is based on the legends of a fictional libertine and seducer, it was premiered by the Prague Italian opera at the National Theater, now called the Estates Theatre, on 29 October 1787. Da Ponte's libretto was billed as a dramma giocoso, a common designation of its time that denotes a mixing of serious and comic action. Mozart entered the work into his catalogue as an opera buffa. Although sometimes classified as comic, it blends comedy and supernatural elements. A staple of the standard operatic repertoire, Don Giovanni for the five seasons 2011/12 through 2015/16 was ninth on the Operabase list of the most-performed operas worldwide, it has proved a fruitful subject for writers and philosophers. The opera was commissioned as a result of the overwhelming success of Mozart's trip to Prague in January and February 1787; the subject matter may have been chosen in consideration of the long history of Don Juan operas in Prague.
The libretto of Lorenzo Da Ponte was based on a libretto by Giovanni Bertati for the opera Don Giovanni Tenorio, first performed in Venice early in 1787, although he was loath to admit this in memoirs written decades later. Some of the most important elements that he copied were the idea of opening the drama with the murder of the Commendatore and the lack of a specification of Seville as the setting, customary in the tradition of Don Juan dramas since the appearance of the prototype Don Juan drama El burlador de Sevilla by Tirso de Molina, written in the early 17th century. For Bertati, the setting was Villena, whereas Da Ponte's libretto only specifies a "city in Spain". According to some sources, Giacomo Casanova assisted in the writing. Don Giovanni was to have been performed on 14 October 1787 for a visit to Prague of the Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria, niece of the Emperor Joseph II, her new husband, Prince Anthony of Saxony; the score was completed on 28 or 29 October 1787 after Da Ponte was recalled to Vienna to work on another opera.
Reports about the last-minute completion of the overture conflict. More it was completed the day before, in light of the fact that Mozart recorded the completion of the opera on 28 October; the score calls for double woodwinds, two horns, two trumpets, three trombones, basso continuo for the recitatives, the usual string section. The composer specified occasional special musical effects. For the ballroom scene at the end of the first act, Mozart calls for two onstage ensembles to play separate dance music in synchronization with the pit orchestra, each of the three groups playing in its own metre, accompanying the dancing of the principal characters. In act 2, Giovanni is seen to play the mandolin, accompanied by pizzicato strings. In the same act, two of the Commendatore's interventions are accompanied by a wind chorale of oboes, clarinets and trombones; the opera was first performed on 29 October 1787 in Prague under its full title of Il dissoluto punito ossia il Don Giovanni – Dramma giocoso in due atti.
The work was rapturously received, as was true of Mozart's work in Prague. The Prager Oberpostamtzeitung reported, "Connoisseurs and musicians say that Prague has never heard the like," and "the opera … is difficult to perform." The Provincialnachrichten of Vienna reported, "Herr Mozart conducted in person and was welcomed joyously and jubilantly by the numerous gathering." Mozart supervised the Vienna premiere of the work, which took place on 7 May 1788. For this production, he wrote two new arias with corresponding recitatives – Don Ottavio's aria "Dalla sua pace", Elvira's aria "In quali eccessi... Mi tradì quell'alma ingrata" – and the duet between Leporello and Zerlina "Per queste tue manine", he made some cuts in the Finale in order to make it shorter and more incisive, the most important of, the section where Anna and Ottavio, Elvira and Masetto, Leporello reveal their plans for the future. In order to connect "Ah, certo è l'ombra che l'incontrò" directly to the moral of the story "Questo è il fin di chi fa mal", Mozart composed a different version of "Resti dunque quel birbon fra Proserpina e Pluton!".
These cuts are seldom performed in theatres or recordings. The opera's final ensemble was omitted until the early 20th century, a tradition that began early on. According to the 19th-century Bohemian memoirist Wilhelm Kuhe, the final ensemble was only presented at the first performance in Prague never heard again during the original run. It
Marie Zéphyrine of France
Marie Zéphyrine of France was a French princess, the daughter of Louis, Dauphin of France, Maria Josepha of Saxony. Marie Zéphyrine, known as Madame Royale or la Petite Madame, was born at the Palace of Versailles and was named after St Zephyrinus, on whose feast day she was born, her birth was greeted with caution. Louis XV, on the other hand, had hoped for a grandson. Marie Isabelle de Rohan served as Marie Zéphyrine's governess. Marie Zéphyrine died at Versailles due to an attack of convulsions, in the early hours of the morning of 2 September, having been baptised just days before by the Abbot of Chabannes, she was not mourned. She was buried at the Royal Basilica of Saint Denis outside the capital of Paris
Dresden is the capital city and, after Leipzig, the second-largest city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated near the border with the Czech Republic. Dresden has a long history as the capital and royal residence for the Electors and Kings of Saxony, who for centuries furnished the city with cultural and artistic splendor, was once by personal union the family seat of Polish monarchs; the city was known as the Jewel Box, because of its baroque and rococo city centre. The controversial American and British bombing of Dresden in World War II towards the end of the war killed 25,000 people, many of whom were civilians, destroyed the entire city centre. After the war restoration work has helped to reconstruct parts of the historic inner city, including the Katholische Hofkirche, the Zwinger and the famous Semper Oper. Since German reunification in 1990 Dresden is again a cultural and political centre of Germany and Europe; the Dresden University of Technology is one of the 10 largest universities in Germany and part of the German Universities Excellence Initiative.
The economy of Dresden and its agglomeration is one of the most dynamic in Germany and ranks first in Saxony. It is dominated by high-tech branches called “Silicon Saxony”; the city is one of the most visited in Germany with 4.3 million overnight stays per year. The royal buildings are among the most impressive buildings in Europe. Main sights are the nearby National Park of Saxon Switzerland, the Ore Mountains and the countryside around Elbe Valley and Moritzburg Castle; the most prominent building in the city of Dresden is the Frauenkirche. Built in the 18th century, the church was destroyed during World War II; the remaining ruins were left for 50 years as a war memorial, before being rebuilt between 1994 and 2005. Dresden has nearly 560,000 inhabitants, the agglomeration is the largest in Saxony with 780,000 inhabitants. According to the Hamburgische Weltwirtschaftsinstitut and Berenberg Bank in 2017, Dresden has the fourth best prospects for the future of all cities in Germany. Although Dresden is a recent city of Germanic origin followed by settlement of Slavic people, the area had been settled in the Neolithic era by Linear Pottery culture tribes ca. 7500 BC.
Dresden's founding and early growth is associated with the eastward expansion of Germanic peoples, mining in the nearby Ore Mountains, the establishment of the Margraviate of Meissen. Its name etymologically derives from meaning people of the forest. Dresden evolved into the capital of Saxony. Around the late 12th century, a Slavic settlement called Drežďany had developed on the southern bank. Another settlement existed on the northern bank, it was known as Antiqua Dresdin by 1350, as Altendresden, both "old Dresden". Dietrich, Margrave of Meissen, chose Dresden as his interim residence in 1206, as documented in a record calling the place "Civitas Dresdene". After 1270, Dresden became the capital of the margraviate, it was given to Friedrich Clem after death of Henry the Illustrious in 1288. It was taken by the Margraviate of Brandenburg in 1316 and was restored to the Wettin dynasty after the death of Valdemar the Great in 1319. From 1485, it was the seat of the dukes of Saxony, from 1547 the electors as well.
The Elector and ruler of Saxony Frederick Augustus I became King Augustus II the Strong of Poland in 1697. He gathered many of the best musicians and painters from all over Europe to the newly named Royal-Polish Residential City of Dresden, his reign marked the beginning of Dresden's emergence as a leading European city for technology and art. During the reign of Kings Augustus II the Strong and Augustus III of Poland most of the city's baroque landmarks were built; these include the Zwinger Royal Palace, the Japanese Palace, the Taschenbergpalais, the Pillnitz Castle and the two landmark churches: the Catholic Hofkirche and the Lutheran Frauenkirche. In addition significant art collections and museums were founded. Notable examples include the Dresden Porcelain Collection, the Collection of Prints and Photographs, the Grünes Gewölbe and the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon. In 1726 there was a riot for two days after a Protestant clergyman was killed by a soldier who had converted from Catholicism.
In 1729, by decree of King Augustus II the first Polish Military Academy was founded in Dresden. In 1730, it was relocated to Warsaw. Dresden suffered heavy destruction in the Seven Years' War, following its capture by Prussian forces, its subsequent re-capture, a failed Prussian siege in 1760. Friedrich Schiller wrote his Ode to Joy for the Dresden Masonic lodge in 1785. During the decline of Poland Dresden was site of preparations for the Polish Kościuszko Uprising; the city of Dresden had a distinctive silhouette, captured in famous paintings by Bernardo Bellotto and by Norwegian painter Johan Christian Dahl. Between 1806 and 1918 the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Saxony. During the Napoleonic Wars the French emperor made it a base of operations, winning there the famous Battle of Dresden on 27 August 1813. Following the November Uprising many Poles, including writers Juliusz Słowacki, Stefan Florian Garczyński, Klementyna Hoffmanowa and composer Frédéric Chopin, fled from the Russian Partition of Poland to Dresden.
National poet Adam Mickiewicz stayed several months in Dresden, starting in March 1832. He wrote the poetic drama Dziady, P
Kingdom of Saxony
The Kingdom of Saxony, lasting between 1806 and 1918, was an independent member of a number of historical confederacies in Napoleonic through post-Napoleonic Germany. The kingdom was formed from the Electorate of Saxony. From 1871 it was part of the German Empire, it became a Free state in the era of Weimar Republic in 1918 after the end of World War I and the abdication of King Frederick Augustus III of Saxony. Its capital was the city of Dresden, its modern successor state is the Free State of Saxony. Before 1806, Saxony was part of the Holy Roman Empire, a thousand-year-old entity that had become decentralised over the centuries; the rulers of the Electorate of Saxony of the House of Wettin had held the title of elector for several centuries. When the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved in August 1806 following the defeat of Emperor Francis II by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz, the electorate was raised to the status of an independent kingdom with the support of the First French Empire the dominant power in Central Europe.
The last elector of Saxony became King Frederick Augustus I. Following the defeat of Saxony's ally Prussia at the Battle of Jena in 1806, Saxony joined the Confederation of the Rhine, remained within the Confederation until its dissolution in 1813 with Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Leipzig. Following the battle, in which Saxony — alone of all the German states — had fought alongside the French. King Frederick Augustus I was deserted by his troops, taken prisoner by the Prussians and considered to have forfeited his throne by the allies, who put Saxony under Prussian occupation and administration; this was more due to the Prussian desire to annex Saxony than to any crime on Frederick Augustus's part, the fate of Saxony would prove to be one of the main issues at the Congress of Vienna. In the end, 40% of the Kingdom, including the significant Wittenberg, home of the Protestant Reformation, was annexed by Prussia, but Frederick Augustus was restored to the throne in the remainder of his kingdom, which still included the major cities of Dresden and Leipzig.
The Kingdom joined the German Confederation, the new organization of the German states to replace the fallen Holy Roman Empire. During the 1866 Austro-Prussian War, Saxony sided with Austria, the Saxon army was seen as the only ally to bring substantial aid to the Austrian cause, having abandoned the defense of Saxony itself to join up with the Austrian army in Bohemia; this effectiveness allowed Saxony to escape the fate of other north German states allied with Austria — notably the Kingdom of Hanover — which were annexed by Prussia after the war. The Austrians and French insisted as a point of honour that Saxony must be spared, the Prussians acquiesced. Saxony joined the Prussian-led North German Confederation the next year. With Prussia's victory over France in the Franco-Prussian War of 1871, the members of the Confederation were organised by Otto von Bismarck into the German Empire, with WIlliam I as its emperor. John, as Saxony's incumbent king, was subordinate and owed allegiance to the Emperor, although he, like the other German princes, retained some of the prerogatives of a sovereign ruler, including the ability to enter into diplomatic relations with other states.
Wilhelm I's grandson Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated in 1918 as a result of Germany's defeat in World War I. King Frederick Augustus III of Saxony followed him into abdication and the erstwhile Kingdom of Saxony became the Free State of Saxony within the newly formed Weimar Republic; the 1831 Constitution of Saxony established the state as a parliamentary monarchy. The king was named as head of the nation, he was required to follow the provisions of the constitution, could not become the ruler of any other state without the consent of the Diet, or parliament. The crown was hereditary in the male line of the royal family through agnatic primogeniture, though provisions existed allowing a female line to inherit in the absence of qualified male heirs. Added provisions concerned the formation of a regency if the king was too young or otherwise unable to rule, as well as provisions concerning the crown prince's education. Any acts or decrees signed or issued by the king had to be countersigned by at least one of his ministers, who thus took responsibility for them.
Without the ministerial countersignature, no act of the king was to be considered valid. The king was given the right to declare any accused person innocent, or alternately to mitigate or suspend their punishment or pardon them, he was given supreme power over religious matters in Saxony. He appointed the president of the upper house of the Diet, together with a proxy from among three candidates suggested by that house, appointed the president and proxy of the lower house, as well; the king was given sole power to promulgate laws, to carry them into effect, only by his consent could any proposal for a law be advanced in the Diet. He had authority to issue emergency decrees and to issue non-emergency laws that he found needful or "advantageous," though such instruments required the counter-signature of at least one of his ministers, had to be presented to the next Diet for approval, he could not, change the constitution itself or the electoral laws in this manner. He was permitted to veto laws passed by the Diet, or to send them back with proposed amendments for reconsideration.
He was permitted to issue extraordinary decrees to obtain money for state expenditures refused by the Diet, through the
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court but grew restless and traveled in search of a better position. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position, he chose to stay in the capital. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies and operas, portions of the Requiem, unfinished at the time of his early death at the age of 35; the circumstances of his death have been much mythologized. He composed more than 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, chamber and choral music, he is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers, his influence is profound on subsequent Western art music.
Ludwig van Beethoven composed his own early works in the shadow of Mozart, Joseph Haydn wrote: "posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years". Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on 27 January 1756 to Leopold Mozart and Anna Maria, née Pertl, at 9 Getreidegasse in Salzburg; this was the capital of the Archbishopric of Salzburg, an ecclesiastic principality in what is now Austria part of the Holy Roman Empire. He was the youngest of seven children, his elder sister was Maria Anna Mozart, nicknamed "Nannerl". Mozart was baptised the day at St. Rupert's Cathedral in Salzburg; the baptismal record gives his name in Latinized form, as Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. He called himself "Wolfgang Amadè Mozart" as an adult, but his name had many variants. Leopold Mozart, a native of Augsburg, was a minor composer and an experienced teacher. In 1743, he was appointed as fourth violinist in the musical establishment of Count Leopold Anton von Firmian, the ruling Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg.
Four years he married Anna Maria in Salzburg. Leopold became the orchestra's deputy Kapellmeister in 1763. During the year of his son's birth, Leopold published a violin textbook, Versuch einer gründlichen Violinschule, which achieved success; when Nannerl was 7, she began keyboard lessons with her father, while her three-year-old brother looked on. Years after her brother's death, she reminisced: He spent much time at the clavier, picking out thirds, which he was striking, his pleasure showed that it sounded good.... In the fourth year of his age his father, for a game as it were, began to teach him a few minuets and pieces at the clavier.... He could play it faultlessly and with the greatest delicacy, keeping in time.... At the age of five, he was composing little pieces, which he played to his father who wrote them down; these early pieces, K. 1–5, were recorded in the Nannerl Notenbuch. There is some scholarly debate about whether Mozart was four or five years old when he created his first musical compositions, though there is little doubt that Mozart composed his first three pieces of music within a few weeks of each other: K. 1a, 1b, 1c.
In his early years, Wolfgang's father was his only teacher. Along with music, he taught academic subjects. Solomon notes that, while Leopold was a devoted teacher to his children, there is evidence that Mozart was keen to progress beyond what he was taught, his first ink-spattered composition and his precocious efforts with the violin were of his own initiative, came as a surprise to Leopold, who gave up composing when his son's musical talents became evident. While Wolfgang was young, his family made several European journeys in which he and Nannerl performed as child prodigies; these began with an exhibition in 1762 at the court of Prince-elector Maximilian III of Bavaria in Munich, at the Imperial Courts in Vienna and Prague. A long concert tour followed, spanning three and a half years, taking the family to the courts of Munich, Paris, The Hague, again to Paris, back home via Zurich and Munich. During this trip, Wolfgang met a number of musicians and acquainted himself with the works of other composers.
A important influence was Johann Christian Bach, whom he visited in London in 1764 and 1765. When he was eight years old, Mozart wrote his first symphony, most of, transcribed by his father; the family trips were difficult, travel conditions were primitive. They had to wait for invitations and reimbursement from the nobility, they endured long, near-fatal illnesses far from home: first Leopold both children; the family again went to Vienna in late 1767 and remained there until December 1768. After one year in Salzburg and Wolfgang set off for Italy, leaving Anna Maria and Nannerl at home; this tour lasted from December 1769 to March 1771. As with earlier journeys, Leopold wanted to display his son's abilities as a performer and a maturing composer. Wolfgang met Josef Mysliveček and Giovanni Battista Martini in Bologna, was accepted as a member of the famous Accademia Filarmonica. In Rome, he heard Gregorio Allegri's Miserere twice in performance, in the Sistine Chapel, wrote it out from memory, thus producing the first unauthorized copy of this guarded property of the Vatican.
In Milan, Mozart wrote the opera Mitridate, re di Ponto, performed with success. This led to further oper
Princess Anna Sophie of Denmark
Princess Anna Sophie of Denmark was the eldest daughter of King Frederick III of Denmark and Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Electress of Saxony from 1680 to 1691 as the wife of John George III. Anna Sophie was born in Flensburg, the second child and first daughter of Frederick of Denmark and his wife, Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg, she had Christian. Her paternal grandfather, King Christian IV, died when she was six months old, after many months of deliberation, the Rigsraadet royal council and Estates elected her father king, he was crowned Frederick III on 23 November 1648. Her parents had six more children, her surviving siblings were Frederica Amalia, Wilhelmina Ernestine and Ulrika Eleonora. Anna Sophie received a fine education. Besides her native Danish, she knew German, French and Italian, she is described physically as long curving nose. During her childhood, she as well as her sisters were brought up under the supervision of the royal governess Helena von Westphalen. In 1663, she was given her own court under Enevold Parsberg.
In 1662, the negotiations about her marriage were initiated, she met with John Georg, who visited the Danish court with his mother. In 1663, a celebration was held at Copenhagen Castle honouring the fifteen-year-old princess's engagement to John George III, Elector of Saxony. John Georg and his mother once again visited Denmark in person to be present. Anna Sophie and John George were married three years on 9 October 1666; the Polish king John III Sobieski said of her husband, " is an honest man with a straight heart." The relationship between Anna Sophie and John Georg is not described as a happy one. Her husband had an illegitimate son by his official mistress, a Venetian opera singer named Margarita Salicola, may have had a daughter, Magdalena Sibylla of Neidschutz, with Ursula Margarethe of Haugwitz. Both her sons were brought up by Danish ladies-in-waiting sent to Dresden by her mother; the relationship between Anna Sophie and her two sons are described as somewhat tense. Anna Sophie's father died on 9 February 1670 and was succeeded by her elder brother, Christian V, with whom she held a active correspondence and discussed political matters.
She visited Denmark that year and expressed her sympathy for the imprisoned Leonora Christina Ulfeldt, her first cousin. In 1680, Anna Sophie became Electress of Saxony, her widowed sister Wilhelmina Ernestine, Dowager Electress Palatine, came to live with her in Saxony in 1685. Anna Sophie had her eldest son engaged to her niece, Princess Sophia Hedwig of Denmark against the will of the Saxon court, her husband died in 1692 in Tübingen of an epidemic illness cholera or the plague, was buried in the Cathedral of Freiberg. The next year, Anna Sophie attempted to end the love affair between her elder son Elector Johann Georg IV, his mistress, Magdalene Sibylle "Billa" of Neidschutz, with whom he had been living since his father's death, her late husband had tried to break up the couple motivated by fears that a close blood relationship existed between the lovers—for Billa may have been his own daughter by Ursula Margarethe of Haugwitz, therefore John George IV's half-sister. John George IV was either ignorant of the possibility that he and Billa were committing incest, or he disregarded the claim as a malicious rumor.
Anna Sophie forced her son into marrying Eleonore Erdmuthe of Saxe-Eisenach, a German noblewoman, but the marriage proved a disastrous failure. John George IV not only abandoned his bride, leaving her at the Hofe to be with his mistress at another palace, but tried to murder her so he could marry Billa. Anna Sophie's daughter-in-law failed to produce an heir, suffering two miscarriages, in August 1692 and February 1693. In June 1693, her son's mistress gave birth to Wilhelmina Maria Frederica. Less than a year Billa contracted smallpox and died on 4 April 1694, in the arms of the Elector. Johann Georg himself died 23 days of the same disease, was buried in the Freiberg Cathedral. Having died without legitimate issue, he was succeeded by his brother, who took over the guardianship of the orphaned Frederica, she was acknowledged as Frederick August's niece. After her son was elected King of Poland and converted to Catholicism in 1697, she, as well as her daughter-in-law Queen Christiane Eberhardine, enjoyed immense popularity in Saxony as a symbol of Protestant faith and protection against Catholic Poland, which the Protestants feared would enforce a counter reformation.
Anna Sophie brought up her grandson Friedrich August, born on 17 October 1696, the only child of her second son and his estranged, self-exiled wife, Christiane Eberhardine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth. The boy would one day succeed his father as Augustus III of Poland. Anna Sophie and her daughter-in-law got on well, both women agreeing on matters of religion, Eberhardine visited her son often. In her years, Anna Sophie lived with her sister Wilhelmina Ernestine at Castle Lichtenburg, she died in Prettin. John George IV, succeeded his father as elector. Hans-Joachim Böttcher: Christiane Eberhardine Prinzessin von Brandenburg-Bayreuth, Kurfürstin von Sachsen und Königin von Polen, Gemahlin August des Starken. Dresdner Buchverlag 2011. ISBN 978-3-941757-25-7. Hans-Joachim Böttcher: Johann Georg IV. von Sachs
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. The largest territory of the empire after 962 was the Kingdom of Germany, though it came to include the neighboring Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, numerous other territories. On 25 December 800, Pope Leo III crowned the Frankish king Charlemagne as Emperor, reviving the title in Western Europe, more than three centuries after the fall of the earlier ancient Western Roman Empire in 476; the title continued in the Carolingian family until 888 and from 896 to 899, after which it was contested by the rulers of Italy in a series of civil wars until the death of the last Italian claimant, Berengar I, in 924. The title was revived again in 962 when Otto I was crowned emperor, fashioning himself as the successor of Charlemagne and beginning a continuous existence of the empire for over eight centuries.
Some historians refer to the coronation of Charlemagne as the origin of the empire, while others prefer the coronation of Otto I as its beginning. Scholars concur, however, in relating an evolution of the institutions and principles constituting the empire, describing a gradual assumption of the imperial title and role; the exact term "Holy Roman Empire" was not used until the 13th century, but the concept of translatio imperii, the notion that he—the sovereign ruler—held supreme power inherited from the ancient emperors of Rome, was fundamental to the prestige of the emperor. The office of Holy Roman Emperor was traditionally elective, although controlled by dynasties; the German prince-electors, the highest-ranking noblemen of the empire elected one of their peers as "King of the Romans", he would be crowned emperor by the Pope. The empire never achieved the extent of political unification as was formed to the west in France, evolving instead into a decentralized, limited elective monarchy composed of hundreds of sub-units: kingdoms, duchies, prince-bishoprics, Free Imperial Cities, other domains.
The power of the emperor was limited, while the various princes, lords and cities of the empire were vassals who owed the emperor their allegiance, they possessed an extent of privileges that gave them de facto independence within their territories. Emperor Francis II dissolved the empire on 6 August 1806 following the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine by emperor Napoleon I the month before. In various languages the Holy Roman Empire was known as: Latin: Sacrum Imperium Romanum, German: Heiliges Römisches Reich, Italian: Sacro Romano Impero, Czech: Svatá říše římská, Polish: Święte imperium rzymskie, Slovene: Sveto rimsko cesarstvo, Dutch: Heilige Roomse Rijk, French: Saint-Empire romain. Before 1157, the realm was referred to as the Roman Empire; the term sacrum in connection with the medieval Roman Empire was used beginning in 1157 under Frederick I Barbarossa: the term was added to reflect Frederick's ambition to dominate Italy and the Papacy. The form "Holy Roman Empire" is attested from 1254 onward.
In a decree following the 1512 Diet of Cologne, the name was changed to the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, a form first used in a document in 1474. The new title was adopted because the Empire had lost most of its Italian and Burgundian territories to the south and west by the late 15th century, but to emphasize the new importance of the German Imperial Estates in ruling the Empire due to the Imperial Reform. By the end of the 18th century, the term "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation" had fallen out of official use. Besides, contradicting the traditional view concerning that designation, Hermann Weisert has stated in a study on imperial titulature that, despite the claim of many textbooks, the name "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation" never had an official status and points out that documents were thirty times as to omit the national suffix as include it. This, or the shortened "Roman Empire of the German Nation", is used in Germany to refer to the Holy Roman Empire. In a famous assessment of the name, the political philosopher Voltaire remarked sardonically: "This body, called and which still calls itself the Holy Roman Empire was in no way holy, nor Roman, nor an empire."
As Roman power in Gaul declined during the 5th century, local Germanic tribes assumed control. In the late 5th and early 6th centuries, the Merovingians, under Clovis I and his successors, consolidated Frankish tribes and extended hegemony over others to gain control of northern Gaul and the middle Rhine river valley region. By the middle of the 8th century, the Merovingians had been reduced to figureheads, the Carolingians, led by Charles Martel, had become the de facto rulers. In 751, Martel's son Pepin became King of the Franks, gained the sanction of the Pope; the Carolingians would maintain a close alliance with the Papacy. In 768, Pepin's son Charlemagne became King of the Franks and began an extensive expansion of the realm, he incorporated the territories of present-day France, northern Italy, beyond, linking the Frankish kingdom with Papal lands. In 797, the Eastern Roman Emperor Constantine VI was removed from the throne by his mother Irene who declared herself Empress; as the Church regarded a male Roman Emperor as the head of Christendom, Pope