Charles Martel was a Frankish statesman and military leader who as Duke and Prince of the Franks and Mayor of the Palace, was the de facto ruler of Francia from 718 until his death. The son of the Frankish statesman Pepin of Herstal and a noblewoman named Alpaida, Charles asserted his claims to power as successor to his father as the power behind the throne in Frankish politics. Continuing and building on his father's work, he restored centralized government in Francia and began the series of military campaigns that re-established the Franks as the undisputed masters of all Gaul. According to a near-contemporary source, the Liber Historiae Francorum, Charles was "a warrior, uncommonly...effective in battle". Much attention has been paid to his success in defeating an Arab raid in Aquitaine at the Battle of Tours. Alongside his military endeavours, Charles has been traditionally credited with a seminal role in the development of the Frankish system of feudalism. At the end of his reign, Charles divided Francia between his sons and Pepin.
The latter became the first king of the Carolingian dynasty. Charles' grandson, extended the Frankish realms, became the first Emperor in the West since the fall of Rome. Charles, nicknamed "Martel", or "the Hammer", in chronicles, was the son of Pepin of Herstal and his second wife Alpaida, he had a brother named Childebrand, who became the Frankish dux of Burgundy. In older historiography, it was common to describe Charles as "illegitimate", but the dividing line between wives and concubines was not clear-cut in eighth-century Francia, it is that the accusation of "illegitimacy" derives from the desire of Pepin's first wife Plectrude to see her progeny as heirs to Pepin's power. After the reign of Dagobert I the Merovingians ceded power to the Pippinid Mayors of the Palace, who ruled the Frankish realm of Austrasia in all but name, they controlled the royal treasury, dispensed patronage, granted land and privileges in the name of the figurehead king. Charles' father, Pepin of Herstal, was able to unite the Frankish realm by conquering Neustria and Burgundy.
He was the first to call himself Duke and Prince of the Franks, a title taken up by Charles. In December 714, Pepin of Herstal died. Prior to his death, he had, at his wife Plectrude's urging, designated Theudoald, his grandson by their late son Grimoald, his heir in the entire realm; this was opposed by the nobles because Theudoald was a child of only eight years of age. To prevent Charles using this unrest to his own advantage, Plectrude had him imprisoned in Cologne, the city, intended to be her capital; this prevented an uprising on his behalf in Austrasia, but not in Neustria. Pepin's death occasioned open conflict between his heirs and the Neustrian nobles who sought political independence from Austrasian control. In 715, Dagobert III named Ragenfrid mayor of their palace declaring political independence. On 26 September 715, Ragenfrid's Neustrians met the young Theudoald's forces at the Battle of Compiegne. Theudoald fled back to Cologne. Before the end of the year, Charles Martel had escaped from prison and been acclaimed mayor by the nobles of Austrasia.
That same year, Dagobert III died and the Neustrians proclaimed Chilperic II, the cloistered son of Childeric II, as king. In 716, Chilperic and Ragenfrid together led an army into Austrasia intent on seizing the Pippinid wealth at Cologne; the Neustrians allied with another invading force under Radbod, King of the Frisians and met Charles in battle near Cologne, still held by Plectrude. Charles had little time to gather men, or prepare, the result was the only defeat of his career; the Frisians held off Charles, while the king and his mayor besieged Plectrude at Cologne, where she bought them off with a substantial portion of Pepin's treasure. They withdrew. Charles retreated to the hills of the Eifel to gather men, train them. Having made the proper preparations, in April 716, he fell upon the triumphant army near Malmedy as it was returning to its own province. In the ensuing Battle of Amblève, Martel attacked. According to one source, he split his forces into several groups. Another suggests that while this was his intention, he decided, given the enemy's unpreparedness, this was not necessary.
In any event, the suddenness of the assault lead them to believe they were facing a much larger host. Many of the enemy fled and Martel's troops gathered the spoils of the camp. Martel's reputation increased as a result, he attracted more followers; this battle is considered by historians as the turning point in Charles's struggle. Richard Gerberding points out that up to this time, much of Martel's support was from his mother's kindred in the lands around Liege. After Amblève, he seems to have won the backing of the influential Willibrord, founder of the Abbey of Echternach; the abbey had been built on land donated by Plectrude's mother, Irmina of Oeren, but most of Willibrord's missionary work had been carried out in Frisia. In joining Chilperic and Ragenfrid, Radbod of Frisia sacked Utrecht, burning churches and killing many missionaries. Willibrord and his monks were forced to flee to Echternach. Gerberding suggests that Willibrord had decided that the chances of preserving his life's work were better with a successful field commander like Martel than with Plectrude in Cologne.
Willibrord subsequently baptized Martel's son Pepin. Gerberding suggests a date of Easter 716. Martel received support from Bishop Pepo of Verdun. Charles took time to prepare. By the following spring, Charles had attracted e
Pepin of Landen
Pepin I of Landen called the Elder or the Old, was the Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia under the Merovingian king Dagobert I from 623 to 629. He was the mayor for Sigebert III from 639 until his death. Through the marriage of his daughter Begga to Ansegisel, a son of Arnulf of Metz, the clans of the Pippinids and the Arnulfings were united, giving rise to a family which would rule the Franks as the Carolingians. Pepin's father is named Carloman by the Chronicle of the chief source for his life, his byname comes from his probable birthplace: Landen, modern Belgium. However, according to Godefroid Kurth, it was only in the twelfth century that the chroniclers of Brabant began to associate him with that locality, he is sometimes called Pepin I and his other nicknames come from his position at the head of the family called the Pippinids after him. He was lord of a great part of Brabant, governor of Austrasia, when Theodebert II. King of that country was defeated by king of Burgundy. In 613, several leading magnates of Austrasia and Burgundy abandoned Brunhilda, the great-grandmother and regent of their king, Sigebert II, turned to Chlothar II of Neustria for support, promising not to rise in defense of the queen-regent and recognizing Chlothar as rightful regent and guardian of the young king.
Chief among these leading men were Warnachar II, Rado and Pepin. The latter two were described by Fredegar as the "two most powerful barons of Austrasia" and they made some agreement with Chlothar at Andernach. However, while Rado was confirmed as mayor in Austrasia and Warnachar in Burgundy, Pepin did not receive his reward until 623, when he was appointed mayor in Austrasia after Chlothar made his young son Dagobert king there. Arnulf, his lifelong friend, was appointed adviser to the new king alongside him. Pepin was praised by his contemporaries for wise counsel. Though some enemies tried to turn the king against him, their plots were foiled and Pepin remained on good terms with the king until 629, for reasons unknown, he retired to his estates, where he remained for the next decade, until Dagobert's death. On Dagobert's death, Pepin came out of retirement to take on the mayoralty in Austrasia for the heir Sigebert III and to oversee the distribution of the treasury between Sigebert and his brother, Clovis II, his stepmother Nanthild, ruling on Clovis' behalf in Neustria and Burgundy.
Sigebert's share of the inheritance was amicably surrendered because of the friendship between Pepin and the Burgundian mayor of the palace, Aega. Pepin and Arnulf's successor as chief counselor to the king, Bishop of Cologne, received the treasure at Compiègne and brought it back to Metz. Pepin died in 640, he was so popular in Austrasia that, though he was never canonized, he was listed as a saint in some martyrologies. Butler lists him as "blessed", his feast day was 21 February. He left two daughters and two sons by his famous wife, Itta: Begga, married the aforementioned Ansegisel and canonized Grimoald mayor of the palace like his father Bavo, became a hermit and canonized Gertrude, entered the convent of Nivelles founded by her mother later canonized. Oman, Charles; the Dark Ages 476–918. London: Rivingtons, 1914. Wallace-Hadrill, J. M. translator. The Fourth Book of the Chronicle of Fredegar with its Continuations. Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1960
Pepin of Herstal
Pepin II known as Pepin of Herstal, was a Frankish statesman and military leader who de facto ruled Francia as the Mayor of the Palace from 680 until his death. He took the title Prince of the Franks upon his conquest of all the Frankish realms; the son of the powerful Frankish statesman Ansegisel, Pepin worked to establish his family, the Pippinids, as the strongest in Francia. He became Mayor of the Palace in Austrasia in 680. Pepin subsequently embarked on several wars to expand his power, he united all the Frankish realms by the conquests of Neustria and Burgundy in 687. In foreign conflicts, Pepin increased the power of the Franks by his subjugation of the Alemanni, the Frisians, the Franconians, he began the process of evangelisation in Germany. Pepin's statesmanship was notable for the further diminution of Merovingian royal authority, for the acceptance of the undisputed right to rule for his family. Therefore, Pepin was able to name as heir his grandson Theudoald, but this was not accepted by his powerful son Charles Martel, leading to a civil war after his death in which the latter emerged victorious.
Pepin, sometimes called Pepin II and Pepin the Middle, was the grandson and namesake of Pepin I the Elder through the marriage of Pepin I's daughter Begga to Ansegisel. He was the grandfather of Pepin the Short and great-grandfather of Charlemagne; that marriage united the two houses of the Pippinids and the Arnulfings which created what would be called the Carolingian dynasty. Pepin II was born in Herstal, modern Belgium, whence his byname; as mayor of Austrasia and Martin, the duke of Laon, fought the Neustrian mayor Ebroin, who had designs on all Francia. Ebroin came close to uniting all the Franks under his rule. Pepin made peace with his successor, Waratton. However, Waratton's successor and the Neustrian king Theuderic III, since 679, was nominal king of all the Franks, made war on Austrasia; the king and his mayor were decisively defeated at the Battle of Tertry in the Vermandois in 687. Berthar and Theuderic withdrew themselves to Paris, where Pepin followed and forced on them a peace treaty with the condition that Berthar leave his office.
Pepin was created mayor in all three Frankish kingdoms and began calling himself Duke and Prince of the Franks. In the ensuing quarrels, Berthar fled, his wife Anstrude married Pepin's eldest son Drogo, Duke of Champagne, Pepin's place in Neustria was secured. The Neustrians tolerated an Austrasian overlord, but Pepin preferred to put these local resistances aside to deal with Germany. Over the next several years, Pepin subdued the Alemanni and Franconians, bringing them within the Frankish sphere of influence. Between 690 and 692, Utrecht fell; this gave the Franks control of important trade routes on the Rhine to the North Sea. He supported the missionary work of Willibrord. In 695, he placed Drogo in the Burgundian mayorship and his other son, Grimoald, in the Neustrian one. Around 670, Pepin had married Plectrude, who had inherited substantial estates in the Moselle region, she was the mother of Drogo of Grimoald II, both of whom died before their father. However, Pepin had a mistress named Alpaida who bore him two more sons: Charles Martel and Childebrand.
Just before Pepin's death, Plectrude convinced him to disinherit the sons he had with his second wife Alpaida in favour of his grandson, still a young child. Pepin died at the age of 79 on 16 December 714, at Jupille, his grandchildren through Plectrude claimed themselves to be Pepin's true successors and, with the help of Plectrude, tried to maintain the position of mayor of the palace after Pepin's death. However, Charles had gained favour among the Austrasians for his military prowess and ability to keep them well supplied with booty from his conquests. Despite the efforts of Plectrude to silence her child's rival by imprisoning him, he became the sole mayor of the palace—and de facto ruler of Francia—after a civil war which lasted for more than three years after Pepin's death. In 2018, Dutch production company Farmhouse will release a movie called "Redbad", based on the historical Redbad and directed by Roel Reiné. Jonathan Banks will play Pepin of Herstal, the main villain in this movie.
Oman, Charles. The Dark Ages 476–918. London: Rivingtons, 1914. Wallace-Hadrill, J. M. translator. The Fourth Book of the Chronicle of Fredegar with its Continuations. Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1960. Bachrach, Bernard S. translator. Liber Historiae Francorum. 1973
Kingdom of Germany
The Kingdom of Germany or German Kingdom developed out of Eastern Francia, the eastern division of the former Carolingian Empire, over the 9th to 11th centuries. East Francia was formed by the Treaty of Verdun in 843, was ruled by the Carolingian dynasty until 911, after which the kingship was elective; the initial electors were the rulers of the stem duchies, who chose one of their own. After 962, when Otto I was crowned emperor, East Francia formed the bulk of the Holy Roman Empire along with Italy. Like medieval England and medieval France, medieval Germany consolidated from a conglomerate of smaller tribes, nations or polities by the High Middle Ages; the term rex teutonicorum first came into use in Italy around the year 1000. It was popularized by the chancery of Pope Gregory VII during the Investiture Controversy as a political tool against Emperor Henry IV. In the twelfth century, in order to stress the imperial and transnational character of their office, the emperors began to employ the title rex Romanorum on their election.
Distinct titulature for Germany and Burgundy, which traditionally had their own courts and chanceries dropped from use. After the Imperial Reform and Reformation settlement, the German part of the Holy Roman Empire was divided into Reichskreise, which defined Germany against imperial territories outside the Imperial Circles: imperial Italy, the Bohemian Kingdom, the Old Swiss Confederacy. There are few references to a German realm distinct from the Holy Roman Empire; the eastern division of the Treaty of Verdun was called the regnum Francorum Orientalium or Francia Orientalis: the Kingdom of the Eastern Franks or East Francia. It was the eastern half of the old Merovingian regnum Austrasiorum; the "east Franks" themselves were the people of Franconia, settled by Franks. The other peoples of East Francia were Saxons, Frisians and the like, referred to as Teutonici and sometimes as Franks as ethnic identities changed over the course of the ninth century. An entry in the Annales Iuvavenses for the year 919 contemporary but surviving only in a twelfth-century copy, records that Baiuarii sponte se reddiderunt Arnolfo duci et regnare ei fecerunt in regno teutonicorum, i.e. that "Arnulf, Duke of the Bavarians, was elected to reign in the Kingdom of the Germans".
Historians disagree on. Beginning in the late eleventh century, during the Investiture Controversy, the Papal curia began to use the term regnum teutonicorum to refer to the realm of Henry IV in an effort to reduce him to the level of the other kings of Europe, while he himself began to use the title rex Romanorum or King of the Romans to emphasise his divine right to the imperium Romanum; this title was employed most by the German kings themselves, though they did deign to employ "Teutonic" titles when it was diplomatic, such as Frederick Barbarossa's letter to the Pope referring to his receiving the coronam Theutonici regni. Foreign kings and ecclesiastics continued to refer to the regnum Alemanniae and règne or royaume d'Allemagne; the terms imperium/imperator or empire/emperor were employed for the German kingdom and its rulers, which indicates a recognition of their imperial stature but combined with "Teutonic" and "Alemannic" references a denial of their Romanitas and universal rule.
The term regnum Germaniae begins to appear in German sources at the beginning of the fourteenth century. Therefore, throughout the Middle Ages, the convention was that the king of Germany was Emperor of the Romans, his title was royal from his election to his coronation in Rome by the Pope. After the death of Frederick II in 1250, the trend toward a "more conceived German kingdom" found no real consolidation; the title of "king of the Romans" became less and less reserved for the emperor-elect but uncrowned in Rome. The reign was dated to begin either on the day of the coronation; the election day became the starting date permanently with Sigismund. Maximilian I changed the style of the emperor in 1508, with papal approval: after his German coronation, his style was Dei gratia Romanorum imperator electus semper augustus; that is, he was "emperor elect": a term that did not imply that he was emperor-in-waiting or not yet emperor, but only that he was emperor by virtue of the election rather than papal coronation.
At the same time, the custom of having the heir-apparent elected as king of the Romans in the emperor's lifetime resumed. For this reason, the title "king of the Romans" came to mean heir-apparent, the successor elected while the emperor was still alive; the Archbishop
Louis the German
Louis "the German" known as Louis II, was the first king of East Francia, ruled from 843-876 AD. Grandson of emperor Charlemagne and the third son of emperor of Francia, Louis the Pious and his first wife, Ermengarde of Hesbaye, he received the appellation Germanicus shortly after his death in recognition of Magna Germania of the Roman Empire, reflecting the Carolingian's assertions that they were the rightful descendants of the Roman Empire After protracted clashes with his father and his brothers, Ludwig received the East Frankish Empire in the 843 Treaty of Verdun, his attempts to conquer the West Frankish Empire of his half-brother Charles the Bald in 858-59 were unsuccessful. The 860s were marked by a severe crisis, with the East Frankish rebellions of the sons, as well as struggles to maintain supremacy over his realm. In the Treaty of Meerssen he acquired Lotharingia for the East Frankish Empire in 870. On the other hand, he failed to claim both the title of Emperor and Italy. In the East, Ludwig was able to reach a longer-term peace agreement in 874 after decades of conflict with the Moravians.
Due to a decline in the written form in administration and government, Ludwig's reign predates Ottonian times. His early years were spent at the court of his grandfather, whose special affection he is said to have won; when the emperor Louis the Pious divided his dominions between his sons in 817, Louis was made the ruler of Duchy of Bavaria, following the practice of emperor Charlemagne of bestowing a local kingdom to a close family member who would serve as his lieutenant and local governor. Louis ruled from the old capital of the Bavarii. In 825 he became involved in wars with the Sorbs on his eastern frontier. In 827 he married Hemma, sister of his stepmother Judith of Bavaria, both daughters of Welf, whose possessions ranged from Alsace to Bavaria, it was not until 826. In 827 he married the Welf Hemma, a sister of the Empress Judith - his stepmother who had married his father in his second marriage. In 828 and 829 he undertook two campaigns against the Bulgarians who wanted to penetrate into Pannonia without great success.
During his time as Unterkönig, he tried to extend his rule to the Rhine-Main area. His involvement in the first civil war against his father's reign was limited, but in the second his elder brothers, Lothair I King of Italy, Pepin I, Duke of Aquitaine, persuaded him to invade Alamannia which their father had given to their young half-brother Charles the Bald. In 832 he was driven back by his father. Louis the Pious to no effect. Upon his swift reinstatement, the emperor Louis made peace with his son Louis and restored Bavaria to him in 836. Louis was the instigator of the third civil war, which began in 839. A strip of his land having been given to the young half-brother Charles, Louis invaded Alamannia again; this time emperor Louis responded and soon the younger Louis was forced into the far southeastern corner of his realm, the March of Pannonia. Peace was made by force of arms. After the civil war which followed the death of emperor Louis the Pious, the empire was divided in 843 by the Treaty of Verdun in three parts, with Louis becoming the King of East Francia, a region that spanned the Elbe drainage basin from Jutland southeasterly through the Thuringian Forest into modern Bavaria.
When the emperor Louis died in 840, Lothair I claimed the whole Empire, Louis allied with Charles the Bald, defeated Lothair I and their nephew Pepin II of Aquitaine, son of Pepin I of Aquitaine, at the Battle of Fontenoy in June 841. In June 842 the three brothers met on an island in the river Saône to negotiate a peace, each appointed forty representatives to arrange the boundaries of their respective kingdoms; this developed into the Treaty of Verdun, concluded in August 843, by which Louis received the bulk of the lands lying east of the Rhine, together with a district around Speyer and Mainz, on the left bank of the river. His territories included Bavaria, Thuringia and Saxony. Louis may be called the founder of the German kingdom, though his attempts to maintain the unity of the Empire proved futile. Having in 842 crushed the Stellinga rising in Saxony, in 844 he compelled the Obotrites to accept his authority and put their prince, Gozzmovil, to death. Thachulf, Duke of Thuringia undertook campaigns against the Bohemians and other tribes, but was not successful in resisting the ravaging Vikings.
After the death of Emperor Louis the Pious, Lothar laid claim to all the imperial rights established in the Ordinatio of 817. As a result, Louis the German and Charles the Bald forged an alliance. Lothar I offered his nephew Pippin II, the son of 838 deceased Pippin I. an alliance. At the Battle of Fontenoy, Ludwig the German and Charles the Bald fought against Lothar I and Pippin II in June 841. Both sides suffered heavy casualties. According to the Annals of Fulda, it was the biggest bloodbath the Franks had experienced since time immemorial. At the same time, it was Louis's last battle in the struggle for the unification of the kingdom. In 852 Louis sent his son Louis the Younger to Aquitaine, where nobles had grown resentful of Charles the Bald's rule; the younger Louis did not set out until 854, returned the following year. Starting from 853 Louis made repeated attempts to gain the t
Lothair I or Lothar I was the Holy Roman Emperor, the governor of Bavaria, King of Italy and Middle Francia. Lothair was the eldest son of the Carolingian emperor Louis the Pious and his wife Ermengarde of Hesbaye, daughter of Ingerman the duke of Hesbaye. On several occasions, Lothair led his full-brothers Pepin I of Aquitaine and Louis the German in revolt against their father to protest against attempts to make their half-brother Charles the Bald a co-heir to the Frankish domains. Upon the father's death and Louis joined forces against Lothair in a three-year civil war; the struggles between the brothers led directly to the breakup of the Frankish Empire assembled by their grandfather Charlemagne, laid the foundation for the development of modern France and Germany. Lothair was born in 795, his father was the son of Charlemagne. Little is known of Lothair's early life, passed at the court of his grandfather Charlemagne. In 814, the elderly Charlemagne died, left his son Louis the Pious his vast empire.
The next year, now an adult, was sent to govern Bavaria in 815 for his father the new Emperor Louis the Pious. In 817, Louis the Pious drew up his Ordinatio Imperii. In this, Louis designated Lothair as his principal heir and ordered that Lothair would be the overlord of Louis' younger sons Pippin of Aquitaine and Louis the German, as well as his nephew Bernard of Italy. Lothair would inherit their lands if they were to die childless. Lothair, aged 22, was crowned joint emperor by his father at Aachen. At the same time and Bavaria were granted to his brothers Pippin and Louis as subsidiary kingdoms. Following the death of Bernard by Louis the Pious, Lothair received the Kingdom of Italy. In 821, Lothair married daughter of Hugh the Count of Tours. In 822, he assumed the government of Italy, at Easter, 5 April 823, he was crowned emperor again by Pope Paschal I, this time at Rome. In November 824, Lothair promulgated a statute, the Constitutio Romana, concerning the relations of pope and emperor which reserved the supreme power to the secular potentate, he afterwards issued various ordinances for the good government of Italy.
On Lothair's return to his father's court, his stepmother Judith won his consent to her plan for securing a kingdom for her son Charles, a scheme, carried out in 829, when the young prince was given Alemannia as king. Lothair, soon changed his attitude and spent the succeeding decade in constant strife over the division of the Empire with his father, he was alternately master of the Empire, banished and confined to Italy, at one time taking up arms in alliance with his brothers and at another fighting against them, whilst the bounds of his appointed kingdom were in turn extended and reduced. The first rebellion began in 830. All three brothers fought their father. In 831, their father was reinstated and he deprived Lothair of his imperial title and gave Italy to Charles; the second rebellion was instigated by Angilbert II, Archbishop of Milan, in 833, again Louis was deposed in 834. Lothair, through the loyalty of the Lombards and reconciliations, retained Italy and the imperial position through all remaining divisions of the Empire by his father.
When Louis the Pious was dying in 840, he sent the imperial insignia to Lothair, disregarding the various partitions, claimed the whole of the Empire. He was 45 years old. Negotiations with his brother Louis the German and his half-brother Charles, both of whom resisted this claim, were followed by an alliance of the younger brothers against Lothair. A decisive battle was fought at Fontenay-en-Puisaye on 25 June 841, when, in spite of his and his allied nephew Pepin II of Aquitaine's personal gallantry, Lothair was defeated and fled to Aachen. With fresh troops he began a war of plunder, but the forces of his brothers were too strong, taking with him such treasure as he could collect, he abandoned his capital to them, he met with the leaders of the Stellinga in Speyer and promised them his support in return for theirs, but Louis and the native Saxon nobility put down the Stellinga in the next years. Peace negotiations began, in June 842 the brothers met on an island in the Saône, they agreed to an arrangement which developed, after much difficulty and delay, into the Treaty of Verdun, signed in August 843.
By this, Lothair received the imperial title as well as northern Italy and a long stretch of territory from the North Sea to the Mediterranean along the valleys of the Rhine and the Rhône. He soon ceded Italy to his eldest son and remained in his new kingdom, engaging in alternate quarrels and reconciliations with his brothers and in futile efforts to defend his lands from the attacks of the Northmen and the Saracens. In 845 the count of Arles, led a rebellion in Provence; the emperor put it down and the count joined him in an expedition against the Saracens in Italy in 846. In 855 he became ill, despairing of recovery renounced the throne, divided his lands between his three sons, on 23 September entered the monastery of Prüm, where he died six days later, he was buried at Prüm, where his remains were found in 1860. It was at Prüm that Lothair was
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