Holy Roman Emperor

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Emperor of
the Holy Roman Empire
Imperial
Shield and Coat of Arms of the Holy Roman Emperor (c.1200-c.1300).svg
Reichsadler (Imperial Eagle) used by the emperors
of the high medieval period
Holy Roman Empire Arms-double head.svg
Double-headed Reichsadler used by the Habsburg emperors of the early modern period
Details
Style His Imperial Majesty
First monarch Charlemagne
Last monarch Francis II
Formation 25 December 800
Abolition 6 August 1806
Appointer see Coronation of the Holy Roman Emperor
Pretender(s) Position abolished

The Holy Roman Emperor (historically Romanorum Imperator "Emperor of the Romans") was the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire.

The title was held in conjunction with the rule of the Kingdom of Germany.[1][2][3]

From an autocracy in Carolingian times the title evolved into an elected monarchy chosen by the prince-electors. The Holy Roman Emperor was widely perceived to be the deputy of Jesus Christ on Earth by Roman Catholic rulers in Europe, and he often contradicted or rivaled the Pope, most notably during the Investiture controversy. In theory, the Holy Roman Emperor was primus inter pares (first among equals) among other Catholic monarchs; in practice, a Holy Roman Emperor was only as strong as his army and alliances made him.

After the Reformation, many of the subject states in Germany turned Protestant while the Emperor continued to be a Roman Catholic. Until the Reformation, the Emperor elect (imperator electus) was required to be crowned by the Pope before assuming the imperial title.[citation needed] Various royal houses of Europe, at different times, became hereditary holders of the title; in particular the Habsburgs kept the longest possession of the title. The Holy Roman Empire was dissolved by Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor as a result of the collapse of the polity during the Napoleonic wars.

Title[edit]

Coats of arms of prince electors surround the Holy Roman Emperor's; from flags book of Jacob Köbel (1545). Electors voted in an Imperial Diet for a new Holy Roman Emperor.

From the time of Constantine I (4th century) the Roman emperors had, with very few exceptions, taken on a role as promoters and defenders of Christianity, the title of Emperor became defunct in Western Europe after the deposition of Romulus Augustulus in AD 476, although the rulers of the "barbarian kingdoms" continued to recognize the Eastern Emperor at least nominally well into the 6th century; both the title and connection between Emperor and Church continued in the Eastern Roman Empire until 1453, when it fell to the forces of the Ottoman Empire.

In the west, the title of Emperor (Imperator) was revived in 800, which also renewed ideas of imperial–papal cooperation, as the power of the papacy grew during the Middle Ages, popes and emperors came into conflict over church administration. The best-known and most bitter conflict was that known as the Investiture Controversy, fought during the 11th century between Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII.

After Charlemagne was crowned Emperor of the Romans (Imperator Romanorum) by Pope Leo III, his successors maintained the title until the death of Berengar I of Italy in 924. No pope appointed an emperor again until the coronation of Otto the Great in 962. Under Otto and his successors, much of the former Carolingian kingdom of Eastern Francia fell within the boundaries of 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 called elected Emperor due to the lack of papal coronation, but for all practical purposes they were simply called emperors.[citation needed]

The term "sacrum" (i.e. "holy") in connection with the medieval Roman Empire was first used in 1157 under Frederick I Barbarossa.[4] Charles V was the last Holy Roman Emperor to be crowned by the Pope (1530). 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, he 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.[5]

The word Roman was a reflection of the principle of translatio imperii (or in this case restauratio imperii) that regarded the (Germanic) Holy Roman Emperors as the inheritors of the title of Emperor of the Western Roman Empire, despite the continued existence of the Eastern Roman Empire. In German-language historiography, the term Römisch-deutscher Kaiser ("Roman-German emperor") is used to distinguish the title from that of Roman Emperor on one hand, and that of German Emperor (Deutscher Kaiser) on the other. The English term "Holy Roman Emperor" is a modern shorthand for "emperor of the Holy Roman Empire" not corresponding to the historical style or title.[6]

Succession of the Holy Roman Emperors[edit]

Holy Roman Emperors of Habsburg dynasty and their families

Successions to the kingship were controlled by a variety of complicated factors. Elections meant the kingship of Germany was only partially hereditary, unlike the kingship of France, 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 Charles VII, who was a Wittelsbach. Maximilian I (Emperor 1508–1519) and his successors no longer travelled to Rome to be crowned as Emperor by the Pope. Maximilian therefore named himself Elected Roman Emperor (Erwählter Römischer Kaiser) in 1508 with papal approval, this title was in use by all his uncrowned successors. Of his successors only Charles V, the immediate one, received a papal coronation.

The Holy Roman Emperors[edit]

This list includes all 47 emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, 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.[citation needed]

Carolingian dynasty[edit]

Traditional historiography assumes a continuity between the Carolingian Empire and the Holy Roman Empire, while a modern convention takes the coronation of Otto I in 962 as the starting point of the Holy Roman Empire (although the term Sacrum Imperium Romanum was not in use before the 13th century).

The rulers who were crowned as Emperors in the West before 962 were as follows:

Portrait Name Reign Relationship with predecessor(s) Other title(s)
Vitrail Cathédrale de Moulins 160609 34.jpg Charles I, the Great (Charlemagne)
(742–814)
25 December 800 28 January 814
Louis1.jpg Louis I, the Pious
(778–840)
11 September 813[7] 20 June 840 Son of Charles I
Lothar I.jpg Lothair I
(795–855)
5 April 823 29 September 855 Son of Louis I
Louis II, Holy Roman Emperor.jpg Louis II
(825–875)
29 September 855 12 August 875 Son of Lothair I
Charles II, Holy Roman Emperor.jpg Charles II, the Bald
(823–877)
29 December 875 6 October 877 Son of Louis I
Die deutschen Kaiser Karl der Dicke.jpg Charles III, the Fat
(839–888)
12 February 881 13 January 888 Grandson of Louis I

Widonid dynasty[edit]

Portrait Name Reign Relationship with predecessor(s) Other title(s)
Wido rex Italiae.jpg Guy I
(?–894)
891 12 December 894 Great-great grandson of Charles I
No image.svg Lambert I
(880–898)
30 April 892 15 October 898 Son of Guy I

Carolingian dynasty[edit]

Portrait Name Reign Relationship with predecessor(s) Other title(s)
Arnulf Korutanský hlava.jpg Arnulph
(850–899)
22 February 896 8 December 899 Nephew of Charles III

Bosonid dynasty[edit]

Portrait Name Reign Relationship with predecessor(s) Other title(s)
Bosonides.png Louis III, the Blind
(880–928)
22 February 901 21 July 905 Grandson of Louis II

Unruoching dynasty[edit]

Portrait Name Reign Relationship with predecessor(s) Others title(s)
Berengar I, Holy Roman Emperor.jpg Berengar I
(845–924)
December 915 7 April 924 Grandson of Louis I

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

While earlier Germanic and Italian monarchs had been crowned as western Roman Emperors, the actual Holy Roman Empire is usually considered to have begun with the crowning of the Saxon king Otto I, it was officially an elective position, though at times it ran in families, notably the four generations of the Salian dynasty in the 11th century. From the end of the Salian dynasty through the middle 15th century, the Emperors drew from many different German dynasties, and it was rare for the throne to pass from father to son, that changed with the ascension of the Austrian House of Habsburg, as an unbroken line of Habsburgs would hold the Imperial throne until the 18th century, later a cadet branch known as the House of Habsburg-Lorraine would likewise pass it from father to son until the abolition of the Empire in 1806. Notably, the Habsburgs also dispensed with the requirement that emperors be crowned by the pope before exercising their office. Starting with Ferdinand I, all successive Emperors forwent the traditional coronation.

Ottonian dynasty[edit]

Portrait Name Reign Relationship with predecessor(s) Other title(s)
Otto I.jpg Otto I, the Great
(912–973)
2 February 962 7 May 973 Great-great-great grandson of Louis I
Otto II.jpg Otto II, the Red
(955–983)
25 December 967 7 December 983 Son of Otto I
Bas-côté nord, baie VI Otto III Rex (dernier tiers XIIe).jpg Otto III
(980–1002)
21 May 996 23 January 1002 Son of Otto II
Bas-côté nord, baie VII Henricus Imperator Babinbergensis (dernier tiers XIIe).jpg Henry II[8]
(973–1024)
7 June 1002 14 February 1014 Second cousin of Otto III

Salian dynasty[edit]

Portrait Name Reign Relationship with predecessor(s) Other title(s)
Conrad II and Henry III.jpg Conrad II, the Elder[9]
(990–1039)
26 March 1027 4 June 1039 Great-great-grandson of Otto I
Henry III (HRE).jpg Henry III, the Black
(1017–1056)
25 December 1046 5 October 1056 Son of Conrad II
Heinrich 4 g.jpg Henry IV
(1050–1116)
31 March 1084 7 August 1106 Son of Henry III
Henry V edit.jpg Henry V[10]
(1086–1125)
13 April 1111 23 May 1125 Son of Henry IV

Supplinburg dynasty[edit]

Portrait Name Reign Relationship with predecessor(s) Other title(s)
Lothair II, Holy Roman Emperor.jpg Lothair II[11]
(1075–1137)
4 June 1133 4 December 1137 Far descendant of Otto I

Staufen dynasty[edit]

Portrait Coat of arms Name Reign Relationship with predecessor(s) Other title(s)
Frederick I (HRE).jpg Armoiries empereurs Hohenstaufen.svg Frederick I Barbarossa
(1122–1190)
8 June 1155 10 June 1190 Great-grandson of Henry IV
Kaiser Heinrich VI, Minnesänger.png Armoiries empereurs Hohenstaufen.svg Henry VI
(1165–1197)
14 April 1191 28 September 1197 Son of Frederick I

Welf dynasty[edit]

Portrait Coat of arms Name Reign Relationship with predecessor(s) Other title(s)
Otto IV (HRE).jpg Arms of Otto IV, Holy Roman Emperor.svg Otto IV
(1175–1218)
9 June 1198 1215 Great-grandson of Lothair II

Staufen dynasty[edit]

Portrait Coat of arms Name Reign Relationship with predecessor(s) Other title(s)
Frederick II (HRE).jpg Armoiries empereurs Hohenstaufen.svg Frederick II
(1194–1250)
22 November 1220 13 December 1250 Son of Henry VI
Seal of Conrad IV of Germany.jpeg Armoiries empereurs Hohenstaufen.svg Conrad IV
(1228–1254)
13 December 1250 21 May 1254 Son of Frederick II
Konradin.jpg Armoiries empereurs Hohenstaufen.svg Conrad V
(1252–1268)
21 May 1254 29 October 1268 Son of Conrad IV

House of Luxembourg[edit]

Portrait Coat of arms Name Reign Relationship with predecessor(s) Other title(s)
Heinrich VII HRR.jpg Arms of Henry VII, Holy Roman Emperor.svg Henry VII
(1274-1313)
29 June 1312 24 August 1313 Far descendant of Louis III

House of Wittelsbach[edit]

Portrait Coat of arms Name Reign Relationship with predecessor(s) Other title(s)
Ludwig der Bayer.jpg Arms of Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor.svg Louis IV, the Bavarian
(1282–1347)
October 1314 11 October 1347 Far descendant of Lothair II and Henry IV

House of Luxembourg[edit]

Portrait Coat of arms Name Reign Relationship with predecessor(s) Other title(s)
Charles IV-John Ocko votive picture-fragment.jpg Arms of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor.svg Charles IV
(1316–1378)
11 July 1346 29 November 1378 Grandson of Henry VII
Zikmund Zhořelecka radnice.jpg Arms of Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor.svg Sigismund
(1368–1437)
10 September 1410 9 December 1437 Son of Charles IV

House of Habsburg[edit]

Portrait Coat of arms Name Reign Relationship with predecessor(s) Other title(s)
Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor.jpg Arms of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor.svg Frederick III, the Peaceful
(1415–1493)
2 February 1440 19 August 1493 Far descendant of Lothair II
Maximilian I as Emperor.JPG Arms of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor.svg Maximilian I
(1459–1519)
19 August 1493 12 January 1519 Son of Frederick III
Francesco Terzio 001.jpg Arms of Charles V Holy Roman Emperor, Charles I as King of Spain -Or shield variant.svg Charles V
(1500–1558)
28 June 1519 16 January 1556 Grandson of Maximilian I
Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor.jpg Arms of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor (variant).svg Ferdinand I
(1503–1564)
16 January 1556 25 July 1564 Grandson of Maximilian I
Nicolas Neufchâtel 002.jpg Arms of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor (variant).svg Maximilian II
(1527–1576)
25 July 1564 12 October 1576 Son of Ferdinand I
Martino Rota - Emperor Rudolf II in Armour - WGA20140.jpg Arms of Rudolph II, Holy Roman Emperor (variant).svg Rudolph II[12]
(1552–1612)
12 October 1576 20 January 1612 Son of Maximilian II
Ritratto di Mattia d'Asburgo.jpg Arms of Rudolph II, Holy Roman Emperor (variant).svg Matthias
(1557–1619)
23 January 1612 20 March 1619 Son of Maximilian II
Ferdinand II King of Bohemia Holy Roman Emperor.jpg Arms of Rudolph II, Holy Roman Emperor (variant).svg Ferdinand II
(1578–1637)
20 March 1619 15 February 1637 Grandson of Ferdinand I
Jan van den Hoecke - Portrait of Emperor Ferdinand III.jpg Arms of Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor-Or shield variant.svg Ferdinand III
(1608–1657)
15 February 1637 2 April 1657 Son of Ferdinand II
Block Emperor Leopold I.jpg Arms of Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor (variant).svg Leopold I
(1640–1705)
6 March 1657 5 May 1705 Son of Ferdinand III
Jožef I. (1705-1711).jpg Arms of Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor (variant).svg Joseph I
(1678–1711)
5 May 1705 17 April 1711 Son of Leopold I
Johann Gottfried Auerbach 002.JPG Arms of Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor-Or shield variant.svg Charles VI
(1685–1740)
12 October 1711 20 October 1740 Son of Leopold I

House of Wittelsbach[edit]

Portrait Coat of arms Name Reign Relationship with predecessor(s) Other title(s)
Charles VII, Holy Roman Emperor.PNG Arms of Charles VII Albert, Holy Roman Emperor-Or shield variant.svg Charles VII
(1697–1745)
12 February 1742 20 January 1745 Great-great grandson of Ferdinand II

House of Habsburg-Lorraine[edit]

Portrait Coat of arms Name Reign Relationship with predecessor(s) Other title(s)
Joseph II Portrait with crown.jpg Arms of Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor-Or shield variant.svg Francis I
(1708–1765)
13 September 1745 18 August 1765 Great-grandson of Ferdinand III; Son-in-law of Charles VI
Kaiser Joseph II als Feldherr.JPG Arms of Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor-Or shield variant.svg Joseph II
(1741–1790)
19 August 1765 20 February 1790 Son of Francis I
Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor.jpg Arms of Leopold II and Francis II, Holy Roman Emperors-Or shield variant.svg Leopold II
(1747–1792)
21 February 1790 1 March 1792 Son of Francis I
Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor at age 25, 1792.png Arms of Leopold II and Francis II, Holy Roman Emperors-Or shield variant.svg Francis II
(1768–1835)
4 March 1792 6 August 1806 Son of Leopold II

Coronation[edit]

The Emperor was crowned in a special ceremony, traditionally performed by the Pope in Rome. 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.[13] 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, Italy
Louis I 5 October 816 Pope Stephen IV Reims, France
Lothair I 5 April 823 Pope Paschal I Rome, Italy
Louis II 15 June 844 Pope Leo IV Rome, Italy
Charles II 29 December 875 Pope John VIII Rome, Italy
Charles III 12 February 881 Rome, Italy
Guy III of Spoleto 21 February 891 Pope Stephen V Rome, Italy
Lambert II of Spoleto 30 April 892 Pope Formosus Ravenna, Italy
Arnulf of Carinthia 22 February 896 Rome, Italy
Louis III 15 or 22 February 901 Pope Benedict IV Rome, Italy
Berengar December 915 Pope John X Rome, Italy
Otto I 2 February, 962 Pope John XII Rome, Italy
Otto II 25 December, 967 Pope John XIII Rome, Italy
Otto III 21 May, 996 Pope Gregory V Monza, Italy
Henry II 14 February 1014 Pope Benedict VIII Rome, Italy
Conrad II 26 March 1027 Pope John XIX Rome, Italy
Henry III 25 December 1046 Pope Clement II Rome, Italy
Henry IV 31 March 1084 Antipope Clement III Rome, Italy
Henry V 13 April 1111 Pope Paschal II Rome, Italy
Lothair III 4 June 1133 Pope Innocent II Rome, Italy
Frederick I 18 June 1155 Pope Adrian IV Rome, Italy
Henry VI 14 April 1191 Pope Celestine III Rome, Italy
Otto IV 4 October 1209 Pope Innocent III Rome, Italy
Frederick II 22 November 1220 Pope Honorius III Rome, Italy
Henry VII 29 June 1312 Ghibellines cardinals Rome, Italy
Louis IV 17 January 1328 Senator Sciarra Colonna Rome, Italy
Charles IV 5 April 1355 Pope Innocent VI's cardinal Rome, Italy
Sigismund 31 May 1433 Pope Eugenius IV Rome, Italy
Frederick III 19 March 1452 Pope Nicholas V Rome, Italy
Charles V 24 February 1530 Pope Clement VII Bologna, Italy

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Peter Hamish Wilson, The Holy Roman Empire, 1495–1806, MacMillan Press 1999, London, page 2
  2. ^ Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn: The Menace of the Herd or Procrustes at Large – Page: 164
  3. ^ Robert Edwin Herzstein, Robert Edwin Herzstein: The Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages: universal state or German catastrophe?
  4. ^ Peter Moraw, Heiliges Reich, in: Lexikon des Mittelalters, Munich & Zurich: Artemis 1977–1999, vol. 4, columns 2025–2028.
  5. ^ Bryce, James (1968). The Holy Roman Empire. Macmillan. p. 530. 
  6. ^ I.e. the adjective "holy" is not intended as modifying "emperor"; the term "Holy Roman Emperor" begins to become current in the interbellum period (1920s to 1930s), e.g. The New International Encyclopædia vol. 10 (1927), p. 675; Carlton J. H. Hayes, A Political and Cvltvral History of Modern Europe vol. 1 (1932), p. 225. Formerly the title was also rendered "German-Roman emperor" in English.
  7. ^ Egon Boshof: Ludwig der Fromme. Darmstadt 1996, p. 89
  8. ^ Enumerated as successor of Henry I who was German King 919–936 but not Emperor.
  9. ^ Enumerated as successor of Conrad I who was German King 911–918 but not Emperor
  10. ^ Barraclough, Geoffrey (1984). The Origins of Modern Germany. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-30153-2. 
  11. ^ Enumerated also Lothair III as successor of Lothair II, who was King of Lotharingia 855–869 but not Emperor
  12. ^ Enumerated as successor of Rudolph I who was German King 1273–1291.
  13. ^ ” Wir Franz der Zweyte, von Gottes Gnaden erwählter römischer Kaiser Imperator Austriae, Fransiscus I (1804), Allerhöchste Pragmatikal-Verordnung vom 11. August 1804, The HR Emperor, p. 1