The Ottonian dynasty was a Saxon dynasty of German monarchs, named after three of its kings and Holy Roman Emperors named Otto its first Emperor Otto I. It is known as the Saxon dynasty after the family's origin in the German stem duchy of Saxony; the family itself is sometimes known as the Liudolfings, after its earliest known member Count Liudolf and one of its primary leading-names. The Ottonian rulers were successors of the Germanic king Conrad I, the only Germanic king to rule in East Francia after the Carolingian dynasty and before this dynasty. In the 9th century, the Saxon count Liudolf held large estates on the Leine river west of the Harz mountain range and in the adjacent Eichsfeld territory of Thuringia, his ancestors acted as ministeriales in the Saxon stem duchy, incorporated into the Carolingian Empire after the Saxon Wars of Charlemagne. Liudolf married a member of the Frankish House of Billung. About 852 the couple together with Bishop Altfrid of Hildesheim founded Brunshausen Abbey, relocated to Gandersheim, rose to a family monastery and burial ground.
Liudolf held the high social position of a Saxon dux, documented by the marriage of his daughter Liutgard with Louis the Younger, son of the Carolingian king Louis the German in 869. Liudolf's sons Bruno and Otto the Illustrious ruled over large parts of Saxon Eastphalia, Otto acted as lay abbot of the Imperial abbey of Hersfeld with large estates in Thuringia, he married a daughter of the Babenberg duke Henry of Franconia. Otto accompanied King Arnulf on his 894 campaign to Italy. According to the Saxon chronicler Widukind of Corvey, Otto upon the death of the last Carolingian king Louis the Child in 911 was a candidate for the East Frankish crown, which however passed to the Franconian duke Conrad I. Upon Otto's death in 912, his son Henry. Henry had married Matilda of Ringelheim, a descendant of the legendary Saxon ruler Widukind and heiress to extended estates in Westphalia; the Ottonian rulers of East Francia, the German kingdom and the Holy Roman Empire were: Henry the Fowler, Duke of Saxony from 912, King of East Francia from 919 until 936 Otto I, the Great, Duke of Saxony and King of East Francia from 936, King of Italy from 951, Holy Roman Emperor from 962 until 973 Otto II, co-ruler from 961, Holy Roman Emperor from 967, sole ruler from 973 until 983 Otto III, King of the Romans from 983, Holy Roman Emperor from 996 until 1002 Henry II, the Saint, Duke of Bavaria from 995, King of the Romans from 1002, King of Italy from 1004, Holy Roman Emperor from 1014 until 1024 Although never Emperor, Henry the Fowler was arguably the founder of the imperial dynasty.
While East Francia under the rule of the last Carolingian kings was ravaged by Hungarian invasions, he was chosen to be primus inter pares among the German dukes. Elected Rex Francorum in May 919, Henry abandoned the claim to dominate the whole disintegrating Carolingian Empire and, unlike his predecessor Conrad I, succeeded in gaining the support of the Franconian, Bavarian and Lotharingian dukes. In 933 he led a German army to victory over the Hungarian forces at the Battle of Riade and campaigned both the land of the Polabian Slavs and the Duchy of Bohemia; because he had assimilated so much power through his conquest, he was able to transfer power to his second son Otto I. Otto I, Duke of Saxony upon the death of his father in 936, was elected king within a few weeks, he continued the work of unifying all of the German tribes into a single kingdom expanding the powers of the king at the expense of the aristocracy. Through strategic marriages and personal appointments, he installed members of his own family to the kingdom's most important duchies.
This, did not prevent his relatives from entering into civil war: both Otto's brother Duke Henry of Bavaria and his son Duke Liudolf of Swabia revolted against his rule. Otto was able to suppress their uprisings, in consequence, the various dukes, co-equals with the king, were reduced into royal subjects under the king's authority, his decisive victory over the Magyars at the Battle of Lechfeld in 955 ended the Hungarian invasions of Europe and secured his hold over his kingdom. The defeat of the pagan Magyars earned King Otto the reputation as the savior of Christendom and the epithet "the Great", he transformed the Church in Germany into a kind of proprietary church and major royal power base to which he donated charity and for the creation of which his family was responsible. By 961, Otto had conquered the Kingdom of Italy, a troublesome inheritance that none wanted, extended his kingdom's borders to the north and south. In control of much of central and southern Europe, the patronage of Otto and his immediate successors caused a limited cultural renaissance of the arts and architecture.
He confirmed the 754 Donation of Pepin and, with recourse to the concept of translatio imperii in succession of Charlemagne, proceeded to Rome to have himself crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope John XII in 962. He reached a settlement with the Byzantine emperor John I Tzimiskes by marrying his son and heir Otto II to John's niece Theophanu. In 968 he established the Archbishopric of Magdeburg at his long-time residence. Co-ruler with his father since 961 and crowned emperor in 967, Otto II ascended the throne at the age of 18. By excluding the Bavarian line of Ottonians from the line of succession, he strengthened Imperial authority and secured his own son's
Antipope John XVI
John XVI was an antipope from 997 to 998. John was a native of Rossano in Calabria, southern Italy; the region was at the time a territory of the Byzantine Empire, while John was the chaplain of the Greek-born Empress Theophanu, wife of Holy Roman Emperor Otto II. Twice he acted as Imperial chancellor in Italy for Otto, in 980–982, whereupon he was appointed Abbot of Nonantola, he was the godfather of the imperial couple's son, the future Emperor Otto III. He was his tutor. By the Empress's persuasion, John was appointed Bishop of Piacenza, he was sent to Constantinople to accompany home a Byzantine princess for the younger Otto. After Otto II's death, the youthful Otto III came to the aid of Pope John XV in 996, to put down the rebellion of a faction led by the rich and powerful Roman nobleman Crescentius the Younger. Otto III stopped to be acclaimed King of Lombardy at Pavia, failed to reach Rome before the Pope died. Once in Rome, Otto III engineered the election of his cousin Bruno of Carinthia as Pope Gregory V, the new pontiff crowned Otto III emperor on 21 May 996.
Once Otto III had returned to Germany, the faction headed by Crescentius II violently unseated Gregory V and, with the active support of the Byzantine Emperor Basil II, acclaimed John as Pope John XVI. A synod of the Western bishops held in 997 at the Imperial capital in Italy, decided in Gregory V's favour and excommunicated John; the revolt of Crescentius II was decisively suppressed by Otto III, who marched once again upon Rome, in February 998. John XVI fled, but the Emperor's troops pursued and captured him, cut off his nose and ears, cut out his tongue, broke his fingers and blinded him, that he might not write, publicly degraded him before Otto III and Gregory V by being forced to ride through the streets of Rome seated backwards on a donkey. At the intercession of Saint Nilus the Younger, one of his countrymen, his life was spared: he was sent to the monastery of Fulda, in Germany, where he died about 1001. John's consent to be enthroned as pope against the claims of Gregory can be seen as a manipulation of the constant political struggles by the Roman nobles against Frankish power, accruing to the advantage of Byzantine influence against the widening of Frankish power in Rome, where Gregory was the first German pontiff.
Because John was not recognized by the Western bishops as a legitimate pope, the next three popes named John, John XVII, John XVIII and John XIX, took the regnal numbers XVI, XVII and XVIII, but some historians of the Middle Ages changed their names including Antipope Philagathos among the popes, the wrongly corrected sequencing was never subsequently corrected. Papal selection before 1059 Michael Tilly. "Johannes XVI. Gegenpapst". In Bautz, Friedrich Wilhelm. Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon. 3. Herzberg: Bautz. Cols. 214–215. ISBN 3-88309-035-2
Slavs are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group who speak the various Slavic languages of the larger Balto-Slavic linguistic group. They are native to Eurasia, stretching from Central and Southeastern Europe all the way north and eastwards to Northeast Europe, Northern Asia, Central Asia, as well as in Western Europe and Western Asia. From the early 6th century they spread to inhabit the majority of Central and Southeastern Europe. Today, there is a large Slavic diaspora throughout North America in the United States and Canada as a result of immigration. Slavs are the largest ethno-linguistic group in Europe. Present-day Slavic people are classified into East Slavs, West Slavs, South Slavs. Slavs can be further grouped by religion. Orthodox Christianity is practiced by the majority of Slavs; the Orthodox Slavs include the Belarusians, Macedonians, Russians, Rusyns and Ukrainians and are defined by Orthodox customs and Cyrillic script, as well as their cultural connection to the Byzantine Empire.
Their second most common religion is Roman Catholicism. The Catholic Slavs include Croats, Kashubs, Poles, Slovaks and Sorbs and are defined by their Latinate influence and heritage and connection to Western Europe. There are substantial Protestant and Lutheran minorities among the West Slavs, such as the historical Bohemian Hussites; the second-largest religion among the Slavs after Christianity is Islam. Muslim Slavs include the Bosniaks, Gorani, Torbeši, other Muslims of the former Yugoslavia. Modern Slavic nations and ethnic groups are diverse both genetically and culturally, relations between them – within the individual groups – range from ethnic solidarity to mutual hostility; the oldest mention of the Slavic ethnonym is the 6th century AD Procopius, writing in Byzantine Greek, using various forms such as Sklaboi, Sklabēnoi, Sthlabenoi, or Sklabinoi, while his contemporary Jordanes refers to the Sclaveni in Latin. The oldest documents written in Old Church Slavonic, dating from the 9th century, attest the autonym as Slověne.
These forms point back to a Slavic autonym which can be reconstructed in Proto-Slavic as *Slověninъ, plural Slověne. The reconstructed autonym *Slověninъ is considered a derivation from slovo denoting "people who speak", i. e. people who understand each other, in contrast to the Slavic word denoting German people, namely *němьcь, meaning "silent, mute people". The word slovo and the related slava and slukh originate from the Proto-Indo-European root *ḱlew-, cognate with Ancient Greek κλέος, as in the name Pericles, Latin clueo, English loud. Ancient Roman sources refer to the Early Slavic peoples as Veneti, who dwelled in a region of central Europe east of the Germanic tribe of Suebi, west of the Iranian Sarmatians in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD; the Slavs under name of the Antes and the Sclaveni first appear in Byzantine records in the early 6th century. Byzantine historiographers under emperor Justinian I, such as Procopius of Caesarea and Theophylact Simocatta describe tribes of these names emerging from the area of the Carpathian Mountains, the lower Danube and the Black Sea, invading the Danubian provinces of the Eastern Empire.
Jordanes, in his work Getica, describes the Veneti as a "populous nation" whose dwellings begin at the sources of the Vistula and occupy "a great expanse of land". He describes the Veneti as the ancestors of Antes and Slaveni, two early Slavic tribes, who appeared on the Byzantine frontier in the early 6th century. Procopius wrote in 545 that "the Sclaveni and the Antae had a single name in the remote past; the name Sporoi derives from Greek σπείρω. He described them as barbarians, who lived under democracy, believe in one god, "the maker of lightning", to whom they made sacrifice, they lived in scattered housing, changed settlement. In war, they were foot soldiers with small shields and battle axes clothed, some entering battle naked with only genitals covered, their language is "barbarous", the two tribes are alike in appearance, being tall and robust, "while their bodies and hair are neither fair or blond, nor indeed do they incline to the dark type, but they are all ruddy in color. And they live a hard life, giving no heed to bodily comforts..."
Jordanes described the Sclaveni having forests for their cities. Another 6th-century source refers to them living among nearly impenetrable forests, rivers and marshes. Menander Protector mentions a Daurentius who slew an Avar envoy of Khagan Bayan I for asking the Slavs to accept the suzerainty of the Avars. According to eastern homeland theory, prior to becoming known to the Roman world, Slavic-speaking tribes were part of the many multi-ethnic confederacies
The public domain consists of all the creative works to which no exclusive intellectual property rights apply. Those rights may have been forfeited, expressly waived, or may be inapplicable; the works of William Shakespeare and Beethoven, most early silent films, are in the public domain either by virtue of their having been created before copyright existed, or by their copyright term having expired. Some works are not covered by copyright, are therefore in the public domain—among them the formulae of Newtonian physics, cooking recipes, all computer software created prior to 1974. Other works are dedicated by their authors to the public domain; the term public domain is not applied to situations where the creator of a work retains residual rights, in which case use of the work is referred to as "under license" or "with permission". As rights vary by country and jurisdiction, a work may be subject to rights in one country and be in the public domain in another; some rights depend on registrations on a country-by-country basis, the absence of registration in a particular country, if required, gives rise to public-domain status for a work in that country.
The term public domain may be interchangeably used with other imprecise or undefined terms such as the "public sphere" or "commons", including concepts such as the "commons of the mind", the "intellectual commons", the "information commons". Although the term "domain" did not come into use until the mid-18th century, the concept "can be traced back to the ancient Roman Law, as a preset system included in the property right system." The Romans had a large proprietary rights system where they defined "many things that cannot be owned" as res nullius, res communes, res publicae and res universitatis. The term res nullius was defined as things not yet appropriated; the term res communes was defined as "things that could be enjoyed by mankind, such as air and ocean." The term res publicae referred to things that were shared by all citizens, the term res universitatis meant things that were owned by the municipalities of Rome. When looking at it from a historical perspective, one could say the construction of the idea of "public domain" sprouted from the concepts of res communes, res publicae, res universitatis in early Roman law.
When the first early copyright law was first established in Britain with the Statute of Anne in 1710, public domain did not appear. However, similar concepts were developed by French jurists in the 18th century. Instead of "public domain", they used terms such as publici juris or propriété publique to describe works that were not covered by copyright law; the phrase "fall in the public domain" can be traced to mid-19th century France to describe the end of copyright term. The French poet Alfred de Vigny equated the expiration of copyright with a work falling "into the sink hole of public domain" and if the public domain receives any attention from intellectual property lawyers it is still treated as little more than that, left when intellectual property rights, such as copyright and trademarks, expire or are abandoned. In this historical context Paul Torremans describes copyright as a, "little coral reef of private right jutting up from the ocean of the public domain." Copyright law differs by country, the American legal scholar Pamela Samuelson has described the public domain as being "different sizes at different times in different countries".
Definitions of the boundaries of the public domain in relation to copyright, or intellectual property more regard the public domain as a negative space. According to James Boyle this definition underlines common usage of the term public domain and equates the public domain to public property and works in copyright to private property. However, the usage of the term public domain can be more granular, including for example uses of works in copyright permitted by copyright exceptions; such a definition regards work in copyright as private property subject to fair-use rights and limitation on ownership. A conceptual definition comes from Lange, who focused on what the public domain should be: "it should be a place of sanctuary for individual creative expression, a sanctuary conferring affirmative protection against the forces of private appropriation that threatened such expression". Patterson and Lindberg described the public domain not as a "territory", but rather as a concept: "here are certain materials – the air we breathe, rain, life, thoughts, ideas, numbers – not subject to private ownership.
The materials that compose our cultural heritage must be free for all living to use no less than matter necessary for biological survival." The term public domain may be interchangeably used with other imprecise or undefined terms such as the "public sphere" or "commons", including concepts such as the "commons of the mind", the "intellectual commons", the "information commons". A public-domain book is a book with no copyright, a book, created without a license, or a book where its copyrights expired or have been forfeited. In most countries the term of protection of copyright lasts until January first, 70 years after the death of the latest living author; the longest copyright term is in Mexico, which has life plus 100 years for all deaths since July 1928. A notable exception is the United States, where every book and tale published prior to 1924 is in the public domain.
Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor
Otto III was Holy Roman Emperor from 996 until his early death in 1002. A member of the Ottonian dynasty, Otto III was the only son of the Emperor Otto II and his wife Theophanu. Otto III was crowned as King of Germany in 983 at the age of three, shortly after his father's death in Southern Italy while campaigning against the Byzantine Empire and the Emirate of Sicily. Though the nominal ruler of Germany, Otto III's minor status ensured his various regents held power over the Empire, his cousin Henry II, Duke of Bavaria claimed regency over the young king and attempted to seize the throne for himself in 984. When his rebellion failed to gain the support of Germany's aristocracy, Henry II was forced to abandon his claims to the throne and to allow Otto III's mother Theophanu to serve as regent until her death in 991. Otto III was still a child, so his grandmother, the Dowager Empress Adelaide of Italy, served as regent until 994. In 996, Otto III marched to Italy to claim the titles King of Italy and Holy Roman Emperor, left unclaimed since the death of Otto II in 983.
Otto III sought to reestablish Imperial control over the city of Rome, which had revolted under the leadership of Crescentius II, through it the papacy. Crowned as Emperor, Otto III put down the Roman rebellion and installed his cousin as Pope Gregory V, the first Pope of German descent. After the Emperor had pardoned him and left the city, Crescentius II again rebelled, deposing Gregory V and installing John XVI as Pope. Otto III returned to the city in 998, reinstalled Gregory V, executed both Crescentius II and John XVI; when Gregory V died in 999, Otto III installed Sylvester II as the new Pope. Otto III's actions throughout his life further strengthened imperial control over the Catholic Church. From the beginning of his reign, Otto III faced opposition from the Slavs along the eastern frontier. Following the death of his father in 983, the Slavs rebelled against imperial control, forcing the Empire to abandon its territories east of the Elbe river. Otto III fought to regain the Empire's lost territories throughout his reign with only limited success.
While in the east, Otto III strengthened the Empire's relations with Poland and Hungary. Through his affairs in Eastern Europe in 1000, he was able to extend the influence of Christianity by supporting mission work in Poland and through the crowning of Stephen I as the first Christian king of Hungary. Returning to Rome in 1001, Otto faced a rebellion by the Roman aristocracy, which forced him to flee the city. While marching to reclaim the city in 1002, Otto suffered a sudden fever and died in a castle near Civita Castellana at the age of 21. With no clear heir to succeed him, his early death threw the Empire into political crisis. Otto III was born in July 980 somewhere between Aachen and Nijmegen; the only son of Emperor Otto II and his wife Theophanu, Otto III was the youngest of the couple's four children. Prior to Otto III's birth, his father had completed military campaigns in France against King Lothar. On 14 July 982, Otto II's army suffered a crushing defeat against the Muslim Emirate of Sicily at the Battle of Stilo.
Otto II had been campaigning in southern Italy with hopes of annexing the whole of Italy into the Holy Roman Empire. Otto II himself escaped the battle unharmed but many important imperial officials were among the battle's casualties. Following the defeat and at the insistence of the Empire's nobles, Otto II called an assembly of the Imperial Diet in Verona at Pentecost, 983, where he proposed to the assembly to have the three-year-old Otto III elected as King of Germany, becoming Otto II's undoubted heir apparent; this was the first time. After the assembly was concluded, Otto III and his mother Theophanu traveled across the Alps in order for Otto to be crowned at Aix, the traditional location of the coronation of the German kings. Otto II stayed behind to address military action against the Muslims. While still in central Italy, Otto II died on 7 November 983, was buried in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Otto III was crowned as king on Christmas Day 983, three weeks after his father's death, by Willigis, the Archbishop of Mainz, by John, the Archbishop of Ravenna.
News of Otto II's death first reached Germany shortly after his son's coronation. The unresolved problems in southern Italy and the Slavic uprising on the Empire's eastern border made the Empire's political situation unstable. With a minor on the throne, the Empire was thrown into confusion and Otto III's mother Theophanu assumed the role of regent for her young son. Otto III's cousin Henry II had been deposed as Duke of Bavaria by Otto II in 976 following his failed rebellion and imprisoned under the Bishopric of Utrecht. Following Otto II's death, Henry was released from prison; as Otto III's nearest male Ottonian relative, Henry II claimed the regency over his infant cousin. Archbishop of Cologne Warin granted Henry II the regency without substantial opposition. Only Otto III's mother Theophanu objected, along with his grandmother, the Dowager Empress Adelaide of Italy, his aunt, Abbess Matilda of Quedlinburg. Adelaide and Matilda, were both in Italy and unable to press their objections; as regent, Henry II took actions aimed less at guardianship of his infant cousin and more at claiming the throne for himself.
According to Gerbert of Aurillac, Henry II adopted a Byzantine-style joint-kingship. Towards the end of 984, Henry II sought to form alliances between himself and other important figure in the Ottonian world, chief among them his cousin King Lothar of France. In exchange for agreeing to make Henry II king of Germany, Henry II agreed to rel
A priest or priestess is a religious leader authorized to perform the sacred rituals of a religion as a mediatory agent between humans and one or more deities. They have the authority or power to administer religious rites, their office or position is the priesthood, a term which may apply to such persons collectively. According to the trifunctional hypothesis of prehistoric Proto-Indo-European society, priests have existed since the earliest of times and in the simplest societies, most as a result of agricultural surplus and consequent social stratification; the necessity to read sacred texts and keep temple or church records helped foster literacy in many early societies. Priests exist in many religions today, such as all or some branches of Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism, they are regarded as having privileged contact with the deity or deities of the religion to which they subscribe interpreting the meaning of events and performing the rituals of the religion. There is no common definition of the duties of priesthood between faiths.
These include blessing worshipers with prayers of joy at marriages, after a birth, at consecrations, teaching the wisdom and dogma of the faith at any regular worship service, mediating and easing the experience of grief and death at funerals – maintaining a spiritual connection to the afterlife in faiths where such a concept exists. Administering religious building grounds and office affairs and papers, including any religious library or collection of sacred texts, is commonly a responsibility – for example, the modern term for clerical duties in a secular office refers to the duties of a cleric; the question of which religions have a "priest" depends on how the titles of leaders are used or translated into English. In some cases, leaders are more like those that other believers will turn to for advice on spiritual matters, less of a "person authorized to perform the sacred rituals." For example, clergy in Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy are priests, but in Protestant Christianity they are minister and pastor.
The terms priest and priestess are sufficiently generic that they may be used in an anthropological sense to describe the religious mediators of an unknown or otherwise unspecified religion. In many religions, being a priest or priestess is a full-time position, ruling out any other career. Many Christian priests and pastors choose or are mandated to dedicate themselves to their churches and receive their living directly from their churches. In other cases it is a part-time role. For example, in the early history of Iceland the chieftains were titled goði, a word meaning "priest"; as seen in the saga of Hrafnkell Freysgoði, being a priest consisted of offering periodic sacrifices to the Norse gods and goddesses. In some religions, being a priest or priestess is by human election or human choice. In Judaism the priesthood is inherited in familial lines. In a theocracy, a society is governed by its priesthood; the word "priest", is derived from Greek via Latin presbyter, the term for "elder" elders of Jewish or Christian communities in late antiquity.
The Latin presbyter represents Greek πρεσβύτερος presbúteros, the regular Latin word for "priest" being sacerdos, corresponding to ἱερεύς hiereús. It is possible that the Latin word was loaned into Old English, only from Old English reached other Germanic languages via the Anglo-Saxon mission to the continent, giving Old Icelandic prestr, Old Swedish präster, Old High German priast. Old High German has the disyllabic priester, priestar derived from Latin independently via Old French presbtre. Αn alternative theory makes priest cognate with Old High German priast, from Vulgar Latin *prevost "one put over others", from Latin praepositus "person placed in charge". That English should have only the single term priest to translate presbyter and sacerdos came to be seen as a problem in English Bible translations; the presbyter is the minister who both presides and instructs a Christian congregation, while the sacerdos, offerer of sacrifices, or in a Christian context the eucharist, performs "mediatorial offices between God and man".
The feminine English noun, was coined in the 17th century, to refer to female priests of the pre-Christian religions of classical antiquity. In the 20th century, the word was used in controversies surrounding the women ordained in the Anglican communion, who are referred to as "priests", irrespective of gender, the term priestess is considered archaic in Christianity. In historical polytheism, a priest administers the sacrifice to a deity in elaborate ritual. In the Ancient Near East, the priesthood acted on behalf of the deities in managing their property. Priestesses in antiquity performed sacred prostitution, in Ancient Greece, some priestesses such as Pythia, priestess at Delphi, acted as oracles. Sumerian en were top-ranking priestesses who were distinguished with special ceremonial attire and held equal status to high priests, they owned property, transacted business, initiated the hieros gamos with priests and kings. Enheduanna was the first known holder of the title en. Nadītu served as priestesses in the temples of Inanna in the city of Uruk.
They were recruited from the highest families in the land and were supposed to remain childless, own
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