When did the holy Roman empire fall formation and characteristics

Holy Roman German Empire

Imperial state of Western and Central Europe, created in 962 by Otto I, king of Germania. When did the holy Roman empire fall

Date From 962 to 1806.
Location Western and Central Europe.
Capitals Aachen, Regensburg, Vienna.
Official language Latin.
Form of government Elective monarchy.

The Holy Roman Empire was an imperial state of Western and Central Europe , created in 962 by Otto I , king of Germania. Its name derives from the claim of its rulers to be the continuity of the Empire of Charlemagne , which disintegrated in 843 after the signing of the Treaty of Verdun .

The Holy Empire was made up of about 300 states that could be principalities, duchies, bishoprics or free cities. Its highest authority was an emperor , who was elected by several prince electors.

This empire lasted for almost 900 years, as it was dissolved in 1806, after Francis II of Habsburg renounced the imperial crown. When did the holy Roman empire fall


The Holy Roman Empire was located in Western and Central Europe .

To the north it was bordered by Denmark, the Baltic and the North Sea; to the west, with France; to the east, with Poland and Hungary; and to the south with Italy, the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Adriatic Sea.

At its peak, in the 11th century, the empire covered about 950,000 km² and included the present territories of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, eastern France, the northern Italy and western Poland.

Formation of the Holy Roman Empire

After the signing of the Treaty of Verdun, in 843, the successors of Charlemagne ruled the kingdom of Eastern France or Germania until the death of King Louis the Child, in 911.

After the reign of Conrad I, of Frankish lineage, the German princes elected the Count of Saxony, Henry I the Birdcatcher, as king of Germania. Thus the ties that united this kingdom with that of the West Franks, where the Carolingians still ruled, were severed.

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Henry I was succeeded by his son Otto I, who was elected King of Germany in 936. His subsequent coronation as emperor by Pope John XII in 962 marked the founding of the Holy Roman Empire.

Characteristics of the Holy Roman Empire

The main characteristics of the Holy Empire were the following:

  • It was a supranational state inhabited by various peoples, including Germans, Italians, Swiss, Flemish, Czech, Austrian, etc.
  • Its official language was Latin , but a large number of dialects were also spoken, which with the passage of time gave rise to German , Italian and some Slavic languages .
  • Its first capital was Aachen , the city chosen by Charlemagne to be the center of his empire. With the passage of time, successive emperors resided in other cities, such as Regensburg and Vienna.
  • Its official currency was the penny , a silver coin.
  • Until the outbreak of the Protestant Reformation , in 1517, it was a predominantly Catholic state . From then on, Lutheranism and Calvinism began to spread .

Political and social organization of the Holy Roman Empire

Political organization

The main characteristics of the political organization of the Holy Empire were the following:

  • It was made up of around 300 states that could be principalities , duchies , bishoprics, and free cities .
  • Its highest authority was an emperor , whose election was in charge of a group of princes electors , which the Golden Bull of 1356 set at 7.
  • Until 1508, the kings chosen as authority of the Holy Empire were only considered emperors if they were crowned by the pope.
  • It had a legislative power, called the Diet or Reichtag , which met at the request of the emperor, without a pre-established periodicity and in different venues. This was in charge of sanctioning the laws. In 1663 it was transformed into a permanent assembly based in Regensburg.
  • The Court of the Imperial Chamber and the Aulic Council were the highest courts of justice , with overlapping powers. When did the holy Roman empire fall

Social organization

During the High Middle Ages , that of the Holy Empire was a class society constituted by an elective monarchy, the feudal nobility (secular or religious) and the peasants, who could be serfs or free. The serfs had to pay tribute in products or work to their feudal lord, who resided in a castle or monastery.

From the late Middle Ages , a bourgeoisie linked to commerce and finance was progressing in the cities. This new social sector acquired more and more weight and ended up eroding feudal society , during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

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Economy of the Holy Roman Empire

During the High Middle Ages the main activities of the feudal economy of the Holy Empire were agriculture and livestock .

From the twelfth century, trade and craft activities governed by the guilds were gaining strength until they became the main economic activities. In 1358 the Hanseatic League was founded , which included some 200 cities in Northern Europe. The League was a mercantile federation that traded wood, hides, resin, honey, rye, wheat, copper, and iron.

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries , the expansion of overseas trade and the growing naval power of England and the United Provinces led to the decline of commercial exchanges in the Baltic basin.

End/Fall of the Holy Roman Empire

Towards the year 1800, the Napoleonic wars were taking place in Europe , which pitted France against various coalitions made up of the main European powers.

In 1804 Great Britain, the Austrian Empire, the Russian Empire and Sweden formed the Third Coalition, which sought to displace Napoleon Bonaparte , who had just proclaimed himself Emperor of the French, from power.

To destroy this alliance, Napoleon faced the Russians and Austrians at the Battle of Austerlitz , which took place in 1805 and concluded with the victory of the French.

After the defeat, Francis II of Habsburg renounced the crown of the Holy Empire and kept only that of Austria. In this way, the state created by Otto I was dissolved in 962 and was replaced by the Confederation of the Rhine , made up of 16 German states allied to Napoleon. When did the holy Roman empire fall

Protagonists of the Holy Roman Empire

Among the main protagonists in the history of the Holy Roman Empire are:

  • Otto I the Great (912–973) : King of Italy and Germany and first Holy Roman Emperor, between 962 and 973. He was crowned in Rome by Pope John XII.
  • Henry II the Holy (973–1024) : King of Germany and Italy and fourth Holy Roman Emperor, between 1014 and 1024. He was crowned in Rome by Pope Benedict VIII as an Oblate of the Order of Saint Benedict and patron of those who do not they have children. He was canonized in 1146.
  • Henry IV (1050–1106) : King of Germany and seventh Holy Roman Emperor, between 1084 and 1105. He was excommunicated twice by Pope Gregory VII, whom he eventually overthrew and replaced by Clement III, who crowned him emperor. This conflict was the beginning of the Investiture Complaint.
  • Frederick I Barbarossa (1122–1190) : King of the Romans and 10th Holy Roman Emperor, between 1155 and 1190. During his rule, conflicts between Guelphs (supporters of the pope) and Ghibellines (supporters of the emperor) broke out in Italy. He participated in the Third Crusade , during which he drowned.
  • Charles V of Habsburg (1500–1558) : King of Spain, Naples, Italy, and the Netherlands, and 20th Holy Roman Emperor between 1520 and 1558. He was the last emperor to be crowned by the pope. He obtained important victories against the French and the Ottomans , but was unable to contain the claims of autonomy of the Protestant German princes, with whom he had to sign the Peace of Augsburg  in 1555.
  • Ferdinand II of Habsburg (1578–1637) : King of Hungary and Bohemia and 25th Holy Roman Emperor, between 1619 and 1637. His attempt to re-establish Catholicism triggered the 30 Years War , which ended with the Peace of Westphalia  signed by his son, Emperor Ferdinand III.

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