Heart of Europe: A History of the Roman Empire

BOOK: Heart of Europe: A History of the Roman Empire
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Heart of Europe


Heart of Europe

A History of the Holy Roman Empire


Cambridge, Massachusetts   2016

Copyright © Peter H. Wilson, 2016

All rights reserved
Jacket photograph: Hunt in Honor of the Emperor Charles V near Hartenfels Castle, Torgau, 1544 (oil on panel), Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553) / Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria / Bridgeman Images
Jacket design: Jill Breitbarth

First published in the United Kingdom as
The Holy Roman Empire: A Thousand Years of Europe’s History
by Penguin Books Ltd. 2016

First Harvard University Press edition, 2016

ISBN 978-0-674-91592-3 (EPUB)

The Library of Congress has catalogued the print edition of this book as follows

Names: Wilson, Peter H. (Peter Hamish), author.

Title: Heart of Europe : a history of the Holy Roman Empire / Peter H. Wilson.

Description: First Harvard University Press edition, 2016. | Cambridge, MA : The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2016. | “First published in the United Kingdom as The Holy Roman Empire: A Thousand Years of Europe’s History by Penguin Books Ltd. 2016.”—Title page verso. | Includes bibliographical references and index.

Identifiers: LCCN 2015037932 | ISBN 9780674058095 (cloth : alk. paper)

Subjects: LCSH: Holy Roman Empire—History. | Holy Roman Empire—Politics and government.

Classification: LCC DD125.W55 2016 | DDC 943/.02—dc23

LC record available at

For Janine Marret


List of Illustrations

List of Tables


Family Trees

Note on Form



PART I: Ideal

1. Two Swords

2. Christendom

3. Sovereignty

PART II: Belonging

4. Lands

5. Identities

6. Nation

PART III: Governance

7. Kingship

8. Territory

9. Dynasty

PART IV: Society

10. Authority

11. Association

12. Justice

13. Afterlife


Appendix 1: Emperors 800–1806

Appendix 2: German Kings to 1519

Appendix 3: Kings of Italy 774–962


List of Abbreviations



List of Illustrations

1. St Peter, Pope Leo III and Charlemagne. Detail from the Triclinium mosaic in the Lateran Palace, Rome. 1743 copy after 798/9 original. (Photograph: akg-images/Andrea Jemolo)

2. Charlemagne, portrait by Albrecht Dürer, c.1512. Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg. (Photograph: copyright © 2015. Scala, Florence)

Napoleon in Aachen
, painting by Henri-Paul Motte, 1798. (Photograph: Fine Art Photographic Library/Corbis)

4. Carolingian troops besieging towns, illumination from
Balterium Aureum Sancti Gallen
, c.883. Stiftsbibliothek, St Gallen, Cod. Sang. 22, p. 141. (Photograph: akg-images/Interfoto/Toni Schneiders)

5. The Act of Canossa in 1077, illumination from
Vita Mathildis
by Donizone, Italian school, twelfth century. Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Ms Lat 4922, fol.49. (Photograph: Flammarion/Bridgeman Images)

6. Henry VII’s Roman expedition in 1312, illumination from
Codex Balduini trevirensis
, c.1340. Landeshauptstaatsarchiv, Koblenz, Best. 1 C Nr. 1 fol. 22. (Photograph: akg-images)

7. Charles V and Clement VII at the last imperial coronation by a pope in 1530, engraving by Nicolas Hogenberg, with later hand-colouring, from the
, 1532. (Photograph: akg-images)

8. Charles V as victor at the battle of Mühlberg in 1547, portrait by Titian, 1548. Prado, Madrid. (Photograph: akg-images/Album/Prisma)

9. Tefillin bag in green velvet, embroidered with the imperial coat of arms, Jewish, c.1700. (Photograph: copyright © Trustees of the British Museum, London, 1893,0522.1)

10. Charles V, woodcut by Lucas Cranach the Younger, c.1550. (Photograph: akg-images)

11. Charles VI, portrait by Martin van Meytens, eighteenth century. (Photograph: De Agostini Picture Library/A. Dagli Orti/Bridgeman Images)

Joseph II’s Coronation Banquet in the Frankfurt Römer on 3 April 1764
, painting by Martin von Meytens the Younger, 1764. Bundesmobilienverwaltung, Vienna. (Photograph: Edgar Knaack)

13. The three ecclesiastical electors, detail fr
om The Coronation of Joseph II in the Bartholomäusdom in Frankfurt in 1764
by the studio of Martin von Meytens the Younger, 1764. Gemäldegalerie, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Inv.-Nr. GG 7468. (Photograph: copyright © KHM-Museumsverband)

14. Francis II, portrait by Friedrich von Amerling, 1832. Weltliche und Geistliche Schatzkammer, Vienna. (Photograph: Bridgeman Images)

15. Figures representing the Slavs, Germans, Gauls and Romans pay homage to Emperor Otto III, illumination from the
Luithar Gospels
, produced in Reichenau, late tenth century. (Photograph: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich, Clm.4453, fol. 23v.)

16. Salian monarchs and abbots of St Emmeram monastery, illumination from the
Evangelary of St Emmeram in Regensburg
, 1105/6. (Photograph: copyright © Library of the Cathedral Chapter, Krakow, Cod. 208, fol.2v.)

17. Map of Europe as a single empire, by Johannes Patsch, 1537. From Sebastian Münster,
, 1556.

18. Woman from Metz, illustration from Hans Weigel (attr.),
Habitvs praceipvorvm popvlorv
m, Nuremberg, 1577. Trinity College Library, Cambridge, L.11.33, plate XCIX. By courtesy of the Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge.

19. The
by Hans Burgkmaier the Elder, 1510. (Photograph: Wikimedia Commons)

20. Regensburg’s two town halls, painting by an anonymous artist, eighteenth century. (Photograph: Museen der Stadt Regensburg – Historisches Museums, Inv.Nr. AB274)

Maximilian II and the Seven Electors
, coloured woodcut, Nuremberg school, 1564. (Photograph: copyright © 2015, Scala, Florence/bpk, Bildagentur für Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte, Berlin)

22. Christ crowning and blessing Otto II and his wife Theopanu, ivory relief, Byzantine school, c.982/983. Musée National du Moyen Age et des Thermes de Cluny, Paris. (Photograph: copyright © Leemage/Bridgeman Images)

23. Frederick II enfeoffing Hohenzollern with Brandenburg in 1417, coloured woodcut from a coetaneous copy of the
Chronicle of the Council of Constance
by Ulrich von Richental, Augsburg, 1485. Österreichisches Staatsarchiv, Vienna. (Photograph: copyright © 2015. Scala, Florence/bpk, Bildagentur für Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte, Berlin)

24. Nicolas of Cusa, portrait by Dr Winard von Steeg, fifteenth century. (Photograph: copyright © Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Abt.III Geheimes Hausarchiv, Handschrift 12 fol.6v)

25. Reliquary bust of Frederick I, gilded bronze, produced in Aachen, 1155–71. Church of St Johannes, Cappenberg. (Photograph: Bridgeman Images)

26. The Reichstag in plenary session in Regensburg in June 1653, print published in Nuremburg, 1653. (Photograph: akg-images)

27. Carolingian peasants, illumination from a calendar of the abbey of St Peter in Salzburg, 818. Österreichische Nationalbibliothek Vienna, Cod.387, fol.90v. (Photograph: akg-images/Erich Lessing)

28. Annual oath ceremony in Ulm, 1650. (Photograph: copyright © Stadtarchiv Ulm, Inv.Nr. F3 Ans.640 )

29. Charlemagne with his son Pippin and a scribe, copy of 991 after an original illumination from Lupus of Ferrières,
Leges Barbarorum
, c.829–32. Biblioteca Capitalare, Modena. (Photograph: akg-images/Visioars)

30. The Reichskammergericht in session, engraving after Hermann Bols in Wilhelm Roding,
Pandectae Juris Cameralis
, 1688.

31. Carl von Dalberg receiving Napoleon in front of the Aschaffenburg palace in 1806, detail from a painting by Florent Fidèle Constant Bourgeois and Jean-Baptiste Debret, 1812: Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon, Versailles. (Photograph: copyright © RMN-Grand Palais (Château de Versailles)/Franck Raux)

Barbarossa Awakes in the Kyffhäuser Hills
, mural by Hermann Wislicensus, 1879–97. Imperial Palace, Goslar. akg-images/Schadach.

33. Himmler laying a wreath on the first
, 1 July 1936. (Photograph: Bundesarchiv, Koblenz/German Federal Bildarchiv – Bild 183-H08447)

34. Sergeant Babcock wearing the Aachen copy of the imperial crown which had been hidden in a mine near Siegen, 13 June 1945. (Photograph: Nationaal Archief/Collectie Spaarnestad)

, statue erected in the harbour of Konstanz, by Peter Lenk, 1993. (Photograph: No Limit Pictures/istockphoto.com)

List of Tables

1. Imperial Reigns and German Kings

2. Anti-Kings

3. Co-Kings and Emperors

4. The Growth of Writing in Imperial Governance

5. New Ducal Titles

6. Changes in the Electoral College

7. Reichstag Participation Rates, 1521

8. Territory and Formal Status in 1792

9. Annual Revenue Derived from Imperial Prerogatives, c.1780

10. Imperial Taxation, 1521–1613

11. War Funding Raised during the Long Turkish War, 1593–1606

12. Tax Grants during the Permanent Reichstag, 1663–1742

13. Imperial Defence, 1664–1714

14. Revenue and Debt in Selected Principalities, c.1500

15. The Removal of Immediate Vassals

16. Official Reichskammergericht Staff Levels


1. The Empire in 800

2. Frankish Partitions

3. Ottonians: the Empire in 962

4. Salians: the Empire around 1050

5. Staufers: the Empire in 1195

6. From Little Kings to Big Dynasties: the Empire in 1378

7. The Empire in 1512 (showing the Kreise)

8. The Empire in 1555

9. The Empire in 1648

10. The Empire in 1792

11. The Empire in 1803

12. The Empire in 1806

13. The Imperial Church, c.1020

14. Royal Palaces (showing Conrad II’s Royal Progress, 1024–5)

15. Ducal Burgundy in 1471

16. The Swiss Confederation in 1540

17. Mainz and Hessian Territorial Development (possessions in the eighteenth century)

18. The Swabian League (membership after 1523)

19. Protestant Union and Catholic League Membership

20. The Rhenish Civic League of 1254

21. The Hansa and the Teutonic Order in 1370

22. Communal Regimes in Northern Germany, c.1500

1. The Empire in 800

BOOK: Heart of Europe: A History of the Roman Empire
5.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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