Holy Roman Emperor

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The Holy Roman Emperor (Latin: Imperator Romanus Sacer, German: Römisch-deutscher Kaiser) is a term used by historians to denote a medieval German ruler who had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope. After the 16th century, this elected monarch governed the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, a Central European union of territories of the Medieval and Early Modern period. By convention the first Emperor was taken to be the Frankish king Charlemagne, crowned as Emperor of the West by Pope Leo III on December 25, 800, although the Empire itself (as well as the style Holy Roman Emperor) did not come into use until some time later. Holy Roman Emperors were crowned by the Popes up until the 16th century, and the last Emperor, Francis II, abdicated in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars that saw the Empire's final dissolution.

The Roman of the Emperor's title was a reflection of the translatio imperii (transfer of rule) principle that regarded the Roman-German Emperors as the inheritors of the title of Emperor of the Western Roman Empire, a title left unclaimed in the West after the death of Julius Nepos in 480.

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Title

The title of Emperor (Imperator) carried with it an important role as protector of the Catholic Church. As the papacy's power grew during the Middle Ages, Popes and emperors came into conflict over church administration. The best-known and bitterest conflict was that known as the Investiture Controversy, fought during the 11th century between Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII.[1]

After Charlemagne was crowned Roman Emperor by the Pope, 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 became 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 Holy Roman Emperor by the Pope. After Charles V's coronation, all succeeding emperors were legally emperors-elect 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.[2] Charles V was the last Holy Roman Emperor to be crowned by the Pope. 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, his 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.[3]

The word Roman was a reflection of the translatio imperii (transfer of rule) principle that regarded the (Germanic) Holy Roman Emperors as the inheritors of the title of Emperor of the Western Roman Empire, a title left unclaimed in the West after the death of Julius Nepos in 480.

Coronation

The Roman-German Emperor was crowned in a special ceremony, traditionally performed by the Pope in Rome, using the Imperial Regalia. 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 of the German Nation. 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

Notes

  1. History OF The Holy Roman Empire. historyworld. Retrieved on 22 August 2012.
  2. Peter Moraw, Heiliges Reich, in: Lexikon des Mittelalters, Munich & Zurich: Artemis 1977-1999, vol. 4, columns 2025-2028.
  3. Bryce, James (1968). The Holy Roman Empire. Macmillan, 530. 
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