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HIST 379 (2)

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HIST 379
Troy Osborne

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In the Middle Ages, Kings were theoretically under the authority of the Pope, though how far Papal authority extended was at times in question. Authority was especially questioned in the Holy Roman Empire, situated in modern Germany. The HRE at the time was still divided and fragmented into kingdoms, duchies, counties, free cities and such. The Motto of the HRE was “Austria rules over all”, and this was reflected in the Quaternion, the emblem of the Holy Roman Empire under the Habsburgs. The Reformation chiefly began in the Holy Roman Empire as a series of questions and arguments about who had authority over what. By the time of the Reformation, the family of the Hapsburgs came to dominate as rulers In Europe, with lands and titles extending to Southern Italy, Burgundy, Spain and the America’s and the HRE. Of these lands, their authority was the weakest the HRE, where the Emperor was elected. Here the Emperor was only as powerful as the army he brought with him. The electoral system there was itself weak and convoluted. Few people actually understood how the system was to work. Due to the intense fragmentation of the HRE, regional princes, dukes and counts were sometimes more powerful than the Emperor of the HRE. As such, even the Imperial law of the Diet (HRE parliament) was not always able to trump regional law. There were seven electors, four princes and three bishops, who elected the Emperor. Of these seven, the important players during t
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