Early Modern Europe Thurs. Oct. 28th
Renaissance Politics 2. Empire
1. Holy? Roman? Empire?
Highlights how far our expectations diverge from the reality of the time.
It's an empire which goes through many evolutions over time, and the early modern
period is a critical time because it has the opportunity to go in different direction, but
ends up not doing so and more or less self destructs.
Holy Roman Empire = Star Wars Episode 1
When early modern people thought of empires they had certain expectations for what
an empire should be based on past examples such as Roman Empire, Alexander's Empire
= i.e. a gathering of people which was a federations.
Many people within the Holy Roman Empire related with their particular part of the
federations - which means it was impossible to consider all of the factions.
About 30 'larger principalities', and about 100 counties (run by a Count), and about 50
ecclesiastical principalities where the Prince was a bishop, and a huge number of city-
states, with about 2000 imperial knights.
What they wanted was an empire that didn't work - their expectations were for a loose
federation that would bind people together, not an all powerful force ruling all of these
Diet - parliament of sorts, meets every two years (in different places, there is no
capital to the HRE)
It is broken up into 3 "houses"; the 7 electors, the major states, and the cities.
how to "get" an Emperor - was elected, and therefore question was who would do the
Eventually decided on 7 men who were princes of seven territories - 4 principalities, 3
ecclesiastical. They could choose from a range of people, with a loose possibility of the
candidate being taken from outside the Empire itself.
Structure in inherently week, because each "house" had the option of being semi-
Once first one is elected, a Hapsburg is always elected, from 15th century to fall of
the Empire in the 18th century.
Fredrick - Emperor 1440 - 93; he plays the politics of the empire (non-interventionist,
small, promise nothing kind of person) and he must play the politics of his family, which
he does very well, by virtue of marriages.
His son Maximillian is also emperor - 1493-1519; picks up Burgundy through