Holy Roman Empire (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Military significance: The Holy Roman Empire, which originated in Charlemagne’s campaigns of conquest, revived under Otto I to become the most powerful state of the High Middle Ages. However, successive emperors failed in their attempts to subdue Italy and lost their power in Germany. In the Reformation era, several emperors unsuccessfully attempted to transform the empire into a modern national state.
Although the term “Holy Roman Empire” was not used until 1254, the Holy Roman Empire is generally considered to have started when Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne on Christmas day in 800. In so doing, the pope, who was looking for a protector, recognized that Charlemagne and his Frankish forebears had created the greatest state in Europe since the fall of the Western Roman Empire, embracing as it did modern France, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, northern Italy, and the Low Countries. The Frankish state, however, was not a centralized, bureaucratic edifice like Rome. Instead, it was a typical early medieval tribal kingdom, albeit the most successful. It fed on conquest, which allowed the ruler to bestow a steady stream of land and plunder on his followers, and it began to die when expansion stopped and the flow of spoils dried up. Furthermore, as a dynastic possession, it was subject to division among multiple heirs, and Charlemagne planned to divide it until two of his three sons died before him. The fact that the...
(The entire section is 904 words.)
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