THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE IN THE MIDDLE AGES
From the time of Constantine I onwards, the idea of a sacred Christian empire — and of a duly appointed emperor as the wellspring of all legitimate authority within Christendom - fixed itself in the lore of Eastern and Western Christian society alike. In the East, the Roman empire remained in some sense intact until the middle of the 15th century. In the West, though, with the rise of the barbarian kingdoms, the concept of a Christian emperor became somewhat more abstract.
Between 476 and 800, no one in the West could lay claim to the imperial title for himself. The only emperor there was resided in Constantinople, and his rule in the West - outside of the exarchates established under Justinian — was acknowledged only as a kind of legal formality (if it was recognized at all). For a thousand years, however, from 800 to 1806, the imperial dignity of Christian Rome was claimed by a single institution in the West: the Holy Roman Empire (which was never Roman, not always an empire and only rarely holy).
(ACTUALLY THIS "RELIGIOUS" EMPIRE WAS TO CONTINUE FOR 1260 YEARS ACCORDING TO BIBLE PROPHECY; THE TIMES OF HER MOST INFAMOUS POWER AND DOCTRINAL INFLUENCE ON THE WESTERN WORLD - Keith Hunt)
The Empire of the Franks
The term 'Holy Roman Empire' was coined in the 13th century, but the empire itself began on Christmas Day 800 with the coronation of Charlemagne in Rome. At that moment, the pope effectively transferred his fealty from the Byzantine emperor to the Frankish, and thus recognized the new empire as the true sacred polity of the Western Catholic world. This was chiefly a pragmatic act on the pope's part; he needed the military protection that the Franks could provide; but it also inaugurated a new imperial and ecclesiastical mythology that would shape the politics and religion of Western Europe for many centuries to come.
(THOUGH IT WAS A SIGNIFICANT TIME, THE RULE OF ROME BEGAN IN THE DAYS OF JUSTINIAN BACK IN THE 6TH CENTURY A.D. - Keith Hunt)
It also created the context for centuries of tension between the papacy and the empire. Under the old order, the emperor reigned because 'God' (for which one may read 'armies') had conferred the power upon him. No emperor had ever officially abandoned the ancient fiction that he ruled as the representative of the 'Senate and People of Rome'— a formula inherited from the old Roman Republic. But when the pope crowned Charlemagne, this quite unprecedented and as yet legally meaningless gesture seemed to suggest that the emperor derived his authority from the Church.
(THE ROMAN CHURCH HAD MUCH INFLUENCE BEFORE THIS EVENT. SHE HAD BEEN BUSY CONQUERING BRITAIN FOR ROME IN THE 6TH CENTURY. HER POWER AND INFLUENCE WAS WAY BEFORE CHARLEMAGNE - Keith Hunt)
Internecine conflicts among the Franks after Charlemagne's death fortified the pope's position. Charlemagne's son Louis I 'the Pious' (778—840) took the imperial title he inherited from his father quite seriously, but his vassals were not always obedient to his will. Thus, although he had assumed power in 814, he submitted to a papal coronation in 817 to strengthen his position, as did his son and co-emperor Lothair I (795-855) in 823. But the empire suffered a sharp decline in the later ninth century, and by the early tenth had become something of a burlesque, one impotent emperor succeeding another under the hand of one or another impotent pope. In 924, the title of emperor was entirely suppressed by the Crescentii, a noble Roman clan that did not care for rivals.
The German Empire
The empire, however, was only beginning. In 955, after his decisive victory over the invading Magyars, Otto I (912—73) - the Saxon king of Germany and liege of the kingdom of north Italy — was proclaimed emperor of the old Eastern Frankish empire. In 962, moreover, Pope John XII (c.937-64) - in desperate need of military protection from the king of Italy - confirmed Otto's title by crowning him in Rome.
The scope of Otto's empire — by comparison to Charlemagne's - was not vast. It comprised only Germany and northern Italy. The imperial title principally signified Otto's pledge to support and defend the papacy. The emperor did not even call himself 'Roman' as yet; that addition was made to the imperial title by Otto II (955-83) as a result of political tensions with the Byzantine emperor Basil II Bulgaroctonus (957-1025). And it was not until the reign of Conrad II (c.990-1039) that an emperor presumed to call his realm the 'Roman empire'.
The only emperor of this new 'Roman' order who seriously contemplated restoring the ancient Roman empire was the young and wildly self-deluding Otto III (980—1002), who had acceded to the throne when he was only three. He made Rome his capital in 997, instituted extravagant court ceremonials on the Byzantine model, assumed a number of grand titles (among them 'Emperor of the World') and in 999 installed his ally Sylvester II (c.945— 1003) as pope. His dream of world dominion was short-lived, however; an uprising in Rome in 1002 forced him to retreat to a monastery outside Ravenna, where he died while awaiting reinforcements.
Pope and Emperor
In the latter half of the 11th century, a succession of formidable popes helped to transform the papacy into a power capable of challenging an emperor. An alliance with the Norman kingdom of Sicily freed Rome from its former total subjection to imperial power. And there were many imperial subjects in Italy and Burgundy who disliked being ruled by a German and who naturally preferred to regard the pope as the true head of 'Roman' Christendom. The culmination of the struggle between pope and emperor was the 'Investiture Controversy' (seeThe Great Schism). Pope Gregory VII even went so far as to assert that the pope enjoyed complete supremacy over the emperor, and might depose an emperor if he saw fit.
Neither Henry nor any subsequent emperor ever granted the legitimacy of such claims. The Hohenstaufen Dynasty that ruled the empire — with only a brief interruption - from 1138 to 1254 generally supported its claim to imperial authority from the precepts of Roman Law, which the empire had recently revived in its own legal codes. According to the Hohenstaufens, imperial power was conferred by the diet of German princes, which elected the emperor as universal sovereign of the Christian people. The pope had no say in the matter, and papal coronation of the emperor was the seal — not the source — of that election.
In 1157, Frederick I Barbarossa (c. 1123—90) adopted the title 'Holy Empire' for his realm, as if to suggest that it was sacred in and of itself. For much of the next century, the empire was engaged in a struggle to reassert its power in Germany and Italy, while the papacy was often intent on thwarting imperial designs. Frederick's son, Henry VI (1165— 97), by his marriage to the Norman princess Constance, became king of Sicily and southern Italy and was able in some measure to reassert imperial claims in Italy. The last great Hohenstaufen emperor, Henry's son Frederick II (1194—1250), was for some years a successful and revered ruler; but, in the end, good relations with the German princes and with the papacy proved impossible to sustain, and after his death the empire in its Medieval form would survive only four more years.
When the imperial tradition began to re-emerge in 1273 — in a much altered form — it was under the rule of a new dynasty: the Habsburgs.
(THERE WAS INDEED UPS AND DOWNS FOR THIS HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE. THERE WAS TO BE 7 REVIVALS ACCORDING TO BIBLE PROPHECY. THE 6TH ONE WAS MUSSOLINI DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR. SEE MY STUDY CALLED "THE BEASTS OF DANIEL AND REVELATION" UNDER "PROPHECY" ON THIS WEBSITE. THE 7TH AND LAST REVIVAL IS YET TO COME, SHORTLY BEFORE THE END OF THIS AGE - Keith Hunt)
THE GRAND EMPEROR
Of the many Holy Roman emperors, none was more remarkable - or had a more colourful reign - than Frederick II. Elected king of Germany at two, inheritor of the throne of Sicily at three, and crowned emperor at 22, Frederick's career was one of almost constant warfare - though not by preference. Born into the impossibly complicated politics of empire and papacy, and forced from an early age to fight to retain Sicily, his aim as emperor was to create a stable regime and good relations with Rome.
He founded the University of Naples, formed a civil service, fostered trade, built a navy and attempted to reassert various imperial prerogatives in Italy (an aim frustrated by the powerful northern Italian Lombard League). At his coronation in 1220, he pledged himself to a Crusade, and in fact by his marriage to Yolande of Brienne in 1225 could claim the kingdom of Jerusalem as his own.
This Crusade was the occasion of his first contretemps with his erstwhile ally Pope Gregory IX (1170-1241), who for various reasons had turned against Frederick. When a contagion among his troops in 1227 delayed Frederick's departure for the Holy Land, Gregory accused him of procrastination and excommunicated him.
[Frederick II (c. 1220-50) spent most of his reign fighting to retain or regain parts of his territories and attempting to establish a harmonious imperial order, agreeable both to the German diet and the pope]
Frederick furiously denounced the pontiff but set off for the East in 1228, where he won Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem through negotiation with the sultan of Egypt. In 1229 he crowned himself king of Jerusalem - an act that, in the eyes of his admirers, marked him out as God's chosen ruler of Christendom.
Back home in 1230, however, he was obliged to drive a papal army out of Sicily; but by declining to reciprocate the pope's aggressions, he secured release from excommunication. His attempts further to fortify imperial power, however, were failures. Even his victory over the Lombard League in 1238 failed to secure the submission of all the northern Italian city-states. In 1239, the pope - fearing an invasion of Rome - once again excommunicated Frederick.
This led in 1240 to an imperial march upon the papal states, and probably only the pope's death averted the seizure of Rome. In 1245, however, Pope Innocent IV (d. 1254) stripped Frederick of his imperial title at the Synod of Lyons. Thereafter the papal and imperial parties traded curses, but a series of unforeseen setbacks hampered Frederick's cause. His sudden death in 1250 ended the drama, though so large did he loom in the minds of his admirers that many refused to believe he had died - or, indeed, that he would not come again.
TO BE CONTINUED
AH THE INTRIGUES OF ROME, THE POPE, AND KINGS. WENT ON FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS. A CHURCH THAT MOVED WITH GOVERNMENTS TO ASSERT ITS INFLUENCE AND POWER OVER NATIONS. THE 17TH CHAPTER OF THE BOOK OF REVELATION GIVES YOU THE VIEW OF ROMAN BABYLON FROM GOD'S PERSPECTIVE. YOU WILL NOTICE SHE WAS ALSO "DRUNK WITH THE BLOOD OF THE SAINTS" - MANY A "CHRISTIAN HERETIC" IN HER EYES WAS PUT TO DEATH AT HER COMMAND, AS HISTORY CLEARLY TELLS US - Keith Hunt