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.


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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