Military Review

Holy Roman Empire - the basis of the Western project

210 years ago, 6 August 1806, the Holy Roman Empire ceased to exist. The war of the Third Coalition of the 1805 of the year dealt a mortal blow to the Holy Roman Empire. The Austrian army was utterly defeated in the battle of Ulm and the battle of Austerlitz, and Vienna was captured by the French. Emperor Franz II was forced to conclude the Presburg Peace with France, according to which the emperor not only refused in favor of Napoleon and his satellites from possessions in Italy, Tyrol, etc., but also recognized the titles of kings for the rulers of Bavaria and Württemberg. This legally removed these states from under any authority of the emperor and granted them almost full sovereignty.

The empire has become a fiction. As Napoleon emphasized in a letter to Talleyrand after the Presburg Treaty: "There will no longer be the Reichstag ... there will no longer be the German Empire." A number of German states formed the Rhine Union under the auspices of Paris. Napoleon I proclaimed himself the true successor of Charlemagne and claimed dominance in Germany and in Europe.

22 July 1806, the Austrian envoy in Paris, received Napoleon’s ultimatum, according to which, if Franz II does not abdicate the throne of the empire before 10 in August, the French army attacks Austria. Austria was not ready for a new war with Napoleon’s empire. The rejection of the crown became inevitable. By the beginning of August 1806, having received the guarantees of the French envoy that Napoleon would not put on the crown of the Roman emperor, Franz II decided to go to the renunciation. 6 August 1806, Franz II announced the resignation of the title and authority of the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, explaining this by the impossibility of fulfilling the duties of the emperor after the establishment of the Rhine Union. The Holy Roman Empire ceased to exist.

Holy Roman Empire - the basis of the Western project

Coat of arms of the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire from the Habsburg dynasty, 1605 year

Milestones of stories empire

2 February 962 in the Cathedral of St. Peter in Rome, the German King Otto I was solemnly crowned with an imperial crown. The coronation ceremony proclaimed the revival of the Roman Empire, the title of which was later added to the epithet Sacred. The capital of the once-existing Roman Empire was not for nothing called the Eternal City: for centuries, it seemed to people that Rome was and always will exist forever. The same was true of the Roman Empire. Although the ancient Roman state collapsed under the onslaught of the barbarians, the tradition continued to live. In addition, not the entire state perished, but only its western part - the Western Roman Empire. The eastern part survived and under the name of Byzantium existed for about a thousand years. At first, the authority of the Byzantine emperor was also recognized in the West, where the so-called “barbarian kingdoms” were created by the Germans. Recognized until the Holy Roman Empire appeared.

In fact, the first attempt to revive the empire was made by Charlemagne in 800. The empire of Charlemagne was a kind of "European Union-1", which united the main territories of the main European states - France, Germany and Italy. The Holy Roman Empire, a feudal-theocratic state entity, was supposed to continue this tradition.

Charlemagne felt heir to the emperors Augustus and Constantine. However, in the eyes of the Basileus rulers of the Byzantine (Romean) Empire, the true and legitimate heirs of the ancient Roman emperors, he was only a barbarian usurper. Thus arose the "problem of two empires" - the rivalry between the Western and Byzantine emperors. There was only one Roman Empire, but two emperors, each of whom claimed the universal character of his power. Charlemagne, immediately after the coronation in 800, enjoyed a long and awkward title (soon forgotten) "Karl, Brightest Augustus, a bogowchenny, great and peace-loving emperor, ruler of the Roman Empire." Later on, the emperors, beginning with Charlemagne and up to Otto I, simply called themselves "Emperor Augustus", without any territorial specification. It was believed that over time, the entire former Roman Empire, eventually the whole world, would enter the state.

Otto II is sometimes referred to as the “Emperor Augustus of the Romans,” and since Otto III this is an indispensable title. The phrase "Roman Empire" as the name of the state began to be used from the middle of the X century, and finally settled in the 1034 year. The "Holy Empire" is found in the documents of Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa. From 1254, the complete designation “Holy Roman Empire” is rooted in the sources, and from 1442 the words “German Nation” (Deutscher Nation, Latin Nationis Germanicae) are added to it first to distinguish the German lands proper from the “Roman Empire” in whole The decree of Emperor Frederick III from 1486 on the “universal world” refers to the “Roman Empire of the German Nation”, and the decree of the Cologne Reichstag 1512 used the final form “Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation”, which existed until the 1806 year.

The Carolingian empire was short-lived: already in 843, the three grandsons of Charlemagne divided it among themselves. The eldest of the brothers retained the imperial title, handed down, but after the collapse of the Carolingian empire, the prestige of the Western emperor began to fade uncontrollably, and not at all. However, the project of unification of the West has not been canceled. After several decades, filled with turbulent events, wars and upheavals, the eastern part of the former empire of Charlemagne, the East-Frankish Kingdom, the future Germany, became the most militarily and politically powerful power of Central and Western Europe. The German king Otto I the Great (936-973), deciding to continue the tradition of Charlemagne, seized the Italian (former Langobard) kingdom with its capital in Pavia, and a decade later got the pope to crown him in Rome with the imperial crown. Thus, the re-creation of the Western Empire, which existed, constantly changing, up to the 1806 year, was one of the most important events in the history of Europe and the world, and had far-reaching and profound consequences.

The Roman Empire became the foundation of the Holy Roman Empire - the Christian-theocratic power. Thanks to its inclusion in the sacred history of Christianity, the Roman Empire gained special sanctification and dignity. Her shortcomings tried to forget. The idea of ​​the world domination of the empire, inherited from the Roman antiquity, was closely intertwined with the claims of the Roman throne to supremacy in the Christian world. It was believed that the emperor and the pope, the two highest ones, who were called to serve by God himself, a representative of the Empire and the Church, should rule the Christian world in agreement. In turn, the whole world was sooner or later to fall under the domination of the "biblical project" led by Rome. Anyway, the same project defined the entire history of the West and a significant part of world history. Hence the crusades against the Slavs, the Balts and the Muslims, the creation of huge colonial empires and the millennial opposition of the Western and Russian civilizations.

The power of the emperor, by his very idea, was a universal power oriented to world domination. However, in reality, the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire commanded only Germany, most of Italy and Burgundy. But in its inner essence, the Holy Roman Empire was a synthesis of Roman and German elements, which gave birth to a new civilization, which tried to become the head of all humanity. From ancient Rome, the papal throne, which became the first "command center" (conceptual center) of Western civilization, inherited the great idea of ​​a world pattern that encompasses many nations in a single spiritual and cultural space.

The Roman imperial idea was characterized by civilizing claims. Expansion of the empire according to Roman ideas meant not just an increment of the sphere of Roman rule, but also the spread of Roman culture (later - Christian, European, American, post-Christian-popular). In the Roman concepts of peace, security and freedom reflected the idea of ​​a higher order, which brings cultural domination to the Romans (Europeans, Americans). With this culturally rationalized idea of ​​the empire, the Christian idea merged, completely prevailing after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. From the idea of ​​rallying all nations into the Roman Empire, the idea was born of uniting all of humanity into a Christian empire. It was about maximizing the expansion of the Christian world and protecting it from pagans, heretics and the Gentiles who took the place of the barbarians.

Two ideas gave the western empire a special endurance and strength. First, the belief that the domination of Rome, being universal, must be eternal. The centers may change (Rome, London, Washington ...), but the empire will continue. Secondly, the connection of the Roman state with the sole ruler - the emperor and the holiness of the imperial name. Since the time of Julius Caesar and Augustus, when the emperor accepted the rank of high priest, his personality became sacred. These two ideas - the world power and world religion - thanks to the Roman throne, became the basis of the Western project.

The imperial title did not give the kings of Germany large additional powers, although formally they stood above all the royal houses of Europe. The emperors ruled in Germany, using already existing administrative mechanisms, and intervened very little in the affairs of their vassals in Italy, where their main support was the bishops of the Lombard cities. Beginning with 1046, the emperor Henry III received the right to appoint popes, just as he had in his hands the appointment of bishops in the German church. After the death of Heinrich, the struggle against the papal throne was continued. Pope Gregory VII asserted the principle of the superiority of spiritual authority over secular and within the framework of what went down in history as the “struggle for investiture” that continued from 1075 to 1122, launched an attack on the right of the emperor to appoint bishops.

The compromise reached in 1122 did not lead to final clarity on the question of supremacy in the state and the church, and under Frederick I Barbaross, the first emperor from the Hohenstaufen dynasty, the struggle between the papal throne and the empire continued. Although now the main reason for the confrontation was the question of ownership of the Italian lands. Under Frederick, the words “The Holy Empire” were first added to the words “Roman Empire”. It was a period of the highest prestige and power of the empire. Frederick and his successors centralized on their territories control system, conquered the Italian cities, established feudal suzerainty over the states outside the empire and as they moved eastward to Germany, they also extended their influence in this direction. In 1194, the Sicilian kingdom passed to the Hohenstaufen, which led to the complete papal possession of the lands of the Holy Roman Empire.

The power of the Holy Roman Empire was weakened by the civil war that broke out between Welfy and Hohenstaufen after the premature death of Henry in the year 1197. Under Pope Innocent III, Rome dominated in Europe up to 1216. After receiving even the right to resolve disputes between applicants for the imperial throne. After the death of Innocent, Frederick II returned the former greatness to the imperial crown, but was forced to give the German princes to do in their inheritance whatever they liked. Being from the leadership in Germany, he focused all his attention on Italy in order to strengthen his position here in the struggle against the papal throne and cities under the rule of the Guelphs. Soon after the death of Frederick in 1250, the papal throne, with the help of the French, finally defeated Hohenstaufen. Between 1250 and 1312, the coronations of the emperors did not occur.

Nevertheless, in one form or another, the empire existed for more than five centuries. The imperial tradition was maintained, despite the constantly renewed attempts of the French kings to seize the crown of emperors and the attempts of Pope Boniface VIII to belittle the status of imperial authority. But the former power of the empire is in the past. The power of the empire was now limited to Germany alone, since Italy and Burgundy fell away from it. She received a new name - "Holy Roman Empire of the German nation." The last connections with the papal throne were interrupted by the end of the 15th century, when the German kings made it a rule to take the title of emperor, not going to Rome to receive the crown from the hands of the pope. In Germany itself, the power of the elector princes was greatly strengthened, and the rights of the emperor were weakened. The principles of election to the German throne were enshrined in 1356 by the Golden Bull of Emperor Charles IV. Seven electors elected the emperor and used their influence to strengthen their power and weaken the central authority. During the fifteenth century, the princes unsuccessfully tried to strengthen the role of the imperial Reichstag, in which the electors, lesser princes and imperial cities were represented, at the expense of the power of the emperor.

From 1438, the imperial crown was in the hands of the dynasty of the Austrian Habsburgs and gradually the Holy Roman Empire became associated with the Austrian Empire. In 1519, the king of Spain, Charles I, was elected emperor of the Holy Roman Empire under the name of Charles V, uniting Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, the Sicilian kingdom and Sardinia under his rule. In 1556, Mr. Charles abdicated the throne, after which the Spanish crown passed to his son Philip II. The successor of Charles as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire was his brother Ferdinand I. Charles tried to create an "all-European empire", which resulted in a series of fierce wars with France, the Ottoman Empire, in Germany itself against the Protestants (Lutherans). However, the Reformation destroyed all hopes of rebuilding and reviving the old empire. Secularized states appeared and religious wars began. Germany broke up into Catholic and Protestant principalities. The 1555 religious world of Augsburg between the Lutheran and Catholic subjects of the Holy Roman Empire and the Roman king Ferdinand I, acting on behalf of Emperor Charles V, recognized Lutheranism as the official religion and established the right of the imperial classes to choose religion. The power of the emperor became ornamental, the meetings of the Reichstag turned into trivial congress of diplomats, and the empire degenerated into a loose union of many small principalities and independent states. Although the core of the Holy Roman Empire - Austria, for a long time maintained the status of a great European power.

Empire of Charles V in 1555 year

6 August 1806 was the last emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Franz II, who already became Austrian Emperor Franz I in 1804, after a military defeat from France, refused the crown and thus put an end to the existence of the empire. By this time, Napoleon had already proclaimed himself the true successor of Charlemagne, and he was supported by many German states. but one way or another, the idea of ​​a united western empire, which should dominate the world, was preserved (Napoleon’s empire, British empire, Second and Third Reich). Currently, the idea of ​​"eternal Rome" embody the United States.

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  1. ImPerts
    ImPerts 8 August 2016 06: 33
    The United States is currently embodying the idea of ​​"eternal Rome."

    I do not agree here.
    The construction of the IV Reich is going against the wishes of the United States, since the strengthening of a united Europe will allow the European "Uniates" to play their own game.
    1. Tatar 174
      Tatar 174 8 August 2016 07: 46
      Quote: ImPerts
      The construction of the IV Reich is going against the wishes of the United States, since the strengthening of a united Europe will allow the European "Uniates" to play their own game.

      Germany and Europe have forgotten WWII lessons and that’s why Merkel is trying in every possible way to keep the EU from collapse, because the EU is already a ready Reich. Although about Merkel herself this is probably just an appearance, someone seems to be managing her as a convenient figure, but they will continue to try to solve problems, maybe for this they will also launch refugees to Europe, so that later, under the pretext of fighting terrorists, they can tidy up all European countries under one cap already with the help of demagogic politics and military force.
    2. Petrol
      Petrol 8 August 2016 09: 26
      not Rome but Peace!
      Etruscan (those who founded Rome) wrote from left to right, the fashion was then such
      1. Oberon812
        Oberon812 4 January 2017 11: 54
        Then "amor", for "Roma". Or the poor Etruscans, having listened to Zadorny and others like them, wrote to the heap in post-Petrine Cyrillic? To make it even more fashionable.
    3. Lyubopyatov
      Lyubopyatov 8 August 2016 23: 35
      The Provisional States of America (PSA) embody the idea of ​​the eternal West and eternal sunset, but not "eternal Rome." And the Third Rome was, as you know, the Russian Empire, from the moment of the marriage of Sophia Palaeologus to the Grand Duke of Moscow.
  2. bober1982
    bober1982 8 August 2016 08: 44
    ... the idea of ​​a unified Western empire ..... has been preserved (Napoleon's empire, the British Empire, the Second and Third Reich)
    The Germans least of all thought about any single Western empire, only about their exclusivity. The English also always stood apart, and were not carried away with such ideas.
    The author brought everyone together and agrees (in the comments) that the Americans can’t embody the idea of ​​eternal Rome. They never had such ideas, they never wanted to.
  3. Reptiloid
    Reptiloid 8 August 2016 09: 42
    Now there comes anti-civilization.
    Thanks so much for the article.
  4. Gardamir
    Gardamir 8 August 2016 10: 14
    Why did the house of "Romanovs" choose the colors of the Habsburg surname black and yellow, their coat of arms is a two-headed eagle?
    1. bober1982
      bober1982 8 August 2016 10: 39
      This is not the Romanovs’s house, but Alexander II legislatively chose the black-yellow-white color. Both flags coexisted peacefully, and few people thought about the colors of the flag. Academician Dahl said - raise multi-colored flags out of place
    2. Lyubopyatov
      Lyubopyatov 8 August 2016 23: 39
      Not the House of Romanov, but Rurikovich, and not the Habsburg coat of arms, but Byzantium.
  5. Alexey-74
    Alexey-74 8 August 2016 11: 17
    First of all, thanks to the author. Of course, there were a lot of intricacies in old Europe. The laurels of the Roman emperors do not give rest to some modern states ... (USA, Great Britain) and Germany does not lag behind, although it is still in the shadow .... Well, the opposition of the West with the Russian world continues
  6. gorgo
    gorgo 8 August 2016 11: 37
    "The eastern part survived and existed under the name of Byzantium for about a thousand years."

    This is a gross mistake. The Eastern Roman Empire never existed under the name of Byzantium. This term is artificial and was introduced into circulation after the fall of Constantinople, and much later. The so-called "Byzantium" is a historical chimera that never existed. There was only the Roman Empire with its capital in Constantinople. And what happened there in the wild west is a separate story that has no direct relation to the Roman Empire.
    1. bober1982
      bober1982 8 August 2016 11: 46
      You very angrily attacked Byzantium, with historical chimeras, in my opinion, got excited.
      1. Rastas
        Rastas 8 August 2016 13: 27
        It's true. The Byzantines always considered themselves the successors of the Roman Empire.
        1. Lyubopyatov
          Lyubopyatov 8 August 2016 23: 45
          As far as my memory serves me, Byzantium is the name of a piece of land, the peninsula on which Constantinople is located. And the empire, of course, was called the Roman - in Greek Romeyiko.
    2. Turkir
      Turkir 9 August 2016 00: 37
      In 330, the Roman emperor Constantine the Great declared Byzantium his capital, renaming it “New Rome” (Constantinople is an unofficial name)

      Yes, Byzantium was "called" later, in 1557, by a German historian.
    3. ver_
      ver_ 9 August 2016 07: 47
      ..interesting situation - Constantinople was founded by Dmitry Donskoy = Constantine the Great, but what does Rome have to do with it? ..
      The Vatican was founded by John Kalita = Yaroslav Vsevolodovich ..
      Alexander Nevsky = Alexander of Macedon ..
      The story is that the hut on chicken legs turns to be shown to her ..
  7. Appiann
    Appiann 8 August 2016 14: 13
    Only for the last sentence - minus! But generally interesting.
    1. ver_
      ver_ 9 August 2016 12: 00
      ..if it’s interesting, see in which century a supernova exploded in a crab nebula in the constellation Taurus ..
  8. antiexpert
    antiexpert 8 August 2016 14: 34
    Quote: 000
    The United States is currently embodying the idea of ​​"eternal Rome."

    The United States is that unique empire that has gone from barbarism to decay bypassing the period of greatness, prosperity, and luxury that is characteristic of all empires. Calling the USA the embodiment of the idea of ​​"eternal Rome" is very doubtful)))
    1. Nekarmadlen
      Nekarmadlen 8 August 2016 14: 58
      Again myths about the decaying west)))? As if someone in the mid-eighties watched the International Panorama program, then fell into a lethargic sleep for 30 years, now woke up, registered and began to write comments. )))) ...
    2. Lyubopyatov
      Lyubopyatov 8 August 2016 23: 48
      The Temporary States of America (WHA), in comparison with other states, exist for a week without a year: upstarts who still have to make history laugh (to tears).
    3. Turkir
      Turkir 9 August 2016 00: 41
      But these farmers with a Bible in one hand and a Colt in the other - are very fond of the words "Senate" and "Capitol".
      1. ver_
        ver_ 9 August 2016 12: 13
        ... they achieved their power when they took the gold reserves of European and some other countries to Fort Knox .. and these countries became hostages of Uncle Sam ...
  9. Boris55
    Boris55 8 August 2016 19: 41
    Quote: Samsonov Alexander
    However, in one way or another, the idea of ​​a unified Western empire, which should dominate the world, was preserved (Napoleon's empire, the British Empire, the Second and Third Reich).

    Globalization is an objective process. The distribution of labor is the most effective form of management. But who will lead it is a subjective process. The essence of the Western concept is that who is not under us is against us. The essence of the concept of Russian civilization - guys, let's live together.

    The picture is not quite the topic, but gives a visual representation of two opposing concepts:
  10. lel
    lel 9 August 2016 07: 10
    I consider the election of the emperor a significant and fundamental change in the order of Western Europe, in contrast to the election of the Romanovs for the post of tsar in Russia ... they followed the path of "democracy" and weakened their "empire" ... the elected emperor was no longer considered and respected. unwittingly came the example of the election of Polish kings, as a result of which Poland lost its independence ... unfortunately, the autocratic order also depends on the personality of the one who takes the throne ... a competent and prepared elite helps to strengthen it, and the corrupted and empty destroys the foundations of the throne, which is what happened in Russia ...
  11. ver_
    ver_ 9 August 2016 12: 17
    Quote: ver_
    ..if it’s interesting, see in which century a supernova exploded in a crab nebula in the constellation Taurus ..
  12. ver_
    ver_ 9 August 2016 16: 34
    Quote: antiexpert
    Quote: 000
    The United States is currently embodying the idea of ​​"eternal Rome."

    The United States is that unique empire that has gone from barbarism to decay bypassing the period of greatness, prosperity, and luxury that is characteristic of all empires. Calling the USA the embodiment of the idea of ​​"eternal Rome" is very doubtful)))

    ... don't compare Americans to barbarians. Barbarians "enlightened Europe"
    called us Slavs, burning dissenters at the stake of the Inquisition, including Giordano Bruno, poured slop and contents of "chamber pots" right out the window onto the pavement, did not wash in the baths and shared her clothes with lice ...
  13. Jääkorppi
    Jääkorppi 10 August 2016 17: 16
    Well, you have to start with Charlemagne, and end the Prussian - Austrian war !! Yes, and the project in the West is one and it continues.