History, Medieval Germany
watershed event, German nation, Roman emperors, Holy Roman Empire, Charles V
Scholars continue to debate at what point it is possible to speak of Germany or a German state. Even though the Romans had often grouped several peoples under the name Germans, it is doubtful that most of these groups viewed themselves as connected in any cultural, linguistic, or political sense. The formation of an eastern Frankish kingdom in the 9th century seems a watershed event in German developmen, although this kingdom featured a diversity of cultures and political allegiances. Most of the medieval “German” rulers actually considered themselves kings of the Romans, and, later, Roman emperors. Not until the 15th century did the emperors officially add “of the German nation” to their title.
On the other hand, it is undeniable that the medieval emperors who called themselves Roman were in fact Germans. During the 10th to 13th centuries, their state, the Holy Roman Empire, was the most powerful in Europe, dominating not only German lands but northern Italian city-states as well. In turn, the decline of the Holy Roman Empire marked a period in which political power was fragmented among many German princes. By the time that the late-15th-century emperor Maximilian attempted to revive imperial authority and institutions, the division of power among German princes had become entrenched. Even his powerful grandson, Charles V, was eventually forced to recognize the political pluralism of Germany, which prevailed until the late 19th century.
>> The Origins of a German State (486-911)
>> Growth of the Holy Roman Empire (911-1250)
>> Decline of the Empire and Growth of Habsburg Power (1250-1519)
>> Life in Germany During the Middle Ages
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