Kingdom of Germany
Like medieval England and France, it began as "a conglomerate, an assemblage of a number of once separate and independent... gentes [peoples] and regna [kingdoms]."1 East Francia was formed in embryo by the Treaty of Verdun in 843, and was ruled by the Carolingian dynasty until 911, after which the kingship was electoral. The initial electors were the rulers of the stem duchies, who generally chose one of their own. After 962, when Otto I was crowned emperor, the kingdom formed the bulk of the Holy Roman Empire, which also included Italy (from 951) and Burgundy (after 1032).
The term rex teutonicorum (king of the Germans) first came into use in the chancery of Pope Gregory VII during the Investiture Controversy (late 11th century), perhaps as a polemical tool against the Emperor Henry IV.2 In the twelfth century, in order to stress the imperial and transnational character of their office, the emperors began to employ the title rex Romanorum (king of the Romans) on their election (by the prince-electors, seven German bishops and noblemen). Distinct titulature for Germany, Italy and Burgundy, which traditionally had their own courts, laws, and chanceries,3 gradually dropped from use. After the Reichsreform and Reformation settlement, the German part of the Holy Roman Empire was divided into Reichskreise (imperial circles), which effectively defined Germany against imperial Italy and the Kingdom of Bohemia.4 There are nevertheless relatively few references to a German realm and an instability in the term's use.5
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The eastern division of the Treaty of Verdun was called the regnum Francorum Orientalium or Francia Orientalis: the Kingdom of the Eastern Franks or simply East Francia. It was the eastern half of the old Merovingian regnum Austrasiorum. The "east Franks" (or Austrasians) themselves were the people of Franconia, which had been settled by Franks. The other peoples of East Francia were Saxons, Frisians, Thuringii, and the like, referred to as Teutonici (or Germans) and sometimes as Franks as ethnic identities changed over the course of the ninth century.
An entry in the Annales Iuvavenses (or Salzburg Annals) sub anno 919, roughly contemporary but surviving only in a twelfth century copy, record that Baiuarii sponte se reddiderunt Arnolfo duci et regnare ei fecerunt in regno teutonicorum, i.e. that "Arnulf, Duke of the Bavarians, was elected to reign in the Kingdom of the Germans".6 Historians disagree on whether this text is what was written in the lost original; also on the wider issue whether the idea of the Kingdom as German, rather than Frankish, dates from the tenth or the eleventh century;7 but the idea of the kingdom as "German" is firmly established by the end of the eleventh century.8
Beginning in the late eleventh century, during the Investiture Controversy the Papal curia began to use the term regnum teutonicorum to refer to the realm of Henry IV in an effort to reduce him to the level of the other kings of Europe while he himself began to use the title rex Romanorum or King of the Romans to emphasise his divine right to the imperium Romanum. This title was employed most frequently by the German kings themselves, though they did deign to employ "Teutonic" titles when it proved diplomatic, such as Frederick Barbarossa's letter to the pope referring to his receiving the coronam Theutonici regni (crown of the German kingdom). Foreign kings and ecclesiastics continued to refer to the regnum Alemanniae and règne or royaume d'Allemagne. The terms imperium/imperator or empire/emperor was often employed for German kingdom and its rulers, which indicates a recognition of their imperial stature but combined with "Teutonic" and "Alemannic" references a denial of their Romanitas and universal rule. The term regnum Germaniae (literally "Kingdom of Germany") begins to appear in even German sources beginning in the fourteenth century.
Therefore, throughout the Middle Ages, the convention was that the (elected) king of Germany was also Emperor of the Romans. His title was royal (king of the Germans, or from 1237 king of the Romans) from his election to his coronation in Rome by the Pope; thereafter, he was emperor. After the death of Frederick II in 1250, the trend toward a "more clearly conceived German kingdom" found no real consolidation.5 The title of "king of the Romans" became less and less reserved for the emperor-elect but uncrowned in Rome; the emperor-elect was either known as German king or simply styled himself "imperator" (see the example of Louis IV below). The reign was dated to begin either from the day of election (Philip of Swabia, Rudolf of Habsburg) or the day of the coronation (Otto IV, Henry VII, Louis IV, Charles IV). The election day became the starting date permanently with Sigismund.
Ultimately, Maximilian I changed the style of the emperor in 1508, with papal approval: after his German coronation, his style was Dei gratia Romanorum imperator electus semper augustus. That is, he was "emperor elect": a term that did not imply that he was emperor-in-waiting or not yet fully emperor, but only that he was emperor by virtue of the election rather than papal coronation (by tradition, the style of rex Romanorum electus was retained between the election and the German coronation). At the same time, the custom of having the heir-apparent elected as king of the Romans in the emperor's lifetime resumed. For this reason, the title king of the Romans (rex Romanorum, sometimes king of the Germans or rex Teutonicorum) came to mean heir-apparent, the successor elected while the emperor was still alive.9
The Archbishop of Mainz was ex officio arch-chancellor of Germany, as his colleagues the Archbishop of Cologne and Archbishop of Trier were, respectively, arch-chancellors of Italy and Burgundy. These titles continued in use until the end of the empire, but only the German chancery actually existed.10
The tripartite division of the Carolingian Empire effected by the Treaty of Verdun was challenged very early on with the death of the Emperor Lothair I in 855. He had divided his kingdom of Middle Francia between his three sons and immediately the northernmost of the three divisions, Lotharingia, was disputed between the kings of East and West Francia. The war over Lotharingia lasted until 925. Lothair II of Lotharingia died in 869 and the Treaty of Meerssen (870) divided his kingdom between East and West Francia, but the West Frankish sovereigns relinquished their rightful portion to East Francia by the Treaty of Ribemont in 880. Ribemont determined the border between France and Germany until the fourteenth century. The Lotharingian nobility tried to preserve their independence of East of West Frankish rule by switching allegiance at will with the death of king Louis the Child in 911, but in 925 Lotharingia was finally ceded to East Francia by Rudolph of West Francia and it thereafter formed the Duchy of Lorraine within the East Frankish kingdom.
East Francia was itself divided into three parts at the death of Louis the German (875). Traditionally referred to as "Saxony", "Bavaria", and "Swabia" (or "Alemannia"), these kingdoms were ruled by the three sons of Louis in cooperation and were reunited by Charles the Fat in 882. Regional differences existed between the peoples of the different regions of the kingdom and the each region could be readily described by contemporaries as a regnum, though each was certainly not a kingdom of its own. The common Germanic language and the tradition of common rule dating to 843 preserved political ties between the different regna and prevented the kingdom from coming apart after the death of Charles the Fat. The work of Louis the German to maintain his kingdom and give it a strong royal government also went a long way to creating an East Frankish (i.e. German) state.
Within East Francia were large duchies, sometimes called kingdoms (regna) after their former status, which had a certainly level of internal solidarity. Early among these were Saxony and Bavaria, which had been conquered by Charlemagne.12 In German historiography they are called the jüngere Stammesherzogtümer, or "more recent tribal duchies",13 although the term "stem duchies" is common in English. The duchies are often called "younger" (newer, more recent, etc.) in order to distinguish them from the older duchies which were vassal-states of the Merovingian monarchs. Historian Herwig Wolfram denied any real distinction between older and younger stem duchies, or between the stem duchies of Germany and similar territorial principalities in other parts of the Carolingian empire:
I am attempting to refute the whole hallowed doctrine of the difference between the beginnings of the West-Frankish, "French", principautés territoriales, and the East-Frankish, "German," stem-duchies. . . Certainly, their names had already appeared during the Migrations. Yet, their political institutional, and biological structures had more often than not thoroughly changed. I have, moreover, refuted the basic difference between the so-called älteres Stammesfürstentum [older tribal principalities] and jüngeres Stammesfürstentum [newer tribal principalities], since I consider the duchies before and after Charlemagne to have been basically the same Frankish institution. . .14
Although it was frequently thought that these duchies were "tribal" because their people shared a common descent ("stem"), their cohesion is better explained by their being governed as units over long periods of time, allowing a sense of solidarity, shared customs and a presumption of common descent to develop.12 By the tenth and twelfth centuries, respectively, Saxony and Bavaria had adopted descent myths, although they may have existed much earlier. The duchies of Franconia and Swabia are also usually counted as among the newer stem duchies, as sometimes is Thuringia. As the boundaries of the duchies changed, "loyalties and myths changed accordingly".12
During the Second World War, the impetus for the creation of the stem duchies was being debated among German specialists. While Gerd Tellenbach emphasised the role of the kings in the formation of the German kingdom, against Martin Lintzel and Walter Schlesinger, who emphasised the people led by the dukes, he also emphasised the role of the duke in the formation of the stem duchies, in language reminiscent of the Third Reich: "The stem duchy did not arise out of the will of the leaderless führerlosen stem but rather out of the duke's determination to rule. The duke himself was the political organization of the hitherto unorganized and leaderless führerlosen stem."15
After the death of the last Carolingian, Louis the Child, in 911, the stem duchies acknowledged the unity of the kingdom. The dukes gathered and elected Conrad I to be their king. According to Tellenbach's thesis, the dukes created the duchies during Conrad's reign.16 No duke attempted to set up an independent kingdom. Even after the death of Conrad in 918, when the election of Henry the Fowler was disputed, his rival, Arnulf, Duke of Bavaria, did not establish a separate kingdom but claimed the whole,17 before being forced by Henry to submit to royal authority.12 Henry may even have promulgated a law stipulating that the kingdom would thereafter be united.12 Arnulf continued to rule it like a king even after his submission, but after his death in 937 it was quickly brought under royal control by Henry's son Otto the Great.13 The Ottonians worked to preserve the duchies as offices of the crown, but by the reign of Henry IV the dukes had made them functionally hereditary.18
Any firm distinction between the kingdoms of Eastern Francia and Germany is to some extent the product of later retrospection. It is impossible to base this distinction on primary sources, as Eastern Francia remains in use long after Kingdom of Germany comes into use.19 The 12th century imperial historian Otto von Freising reported that the election of Henry the Fowler was regarded as marking the beginning of the kingdom, though Otto himself disagreed with this. Thus:
From this point some reckon a kingdom of the Germans as supplanting that of the Franks. Hence, they say that Pope Leo in the decrees of the popes, called Henry's son Otto the first king of the Germans. For that Henry of whom we are speaking refused, it is said, the honor offered by the supreme pontiff. But it seems to me that the kingdom of the Germans — which today, as we see, has possession of Rome — is a part of the kingdom of the Franks. For, as is perfectly clear in what precedes, at the time of Charles the boundaries of the kingdom of the Franks included the whole of Gaul and all Germany, from the Rhine to Illyricum. When the realm was divided between his son's sons, one part was called eastern, the other western, yet both together were called the Kingdom of the Franks. So then in the eastern part, which is called the Kingdom of the Germans, Henry was the first of the race of Saxons to succeed to the throne when the line of Charles failed ... [western Franks discussed] ... Henry's son Otto, because he restored to the German East Franks the empire which had been usurped by the Lombards, is called the first king of the Germans — not, perhaps, because he was the first king to reign among the Germans.20
In 1028, after his coronation as Emperor in 1027, Conrad II had his son, Henry III, elected King of Germany by the prince electors. When, in 1035, Conrad attempted to depose Adalbero, Duke of Carinthia, Henry, acting on the advice of his tutor, Egilbert, Bishop of Freising, refused to allow it, as Adalbero was a vassal of the King of Germany, not the Emperor. The German magnates, having legally elected Henry, would not recognise the deposition unless their king did also. After many angry protests, Conrad finally knelt before his son and pleaded for his desired consent, which was finally given.
- Gillingham (1991), p. 124, who also calls it "a single, indivisible political unit throughout the middle ages." He uses "medieval Germany" to mean the tenth to fifteenth centuries for the purposes of his paper. Robinson, "Pope Gregory", p. 729.
- Robinson, "Pope Gregory", p. 729.
- Cristopher Cope, Phoenix Frustrated: the lost kingdom of Burgundy, p. 287
- Bryce, p. 243
- Len Scales (26 April 2012). The Shaping of German Identity: Authority and Crisis, 1245-1414. Cambridge University Press. p. 179. ISBN 978-0-521-57333-7. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
- See Gillingham, Kingdom of Germany, p. 8 & Reindal, "Herzog Arnulf".
- Reynolds, Kingdoms and Communities, pp. 290-2; Beumann, "Die Bedeutung des Kaisertums", pp. 343-7.
- Avercorn, "Process of Nationbuilding", p. 186; Gillingham, Kingdom of Germany, p, 8; Reynolds, Kingdoms and Communities, p. 291.
- Titles and Styles
- Whaley, Germany and the Holy Roman Empire, pp. 20–22. The titles in Latin were sacri imperii per Italiam archicancellarius, sacri imperii per Germaniam archicancellarius and sacri imperii per Galliam et regnum Arelatense archicancellarius.
- John B. Freed, "Reflections on the Medieval German Nobility", The American Historical Review, 91, 3 (1986), pp. 554–56. Freed also wrote the article "Germany, Stem Duchies", The Dictionary of the Middle Ages, vol. 5 (New York: 1985), pp. 505–11.
- Reynolds, Kingdoms and Communities, pp. 290–91.
- Patrick J. Geary, Phantoms of Remembrance: Memory and Oblivion at the End of the First Millennium (Princeont, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994), p. 44.
- Herwig Wolfram, "The Shaping of the Early Medieval Principality as a Type of Non-royal Rulership", Viator, 2 (1971), p. 41.
- Gerd Tellenbach, Königtum und Stämme in der Werdezeit des Deutschen Reiches, Quellen und Studien zur Verfassungsgeschichte des Deutschen Reiches in Mittelalter und Neuzeit, vol. 7, pt. 4 (Weimar, 1939), p. 92, quoted and translated in Freed, "Reflections on the Medieval German Nobility", p. 555.
- This thesis was popularised for English scholars by Geoffrey Barraclough, The Origins of Modern Germany, 2nd ed. (New York: 1947).
- That he claimed the whole, and not just Bavaria, has been doubted by Geary, Phantoms of Remembrance, p. 44.
- James Westfall Thompson, "German Feudalism", The American Historical Review, 28, 3 (1923), p. 454.
- Reynolds, Kingdoms and Communities, 289-98
- Mierow, The Two Cities, pp. 376-7.
- See Otto's list of emperors, Mierow, The Two Cities, p. 451
- Arnold, Benjamin. Medieval Germany, 500-1300: A Political Interpretation (1998)
- Averkorn, Raphaela. The Process of Nationbuilding in Medieval Germany. A Brief Overview.
- Bernhardt, John W. Itinerant Kingship and Royal Monasteries in Early Medieval Germany, c. 936–1075. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993
- Fuhrmann, Horst, and Timothy Reuter. Germany in the High Middle Ages: c.1050-1200 (1986)
- Fuhrmann, Horst. "Quis Teutonicos constituit iudices nationum? The Trouble with Henry." Speculum, Vol. 69, No. 2. (Apr., 1994), pp 344–358
- Gillingham, John. The Kingdom of Germany in the High Middle Ages (900–1200). Historical Association Pamphlets, General Series, no. 77. London: Historical Association, 1971
- Gillingham, John. "Elective Kingship and the Unity of Medieval Germany". German History, 9:2 (1991:June), pp. 124–135.
- Haverkamp, Alfred, Helga Braun, and Richard Mortimer. Medieval Germany 1056-1273 (1992)
- Jeep, John M. Medieval Germany: An Encyclopedia (2001), 928pp, 650 articles by 200 scholars cover AD 500 to 1500
- MacLean, Simon. Kingship and Politics in the Late Ninth Century: Charles the Fat and the end of the Carolingian Empire. Cambridge University Press: 2003
- Mierow, Charles Christopher (tr.), The Two Cities: A Universal Chronicle to the Year 1146 A.D., by Otto, Bishop of Freising, (Records of Western Civilization), New York: Columbia University Press, 2002
- Mitchell, Otis C. (1985). Two German Crowns: Monarchy and Empire in Medieval Germany. Lima, Ohio: Wyndham Hall Press.
- Reuter, Timothy. Germany in the Early Middle Ages, c. 800–1056. Longman, 1991.
- Reynolds, Susan, Kingdoms and Communities in Western Europe, 900–1300, 2nd Ed., (Oxford, 1997)
- Robinson, I. S. "Pope Gregory VII, the Princes and the Pactum 1077–1080." The English Historical Review, Vol. 94, No. 373. (Oct., 1979), pp 721–756
- Thompson, James Westfall. Feudal Germany. 2 vol. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1928
- Whaley, Joachim. Germany and the Holy Roman Empire, vol. 1. Oxford University Press, 2012.
- Beumann, H., "Die Bedeutung des Kaisertums für die Entstehung der deutschen Nation im Spiegel der Bezeichnungen von Reich und Herrscher", in Nationes, 1 (1978), pp 317–366
- Reindal, R., "Herzog Arnulf und das Regnum Bavariae", in Zeitschrift für bayerische Landesgeschichte, 17 (1954), pp 187–252
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