FSU EUH 2000 - The Holy Roman Empire and Feudalism

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The Holy Roman Empire and Feudalism: HRE= Holy Roman Empire or Holy Roman Emperor Key Terms in Bold I. The Holy Roman Empire o The Legacy of the Carolingian Empire • Charlemagne was the first person non-Latin to hold the title of “Emperor of the Romans.” The pope appointed Charlemagne as emperor in response to Charlemagne’s assistance with the Lombards and for helping the pope restore order in Rome. Once Charlemagne died, his oldest son, Lothar, received the Middle Kingdom and the imperial title. Lothar did not hold power very long as his kingdom disintegrated under pressure from the Vikings and Magyars. o Not an Emperor of the Romans Anymore • The imperial title reverted to Charles the Bald (the king of West Francia) until his death and it was then passed on to Charles the Fat who was the son Louis the German. Once Charles the Fat died, the title passed to the last Caroling leader Louis the Child. Louis the Child did not live very long and died in 911. After 911 there was no legitimate or willing Caroling heir to the imperial title and the powerful dukes of East Francia elected Conrad of Franconia as the next emperor of the Romans. Conrad hung around for a while. On his deathbed, he passed the title to his arch enemy, Henry of Saxony. Henry became a strong leader and was able to protect much of East Francia from Viking attacks. He eventually negotiated a truce with Magyars after initially defeating them at the battle of Riade in 933. Henry of Saxony died in 936, but the imperial title remained in his family. Before his death, Henry designated Otto as his successor o Ottonian Dynasty • Otto the Great’s reign became something of a blueprint for nearly a century of Ottonian rulers in East Francia. • Once elected by the other dukes, Otto immediately faced internal strife and rebellion. The rebellion was led by his older brother and number of dukes allied with his brother. Otto soon crushed the rebellion and restored royal and imperial authority in East Francia. • It was Otto I that led the combined German, Frankish and Papal armies at the battle of Lechfeld in 955 that forced the Magyars out of Western Europe. In response to Otto’s achievements and his help with Magyars, the pope officially crowned Otto as the Holy Roman Emperor in 962. The coronation in 962 supposedly meant that Otto and his heirs were the legitimate successors of Caroling and dynasty and rightful heirs to the Empire. • Otto nominally ruled over the old eastern third of Charlemagne’s Empire. More importantly, the coronation in 962 linked the Holy Roman Empire with Papacy for better and for worse.• When Otto died, he was succeeded by his son Otto II. O2 was the first Ottonian to force people to address him as emperor. O2 was succeeded by Otto III. O3 spent most his time attempting to shore up his power in Italy and Rome, while subordinating the Pope. This worked well until Otto III died and Henry II refocused imperial ambitions on Germany. • More on HRE Henry II later in a future lecture… II. Feudalism in Germany o Ten Reasons for Developmental Differences (YOU NEED TO KNOW THESE) 1. Strong(er) Leaders: German kings, according to one scholar, “were made up of sterner stuff” compared to their French counterparts. While this is interesting to note, not sure what the scholar meant by “sterner stuff.” He probably meant they were simply more able to deal with their own nobility and external factors much better than their French counterparts. 2. Viking and Magyar Invasions: The Vikings and Magyars had not been as devastating for central and eastern Europe as they had been for France and England. Not only had the invasions not been as devastating, they did not last as long as they did in other regions of Europe. In fact, aside from a number of major Viking raids along the Rhine River (the border with France), major Viking incursions into heart of Germany were limited. The major threat came from Magyars and Slavs from the east, but for one reason or another, the HRE’s were able to deal with these invaders much easier than their French cousins. 3. Influence/Role of the Catholic Church: Despite being politically fractured and wholly less unified than France or England, the HRE possessed a certain cohesiveness that allowed it to survive the last round of invasions. This cohesiveness is due in large part to the Catholic Church. For generations, German leaders had installed bishops and priests as the leaders of the bureaucracy of the Empire and the Stem Duchies. It made sense simply because the bishops and priests were typically the only ones with any formal education and because they were holy men, the German leaders believed the men of the cloth could be trusted. This is a good thing and a bad thing. 4. Stem-Duchies (Dukes): Yes there are five! I do not know why I had four stuck in my head. Actually I do…someone ask me on Wednesday. The duchies of Saxony, Swabia, Bavaria, Franconia, and Lotharingia (Lorraine) were somewhat unique to Germany. The Stem-Duchies were technically subordinated by Charlemagne and they became integral parts of Eastern Francia. Once the lands of Louis the German were divided amongst his children, they were largely divided along the old duchy lines. The division allowed individual rulers to actually impose their rule in their regions. In essence, they could respond to threats imposed by the Magyars and Vikings. This meant that effective Carolinginfluence lasted much longer in parts of Germany than it had in France. In addition, once Caroling influence faded, local magnates reclaimed and restored the power of the duchies. The resurrection of the duchies prevented Germany from dissolving into literally hundreds of petty feudal “sovereign” states. Compare to France… 5. Lack of Vassalage: Vassalage in France developed as a military necessity. In France, lords expected their vassals to rally to their aid in times of armed conflict. In Germany, especially in the powerful stem duchies, leaders relied on the bishops to recruit soldiers. In essence, they used the bully pulpit to convince people to take up arms. For this service, bishops and the church were handsomely rewarded with beautiful abbeys and vast landholdings. As far back as Otto the Great (the first Otto) a German policy had been developed that put bishops in charge of military conscription/recruitment and it was not uncommon for

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