The Holy Roman Empire: Power, Politics and the Papacy

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Voltaire famously said that ‘the Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy, nor Roman nor an Empire’.

In this he was right. How then did this ‘federation’ of European principalities and kingdoms with no imperial city and constantly shifting alliances and boundaries, come to be described as such?  Furthermore, how did it manage to survive for some 1,000 years?

Starting in AD 800, with the coronation of Charles the Great as the first Emperor, we trace its gradual expansion across Europe, until AD 1806 when Emperor Francis II abdicated following Napoleon’s invasion. We also consider the complex relationship between the Emperor and the Pope and the significance of the Habsburg dynasty, nineteen being Emperors.

Since this is a large and complex topic it is extremely suitable for a Study Day and has proven to be popular with U3A (University of the Third Age) audiences.