Paul Halsall

Introduction to the Medieval World

Class 16: The Church and the Empire

Assigned Reading:

I.      Introduction

A.      Modern idea of a state is a Nation State [Q&A]
        One people - One area/usually contiguous
        One language - Sovereignty - Democracy?
        Dominance of this idea world wide.

B.      Nation states do not just appear.
        Are really a development in full sense of the early modern
        and modern period. The French Revolution was very important
        in spreading the idea. Until 1918 most of Europe
        was under multinational empires - Austria, Russia.

        But part of the reason the French Revolution was able to
        spread the idea was that France was already a nation-state
        under its kings. So also were Great Britain, the
        Netherlands, Spain, and Denmark (w/o Norway..

        All these countries are melded into states, which later
        take on national characteristics in the high middle ages.

        And this was done under a series of kings, who used and
        built on, in France and England at least, the institutions
        of feudalism.

C.      Although the ideal of the Nation state did not triumph
        until this century, what we are doing today is looking
        at the early origins.

D.      Note
        -idea of strong nations is inimical to the idea of
        universal empire.
        -Do not think history has come to an end re. these states
        Europe show signs of another universal idea -i.e. the EEC.

II.     The Holy Roman Empire: Failure

A.      Established by Ottonians 962
        First strong state of Middle Ages.
        Survives until Napoleon
        But not as a strong state, more as a title,

B.      Struggle with Papacy

        1.      Relation with Popes - Popes gave the crown.
                Massive intellectual dominance of Roman Ideology,

        2.      At first Emperors dominated - e.g. Henry III 1039-56
                and Council of Sutri

        3.      Investiture Controversy 1076 -1122 (Con. of  Worms.
                Had seen Henry IV 1056-1106 grovel at Canossa
                Weakness of Emperors - title could be revoked.
                + they faced very strong Lords/bishops in Germany

        4.      Papal-Imperial Struggle continues

        5.      Frederick Barbarossa 1152-1190 - Empire  powerful

        6.      Frederick II 1211-1250
                Concentrated on Italy -
                powerful interests in Germany grow stronger

        7.      Elective nature of German aspect of Empire.
                -Weakens the Emperors
                -Never able to satisfactorily establish hereditary
                -Gives electors chance to demand power
                -Germany divides feudally after 1260s (circa.
                -Interregnum 1254-1273
                -Rudolph Hapsburg 1273-1291
                -Hapsburgs gain and keep title - but power is based
                on own collection of lands - eventually leading
                to another empire - Austria.

        8.      By late middle ages Germany is a collection of
                300+ small and large states.
                -The HRE can be used by some powerful kings

        9.      Popes support other kings - for support vs. Empires

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© Paul Halsall, 1996.

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