Kingdom of Germany
Kingdom of Germany or German Kingdom (Latin: Regnum Teutonicum,
"Teutonic Kingdom"; German: Deutsches Reich) developed out of the
eastern half of the former Carolingian Empire. Like Anglo-Saxon
England and medieval France, it began as "a conglomerate, an
assemblage of a number of once separate and independent... gentes
[peoples] and regna [kingdoms]."
Francia (Ostfrankenreich) was formed by the
Treaty of Verdun
Treaty of Verdun in
843, and was ruled by the
Carolingian dynasty until 911, after which
the kingship was elective. 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 (after 951), Bohemia (after
1004) and Burgundy (after 1032).
The term rex teutonicorum ("king of the Germans") first came into use
in the chancery of
Pope Gregory VII
Pope Gregory VII during the Investiture Controversy
(late 11th century), perhaps as a polemical tool against Emperor Henry
IV. 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, gradually dropped from use.
Imperial Reform and Reformation settlement, the German part
Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire was divided into
circles), which effectively defined Germany against imperial Italy and
the Bohemian Kingdom. There are nevertheless relatively few
references to a German realm and an instability in the term's use.
2.1 Carolingian age, 843–911
2.2 Stem duchies
2.3 Saxons and Salians, 911–1125
3 See also
5.1 In English
5.2 In German
The eastern division of the
Treaty of Verdun
Treaty of Verdun was called the regnum
Francorum Orientalium or
Francia Orientalis: the Kingdom of the
Franks or simply East Francia. It was the eastern half of the
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) for the year
919, roughly contemporary but surviving only in a twelfth-century
copy, records 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".
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; but the idea of the kingdom as "German" is firmly
established by the end of the eleventh century.
Beginning in the late eleventh century, during the Investiture
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
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 was 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
were often employed for the 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 begins to appear even in
German sources at the beginning of 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. 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 on 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
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.
Archbishop of Mainz
Archbishop of Mainz was ex officio arch-chancellor of Germany, as
his colleagues the
Archbishop of Cologne
Archbishop of Cologne and
Archbishop of Trier
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.
Carolingian age, 843–911
Main article: East Francia
The tripartite division of the
Carolingian Empire effected by the
Treaty of Verdun
Treaty of Verdun was challenged very early on with the death of the
Emperor Lothair I
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
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
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.
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
Charles the Fat in
882. Regional differences existed between the peoples of the different
regions of the kingdom and 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
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.
Main article: Stem duchy
Stem duchies within the
Kingdom of Germany
Kingdom of Germany and the Holy Roman Empire,
Duchy of Saxony
Duchy of Franconia
Duchy of Swabia
Duchy of Bavaria
Francia were large duchies, sometimes called kingdoms
(regna) after their former status, which had a certain level of
internal solidarity. Early among these were Saxony and Bavaria, which
had been conquered by Charlemagne. In German historiography they
are called the jüngere Stammesherzogtümer, or "more recent tribal
duchies", 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 ...
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. 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".
Sclavinia ("land of the Slavs"), Germania, Gallia,
and Roma (Italy), bringing offerings to Otto III; from the Gospels of
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."
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. No
duke attempted to set up an independent kingdom. Even after the death
of Conrad in 918, when the election of
Henry the Fowler
Henry the Fowler was disputed,
his rival, Arnulf, Duke of Bavaria, did not establish a separate
kingdom but claimed the whole, before being forced by Henry to
submit to royal authority. Henry may even have promulgated a law
stipulating that the kingdom would thereafter be united. 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. 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.
Saxons and Salians, 911–1125
Any firm distinction between the kingdoms of Eastern
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
Kingdom of Germany comes into
use. The 12th century imperial historian Otto von Freising
reported that the election of
Henry the Fowler
Henry the Fowler was regarded as marking
the beginning of the kingdom, though Otto himself disagreed with this.
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
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 ...
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.
It is here and elsewhere that Otto distinguishes the first German king
(Henry I) and the first German king to hold imperial power (Otto
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.
List of German monarchs
^ 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,
^ Bryce, p. 243
^ a b 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
^ See Gillingham, Kingdom of Germany, p. 8 & Reindal, "Herzog
^ 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.
^ Averkorn 2001, p. 187.
^ "the Holy Roman Empire".
^ 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.
^ a b c d e Reynolds, Kingdoms and Communities, pp. 290–91.
^ a b 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, pp. 289–98.
^ Mierow, The Two Cities, pp. 376–7.
^ See Otto's list of emperors, Mierow, The Two Cities, p. 451.
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