Why did the Holy Roman Empire cede France?

It just so happened that speaking on the topic of France’s foreign policy ambitions, a reasonable question arises – why, in fact, could France even afford to THIS: to fight simultaneously with Flanders and England, while conflicting with the Pope, and then completely subjugate the Papacy? Where, one wonders, is the most powerful state in Europe – the only true empire? And HRE at this moment is on the sidelines of world history. And the blame for everything, as always, is ambition, more precisely, Italian ambitions.

The Holy Roman Empire at the beginning of the XII century was going through a period of its greatest power. The Staufen family, who took the imperial throne at the beginning of the 12th century, managed to ensure internal peace in the Empire and slowly centralized the state. The method of centralization, however, was so-so – a typical feudal increase in the personal domain to become the largest feudal lord, but, characteristically, the scheme worked. Each new emperor increased the land due to dynastic ties and alienation of lands from vassals who chose the wrong side in conflicts. The empire was firmly on its feet, already like a nightmare those 50 years of constant wars that swept through it in the second half of the 11th century were forgotten. But there was one irritant in the Empire that constantly forced one to be distracted from internal affairs – Italy. Northern Italian principalities have never been loyal vassals, rather resembling a pack of wolves who are ready to unite under the rule of a strong leader, but as soon as they show weakness, they will immediately pounce on him. So here too – the Italian rulers were loyal to the Empire as long as the imperial army could remain in Italy. As soon as the last German soldier left for the Alpine passes, the traditional fun immediately began – gnaw your neighbor’s throat until he gnawed it for you. This game was difficult, the rules seemed clear, but confusing, and the participants were not always obvious. As soon as the last German soldier left for the Alpine passes, the traditional fun immediately began – gnaw your neighbor’s throat until he gnawed it for you. This game was difficult, the rules seemed clear, but confusing, and the participants were not always obvious. As soon as the last German soldier left for the Alpine passes, the traditional fun immediately began – gnaw your neighbor’s throat until he gnawed it for you. This game was difficult, the rules seemed clear, but confusing, and the participants were not always obvious.

But what has the HRE forgotten in Italy? Of course, the simple answer, that the land, also took place. In the end, throughout the history of mankind, it was the size of the controlled territory that determined the strength of empires. But no. The Holy Roman Empire is not just Roman, and it will not soon become the empire of the German nation. The SRI lost its very essence in Italy – after all, it was not just a federation of German princelings, but the heirs of the Empire, and not even its short-lived clone in the Lyceum of the Empire of Charlemagne, but that very Roman one. Nothing, in principle, prevented the ruler of the HRE from being crowned in Aachen only with the German crown and called emperor, but until the viceroy of God on earth places a crown on you in Rome, these are just empty words. Thus, after the coronation in Rome, the Emperor became the first Christian ruler, after all, only he received chrismation from the person closest to God. He also controlled the election of this person – representatives of the Empire were always present at the conclave and coordinated candidates. Therefore, control over Italy was vital – it raised the status of Germany, making everyone, even the most insignificant, prince of the HRE equal to any monarch from outside, and maybe a little higher.

And therefore, the rulers of the Empire constantly watched what was happening in the south – they well understood how complex the vassals were in northern Italy, and therefore did not interfere with the creation of a counterbalance in the face of urban communities and the church – the imperial church. And this policy was nothing new – it worked perfectly in Germany itself, but in Italy it gave misfire after misfire, which became clear, however, not immediately. After all, another player with the ambitions of power, if not over the whole world, then over the entire Christian world, is certainly on the scene – the Papacy. After the Worms concordat, the church and the Empire found a compromise in appointing the prelates of the church, when the church gave them spiritual power, and the land allotment giving worldly power was formally vested by the Emperor. But this did not remove the questions of double fidelity, and therefore among the Italian bishops there was a separate special Olympiad – to sell at a higher price to the one who is now on horseback, so as not to miscalculate. And given the fact that the Papacy, dreaming of power over worldly rulers, was burdened by its dependence on the Empire, such a tug-of-war could not but lead to results that were quite unexpected for both sides.

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In the XII century, the process of the weakening of the feudal lords and a significant increase in the power of cities began to be simply an avalanche-like character. Benefiting from an excellent location close to trade and pilgrimage routes (yes, pilgrims were a significant source of income, like tourists today), numerous Italian cities, still retaining the legacy of the Roman municipal system, are starting their new rise. Due to trade, cities accumulate huge financial flows inside themselves and are more and more isolated from their feudal lords, becoming an independent force, where money begins to mean much more than a title or family tree. And already the barons and counts are looking for protection from the Empire or the church. Unlike the German cities, surrounded by the lands of the feudal lords, which simply inevitably pushed them to the side of the Emperor, as a defender against arbitrariness, the cities of Italy did not experience such pressure from landowners. Urban communes themselves become a collective feudal lord, where a handful of nouveau riche aristocrats begin to crush the entire neighborhood, with the approval and help of the urban population, since this is done exclusively in the interests of the main business of the communes – trade.

And what did the communes want? Oh, this riddle probably spoiled a lot of blood for the Germans trying to solve it. They wanted everything. On the one hand (cpt), the main culprits of the growth of the communal movement are merchants, they wanted freedom of trade, the movement of capital, a minimum of borders, which inevitably had to push them into the bosom of the Empire. But, on the other hand, they did not want to pay taxes to distant German kings, they did not want to get involved in their internal affairs, and therefore they needed autonomy and trade privileges. The growing power of urban communities frightened both the Empire and the Church. But an attempt to increase the power of the bishops, giving them lands in northern Italy, inevitably led to an imbalance in relations between Rome and Aachen – the too strong bishop necessarily began to pursue a propapal policy, but a too weak bishop could not curb the communes. Therefore, the struggle begins for the communes themselves.

But one should not think that these parties had a clear program of actions or goals, or even composition. Not at all. Too many motives were intertwined. Some were against the strengthening of the power of the Empire, others against the Emperor himself, others against a rival who is for the Emperor, the fourth against everyone in general, but we mainly trade with the Guelphs, so for them. No, of course, the Papacy tried to give the struggle against the HRE a core – the war for “national liberation” from the Germans and for the primacy of the Church in Italy. But all this was meaningless, since for the Italian communes, participation in one or another party was more a matter of balancing debit with credit, rather than some high matters – as soon as the costs of being on one of the sides outweighed the merits, they immediately changed sides. This logic will be decisive for Italy for the next centuries – a war of all against all in all imaginable combinations. Moreover, both the Guelphs and the Ghibellines fought not for the interests of the Papacy or the Empire, but for their own model of relations within Italy, where external actors were only instruments for achieving personal goals. And that’s not all. The communes themselves were not at all monolithic – those same parties existed simultaneously and fought for power over the city. It is generally accepted that the Empire was mainly the aristocracy, and the Papacy was the merchants. But I see this as a big simplification, since the adherence to any faction was not an end in itself, but a method of achieving results. Therefore, reliance on supporters within Italy was an illusory thing. but for their model of relations within Italy, where external actors were only instruments for achieving personal goals. And that’s not all. The communes themselves were not at all monolithic – those same parties existed simultaneously and fought for power over the city. It is generally accepted that the Empire was mainly the aristocracy, and the Papacy was the merchants. But I see this as a big simplification, since the adherence to any faction was not an end in itself, but a method of achieving results. Therefore, reliance on supporters within Italy was an illusory thing. but for its model of relations within Italy, where external actors were only instruments for achieving personal goals. And that’s not all. The communes themselves were not at all monolithic – those same parties existed simultaneously and fought for power over the city. It is generally accepted that the Empire was mainly the aristocracy, and the Papacy was the merchants. But I see this as a big simplification, since the adherence to any faction was not an end in itself, but a method of achieving results. Therefore, reliance on supporters within Italy was an illusory thing. and for the Papacy – merchants. But I see this as a big simplification, since the adherence to any faction was not an end in itself, but a method of achieving results. Therefore, reliance on supporters within Italy was an illusory thing. and for the Papacy – merchants. But I see this as a big simplification, since the adherence to any faction was not an end in itself, but a method of achieving results. Therefore, reliance on supporters within Italy was an illusory thing.

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And now the Empire got into it. For the next 100 years, the focus of the Empire’s policy shifted from Germany to the south – to Italy. It was the inner peace in Germany and the accumulated demand for something more that gave the Empire a chance to go south. And in this south, the Empire is getting bogged down. Rate the irony – Frederick Barbarossa, starting the wars in Italy, actually went to liberate Rome for the Pope, and 4 years later he fought with the Pope-supported confederation of Lombard cities and lost. The humiliating peace seemed to bestow power over the north of Italy for the Papacy – but the hell with two. As soon as the power of the Empire weakened, the cities of Italy began to be weighed down by the strengthening of the power of the papacy, and instantly many former supporters of Guelphism became Ghibellines. After all, the main thing is not flags, but goals. The Lombard League has achieved its goal – the approval of greater autonomy and trade preferences, but the strengthening of the power of the papacy was not part of their plans. And a sluggish struggle begins now between the Lombards and the Pope, despite the fact that they are officially still in the same union. And then there was the HRE, the entire south of Italy – the Kingdom of Sicily – fell in a dynastic manner. Now the Papacy is squeezed from the south and from the north by the Empire, Emperor Frederick II is active and actively integrates the south of Italy into the HRE, and is establishing relations with northern Italian cities. Therefore, another break between the Papacy and the Emperor was inevitable. builds relationships with northern Italian cities. Therefore, another break between the Papacy and the Emperor was inevitable. builds relationships with northern Italian cities. Therefore, another break between the Papacy and the Emperor was inevitable.

The delays in the preparation of the crusade by Frederick II were only an excuse for excommunication. But the Empire does not even notice this, uprisings do not begin, and it does not collapse. The papacy intrigues, inflames discontent, and when the Emperor does sail off on a crusade, he will be excommunicated again, since a “heretic” cannot go on a crusade. And what does a heretic do? He conquers the Holy Sepulcher, crowns himself the King of Jerusalem and triumphantly returns to Europe (appreciate one more irony – the last successful crusade against the Saracens was conducted by an excommunicated heretic, and on whose side do you say God is ?!). And everything is calm in the Empire. Except for Italy. Frederick constantly fights in Italy against the Papacy, the Lombard League, and the Sicilian rebels. It is the last uprising that undermines both his strength and the strength of the Empire – the Emperor is exhausted by wars and sick,

The empire was looking for a goal in Italy – to unite all the lands of the old Roman Empire within the framework of the Holy Roman Empire, but 100 years of constant conflicts exhausted the resources of Germany, the princes and barons ceased to understand what the war was about, and in fact the Emperors themselves could not give an exact answer. The empire was tired, and when the Staufen dynasty was suddenly stopped, the HRE, which had not known internal wars for a long time, plunges into a bloody twenty-year-old citizen. The empire is withdrawing into itself – it is leaving Italy for a long fifty years – for half a century the foot of an imperial soldier will not step on the lands of Italy, now it has no time at all. The papacy won again, as 50 years ago, and even a second Legnano was not needed – Guelphism is triumphant, prayers are held in churches in honor of the victory, but the infection of heresy is already creeping across Italy. The cities of Italy again make a feint with their ears and begin to repaint themselves with Ghibellines – well, to hell with it, that the Empire is being cut inside itself, even if it’s even good – the weaker the power of Aachen, the better. Again, insistent speeches are heard about the need to stop the encroachments of the Papacy on the independence of the communes. War is inevitable, but the Papacy is not ready for it.

Decades of wars have created in Italy a wide layer of professionals – condottieri, mercenaries who are ready to crumble the employer’s enemies into cabbage for a minted coin. Cities hire condottes in batches, and the Papacy is running out of money. The Church used to indulge in the excommunication of the leaders of the “anti-church” opposition, but now political opponents are beginning to be excommunicated en masse – Ghibelline is becoming synonymous with the word “heretic.” But instead of the Christian revolt, which the papists hoped for, something completely different, more terrible comes out. For the second time already the RCC created problems on its own head. “Political” heretics begin to unite with real heretics, as the line between them is blurred, and the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And what about the people? And the people see only politics, they see how the henchmen of the Holy Pope from Rome turn out to be no better than ordinary feudal lords, and even do not shine with holiness. The leaders of the political currents of Ghibellinism, deprived of the grace of the church, begin to fight with papism even more zealously, but now armed with religious fervor, and some with new religious dogmas. Heresies flourish throughout Italy, closely intertwined with politics, so it was unrealistic to distinguish where the heretic and where the politician were. No one really tried. What is really there: Milan – the main support of the Guelphs – was also the center of various heresies. Politics and religion blended together to make a mind blowing cocktail. The papacy for the next 50 years will not fight for the unification of Italy under its control, but for its cleansing of heresies, since it is enough for the slightest seed of heresy to germinate on the Italian land – and all attempts to unite it under the wing of the papacy vanish like a bad dream. Yes, the Ghibellines as a single political movement will win, but in return they will receive hundreds of separate parties or sects of the Ghibellines. And in the fight against these sects, the Papacy will miss its chance for worldly power. Quite a little time will pass, and the Papacy, weakened in the struggle against the heretics, will fall almost without resistance into the hands of France.

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And what about the Empire? By the end of the 13th century, the SRI finally stabilized. But this is not the same Empire. The era of centralization is over, as is the idea of ​​an Empire that should unite the universe. The Staufens were still trying to cling to this idea, but the new Emperors could no longer, and did not want to. The compromise that pulled the Empire out of the ass was hard – now the monarch was elected by the princes, as in ancient times. No dynastic transfer – so no one can become strong enough to again, like the Staufens, dictate their will to other princes and drag them into new adventures. Emperors are now too weak and fixated on increasing their personal domain and power directly associated with it. The empire pupates within itself, only occasionally glancing around. The strength of the Staufen Empire was in unity – the weakness of the Empire after the Staufens was also in unity, but princes – in their desire to prevent more centralization. The empire is missing the initiative – now its strengthening depends on random factors. From here, by the way, the roots of the success of the Habsburgs grow – they were the first to see that if you play for a long time, you can one day collect a Full House from the hereditary lands, which will suddenly make you the largest feudal lord. But before that, centuries will pass. In the meantime, the Empire turns into a shadow of its former self, incapable of anything but pensive contemplation of the great deeds that are happening in the world around. Meanwhile, the center of gravity of European politics is shifting to another shard of Charlemagne’s power. then you can one day collect a Full House from the hereditary lands, which will suddenly make you the largest feudal lord. But before that, centuries will pass. In the meantime, the Empire turns into a shadow of its former self, incapable of anything but pensive contemplation of the great deeds that are happening in the world around. Meanwhile, the center of gravity of European politics is shifting to another shard of Charlemagne’s power. then you can one day collect a Full House from the hereditary lands, which will suddenly make you the largest feudal lord. But before that, centuries will pass. In the meantime, the Empire turns into a shadow of its former self, incapable of anything but pensive contemplation of the great deeds that are happening in the world around. Meanwhile, the center of gravity of European politics is shifting to another shard of Charlemagne’s power.

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