Dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire

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Printed version of the abdication of Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor Niederlegung Reichskrone Seite 1.jpg
Printed version of the abdication of Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor

The dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire occurred de facto on 6 August 1806, when Emperor Francis II abdicated his title and released all imperial states and officials from their oaths and obligations to the empire. Although the abdication was considered legal, the dissolution of the imperial bonds was not and several states refused to recognise the end of the empire at the time. [1]

Holy Roman Empire varying complex of lands that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe

The Holy Roman Empire was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. The largest territory of the empire after 962 was the Kingdom of Germany, though it also came to include the neighboring Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, and numerous other territories.

In law and government, de facto describes practices that exist in reality, even if not officially recognized by laws. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with de jure, which refers to things that happen according to law. Unofficial customs that are widely accepted are sometimes called de facto standards.

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With his victory over Austria at the Battle of Austerlitz on 2 December 1805, the French Emperor Napoleon I "transformed himself from the guarantor of the Reich to the arbiter of its fate." The subsequent Peace of Pressburg (26 December) created deliberate ambiguities in the imperial constitution. Bavaria, Baden and Württemberg were to have plénitude de la souveraineté (full sovereignty) while remaining a part of the Conféderation Germanique (Germanic Confederation), a novel name for the Empire. [2] Likewise, it was left deliberately unclear whether the Duchy of Cleves, the Duchy of Berg and the County of Mark—imperial territories transferred to Joachim Murat—were to remain imperial fiefs or become part of the French Empire. As late as March 1806, Napoleon was uncertain. [3]

Battle of Austerlitz A battle of the Napoleonic Wars

The Battle of Austerlitz, also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, was one of the most important and decisive engagements of the Napoleonic Wars. In what is widely regarded as the greatest victory achieved by Napoleon, the Grande Armée of France defeated a larger Russian and Austrian army led by Emperor Alexander I and Holy Roman Emperor Francis II. The battle occurred near the town of Austerlitz in the Austrian Empire. Austerlitz brought the War of the Third Coalition to a rapid end, with the Treaty of Pressburg signed by the Austrians later in the month. The battle is often cited as a tactical masterpiece, in the same league as other historic engagements like Cannae or Gaugamela.

Peace of Pressburg (1805) peace treaty

The fourth Peace of Pressburg was signed on 27 December 1805 between Napoleon and Holy Roman Emperor Francis II as a consequence of the French victories over the Austrians at Ulm and Austerlitz. A truce was agreed on 4 December, and negotiations for the treaty began. The treaty was signed in Pressburg, Hungary, by Johann I Josef, Prince of Liechtenstein, and the Hungarian Count Ignác Gyulay for the Austrian Empire and Charles Maurice de Talleyrand for France.

Electorate of Bavaria

The Electorate of Bavaria was an independent hereditary electorate of the Holy Roman Empire from 1623 to 1806, when it was succeeded by the Kingdom of Bavaria.

The Free Imperial Knights, who had survived the attack on their rights in Rittersturm of 1803–04, were subject to a second attack and a spate of annexations by those states allied to Napoleon in November–December 1805. In response, the knights' corporation (corpus equestre) dissolved itself on 20 January 1806. With the dissolution of the Empire, the knights ceased to be either free or imperial and were at the mercy of the newly sovereign states. [3] [4]

The so-called Rittersturm was the seizure of the hitherto imperially immediate territories of the Imperial Knights within the Holy Roman Empire by the major powers in 1802–03.

Notes

  1. Gagliardo 1980, p. 281.
  2. Whaley 2012, pp. 634–35.
  3. 1 2 Whaley 2012, p. 637.
  4. Godsey 2004, p. 145.

Sources

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