King of the Romans

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The royal Throne of Charlemagne in Aachen Cathedral Aachener Dom BW 2016-07-09 13-49-15.jpg
The royal Throne of Charlemagne in Aachen Cathedral

King of the Romans (Latin : Rex Romanorum; German : König der Römer) was a title used by Syagrius, then by the German king following his election by the princes from the time of Emperor Henry II (1014–1024) onward. The title was predominantly a claim to become Holy Roman Emperor and was dependent upon coronation by the Pope.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Syagrius Ancient Roman general

Syagrius was the last Gallic military commander of a Roman rump state in northern Gaul, now called the Kingdom of Soissons. Gregory of Tours referred to him as King of the Romans. Syagrius's defeat by king Clovis I of the Franks is considered the end of Western Roman rule outside of Italy. He inherited his position from his father, Aegidius, the last Roman magister militum per Gallias. Syagrius preserved his father's territory between the Somme and the Loire around Soissons after the collapse of central rule in the Western Empire, a domain Gregory of Tours called the "Kingdom" of Soissons. Syagrius governed this Gallo-Roman enclave from the death of his father in 464 until 486, when he was defeated in battle by Clovis I.

Imperial election election of a Holy Roman Emperor

The election of a Holy Roman Emperor was generally a two-stage process whereby, from at least the 13th century, the King of the Romans was elected by a small body of the greatest princes of the Empire, the prince-electors. This was then followed shortly thereafter by his coronation as Emperor, an appointment that was normally for life. Until 1530, emperors were crowned by the Pope. In 1356, the Emperor Charles IV promulgated the Golden Bull, which became the fundamental law by which all future kings and emperors were elected.

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The title originally referred to any elected king who had not yet been granted the Imperial Regalia and title of "Emperor" at the hands of the Pope. Later it came to be used solely for the heir apparent to the Imperial throne between his election (during the lifetime of a sitting Emperor) and his succession upon the death of the Emperor.

An elective monarchy is a monarchy ruled by an elected monarch, in contrast to a hereditary monarchy in which the office is automatically passed down as a family inheritance. The manner of election, the nature of candidate qualifications, and the electors vary from case to case. Historically it is not uncommon for elective monarchies to transform into hereditary ones over time, or for hereditary ones to acquire at least occasional elective aspects.

Imperial Regalia regalia of the Holy Roman Emperor

The Imperial Regalia, also Imperial Insignia, are regalia of the Holy Roman Emperor. The most important parts are the Imperial Crown, the Holy Lance and the Imperial Sword. Today they are kept at the Imperial Treasury in the Hofburg palace in Vienna, Austria.

An heir apparent or heiress apparent is a person who is first in a line of succession and cannot be displaced from inheriting by the birth of another person. An heir presumptive, by contrast, is someone who is first in line to inherit a title but who can be displaced by the birth of a more eligible heir.

Their actual title varied over time. During the Ottonian period it was King of the Franks (German: König der Franken, Latin: Rex Francorum), from the late Salian period it was Roman King (Römischer König) or King of the Romans (German: König der Römer, Lat.: Rex Romanorum). In the Modern Period, the title King in Germania (German: König in Germanien, Lat.: Germaniae Rex) came into use. Finally, modern German historiography established the term Roman-German King (Römisch-deutscher König) to differentiate it from the ancient Roman Emperor as well as from the modern German Emperor.

Ottonian dynasty dynasty

The Ottonian dynasty was a Saxon dynasty of German monarchs (919–1024), named after three of its kings and Holy Roman Emperors named Otto, especially its first Emperor Otto I. It is also known as the Saxon dynasty after the family's origin in the German stem duchy of Saxony. The family itself is also sometimes known as the Liudolfings (Liudolfinger), after its earliest known member Count Liudolf and one of its primary leading-names. The Ottonian rulers were successors of the Germanic king Conrad I who was the only Germanic king to rule in East Francia after the Carolingian dynasty and before this dynasty.

German Emperor Head of state of Germany 1871-1918

The German Emperor was the official title of the head of state and hereditary ruler of the German Empire. A specifically chosen term, it was introduced with the 1 January 1871 constitution and lasted until the official abdication of Wilhelm II on 28 November 1918. The Holy Roman Emperor is sometimes also called "German Emperor" when the historical context is clear, as derived from the Holy Roman Empire's official name of "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation" from 1512.

Ruling kings

History and usage

The territory of East Francia was not referred to as the Kingdom of Germany or Regnum Teutonicum (Latinised from Old High German diutisc ) by contemporary sources until the 11th century. During this time, the king's claim to coronation was increasingly contested by the papacy culminating in the fierce Investiture Controversy. After the Salian heir apparent Henry IV, a six-year-old minor, had been elected to rule the Empire in 1056 he adopted Romanorum Rex as a title to emphasize his sacred entitlement to be crowned Emperor by the Pope. Pope Gregory VII insisted on using the derogatory term Teutonicorum Rex ("King of the Germans") in order to imply that Henry's authority was merely local and did not extend over the whole Empire. Henry continued to regularly use the title Romanorum Rex until he finally was crowned Emperor by Antipope Clement III in 1084. Henry's successors imitated this practice, and were also called Romanorum Rex before and Romanorum Imperator after their Roman coronations.

East Francia Former country in Europe

East Francia or the Kingdom of the East Franks was a precursor of the Holy Roman Empire. A successor state of Charlemagne's empire, it was ruled by the Carolingian dynasty until 911. It was created through the Treaty of Verdun (843) which divided the former empire into three kingdoms.

Kingdom of Germany 10th-century kingdom of Germany

The Kingdom of Germany or German Kingdom developed out of Eastern Francia, the eastern division of the former Carolingian Empire, over the 9th to 11th centuries. East Francia was formed by the 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, East Francia formed the bulk of the Holy Roman Empire along with Italy; it later included Bohemia and Burgundy.

Romanization transliteration of characters in a writing system to Latin character system

Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics, is the conversion of writing from a different writing system to the Roman (Latin) script, or a system for doing so. Methods of romanization include transliteration, for representing written text, and transcription, for representing the spoken word, and combinations of both. Transcription methods can be subdivided into phonemic transcription, which records the phonemes or units of semantic meaning in speech, and more strict phonetic transcription, which records speech sounds with precision.

Medieval practice

Candidates for the kingship were at first the heads of the Germanic stem duchies. As these units broke up, rulers of smaller principalities and even non-Germanic rulers were considered for the position. The only requirements generally observed were that the candidate be an adult male, a Catholic Christian, and not in holy orders. The kings were elected by several Imperial Estates (secular princes as well as Prince-Bishops), often in the imperial city of Frankfurt after 1147, a custom recorded in the Schwabenspiegel code in about 1275.

Stem duchy

A stem duchy was a constituent duchy of the Kingdom of Germany at the time of the extinction of the Carolingian dynasty and through the transitional period leading to the formation of the Holy Roman Empire later in the 10th century. The Carolingians had dissolved the original tribal duchies of the Frankish Empire in the 8th century. As the Carolingian Empire declined in the late 9th century, the old tribal areas assumed new identities as subdivisions of the realm. These are the five stem duchies : Bavaria, Franconia, Lotharingia (Lorraine), Saxony and Swabia (Alemannia). The Salian emperors retained the stem duchies as the major divisions of Germany, but they became increasingly obsolete during the early high-medieval period under the Hohenstaufen, and Frederick Barbarossa finally abolished them in 1180 in favour of more numerous territorial duchies.

Free imperial city Self-ruling city that enjoyed Imperial immediacy

In the Holy Roman Empire, the collective term free and imperial cities, briefly worded free imperial city, was used from the fifteenth century to denote a self-ruling city that had a certain amount of autonomy and was represented in the Imperial Diet. An imperial city held the status of Imperial immediacy, and as such, was subordinate only to the Holy Roman Emperor, as opposed to a territorial city or town which was subordinate to a territorial prince – be it an ecclesiastical lord or a secular prince.

Frankfurt Place in Hesse, Germany

Frankfurt is a metropolis and the largest city of the German federal state of Hesse, and its 746,878 (2017) inhabitants make it the fifth-largest city of Germany after Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, and Cologne. On the River Main, it forms a continuous conurbation with the neighbouring city of Offenbach am Main, and its urban area has a population of 2.3 million. The city is at the centre of the larger Rhine-Main Metropolitan Region, which has a population of 5.5 million and is Germany's second-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr Region. Since the enlargement of the European Union in 2013, the geographic centre of the EU is about 40 km (25 mi) to the east of Frankfurt's central business district. Like France and Franconia, the city is named after the Franks. Frankfurt is the largest city in the Rhine Franconian dialect area.

Originally all noblemen present could vote by unanimous acclamation, but later a franchise was granted to only the most eminent bishops and noblemen, and according to the Golden Bull of 1356 issued by Emperor Charles IV only the seven Prince-electors had the right to participate in a majority voting as determined by the 1338 Declaration of Rhense. They were the Prince-Archbishops of Mainz, Trier and Cologne as well as the King of Bohemia, the Count Palatine of the Rhine, the Saxon duke, and the Margrave of Brandenburg. After the Investiture Controversy, Charles intended to strengthen the legal status of the Rex Romanorum beyond Papal approbation. Consequently, among his successors only Sigismund and Frederick III were still crowned Emperors in Rome and in 1530 Charles V was the last king to receive the Imperial Crown at the hands of the Pope (in Bologna). The Golden Bull remained effective as constitutional law until the Empire's dissolution in 1806.

Golden Bull of 1356 manuscript

The Golden Bull of 1356 was a decree issued by the Imperial Diet at Nuremberg and Metz headed by the Emperor Charles IV which fixed, for a period of more than four hundred years, important aspects of the constitutional structure of the Holy Roman Empire. It was named the Golden Bull for the golden seal it carried.

Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor Holy Roman Emperor

Charles IV, born Wenceslaus, was the first King of Bohemia to become Holy Roman Emperor. He was a member of the House of Luxembourg from his father's side and the Czech House of Přemyslid from his mother's side; he emphasized the latter due to his lifelong affinity for the Czech side of his inheritance, and also because his direct ancestors in the Přemyslid line included two saints.

Prince-elector members of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire

The Prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire, or Electors for short, were the members of the electoral college that elected the Holy Roman Emperor.

After his election, the new king would be crowned as King of the Romans (Romanorum Rex), usually at Charlemagne's throne in Aachen Cathedral by the Archbishop of Cologne. Though the ceremony was no more than a symbolic validation of the election result, it was solemnly celebrated. The details of Otto's coronation in 936 are described by the medieval chronicler Widukind of Corvey in his Res gestae saxonicae . The kings received the Imperial Crown from at least 1024, at the coronation of Conrad II. In 1198 the Hohenstaufen candidate Philip of Swabia was crowned Rex Romanorum at Mainz Cathedral (as was King Rupert centuries later), but he had another coronation in Aachen after he had prevailed against his Welf rival Otto IV.

At some time after the ceremony, the king would, if possible, cross the Alps, to receive coronation in Pavia or Milan with the Iron Crown of Lombardy as King of Italy. Finally, he would travel to Rome and be crowned Emperor by the Pope. Because it was rarely possible for the elected King to proceed immediately to Rome for his crowning, several years might elapse between election and coronation, and some Kings never completed the journey to Rome at all. As a suitable title for the King between his election and his coronation as Emperor, Romanorum Rex would stress the plenitude of his authority over the Empire and his warrant to be future Emperor (Imperator futurus) without infringing upon the Papal privilege.

Heraldry of Joseph II, the last King of the Romans Coat of arms of Joseph II as King of the Romans.svg
Heraldry of Joseph II, the last King of the Romans

Not all Kings of the Romans made this step, sometimes because of hostile relations with the Pope, or because either the pressure of business at home or warfare in Germany or Italy made it impossible for the King to make the journey. In such cases, the king might retain the title "King of the Romans" for his entire reign.

Later developments

The title Romanorum Rex became functionally obsolete after 1508, when the Pope permitted King Maximilian I to use the title of Electus Romanorum Imperator ("elected Emperor of the Romans") after he failed in a good-faith attempt to journey to Rome. At this time Maximilian also took the new title "King of the Germans" or "King in Germany" (Germaniae rex, König in Germanien), but the latter was never used as a primary title.

The rulers of the Empire thereafter called themselves "Emperors" without going to Rome or soliciting Papal approval, taking the title as soon as they were crowned in Germany or upon the death of a sitting Emperor if they were elected as heir to the throne.

List

The regnal dates given are those between the election as king and either the election as emperor, deposition or death.

KingBecame KingBecame Emperor/diedNotes
Otto III 983996crowned Emperor
Henry II 10021014crowned Emperor
Conrad II 10241027crowned Emperor
Henry III 10391046crowned Emperor
Henry IV 10561084crowned Emperor
Rudolf 25 May 107715 Oct 1080died Anti-king
Hermann 6 Aug 108128 Sept 1088diedAnti-king
Henry V 11051106in opposition to Henry IV
11061111crowned Emperor
Lothair III 11251133crowned Emperor
Conrad III 11271135in opposition to Lothair
11381152died
Frederick I 11521155crowned Emperor
Henry VI 11901197crowned Emperor
Philip 11981208died
Otto IV 11981208in opposition to Philip
12081209crowned Emperor
Frederick II 12121220crowned Emperor
Henry Raspe 22 May 124616 February 1247diedAnti-king
William of Holland 124728 January 1256diedAnti-king
Conrad IV 12501254died
Richard of Cornwall 12571272diedCandidacy opposed by Saxony, Brandenburg and Trier who supported Alfonso X of Castile. Crowned in Aachen in 1257.
Rudolf I 12731291died
Adolph 12921298deposed and killed
Albert I 12981308died
Henry VII 13081312crowned Emperor
Frederick the Fair 13141330diedjointly with Louis IV
Louis IV 13141328crowned Emperorjointly with Frederick the Fair
1347died
Charles IV 13461347opposed to Louis IV
13471355crowned Emperor
Wenceslaus 13781400deposed
Rupert 14001410died
Jobst of Moravia 14101411diedopposed to Sigismund
Sigismund 14101411second electionopposed to Jobst
14111433crowned Emperor
Albert II 14381439died
Frederick III 14401452crowned Emperor
Maximilian I 14931508assumed title of Emperor-elect.Introduced the title Rex in Germania. [1]

erwelter Romischer kayser, zu allen zeiten merer des Reichs, in Germanien zu Hungern, Dalmatien, Croatien etc. kunig […] [2]

Charles V 15191530crowned Emperor

After Charles V, Holy Roman Emperors assumed the title of "king of the Romans" at the same time as being elected emperor. The titles of "Roman Emperor elect" (erwählter Römischer Kaiser) and "king in Germany" (König in Germanien) continued to be used as part of the full style of the emperors until 1806. When Francis II founded the Austrian Empire in 1804, he used as his style for the last two years before the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire:

"We, Francis II, by the grace of God elected Roman Emperor, at all times Increaser of the Realm, hereditary Emperor of Austria, King in Germania, in Jerusalem, in Hungary, in Bohemia [...]. [3]

Heirs designate

Detail of the imperial coronation mantle, drawing from 1857 MZK 002 Nr 03 Uber die Kleinodien des heil. romisch-deutschen Reiches - Tafel Kronungsmantel - Josef Schonbrunner.jpg
Detail of the imperial coronation mantle, drawing from 1857

The Holy Roman Empire was an elective monarchy. No person had a legal right to the succession simply because he was related to the current Emperor. However, the Emperor could, and often did, have a relative (usually a son) elected to succeed him after his death. This elected heir apparent bore the title "King of the Romans". [4]

The election was in the same form as that of the senior ruler, and theoretically meant that both men were equal co-rulers of the Empire. In practice, however, the actual administration of the Empire was always managed by the Emperor, with at most certain duties delegated to the heir.

List

Armor of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor , created when he was still King of the Romans in 1549. Armor of Emperor Ferdinand I (1503-1564) MET DT773.jpg
Armor of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor , created when he was still King of the Romans in 1549.

The following were subordinate kings to another Holy Roman Emperor (usually, but not always, their father) for the dates specified.

NameDate accededDate relinquishedReasonRelationReigning Emperor
Otto II 9617 May 973succeeded as King (Emperor 967)son Otto I
Henry III 10284 June 1039succeeded as King (Emperor 1046)son Conrad II
Henry IV 10535 October 1056succeeded as King (Emperor 1084)son Henry III
Conrad 1087April 1098deposedson Henry IV
Henry V 6 January 10991105succeeded as King (Emperor 1111)son Henry IV
Henry Berengar 30 March 11471150diedson Conrad III
Henry VI 116910 June 1190succeeded as King (Emperor 1191)son Frederick I
Frederick II 119628 September 1197succeeded and abdicated (via regency) 1197
elected King (with opposition) 1212
Emperor 1220
son Henry VI
Henry (VII) 12204 July 1235deposedson Frederick II
Conrad IV 123713 December 1250succeeded as Kingson Frederick II
Wenceslaus 10 June 137629 November 1378succeeded as Kingson Charles IV
Maximilian I 16 February 148619 August 1493succeeded as King (Emperor 1508)son Frederick III
Ferdinand I 5 January 15313 May 1558succeeded as Emperorbrother Charles V
Maximilian II 28 November 156225 July 1564succeeded as Emperorson Ferdinand I
Rudolph II 27 October 157512 October 1576succeeded as Emperorson Maximilian II
Ferdinand III 22 December 163615 February 1637succeeded as Emperorson Ferdinand II
Ferdinand IV 31 May 16539 July 1654diedson Ferdinand III
Joseph I 23 January 16905 May 1705succeeded as Emperorson Leopold I
Joseph II 27 March18 August 1765succeeded as Emperorson Francis I

First French Empire

Napoleon II Gerard - Napoleon II Roi de Rome.jpg
Napoleon II

When Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, had a son and heir, Napoleon II (181132), he revived the title as King of Rome (Roi de Rome), styling his son as such at birth. The boy was often known colloquially by this title throughout his short life. However, from 1818 onward, he was styled officially as the Duke of Reichstadt by Emperor Francis I of Austria.

See also

Notes

  1. Elisabeth Rothmund: Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672). Kulturpatriotismus und deutsche weltliche Vokalmusik. „Zum Auffnehmen der Music, auch Vermehrung unserer Nation Ruhm“, 2004, p. 79. H. Weisert: Der Reichstitel bis 1806. In: Archiv für Diplomatik|Archiv für Diplomatik, Schriftgeschichte, Siegel- und Wappenkunde 4 (1994), 441–513 (p. 449).
  2. Ernest Troger, Georg Zwanowetz (ed.): Neue Beiträge zur geschichtlichen Landeskunde Tirols. Festschrift für Univ. Prof. Dr. Franz Huter anlässlich der Vollendung des 70. Lebensjahres. Wagner, Innsbruck 1969, p. 269.
  3. Wir, Franz der Zweyte, von Gottes Gnaden erwählter Römischer Kaiser, zu allen Zeiten Mehrer des Reichs, erblicher Kaiser von Österreich, König in Germanien, zu Jerusalem, zu Hungarn, zu Böheim, […] Franz Gall: Österreichische Wappenkunde. Handbuch der Wappenwissenschaft. 2. Auflage. Böhlau, Wien 1992, p. 63.
  4. A junior King of the Romans was normally chosen only when the senior ruler bore the title of Emperor. Only on one occasion (1147-1150) was there both a ruling King of the Romans (King Conrad III) and a King of the Romans as heir (Henry Berengar). From the 16th century on, the senior ruler took the title of 'Emperor' from the time of his accession or succession; King of the Romans accordingly came to refer solely to the heir apparent.

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References

This article uses material translated from the corresponding article in the German-language Wikipedia, which, in turn, cites a source that contains further references: