Holy Roman Empire Essay

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For almost all of the last 1200 years, Central Europe has been a multiethnic space governed by overlapping political entities. We usually don 't think of it that way, because the Cold War created a new dichotomy o (advanced, democratic) Western Europe and (feudal, primitive, totalitarian) Eastern Europe, even though Vienna is about 150 miles southeast of Prague. Even before the Cold War, Central Europe had gotten a bad rap, since historians touted the nation-state as the teleological endpoint of history. While the nation-states of the far west of Europe papered over their fractures early on with nominally unified central governments (pay no attention to lreland, the Basque Country and Belgium behind the curtain!), German historians had a hard …show more content…
In the 18th century heyday of absolute monarchy, the Emperor had no such pretensions. He (it was required to be a he) sat at the apex of a system of local, regional and empire-wide legislative, judicial and diplomatic structures. The Holy Roman Empire, during its final two centuries, starting with the Thirty Years ' War (1618-1648) (the primary focus of this review) was roughly contiguous with today 's Germany, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Belgium and northem Italy. Modern maps of the Empire portray a chaotic congeries of over 300 entities awaiting the destiny of History to turn them into a proper German nation-state, but the reality was something closer to a federal s Starting in the Middle Ages, each territory (some quite smal) evolved its own political arrangements: a variety of princely episcopal and merchant controlled states. Most of the states participated in regional assemblies of states called Kreis, analogous to how U.S. states are represented in the Senate. Within the states, even the quasi- monarchial ones, diets generally held the taxing power. …show more content…
The Emperor, rather than being the Decider, like some modern US Presidents, was the Persuader, particularly since mediation was likely to more buy-in than straight win-lose adjudications. While Madison looked down on the Holy Roman Empire, his often- gridlocked US system, with it contending states and fragmented authority, resembled aspects of the Empire. The territories of the seven Electors (with the power to select the Emperor) were generally the most powerful states within the Empire, but most of the individual Electors had important dynastic territories outside the Empire, such as Hungary (Austria) and Prussia (Brandenburg). The Empire served as Europe 's "soft center," in Tim Banning 's phrase in "The Pursuit of Glory," with promises of collective defense creating coalitions to counter overaggressive members. Beginning with the Brandenburg elector (and Prussian King) Frederick the Great 's seizure of Silesia from Austria 's Maria Teresa in 1740, triggering the War of the Austrian succession, the Holy Roman Empire came under pressure, declining in relative importance.

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