How did the HRE, with such a confusing, intricate and complicated system of governance last for 1000 years? [No, Voltaire quotes are not necessary]

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,131
SoCal
#11
It was too big to be partitioned. Many of the individual states were too powerful. It would be like saying Europe or asia could be partitioned, it was too big. Even Napoleon couldn't control all of it, even after hundreds of years of division and disbanding it, the best he could do was dominate the weaker states. Many of whom turned on him as soon as he was weak.
The HRE wasn't that much larger than the PLC was--was it?
 
Apr 2017
1,528
U.S.A.
#12
That's still 550 years of decentralization, though.
Some argue it was a state of freedom.
Look at france, it was weak and divided after Charlemagne's death and largely was divided until its victory at the end of the hundred years war. That's over 400 years.

The HRE wasn't that much larger than the PLC was--was it?
At its peak it included all of Germany, the Baltic states, all of Italy, a third of france, bohemia-Moravia and the low countries. Population wise it was much larger than Poland ever was.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,131
SoCal
#13
Some argue it was a state of freedom.
Look at france, it was weak and divided after Charlemagne's death and largely was divided until its victory at the end of the hundred years war. That's over 400 years.
I guess that this kind of freedom was more valuable during the Middle Ages in Europe than it was in the late 1700s in North America.

At its peak it included all of Germany, the Baltic states, all of Italy, a third of france, bohemia-Moravia and the low countries. Population wise it was much larger than Poland ever was.
Good point.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,443
Las Vegas, NV USA
#14
It wasn't decentralized (at least not much worse than other states at the time) for all its history. It was weakened after 1250ish, weakened further after the protestant reformation and finally broken after the thirty years war.
From 1250 to 1273 was the Great Interregnum of the HRE. When Imperial rule was re-established the office had lost considerable power but still had prestige. Some of that was lost with the Golden Bull of 1356. Thereafter the title mostly reflected the prestige of its occupant and the hereditary lands he directly controlled. (Salic Law denied the Imperial title to females).

Interregnum (Holy Roman Empire) - Wikipedia

Edit: It probably survived as long as it did because other powers, especially France, did not want another great power in the middle of Europe.
 
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MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,894
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
#15
Some argue it was a state of freedom.
Look at france, it was weak and divided after Charlemagne's death and largely was divided until its victory at the end of the hundred years war. That's over 400 years.


At its peak it included all of Germany, the Baltic states, all of Italy, a third of france, bohemia-Moravia and the low countries. Population wise it was much larger than Poland ever was.
Actually vassal and tributary states of the Holy Roman Empire at various times included Hungary & Croatia, Poland, Denmark (including part of southern Sweden), Cyprus, (lesser) Armenia, the eastern Roman or "Byzantine" Empire, etc. And some rather uncertain cases of lands alleged to have been vassals of the Holy Roman Empire include the Kingdom of England, English fiefs in France, and the Almohad Caliphate.
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,894
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
#17
When was Byzantium a tributary state of the HRE?
Henry VI, Emperor of the Romans and Always Emperor/Imperial, demanded that Isaac II Angelos, King and Emperor of the Romans, become a tributary in 1195. The demand arrived just after Alexios III Angelos deposed Isaac II and Alexios III accepted the demand.

It may be noted that some historians prefer to define the Holy Roman Empire as lasting from 962 to 1806, a "mere" 844 years. Instead of counting the western Emperors from Charlemagne to Berenger I as Holy Roman Emperors they prefer to count them as emperors of Carolingian Empire. While other historians prefer to consider that the Holy Roman Empire lasted for a full 1006 years from 800 to 1806.

Somewhere here in Historum, or in History Stack Exchange, or in History Reddit, I recently counted all the years that all the other empires and so called "empires" in western European culture (including those out side of western Euopre but within western European Culture) and they added up to less than the 844 years minimum duration of the Holy Roman Empire. And from 962 to 1204, and from 1383 to 1721, a total of 580 years, the Holy Roman Empire was the only empire within western European culture. So within western cuture, a empire should be defined as a state like the Holy Roman Empire. Thus Voltaire's quip is incorrect since the Holy Roman Empire is not only an empire but The Empire in western European culture.

The list of other states called "empires" that were more or less controled by western Euoropeans or more or less in the western European cultural zone is in my post # 14 on page two of the thread: Countries that were federations for a very long time

Empire of Romania ("Roman Land"), commonly called the Latin Empire of Constantinople (179 years from 1204-1383). It is commonly said to have lasted for only 57 years until 1261, when the Emperor's crownlands and capital were conquered by Nicaea, but the exiled emperors were acknowledged as the overlords of the remaining fiefs until 1383 after which nobody claimed the title. It was in a mostly Orthodox society, but the rulers were members of western European society.

Empire of Austria or Austrian Empire (114 years from 1804-1918), and a component of Austria-Hungary from 1867-1918.

The Carolingian Empire (88 years from 800-888, 8 years from 891-899, 4 years from 901-905, and 9 years from 915-924, or a total of about 109 years)

Empire of Brazil (67 years from 1822-1889).

German Empire (47 years from 1871-1918).

Second French Empire (18 years from 1852-1870).

First French Empire (10 years from 104-1814/15).

Second Empire of Haiti (10 Years from 1849-1859).

Second Mexican Empire (3 years from 1864-1867).

First Mexican Empire (2 years from 1821-1823).

First Empire of Haiti (2 years from 1804-1806).

So those other empires lasted for a grand total of 561 years.

And if we add the Russian Empire that lasted 196 years from 1721 to 1917 which was a majority Orthodox Christian society but was influenced by western European ideas, and the Empire of India (the British Raj) that lasted for 71 years from 1876 to 1947 and ruled over a mostly Hindu and Muslim society but was controlled by a European country, and the Central African Empire that lasted for 3 years form 1976-1979 we get a total of years 831 years, 13 years fewer than the Holy Roman Empire lasted.
 
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Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,413
Republika Srpska
#18
Henry VI, Emperor of the Romans and Always Emperor/Imperial, demanded that Isaac II, King and Emperor of the Romans, become a tributary in 1195. The demand arrived just after Alexios III Angelos deposed Isaac II and Alexios accepted the demand.
If I recall correctly, that was only to finance the new Crusade, not an attempt to impose a regular tribute from the ERE.

You are correct, it's just that when I read tributary state I always think of states that were forced to pay regular, mostly annual tribute. My bad.
 
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Jul 2019
558
New Jersey
#19
My understanding is that the HRE survived as long as it did precisely because it was so decentralized. There were not many obligations (the Holy Roman Emperors never had an easy timeraising troops or anything like that) and often one would gain protection from outside powers or neighbors via the Empire. Once the Reformation rolled around, though, and the HRE became a liability to the Protestant vassals, the whole project began to unwind.
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,656
#20
Germanic peoples spread through most of Europe with the collapse of the WRE and their descendants had the incentive to remain part of the HRE because the burdens weren't onerous and due to the potential to become Emperor dangling as a potential benefit, various political alliances of being within the HRE vs without were remained useful, competing spheres of influence on the periphery tied largely to geography also made staying in a league of semi-allied states useful, lots of dynastic marriages, and having a shared mythos even if languages and some aspects of culture fragmented.
 

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