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ed his neighbor, the king of Italy, and, the Italian soil of being purged from the after assuming his crown, and thus uniting pollution of every German footstep, imthe two kingdoms, revived the imperial title in 962.

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plies such a position of the country with relation to its neighbors, as it can scarcely The sovereign of Germany was now an be said to have enjoyed during these last Emperor, and his territories constituted an thousand years. But as regards the origi"Empire," a title which, thus conveyed, nal connexion of Italy with "the Empire," they preserved up to the commencement of there are few questions in German history the present century. Of course, this em- which have given rise to such desperate pire could be nothing more or less than the contests, nor was the actual authority of original empire of the west, with propor- the Henries and the Fredericks more tions somewhat curtailed. Either in power fiercely disputed in the plains of Lombardy or pretensions, Germany now claimed the by the intrepid Italians, than its theoretiinheritance of Charlemagne. France had cal character and significance by the hisbeen finally severed; but the triple king- torians and jurists of the Empire. The dom now presumed to be united under the whole truth of the matter was this. If the imperial sceptre was still completed by imperial title, as could hardly be denied, Arles. and the tradition was long perpetu- was derived from the sovereignty of Italy, ated in the titles of the three ecclesiastical it was almost a necessary inference that the electors who held respectively the archchan- old imperial prerogatives had descended cellorships of Arles, Italy, and Germany. with it. On this hypothesis, therefore, of an It would be very difficult to trace the fron- unbroken succession of Cæsars, it followed, tiers of a dominion in so great a degree as a matter of course, that Germany was but imaginary. The pretensions of the inherit- a province recovered for the ancient crown, ance, of course, extended to universal rule; and that the rights of the Fredericks and and every province of the continent might the Ferdinands were those of a Valentinian be considered either as a detached fief, or or Honorius-a conclusion anything but as territory not yet reclaimed. Indeed, agreeable to the free States of Germany. in those days all empires were formed upon It was argued, accordingly, that Italy the Roman model. The one idea of real was no true part of the Germanic Empire, sovereignty was that of universal dominion, that it was a regnum proprium of the a conception which was not only exempli- emperors, either peculiarly appertaining, fied in the two empires of the east and at first, to the issue of Charlemagne, or, west, but was reproduced even by those though subsequently reconquered by Otho, oriental hordes who started from the black yet never incorporated with his Germanic tents of a wandering tribe upon the con- dominions. Yet, even if it were established quest of the world. In this way the Ger- that the imperial title was not conferred by man people acquired for their country and the conquest of Italy, but had remained the their chief the denominations which survived inherent property of Germany from the with such celebrity till recent times. In days of Charlemagne, the case would not be reality, Germany was but a great kingdom, greatly altered, for the title, whencesoever constituted very similarly to other king- derived, could be no other than that of the doms, but enriched with a traditional title Roman chiefs of the Western world, and which might just as possibly have fallen to therefore might be taken to carry with it the lot of France. the attributes in question. These presumptions were not unnaturally cherished by those interested in preserving them. As far as actual power or privileges were concerned, the emperors were left to struggle in Italy for them as best they could, but everything went to perpetuate the traditions of continuous sovereignty. Greeks and Franks resembled each other in affecting to be the representatives of that people which had once held the dominion of the world. As the Asiatic subjects of the Comneni styled themselves "Romans," so the inheritance of the Germanic kings became the "Holy Roman Empire," the

The connexion of Italy with the Germanic territories is a point of history to which unusual interest would naturally be attached, from the war which at this moment is raging in Lombardy, and which originated in what may, perhaps, be conceived as this very question. It was not, however, as we shall presently have occasion to explain, in any inheritance of the ancient imperial pretensions that the claims of the Austrian House to its Italian dominions took their rise; though, as simple matter of history, it may undoubtedly be asserted, that the privilege now claimed for

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emperor designate became "king of the perfect individuality and independence. Romans," the laws of Justinian were sup- Again, whereas in almost every other state posed to be obligatory on the Franks of the the original elective principle of the monRhine, the relations between the German archy was gradually forgotten, in Germany more and more explicitly to be people and their elected sovereign were con- it came ceived to be defined by those of Constantine recognized, and survived in something beand his subjects, and at last the descend-yond nominal force to the last days of the ants of a Styrian chieftain were accepted empire. It does not enter into our purpose throughout Europe as the hereditary pos- to trace the successive stages through which sessors of the undoubted throne of the the states of Germany rose to what were disCæsars. These doctrines, it is true, were tinct sovereignties, possessing a virtual and not left unopposed, especially after the re- almost an acknowledged independence. It is ligious divisions of the empire had imparted sufficient to remark, that by the operation unusual significance to the controversy of these unusual changes the territorial Towards the conclusion of the Thirty aspect of the empire was entirely altered, Years' War, the attempts of Ferdinand III and instead of a single kingdom, it became to combine the forces of the empire against what was in fact a confederacy of indepenthe intrusive armies of the French and dent states presided over by a supreme visiSwedes, were entirely frustrated by a book ble head of their own choice, and yielding written on this subject by Chemnitz the an uncertain submission to certain general historian, who, with more violence than rules of government, but enjoying at the accuracy, not only refuted the connexion of same time such freedom of independent the Germans with the Roman Empire, but action as is quite incompatible with any declared that the supreme authority in the modern theory of such political associations. former realm, was vested, not in the emper- The duchies had originally been nothing or, but wholly in the states. And, even at more than large estates or lordships of the the end of the last century, a very learned, kingdom, conferred by the Emperor on though not quite impartial writer upon the certain nobles for life. As early as the public law and constitutional history of the eleventh century they had become hereditaempire, is at the trouble to explain parti- ry; at least, they ever afterwards remained cularly that the denomination of Empire in the families which at that period poswas, in fact, originally applicable only by sessed them. Gradually their emancipacourtesy to the Germanic territories,-that tion from the control of the imperial crown Otho was "Emperor" only in respect of became almost complete, and their heredihis separate and peculiar sovereignty of tary lords, under the subordinate titles of Italy, and that the transfer of the imperial title to the Germanic court could only be justified by some such compliment as that which conceded royal styles to the electorates of Bradenburg or Hanover, after the respective electors had become actual kings in some other portion of their dominions.

dukes or princes, exercised all those privileges presumed to be the distinctions of sovereignty. Each considerable state, in fact, formed a little "empire" of itself, with its own diet, its own constituent states, and its own head, who enjoyed in his particular dominions an authority far more In this way and in such sense did Ger- extensive and less questionable than that many become "the Empire" of the Middle possessed by the emperor over all. In this Ages. Excepting in the influence of cer- way was formed what may be termed a tain pretensions conveyed by the title, confederacy without a pact. It was not, neither its institutions nor position differed in its origin, any league or combination of at first very materially from those of its states for a common purpose of defence or neighbors; but in course of time two re- aggrandizement, and therefore it possessed markable developments of its constitution no definite articles of union to regulate the gave it a character altogether significant and common action of the combined parties. singular. Many kingdoms were originally In theory it was still an indivisible empire, little more than a group of fiefs or counties; but whereas in every other case the tendency of events was to the absorption of all these dependencies in the central power, and to the consolidation of a compact and indivisible inheritance; in Germany these constituent duchies severally succeeded to

* It is hardly necessary, perhaps, to remark that we are compelled to use the term "confederacy," as well as some others, in a sense too vague for its exact political import. Strictly speaking, Germany was never a confederacy before 1815, though the aggregate of its states is described by this title even in the writings of careful and accurate historians.

the forces of which were at the command | In Germany, on the other hand, the monand disposal of the emperor, subject to the archy, at first not very clearly elective, constitutional rights of his subjects. But, became at an early period almost confesspractically, it was a huge kingdom resolved edly hereditary, was next declared to be into distinct states by the isolation and be elective beyond dispute, and finally deaggrandizement of its members, retaining volved to certain great houses in succession indeed certain traditional ideas of unity, for various periods. An additional singuand regulating by common consent some larity was attached to the practice, from the conditions of internal intercourse, but no monopoly of the national suffrages by seven longer subsisting in full strength as an ef- or more great dignitaries of the empire, fective whole. The privileges of the states though this is an incident which is beyond had superseded the powers of the sovereign. the scope of our remarks. The actual The singularity of the circumstances con- transmission of the crown, however, is a sisted in this, that the ordinary process of point which it is very important to observe. constitutional development had been in this It remained through five descents in the case reversed. What was generally an House of Saxony; through four more, conearlier form of government had supervened tinuously, in the House of Franconia; nor upon what was generally a later form; just did it quit either of these families, except as if in the case of Russia the princes of upon the extinction of the reigning male Twer Vladimir and Moscow, or the free line. After reverting to a duke of Saxony cities of Novogorod and Pskof had risen for a few years, it passed to the House of into independence upon the weakness of Hohenstauffen, in which it continued, less the czars. The change, too, had taken peaceably, through four descents, with the place insensibly, and without any destruc- interruptions of Philip and Otho IV. dution of the original form, so that the action ring the long minority of Frederick II. A of several confederated states had to be period termed an interregnum now ensued, regulated and determined by laws devised though as the Imperial throne was only for a single kingdom; insomuch as the actually vacant during a few months of the confederacy or union, such as it was, was twenty years so designated, the expression the result not of any deliberate stipulations would almost seem to imply that such of the parties concerned, but of certain license as determined the elections of Wiltraditions inherited from a past consti- liam and Richard, was hardly thought tution. consistent with the true constitution of the The development of the elective princi- empire. Stability was again restored by ple in this imperial monarchy was equally the promotion to the imperial dignity singular. Originally, as is well known, of Rodolf of Hapsburg, the founder of most European monarchies were elective the present Austrian House, in 1273, an within certain accepted limits,* which limits were gradually narrowed, until the descent of the crown became strictly hereditary.

of Poland, the government of which is quoted as so

election peculiarly remarkable, as illustrating the advantages inherent in the spirit of the constitution, when honestly carried out. Rodolf's claims were almost wholly These limits virtually existed even in the case personal, and thus the free choice of the complete an illustration of an elective monarchy. electors, judiciously exercised, enabled From the earliest days of the kingdom, down to the them to place on the throne that candidate year 1370, the crown continued in the family of whose position and abilities were best calPiast, and even Louis of Hungary, who was then culated for the work in hsnd. The period elected, was a Piast by his mother's side. After him came the Jagellos, who reigned with tolerable of a hundred and fifty years intervening berenown, and in steady succession, for 186 years. tween the death of Rodolf and the final When this line failed, in 1572, the Poles certainly hereditary succession of his descendants, gave one very striking example of free suffrage in electing Henry of Valois; but after his summary dismissal, they married the new object of their choice to a sister of the last Jagello, and finally in 1587, reverted to the same stock in the dynasty of the Vasas, who were descended from another sister, and in whose hands the crown remained till 1668. Then came the extempore election of Michael and of John Sobieski, which was but natural; after which, but for the interference of other pow ers, the crown would probably have become hereditary in the House of Saxony, which supplied the two Fredericks, and to which House, at much later

shows the elective principle in full and legitimate operation. Notwithstanding the benefits rendered to the empire by Rodolf, his son could only obtain the succession after the short reign of Adolphus of Nas

times, the Poles have often reverted when there has been any question of restoring them under a monarchy. Their famous pacta couventa were little more than the "capitulations" of the German emperors.

sau had been interposed, and the crown | considering are difficult of definition, owing then oscillated between the two great houses to its double character as the territory of of the period, Luxemburgh and Bavaria. the Germanic tribes and the empire of the At length, however, in 1438, it returned to Roman Cæsars. Theoretically, there were the House of Austria, in the posterity of no bounds to its extent; practically, it soon which, aggrandized by alliances and in- assumed the form of an ordinary though heritances, as we shall presently describe spacious kingdom. There can be little it, it remained, with a single brief inter- doubt but that the empire was originally ruption at the extinction of the male line, based upon some idea of German nationtill the dissolution of the empire in 1806. ality; for although certain Sclavonic counYet it is to be observed that the succession tries claimed to be considered as integral was never declared hereditary, nor were the portions, yet these claims were only admitceremonies of election ever omitted, or even ted, as we shall presently observe, under utterly reduced to a mockery. The ambi- reservations and protests. As France and tious aspirations of Francis I. and our Germany had at one time been united unHenry VIII. might be warranted by the der the Imperial crown, there was nothing yet unstable seat of the Hapsburg dynasty; very surprising in the fact that certain pronor is there, perhaps, any great reason for vinces on the frontiers of these two kingconsidering a dignity open to general com- doms should be attached sometimes to one petition, because Louis XIV. conceived and sometimes to the other of them; and himself to deserve it. But apart from when districts of Lorraine or Burgundy these vaultings of royal ambition, it is cer- were either lost or gained by any particular tain that the House of Austria ran repeated emperor, it was merely considered as a rerisks of losing its monopoly from more seri- covery or detachment of so much of the ous opposition. At the first election after original Imperial territory. As far as we the Thirty Years' War, great efforts were are aware, there was no instance of annexmade by France and Sweden to supplantation, either by conquest or otherwise, to the Hapsburg House by some branch of the Germanic Empire, of any territories` that of Bavaria; and nothing is clearer than that up to the very days of Charles VI., each election was conceived to afford both occasion and opportunity for some little political manoeuvring. The experiment, however, of Charles VII. showed that the Bavarian House could make no head in the empire against the power of Austria, and Francis of Lorraine accordingly received, with the dowry of Maria Theresa, the Imperial crown for himself and his descendants, though, it is plain enough from the exertions made on this occasion, as well as from the anxiety of the Austrian family to secure the recognition of the electoral vote of Bohemia, that some misgivings were entertained respecting future decisions of the college.

The limits of the country we are now

conceived to have been originally independent of it; though the proposal of Henry VI. to incorporate with the empire, upon certain conditions, the Sicilian inheritance of his queen, shows that such aggrandizement was considered practicable. The diminution of the Imperial territory occurred chiefly on the western border, either by the transfer of certain portions to France, as in the case of Provence, Dauphine, and Franche Comté, or by the successful assertion of independence, as in the case of Switzerland. To the south lay Italy, which, though it gave its title to the empire, was never considered a constituent portion of it. Represented sometimes as a patrimonial possession of the emperors, sometimes as a conquered and subject country, and never assimilated or reconciled to the Germanic States, it sent no representatives to the Diet, nor did any Italian prince or duke, as such, ever enjoy a seat in that assembly. To the east and north, the Imperial frontiers varied according to the success of the several margraves in driving back the bar

The object of the dissentients was at one time put in a fair way of being accomplished by the mooting of a singular question. Although the electoral college enjoyed the undisputed right of electing an emperor, yet they could show no similar warrant for electing a king of the Romans. Objections, therefore, were taken to two points, 1st, to the election generally of a king of the Romans in the life-barous tribes on the borders, and in laying time of the emperor, unless under circumstances of urgent necessity; and, 2dly, to the limitation of the suffrage, on such an occasion, to the electoral college. Both objections were directed against the hereditary monopoly of Austria, and though unsuccessful, were rather evaded than overruled.

the foundations of new provinces in the "marches" thus reclaimed. It is rather remarkable that the only point of the Germanic frontier concerning which any definite tradition of antiquity has descended to

our times, should be the very point which at this moment is committed to the arbitration of the sword. Our readers are aware that the province of Schleswig--the cradle of the English people-is claimed, after their respective fashions, by the crown of Denmark and the Germanic Confederation; and, on behalf of the former party, appeal has been made to an almost proverbial saying " Eidora fluvius, terminus Imperii Romani." Now, there is no doubt that the river Eyder, which runs between Schleswig and Holstein, and thus confines the pretensions of the empire to the latter duchy, was both very commonly and very naturally accepted as a boundary according to the saying; insomuch that in the city of Rendsburg, through which the Eyder flows, it was the custom, up to the dissolution of the empire, to offer prayers for the emperor in the service of the churches situate on the south bank of the river, but not in that of those situate on the north. As a matter of fact, however, the emphasis which has been laid upon this proverb, as designating a fixed and unchangeable landmark, has been without due foundation. It is certain that not only Schleswig, but the whole of Denmark, has been considered feudatory to the empire, and when Frederick Barbarossa was reciting his own panegyric to the Roman ambassadors, he alluded to the investiture he had conferred on the Danish monarch as indicating the "restoration" only, and not the extension of the imperial rights. We do not, of course, mean to lay any serious stress upon such pretensions as these, which might have been pushed with equal justice to the shores of Sicily or Britain; but it does seem to have been overlooked, in the deductions so fluently drawn from the saying above quoted, that Schleswig was once a margraviate of the empire, and that Conrad II. was conceived to be curtailing the imperial possessions when he ceded it to the Danish crown.

From these remarks it may be collected that the real dominions of the Germanic Empire, exclusive of its inherited pretensions, were pretty nearly co-extensive with true German nationality. Besides these states, however, there were others, not very clearly or definitely connected with the empire, but the position of which it is expedient to notice with reference to the great designs now in agitation. It may seem strange to include Bohemia in this category of outlying states, since, as has been well observed, it could only be in its capacity

as an integral part of the empire, that it could make any pretensions to its exercise of the electoral privileges. But it is nevertheless true that not only its other pretensions, but this very vote itself, was repeatedly called in question, and that, too, by reason of its non-nationality. "Rex Bohemiæ non eligit, quia non est Teutonicus," was a current maxim in the empire. In the eleventh century the Emperor Henry IV. raised the reigning "duke" of Bohemia to the rank and title of king, a proceeding which, however, does not necessarily denote any intimate connexion between the empire and the kingdom. The male line of these old kings became extinct with Wenceslaus V., in the year 1306, when the crown, according to a compact whieh Rodolf of Hapsburg had brought about by a judicious exercise of his imperial influence, should have gone to the rising family of Austria. But the House of Luxemburgh, then at the height of its power, succeeded in intercepting it, and in their hands it remained till that transfer which we shall presently mention in speaking of the gradual aggrandizement of Austria. The Luxemburgh family, who thus, for upwards of a century, filled the Bohemian throne, and, with some interruption, that of the Empire also, employed the opportunities of their position in aggrandizing their Sclavonic patrimony, to the prejudice of the Imperial crown, which they doubtless considered a dignity both less profitable and less secure. For a short time, during the interval which elapsed between the extinction of the old line of Brandenburgh, and the elevation of the reigning House of Prussia to that title, the whole of this northern electorate was actually annexed by one of the Luxemburgh emperors of the Bohemian kingdom; and when Charles IV. decided so many Germanic pretensions by the famous Golden Bull, he not only recognized and confirmed the electoral vote of Bohemia, which, as we have remarked, had been called in question, but even secured that elector, who was then no other than his royal self, in a perpetual precedency over his three secular colleagues. Yet, notwithstanding all this, when the kingdom of Bohemia devolved along with so many others, and with the empire itself, to the House of Austria, the vote, which thus became the possession of the emperors themselves, was tacitly merged and lost. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, six electors only are spoken of; nor was it till the college had been increased

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