Heiliges Römisches Reich Deutscher Nation

In year 799, for the third time in half a century, a pope is in need of help from the Frankish king. After being physically attacked by his enemies in the streets of Rome (their stated intention is to blind him and cut out his tongue, to make him incapable of office), Leo III makes his way through the Alps to visit Charlemagne at Paderborn.

It is not known what is agreed, but Charlemagne travels to Rome in 800 to support the pope. In a ceremony in St Peter's, on Christmas Day, Leo is due to anoint Charlemagne's son as his heir. But unexpectedly (it is maintained), as Charlemagne rises from prayer, the pope places a crown on his head and acclaims him emperor.

Charlemagne expresses displeasure but accepts the honour. The displeasure is probably diplomatic, for the legal emperor is undoubtedly the one in Constantinople. Nevertheless this public alliance between the pope and the ruler of a confederation of Germanic tribes now reflects the reality of political power in the west. And it launches the concept of the new Holy Roman Empire which will play an important role throughout the Middle Ages.

The Holy Roman Empire only becomes formally established in the next century. But it is implicit in the title adopted by Charlemagne in 800: 'Charles, most serene Augustus, crowned by God, great and pacific emperor, governing the Roman empire.'

EMPERORS OF THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE

 800- 814 Charlemagne

814- 840 Louis I der Fromme (the Pious)

840- 855 Lothair I

855- 875 Louis II

875- 877 Charles II

881- 887 Charles III

887- 899 Arnulf

899- 911 Louis III

911- 918 Conrad I

919- 936 Henry I the Fowler

936- 973 Otto I the Great

973- 983 Otto II

983-1002 Otto III

1002-1024 Henry II

1024-1039 Conrad II

1039-1056 Henry III

1056-1106 Henry IV

1077-1080 Rudolf

1106-1125 Henry V

1125-1137 Lothair II

1138-1152 Conrad III

1152-1190 Frederick I Barbarossa

1190-1197 Henry VI

1198-1208 Philip

1198-1218 Otto IV

1212-1250 Frederick II

1246-1249 Henry Raspe

1247-1256 William

1250-1254 Conrad IV

1257-1272 Richard of Cornwall

1257-1273 Alfonso X

1273-1291 Rudolf I

1292-1298 Adolf

1298-1308 Albert I

1308-1313 Henry VII

1314-1347 Louis IV of Bavaria

1314-1330 Frederick of Austria

1347-1378 Charles IV

1378-1400 Wenceslas

1400-1410 Rupert

1410-1411 Jossus of Moravia

1411-1437 Sigismund of Luxemburg

1438-1439 Albert II

1440-1493 Frederick III

1493-1519 Maximilian I

1519-1556 Charles V

1556-1564 Ferdinand I

1564-1576 Maximilian II

1576-1612 Rudolf II

1612-1619 Matthias

1619-1637 Ferdinand II

1637-1657 Ferdinand III

1658-1705 Leopold I

1705-1711 Joseph I

1711-1740 Charles VI and Empress Elisabeth Christine von Braunschweig

1740-1742 Interregnum

1742-1745 Charles VII of Bavaria

1745-1765 Francis I Stefan

1765-1790 Joseph II

1790-1792 Leopold II

1792-1806 Francis II

1806 Emperor resigns and empire ceases to exist.