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Holy Roman Empire (Chaos)

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HRE Flag  Member States of the Holy Roman Empire (Chaos TL)  HRE Flag
List of Roman kings of the HRE
Nations

Baden | Bavaria | Brandenburg | Braunschweig | Franconia | Hesse | Jülich-Berg | Luxemburg | Mecklenburg | Nassau | Netherlands | Thuringia | Württemberg

Nations that joined the HRE later: Poland | Prussia
Nations that left the HRE: Bohemia | Florence | Switzerland
Nations that became defunct

Austria | Holstein | Meissen | Münster | Osterland | Pomerania | Salzburg | Würzburg

Organisations

Alpenbund | Baltic League | Hanseatic League | Süddeutscher Städtebund

After the death of the great emperor Friedrich II 1250, during 1254-1273, there was practically an Interregnum in the Holy Roman Empire: The electors had elected not one, but two Roman kings, who were both absent during their rule, and the various princes used the opportunity to make their lands hereditary. Thus, later kings lost most of their power, and Germany would stay splintered for centuries.

The PoD

After the death of Roman king Richard of Cornwall and the forced abdication of Alfonso X the HRE had to elect a new king in 1273. Among the candidates were the French king Philippe III and Otakar Przemysl of Moravia and Carinthia. ITTL, he wasn't absent from the election and could influence it better. The other princes also considered him less dangerous, since his nephew reigned independent from him. Since his nephew, the elector of Bohemia, voted for him, the Upper Bavarian duke Ludwig II and the three archbishops supported him too, he was elected king Ottokar I of the HRE.

1275, he lead the Empire against Hungary, defeated the new king and got Styria back for the HRE, which was divided between Austria and (Upper) Bavaria.

1286, king Ottokar had decided to go on a crusade against the Muslims, after the pope had promised him to crown him Holy Roman Emperor, but unfortunately he died on the way, and the crusade fizzled. Now, Rudolf of Habsburg was elected new Roman king - the only Habsburg to do so. But his reign was short, and 1291 the Upper Bavarian duke Ludwig II (Ludwig IV as king) was elected Roman king. 1295, Ludwig died (one year later than OTL). The Ascanian Otto IV of Brandenburg became new king of the HRE. In 1309, King Otto died too, so Heinrich VII of Luxemburg (same as OTL - and the last recognizable one) became new king. He managed to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor by the pope in 1312, becoming the first emperor since Friedrich II.

1321-28, Waldemar of Brandenburg declared himself anti-king, until he was defeated.

In the year 1357, the Golden Bull was made in the HRE: It said that the Roman king was elected solely by the seven electors, and thus the pope wasn't necessary. The seven electors were the same ones as OTL.

1375-78, the Süddeutscher Städtebund (South German City League) was formed. Various South German princes, led by those of Württemberg and Habsburg, fought them. But with the help of the Swiss, the cities stayed victorious, and other than IOTL, their alliance wasn't interdicted by the Roman king. In this war, the Habsburgs lost most of their territories, except Freiburg with the Black Forest.

In the years 1394/95, the Black Death hit the HRE.

The Dutch kings

1381, the duke of Holstein, effective ruler of Denmark and count of Holland Gerhard had been elected Roman king.

1408, duke Ottokar II of Austria (and titular king of Bohemia) asked the Roman king to conquer Bohemia back for him. When king Gerhard II declined, Ottokar had himself elected anti-king with Bavarian help and started a war against Bohemia. In 1413, after his armies had been defeated severely several times by the Czech leader Prokop I, he put down the crown again and apologized.

In 1414, Holland, important for its trade, got the eighth electoral vote in the HRE. 1419, Roman king Gerhard II was crowned emperor and also appointed himself king of the Netherlands (which included Holland, Zeeland, Hennegau and Utrecht at that time), with the pope's OK.

1421/22, the Swabish War took place in the HRE. The Empire proved unable to force Switzerland and its allies of the South German City League back into the fold. The weakness of the empire also became apparent when in the 1430s Venice simply annexed the patriarchate of Aquileia, which was part of the HRE.

The Twenty-Year War

1464, there had been great findings of silver in Tyrol, which made the Luxemburger dynasty second-richest in the HRE. In 1472, their candidate Heinrich VIII was elected Roman king. He wouldn't do the empire much good, however: When he secularized and annexed the bistums of Augsburg and Trient for his lands in 1475, the HRE fell into a kind of Civil War. All the princes tried to annex the clerical lands, which lead to lots of confusion and little wars for said lands, which are generally subsumed as the Twenty-Year War. The most important of those wars were the Bavarian-Austrian War for Salzburg (1485-93) and the French-Dutch War (1486-91). For some time, there were three kings in the Empire (of Luxemburg, Brandenburg and Geldern respectively).

In the same year, in the bisthums of Würzburg and Münster, millenialist sects took the power, declared the Gottesfreistaat (God's republic - another kind of theocracy).

The Swiss used the opportunity and conquered the remaining lands of their archenemies, the Habsburgs, in the Black Forest.

And to make the situation even worse, there were peasant uprisings (mostly in western Germany) who felt suppressed by the nobles. Those who couldn't flee to the territories of the Gottesfreistaaten where they were let in if they only swore to obey God's laws, were brutally suppressed. At the end of the war, Germany had lost one fifth of its population.

Finally, in 1495, king Karl V of Luxemburg deposed anti-king Otto of Brandenburg, was accepted as Roman king (better said: nobody complained). Not however in Switzerland and the theocracies of Münster and Würzburg, who had stopped caring about the HRE.

Reforms

1500-1508, overdue reforms of the HRE took place. Everlasting Landfrieden ("public peace" - put an end to the feuds) was proclaimed. Braunschweig-Lüneburg got the ninth electorate. Otherwise, the electorate system wasn't reformed - but the clerical electors (the bishops of Cologne, Mainz and Trier) were now really dependent of their princes, the princes of Jülich-Berg, Nassau and Luxemburg respectively. The Gottesfreistaaten of Münster and Würzburg were put into Reichsacht (means: everyone may kill their people and take their lands). The Reichstag was established. (It was not a parliament, more a platform for the princes and the other states.) The electors (and later Franconia-Pomerania) had one vote each, while the smaller states only have "shared votes". To counter the Seljuk threat, the Reichsarmee (Imperial army) was founded too. HRE was now named "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation".

Under the French kings

In 1511, the French regent was elected king Franz I of Berry and crowned emperor in 1514. Three other French kings followed; while they fought with France's power to liberate southern Germany from the Rum-Seljuks, they also used the opportunity to make southern Germany their sphere of influence, using the Alliance des Alpes. The HRE also was forced to fight in the Great Occidental War at France's side.

1522, Prussia joined the HRE and even gained a new electorate.

About during this time, the bible was translated into German.

In 1545, burgrave Johann von Hohenzollern of Ansbach and Bayreuth defeated the Gottesfreistaat Würzburg, annexed it, thus forming the new duchy of Franconia. One threat to the order was removed.

Various, often foreign dynasties

After the death of emperor Franz II, the electors chose the mighty king Alasdair IV of Scotland (who at this time also reigned Ireland, Scandinavia and Poland), if only for symbolic reasons.

His successor Eduard I of Geldern made an important decision in 1600 when he declared that having the majority of the electors would be sufficient for being Holy Roman Emperor. Thus, he denied the pope and the French king.

Waldemar "Cicero" of Brandenburg saw that France under its new king François IV was becoming too powerful in Germany, thus joining the Baltic League, which started to form a counterweight in eastern Germany to France and its allies.

In 1637, Poland joined the HREGN, to be better protected against the Russians, and even got one electoral vote. Its German neighbors secretly claimed that this was for keeping them in check.

François IV first had his (relatively liberal) relative elected king Karl VIII, and became emperor Franz III himself in 1664. In this way, he took a lot of influence: 1653, in the Reichsdeputationshauptbeschluss all the free cities and other smaller territories of the HREGN were mediatized (given to bigger states). France itself received some lands too - the Grafschaften (counties) of Mömpelgard, Salm, Saarwerden-Saarbrücken, Veldenz and Sponheim, now extending into German-speaking territory. The north-eastern German states started to grumble, especially since France didn't care to help them against the Russian threat (and also, because there are barely any lands left in NE Germany to be annexed). 1681, he annexed the Margravate of Baden, against all the rules, laws and traditions. Even France's allies in Germany weren't willing to take these excesses anymore.

After François' death in 1681, a short interregnum happened; 1682, the (several times postponed) election for HREmperor took place. (Several candidates, like crown prince Humphrey of England and king Humphrey I himself, had died at an inconvenient time, and the anti-French groups had to look for new candidates, since queen Kristina I of Sweden wasn't electable.) Finally, after a turbulent election, king Francisco II of Sicily was elected emperor Franz IV by Brandenburg, Prussia, Saxony, Jülich-Berg, the Netherlands, Palatinate (until then controlled by France), while François V ("the other Franz", as the Germans called him) was elected by Poland, Württemberg-Austria, Nassau, Braunschweig and Luxemburg. François V didn't want to accept the result of the election, which was admittedly quite unclear (are the votes of French-occupied Luxemburg and collegially governed Brandenburg valid?). The result was the anti-French War, which devastated many regions of Germany and killed about a tenth of its population, but also reduced the French influence (also ending the Alliance des Alpes).

Even now, France under new king François VI tried to interfere in German affairs, as in the Dutch and the Palatinate War of Succession (not without success). There also was the French-Prussian War.

1766/67, the short Southern German War took place. Shortly after, the first telegraph in a German state (Bavaria) was built. In 1772, the first Pole was elected Holy Roman Emperor: Stanislaw III of Poland.

The end

In the first French Republican War, the troops of the German princes were beaten repeatedly. In the peace of Brussels 1772, all the lands west of the Rhine were annexed by France, plus lands like Baden and Berg.

The princes hoped for revenge; but while the second French Republican War began promising, everything changed when general Boulanger crossed the Rhine in 1783 in did his "thrust through Germany", overrunning states like Hesse, Franconia, and Thuringia. In the peace of Basel, these lands became French satellites, and the HRE was officially dissolved.

Unofficially however, king Humphrey V of Britain would acquire the titles of the electors by buying them or making dynastical marriages, so he could be elected unofficial Holy Roman Emperor. Nobody cared however, especially noone in Germany.

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