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Holy Roman Empire (The Once and Never Kings)

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Holy Roman Empire
Heiliges Römisches Reich
Sacrum Romanum Imperium
Timeline: The Once and Never Kings
OTL equivalent: Holy Roman Empire
Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor with haloes (1400-1806).svg Holy Roman Empire Arms-double head.svg
TONK HRE location.png
The extent of the Holy Roman Empire in green.
CapitalFrankfurt (Legislative)
Vienna (current Emperors seat)
Official languages German, Latin, Italian, Czech, Polish, Dutch, French, Frisian, Slovene, Sorbian and others
Religion Roman Catholicism (sole official until 1555)
Lutherism (after 1555)
Calvinism (after 1658)
Government Elective monarchy
 -  Emperor Otto I (First)
Francis I (Current)
 -  Otto I is crowned Emperor of the Romans 2 February 962 

The Holy Roman Empire, often abbreviated HRE or The Empire, is a large federation of hundreds of states situated in Central Europe. It shares a lengthy border with Francia to the west, Denmark to the north, Venice to the south, and Poland and Hungary to the east.

The Imperial Diet meets in Frankfurt and thus is widely regarded as the capital of the Empire.

The major nations of the Empire include Austria, Prussia, Burgundy-Netherlands, and the Hanseatic Republic. Each of those major members have at least one electoral vote.


The Holy Roman Empire was founded in 962, upon the coronation of Otto the Great after his defeat of the Hungarians at the Battle of Lechfeld and conquest of Italy. Despite that he and his descendants maintained some actual Imperial power over their vassals, the death of Henry II without children lead to the rise of the Salian dynasty, during which the noble of the Empire began demanding greater control over Imperial succession. The concessions made by the Emperors lead to the electorate system.

The disadvantages of the electorate system became apparent as those disappointed at a lost election declared themselves anti-kings, often amassing a formidable army to challenge the winning candidate. Oftentimes anti-kings were defeated. Some however, emerged victorious.

Despite forming a somewhat united front when the Mongols invaded Europe, any semblance of common policy evaporated. Successive emperors attempt to reverse this, yet they were repeatedly forced to abandon their pursuits in numerous internal conflicts.

The Holy Roman Empire would clash with Francia on multiple occasions. At first, the focus of these engagements were control over the rich cities and ports of the Low Countries. But when these came under the rule of the Luxembourgs, and their consolidation of power, the targets shifted to the Rhine and the various states around it, and Italy. Aragon was quick to profit off these wars, advancing their own position within both empires. It acceptEd an offer of Austria during the Second Francian-Imperial War for Naples (an Aragonese possession, later province) to join the HRE as an elector, in exchange for opening a new front in Aquitane. It also joined against the Holy Roman Empire in the third war when given the vacant County (and electorate) of Toulouse. Relations with Aragon have cooled since then, though they remain a nominal member.

However, the inheritable of Burgundy and Flanders (accompanied by Boulogne and Artois) by King Charles VI of the Luxembourg dynasty in 1479 gave that family two electorate votes in Francia. Combined with their two electorates in the HRE (Brandenburg and Bohemia), they successfully played other candidates against each other, while securing other votes with marriages and alliances. Charles was able to secure the Holy Roman election upon the death of the Habsburg Emperor Frederick III in 1485, and the subsequent Francian election in 1491. Despite being unable to restore central authority to either entity, he is romantically referred to as "Charlemagne II". His death in 1536 would see his son, John, succeed him in the Holy Roman Empire, while Francia returned the emperorship to Normandy.

Charles death came in the midst of the effects of Martin Luther's 95 theses, which sparked the Reformation. The Schmalkaldic League was established in 1531, the year before his death, to defend the rights of the states who had converted to the ever expanding Protestant faith. The League's inclusion of Aquitaine, which dominoed into more Francian members, forced a temporary alliance with Francian Emperor Louis VIII.

This alliance was able to be seen through to the end of the Schmalkaldic War, which saw the collapse of the League and recognition of the rights of Protestants (specifically Lutherans) to worship how they wish. But disagreements over Savoy and the Alsatian region saw a return of hostilities.

Fighting the First Francian-Imperial War (1567-1675) over these areas, the war only saw the devastation of these areas.

Both, however, were unprepared for the Reformation, which began with Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of the Church of Wittenburh. Bohemia, having only rebelled in the Hussite Wars only in the last century, promptly embraced it, as did most of the German north. The Schmalkaldic League was founded in 1531, between Hesse-Kassel and Brandenburg. Many other Lutheran states would join, eager to defend their faith. The Schmalkaldic War, fought between 1546 and 1552, saw the Emperors of both Francia and the Holy Roman Empire, fight together against the League, which saw its collapse following the 1551 fall of Kassel. Nevertheless, the Peace of Augsburg recognized Lutheranism, though strife between Catholic and Protestant states continued.

After the Schmalkaldic War, there came a tentative truce between the previously bitter foes that were both entities, as states consolidated themselves within. In this time saw the previously dominant Luxembourg Dynasty knocked down in its defeat in the War of Bohemian Succession, a war which saw not only their rule of Bohemia usurped, but their suzerainty over Brandenburg as well.

The loss essentially stripped the Luxembourg's of prestige, and, after a period of Wittelsbach rule, the electors bestowed the Imperial crown to the Habsburgs.

Habsburg rule was a heavy handed one, as they made serious attempts to restore central authority. Discontent was only exacerbated due to their policy of trying to role back the 1555 Peace of Augsburg, which recognized Lutherans right to worship. This put the Habsburgs at severe odds with the Protestant states, lead by the ever more confident Hesse-Kassel and Brandenburg.

Emperor Ferdinand II managed to make the matter worse upon his election in 1613. Regarded as a zealot, he harbored no secrets about his disdain for Protestants once elected, and planned the forceful re-conversion of the Bohemian populace back to Catholicism.

Fate, it seemed, had other plans. Before Ferdinand could implement his own plans, the equally zealous Francian Emperor Robert III made a similar attempt with the Duchy of Aquitaine. The Protestants of Aquitaine sent out calls for help, but none were heeded until Auvergne did. Because of a pre-existing alliance, this action brought Brandenburg-Prussia into the previously regional war.

The entrance of Brandenburg-Prussia caused a chain reaction that continued until both the Holy Roman Empire and Francia were divided into Protestant and Catholic factions, each sacking and looting each other's land. In the midst of the chaos, Catholic Aragon joined the Protestants, sensing an oppritunity to further undermine any semblance of central authority in either empire.

For the next forty years the two side battered each other ruthlessly. Alliances were formed, broken, changed, and re-formed over the course of it. Some seemingly came to accept that the war would continue without end until, with credit lines exhausted, both side agreed to come to the negotiating table, eventually signing the Peace of Hamburg.


The Holy Roman Empire is comprised of around three hundred independent states, ranging from the large, influential states of the Hansa, Luxembourg, Austria, and Prussia, too an array of small abbeys and free cities (often too appear on Empire-wide maps).

The Crown of Arargon, officially a non-member, owns and administers the Kingdom of Naples, a member and elector. This has involved the Iberian state on HRE matters when it comes to an Imperial election, often voting for a weak contender. It also regularly has the Neapolitan representatives attempt to block legislation which could produce a more common HRE policy, obviously not in Aragons interest. Denmark owns the territory of Vorpommern, which sit inside the Empires borders. The land is claimed by both the Hansa and Prussia, and their attempts to obtain an Imperial Ban on Denmark have been impeded by their arguments on who it should be placed in favor of.

Various HRE states themselves own or have owned territory outside of the Empires borders. Prominent among them is Luxembourg, whose territories of Burgundy and Flanders, both are members and electors of Francia. Another example is Prussia, whose Posen province has been refused entry, denying its Polish-majority population a voice in Frankurt, and the overbearing Prussians additional votes (the latter more of the reason than the former).

The Emperor is elected by a majority vote of the Imperial electors.


The electors who are full members of the Holy Roman Empire are nominally divided into two blocs depending on their state religion: the Catholic Bloc and Protestant Bloc (previously referred to as the "Lutheran Bloc" before the addition of Calvinist Geneva). Partial member Aragon, though Catholic, is considered non-aligned.

The Imperial Electorates, their current incumbents, and bloc memberships are:
Electorate Incumbent Bloc
Archbishopric of Mainz Archbishop Sebastain Taukingen Catholic
Archbishopric of Cologne Archbishop Daniel Grüchen Catholic
Duchy of Brabant King John XI of Luxembourg Protestant
Kingdom of Bohemia King Francis III of Austria Catholic
Margraviate of Brandenburg King Frederick William V of Prussia Protestant
County-Palatine of the Rhine Count-Palatine Ernst II Johann Protestant
Electoral Saxony Grand Duke Ernst Augustus VII Catholic
Duchy of Prussia King Frederick William V of Prussia Protestant
Duchy of Luxembourg King John XI of Luxembourg Protestant
Grand Duchy of Milan Grand Duke Francesco V of Milan Catholic
Hanseatic Republic Stadtholder Johann Koeder Protestant
Kingdom of Austria King Francis I of Austria Catholic
Archbishopric of Trier Archbishop Daniel Auber Catholic
Kingdom of Bavaria King Otto XII of Bavaria Catholic
Grand Duchy of Hesse-Kassel Grand Duke William XV of Hesse-Kassel Protestant
Archbishopric of Salzburg Archbishop Leopold Anton Catholic
Duchy of Oldenburg Duke Conrad V of Oldenburg Protestant
County of Geneva Count Albert VIII of Geneva Protestant
Kingdom of Württemberg King Frederick VI of Württemberg Catholic
Duchy of Magdeburg Duke Friedrich Augustus II Protestant
Kingdom of Naples King Ferdinand III of Aragon Non-aligned


The Holy Roman Empire's language of government is Standard German, a dialect from the High German group, chosen because it was seen as the most "middle of the ground" of the disparate German dialects. Efforts to make "Stadard Italian" a co-language of government have made little headway, as the Italian states have yet to come to a consensus as to what that could be, though many outside of Italy consider "Italian" to be the language spoken in the Papal States, due to its position geographically.

The languages with official status either in the Empire at large, or in its member states are:

  • Latin
  • German
    • High German
      • Standard German
      • Austrian German
    • Low German
    • Swabian German
    • Saxon
    • Low Saxon
    • Franconian
      • Hessian
      • Luxembourgish
  • Dutch
    • Flemish
    • Brabantian
    • Hollandic
    • Low Rhenish
  • Frisian
  • Danish
  • Italian
    • Lombard
    • Venetian
    • Ligurian
    • Tuscan
    • Corsican
    • Urbinian
    • Neapolitan
    • Sicilian
  • Aragonese
  • Catalan
  • Czech
  • Silesian
  • Slovenian
  • Pomeranian
  • Prussian

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