Alternate History

Roman Seal of 1193 (No Superior But God)

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This is the Papal proclamation that described the future relationship between the Holy Roman Emperor and the Holy See. It is remarkable in its complete reversal of the roles the two parties had prior to the Roman Seal. It was made under the duress of the Emperor's army at the very doorstep of Rome itself. The Pope, Marinus III, had been elected after intense pressure by Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor. Subsequently, the Roman Seal was rejected by every following Pope for over a century.


Pope Celestine III had been quite opposed to the Hohenstaufen dynasty up this point. In recent years, he had emphatically exterminated Henry VI for his attempts to add Sicily and southern Italy to the dynastic Hohenstaufen domain. Henry VI, tired of the Sicilian revolts and other religiously-motivated revolts across the Holy Roman Empire, made the consequential decision to march against the Papacy itself in August of 1193.

Papal Election of 1193

The Papal armies were unable to adequately defend Rome, and Henry VI's armies stormed through the Holy See, demanding Pope Celestine II step down and be replaced by another, more pro-Emperor Papal authority. The Papal Curia, seeing few alternatives, obliged. Pope Celestine III stepped down and an emergency Roman Curia was formed to elect the new Pope Marinus III.

Roman Seal of 1193

Henry VI, wary of the Papacy's likelihood to turn on him once he left Rome for Sicily, extracted a Papal bull from the Papacy, which described the following regarding the future relationship between the Pope and the King of the Romans:

  • The German Prince-Electors have the right to elect the King of the Romans, free of influence of the Pope.
  • The King of the Romans, as official protector of the Pope, has a necessary power to anoint and consecrate an election of the Pope and legitimate Papal authority.
  • The King of the Romans reserves the right to demand the Papal Curia elect a different Pope if the Emperor deems an elected Pope unfit for the the theological authority of the position. This power comes from the Holy Roman Emperor's responsibility as defender of the faith, and therefore defender of Christianity from Popes that are unfit to lead the faith, and may lead all of Christendom into a possibly heretical or factionalist future, dominated by corruption and dynastic nepotism within the Papal hierarchy.

This Roman Seal was radical and few states in Europe would come to accept it as legitimate. After all, a Roman decree made under the duress of an Emperor's army could hardly be the will of God in the eyes of these monarchs.


The immediate consequences of the Roman Seal were of little importance. Henry VI was still unable to adequately pacify the Sicilians. He is poisoned while stationed in the region in 1196. In his German holdings, he and his successor, Fredrick II, also of the house Hohenstaufen, are faced with Papal excommunications and revolts by other major duchies, counties, and prince-electors of the Holy Roman Emperor. Papal recognition of the Roman Seal of 1193 is not officially recognized until 1297, under Henry VI's great-grandson, Emperor Conradin. The Hohenstaufen dynasty had retained the crown of the King of the Romans up to this point successfully. The election of Pope Marinus III caused a slew of major changes regarding crusades and excommunications from the OTL, most notably the successful Fourth Crusade being sent through Cyprus and being led against the Ayyubids rather than the Byzantines. In addition, the balance of power in Iberia was deeply affected by the change in certain Popes from the OTL. The Almohad Caliphs of Seville have remained a fairly powerful realm in Iberia, with the Reconquista gradually occurring more slowly and taking lands that are now more populated with Muslims than in the OTL, where many Muslims fled Iberia and the Almohads focused little on the protection of their European holdings. The successful secession of the Seville Caliphs from the Moroccan Caliphs have led to greater and more potent entrenchment of the Muslims in Iberia. In addition, the formation of Christian coalitions have been continually thwarted during the 13th century by the skillful diplomacy of the Seville Almohads and careful alliances with varying Christian kingdoms. In Germany, the Hohenstaufens have gained even greater political clout with the prince-electors, including the granting of great swathes of land to the Kingdom of Bohemia, which has become the undisputed powerhouse of Central Europe, as well as a dynasty quite loyal to the Hohenstaufen Emperors.

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