The Holy Roman empire began in 962 and lasted until 1806. This was the medieval state that occurred in central Europe and Italy under the rule of the German kings. This time was considered to be a restoration and continuation of the ancient Roman Empire. It all began when Otto I of Germany came to the rescue of Pope John XII. After this, Otto was crowned emperor of the Romans as a reward. From this time on, the German kings claimed the right to rule the empire.
In the beginning, it was just called the Roman Empire. Holy was added during the 12th century. This time period reflected two important medieval values. One was the unity of all Christians in a single state. Another was to have a hierarchical political organization that called for one ultimate head over all existing states. Neither of these were really taken to by the empire.
The history of the Holy Roman Empire can be divided into four periods: the age of emperors, the age of princes, the early Habsburg period, and the final phase.
The age of the emperors lasted from 962 to 1250 and was dominated by the strong emperors of the Saxon. The emperors of this time spent most of their time trying to control Italy. Their power, however, depended on their German resources, which were never great. The age of the princes lasted from 1250 to 1438. The emperors were much weaker. They exercised only minimal authority in Italy. The early Habsburg period lasted from 1485 to 1555. This period strove to create a feudal system. The final phase lasted until Napoleon I finally destroyed the Holy Roman Empire in 1806.
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