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date: 24 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

‘The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation’ cannot easily be explained in the terms of modern states. Deriving its authority from ancient history, it still upheld the aspiration to represent Christian society in secular affairs. Modern notions can hardly describe the structure and the ambition of the empire. The official denomination refers to essential features, which are used here as the fundamental descriptions. Like the four ‘notae’ of the Church in the tradition of the Nicaean creed, these terms may give access to an understanding of the mission and principle errands of the empire. The ‘empire’, therefore, assumes superiority over all other territories. It is ‘holy’ because it protects the one and only Church and ‘Roman’ due to its origin and its aspirations. Furthermore, ‘German nation’ indicates the slow integration into the system of European states.

Keywords: empire, Germany, emperor, Roman king, elector

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