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date: 03 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Over the last thirty years it has become common to refer to the Holy Roman Empire as the “Old Reich” to distinguish it from Bismarck's Second Reich and Hitler's Third. The extent to which the Reich might be categorized as an Ancien Régime depends, of course, on how that term is defined. The concept of an old regime postdates the Reich, since it derives from the controversy surrounding the legacy of the French Revolution. Just as that Revolution has been central to debates on modern French history, so the problematic issues of statehood and national unity have dominated discussions about German development after the Reich was dissolved in 1806. These discussions have been shaped by the characteristics associated with an old regime.

Keywords: old regime, Old Reich, Ancien Régime, French Revolution, statehood, national unity

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