Count and Bishop in Medieval Germany: A Study of Regional Power, 1100-1350

Count and Bishop in Medieval Germany: A Study of Regional Power, 1100-1350

Count and Bishop in Medieval Germany: A Study of Regional Power, 1100-1350

Count and Bishop in Medieval Germany: A Study of Regional Power, 1100-1350

Synopsis

This study of the functions of lordship in a medieval society focuses on the Eichstatt region, an area on the borders of the German provinces of Bavaria, Franconia and Swabia. It argues that the area achieved orderly social and legal processes as an alternative to a centralized monarchy.

Excerpt

During the rise of absolutism in the seventeenth century, of enlightened despotism in the eighteenth, and of the nation-state in the nineteenth, the German territorial structures inherited from the medieval past increasingly discomposed the minds of political theorists, philosophers, and historians. To Samuel von Pufendorf the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation was a monstrosity; neither holy nor Roman nor an empire to Voltaire; an exasperating archaism to the perceptions of the Enlightenment and of Romanticism alike. The prevailing climate of disapproval began to find a political resolution when the might of revolutionary France redrew the German map under the Directory and Napoleon I. By means of Bismarck's wars from 1864 to 1871, the autonomy of Germany's territorial states guaranteed by several acts from the Golden Bull of 1356 and the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 to the Congress of Vienna in 1815 was replaced by a German nation-state under the direction of Prussia. Nineteenth-century historical interpretation therefore tended to present the manifestation of provincial command structures in medieval Germany as a species of political malformation, which then stood in the way of emergent statehood and national identity, the latter linked by some schools to the aspirations of the Lutheran Reformation.

It can easily be seen that nineteenth-century tastes in historical interpretation inclined to portray a negative view of medieval and early modern German territories, apart from a few "success stories" such as the Austrian experiment, the rise of Brandenburg, and the Swiss Confederation. Nevertheless, nineteenth-century Germans admired obvious achievements dating from medieval times, notably the colonization of the eastern lands, the erection of cathedrals, and the rise of large towns, visible monuments of which existed all around them. So the failure of an early version of statehood or nationhood that the Capetians had supposedly engineered in France and the Plantagenets in England appeared to require an explana-

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