The Political Theories of Martin Luther

By Luther Hess D. Waring | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
THE GERMANY OF LUTHER'S DAY

AT the close of the fifteenth and the dawn of the sixteenth centuries the Holy Roman Empire was little more than a German power.1 It was composed of a number of virtually sovereign states, principalities, and free cities--each with its own diet, representative assembly, senate, or council; each with its elector, prince, or mayor --at the head of all of which was an emperor,2

____________________
1
Bryce: The Holy Roman Empire, pp. 364, 365.
2
"During all the earlier years of the empire, while an election and crowning in Germany entitled the person thus crowned to become emperor, he was not considered emperor nor allowed to assume that title, until he had made a journey to Italy and been crowned by the pope. In one or two instances this formality was dispensed with, and the pope gave his consent for the king to assume the title of emperor and to exercise imperial authority without being crowned. It was the common practice for the electors, during the life of the emperor, to choose his successor, who on the death, of the emperor was entitled immediately, on taking the proper steps, to succeed him. Until the death of the emperor, and, indeed, until his crowning by the pope, he was known after his election and crowning as such, as King of the Romans." Case: European Constitutional History, pp. 111, 112.

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