GERMANY IN THE LATER MIDDLE AGES
GERMAN history in the later Middle Ages lacks unity compared to that of France or of England, and is more closely connected with lands to the east like Hungary, Bohemia, and Poland, and with the countries about the Baltic Sea to the north, than it is with the states of western Europe. Italy is now seldom visited by the Holy Roman emperors and has its own separate history. Germany itself is nominally under the rule of one emperor, but really has become a shifting chaos of principalities and powers, great and small. Various local dynasties rise and fall, increase or diminish in territory, impinge upon or give way to one another. Among these some are worth noting as the later founders of modern states or as still reigning to-day. Important also are certain coÖperative forms of government which develop in this period: the Hanseatic League of cities in the north, the military order of Teutonic Knights in the northeast, the Swiss Confederation in the southwest. In the later Middle Ages Germans, although divided politically, are still expanding territorially. Teutonic colonists throng into Bohemia, Poland, and Hungary; the Knights conquer and convert Poles and Letts; the Hanse towns acquire a commercial supremacy over Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, -- in fact, from the east coast of England to Novgorod they almost monopolize trade. German cities in general flourished in the later Middle Ages as never before: the great southern cities of Augsburg and Nürnberg reached the height of their prosperity about 1500.
Germany in the later Middle Ages
After the extinction of the Hohenstaufens the Holy Roman emperors had little authority. The right to elect the emperor had by this time become limited to seven of the leading lords of the land, three ecclesiastical, namely, the Archbishops of Cologne, of Mainz or Mayence, and of Trier or Treves, and four secular princes,
The seven electors