Religion and Politics in German History: From the Beginnings to the French Revolution
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About the Author
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Frank Eyck gives a more positively involved picture and charts the development and interrelationship of the Holy Roman Empire with that of the Papacy. As factional violence in Rome made the seat of St. Peter's vulnerable, Leo III relied on the presence of Charlemagne to secure his position as Pope, resulting with the coronation of Charlemagne as Roman Emperor by the Pope in 800 A.D. A Western Emperor of a Holy Roman Empire that was once beyond the pale would be a counter poise not only to the East Roman Empire, but of the Pope himself. This act unconsciously created a dualistic, volatile embrace between secular and spiritual spheres of jurisdiction. The Universalist claims between Pope and Holy Roman Emperor, between the overlapping temporal and spiritual affairs, or religion and politics, were to clash and resonate through the centuries to come.
Parallel to this, Eyck takes us within the German principalities themselves, where internal power struggles often kept Germanic Emperors absent from Italian affairs. Eventually, in order to assert Papal independence more fully, German involvement recedes and is replaced by the removal of the Papacy from unsafe Rome to Avignon. Consequently, the Papacy became even more constrained under French Kings than absent German Emperors.
Genealogical tables help in the delineation of the Carolingians, Saxon, Salian and Staufen dynasties, as well as Luxemburg, Hapsburg and Hohenzollern. The sheer scope of this book continues to take us through the Reformation and beyond to the beginning of the French Revolution.
In the end, looking back down the distance that has been travelled, the positive transmission of classical culture through a vigorous, more and more fully absorbed Germanic culture with many original elements of its own, acted as a conduit to the middle ages and gave European history a sense of `continuity' as well as transformation. Eyck's consistent inner German perspective makes that journey a rare experience for any reader interested in the development of not just German, but European history.