Development of Regional States

How the Holy Roman wmpire formed politically.

Location of the Holy Roman Empire

Beginnings of the Holy Roman Empire

The Holy Roman Empire came about after the dissolution of the Carolingian Empire. The last main uniting political force and group of rulers had fallen , so the counts dukes and other local leaders decided to seize power and have complete control over their allotted lands. Like most disorganized states in history, these Germanic states had one leader who was a uniting factor and this factor was Otto the Great. Otto the great was an aggressive leader and expanded his territory multiple times. By the mid 10th century, he was essentially king of North Germany. He used his influence to protect the interests of the church by exerting authority in Northern Italy and as a result, Pope John XII proclaimed Otto emperor and started the Holy Roman Empire.

Early Problems

The empire had many emperors. Also, during the duration of the empire, there were many popes who were in power for varying lengths of time with varying opinions on the Holy Roman Empire. Invariably though, the leaders of church and state clashed over many things. The popes actually had the authority to bring a new leader to the empire if the so chose because they were the ones who appointed the leader in the first place. Because of this papal conflict, no one ruler could ever establish one main empire.

The Contest of Investiture.

Ever since the start of the holy roman empire, neither the papal nor imperial authorities could dominate the other, but the papal authorities had the ability to limit the growth of the imperial empire so that the papacy could remain the dominant political force in the empire. The investiture contest came to head in the 11th century over the appointment of church officials. Pope Gregory felt he was losing control of the church and wanted to change how the Bishops and Monsignors were elected to their positions. He wanted to stop lay investiture, which is the appointment of spiritual leaders by secular leaders. He stopped it but was questioned by Henry VII and Gregory then excommunicated Henry from the church, a fate almost worse than death. The other German princes saw this as opportunity to take more power for themselves and they rebelled against Henry for a period of years. Eventually, Henry regained control of the empire but not before each German prince had gotten privileges that helped them remain independent of the emperor.

Babarossa's reign and struggles.

Another thing that shaped the regional states of the holy roman empire is conflicting interests in Italy. Barbarossa was a very gallant and energetic leader who could've rebuilt the holy roman empire to its former glory. He sought to do this by taking control of the northern region of Italy known as Lombardy and assimilating it with the lands he ruled, which were southern Germany. However, the papacy once again intervened and stalled the emperor from establishing a bigger state by rallying support against him with other European states in the name of Italy. This once again stopped the empire from expanding at all and left it no more powerful than when it started.


In conclusion, the Holy roman empire was a regional state that was never unified under one single banner. It had 2 main sources of authority, the papacy and the emperor appointed by the papacy, that often were in conflict over land or authority in the government.