Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Birth of the Holy Roman Empire

This being the day before Christmas, I am reminded of one of the most significant events in western history. It was on Christmas day in the year 800 that the Roman Empire in the west was reborn in the person of an illiterate but still educated and cosmopolitan Frankish king when His Holiness Pope Saint Leo III crowned that champion of western civilization, Charlemagne, Emperor of the Romans or as the title would later be best known, the first Holy Roman Emperor. This date should be burned into the minds of all monarchists certainly, all Christians certainly but all Europeans and all the descendants of western civilization as a whole.

The Holy Roman Empire has been often derided in recent times, everyone knows the phrase about it being neither holy, nor Roman nor an empire, but the fact of the matter is that the Holy Roman Empire was the central core of Christendom and a crucial part of the foundation of western civilization as a link between the glorious roots of ancient Rome and the flowering of Europe throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance. Even those nations outside of the Holy Roman Empire which, after the time of Charlemagne, came to be centered largely on Germany (the first Reich or realm) all recognized the Emperor or Kaiser as the first among them even though he had no actual political jurisdiction over them.

Christendom was the tree that branched out around the Holy Roman Empire and gave the world great advances in learning, chivalry, religion and an example of the relationship that existed between religion and monarchy, the temporal and the spiritual, embodied by the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor. These two also balanced each other out because all humans can be corrupted and sometimes the Pope had to deal with a wayward Emperor just as Emperors sometimes had to rescue the Church from disorder when a Pope was less than he should have been. It was also an example of a united Europe on an entirely different order than the sort of European unity we are familiar with today. The European unity such as existed as Christendom was a unity based on shared faith and a royal hierarchy but with power resting largely on the local level with each individual kingdom, principality, duchy or city-state.

In this regard the Holy Roman Empire itself represents something of an ideal for those like myself for whom empire is not an ugly word but which represents a multitude of small states rather than massive, centralized states. The Holy Roman Emperor was seen as the first defender of Christendom, one who was absolute in that no one would even think of not having an emperor but whose power was not arbitrary because every peasant, noble lord and royal had their own rights and responsibilities over what was their own. It was, in a sense, a constitutional monarchy though nothing like the symbolic monarchies we think of today. The rule of law was what was paramount and it was the duty of the monarch to uphold the law and that law, or constitution if you like, was based on Christianity.

Things did always go smoothly, which should only serve as an example that no system is incorruptible but success or failure depends on personal character and not some ideal political formula. However, the Holy Roman Empire, successor state of the Western Roman Empire, was the bulwark of Christendom for most of the last thousand years. It was not dissolved until 1806 when the last Holy Roman Emperor Francis II became Emperor Francis I of the Austrian Empire. This successor state of the successor state of ancient Rome lasted until 1918 with the defeat of Austria-Hungary in the First World War and the removal of Blessed Emperor Charles I. Thus for the largest part of Christian history the Holy Roman Empire was the heart and center of the wider Christendom and thus it is only fitting that it all started on Christmas 1,209 years ago this Christmas day.


  1. Unity is the probkem, though. Our modern world was largley shaped by the assumptions of the Enlightenment. I've said this often, and it is true, and provable if you look at History.

    People also tend ot be highly associative, and can't seperate ideas they hear in conjunction with other ideas.

    So, when a modern person hears about Freedom, he automaticlaly asumes Democracy, for Democracy is the type of Governemnt that free people have. Monarchy is of ocurse a type pof Tyranny.

    The same applies to Unity. When modern thinkers apply Enlightenment era frameing to a topic, they asusme all Monarchies are tyrannical and bd, especially if grounde din Religion. The Seperation of Church and State is seen as a way to prevent the evils of Theocracy, tiself seen as evil because it too woudl force everyone to submit to an authority hat cna't be questioned.

    Most people are not really aware of History. I know people who have no idea who CHarlemegne was, much less that he was Coronate don Chirstmas Day. I've even spoken to people who tried to argue that Constantine was a Hly Roman EMperor, and who thought the Holy Roman EMpire was started by COnstantine after he made Catholisism the State Religion.

    So, it shoudl be no surprise that such things as this are misundrstood.

    Still, to a Modern mind, we shoudl follow John Lennons "Imagine" to soem degree to find unity. This Unity is created when we lay Relgiion, nations, and personal ownerships aside an just all see each other as equels.

    Even the Neo-COns have htis idea, though thry want ot keep Personal Ownership, and soem Religiosu observances.

    This is because they think Unity is created by emrbacing some overall concept abotu Humanity and Government. The truth is, Unity is only acheived by a shared Ideology and shared principles and values, under a shared supreme authority. We can't fidn Unity in the sort of individuism that is preached today, nor can we find tue unity in the extension fo this that mkes us all equel by removign anythign that makes us different. Thats just creating a mediocracy, in which everyone live sin an enforced equality that is no better than slavery.

    Elections are inherantly divisive, and central pwoer inherantly coerscive agaisnt local interests, but in todays world, its what they know as freedom, and hen it faisl, rather than quesiton the vlidity of their asusmotions, they just say we arent runnign it the proper way.

  2. Yes, you have grasped the point of Christendom. What kept it united and going on was shared adherence to shared values and a basic loyalty to cross and crown. People shout that they want elections because elections=freedom. Yet, the Holy Roman Emperors were elected (not by popular vote but elected just the same) and they had far less control than governments of today elected by universal franchise. You are also spot-on about modern ideas of unity -putting aside divisive things like national sovereignty, nationality and religion. In Christendom of old religion was the basis of unity and though there was a royal-noble hierarchy there was still independence on virtually every level and although there was not nationalism as we know it today, and there was a much more cosmopolitan atmosphere nations very much existed and were not all the same. Even where kingdoms overlapped such as with France and England (the kings of England speaking French most of the time) a Frenchman and an Englishman were still very distinct different things. What modern revolutionaries would have us forsake in the name of unity is simply an effort to create an entirely uniform culture-less world (as all communist states have tried to at the start) in order to more easily dominate the people and make them ever more dependent on the super-state.

  3. What I rruely never understood is that Neo-COns, especially American NEo-Cons, claim to be dedicated to thee Christian Faith, even beleiving that Jeus will Physically rule the Earth for 1000 years from Jerusalem after a period called the Great Tribulation, and hink this is Grand, while at the same time denouncing Monarchy as at leats Anarchistic and usually as sinister and evil.

    Most think the American-STyle Republic is the best, and inf ac only Legitimate, modle for free people, and actually tie this into their CHristian beleifs. I've been linked to COmminist DIctators STalin and Mao for stating my own beleifs as a Monarchist. Somehow, Monarchy is Dictatorship, and the only rightful Govenrment is that of a Republic.

    Yet they look forward tot he Return of Jesus? Do they think he will establish a Republic and periodiclaly run for Office?

    Can we elect soemone else as Mesisah and Ruler if we dont like Jesus's Pliicies?

    It makes no snese, yet they think beign Christian means beign Republican even with this beelif in place. Its a sort of Mental Disconnect I never understood.

  4. Yes, the old "No King but Jesus" line. I cannot say I understand it either. Most of those sort tend to be the "shining city on the hill" type who lump the Founding Fathers in with the Pilgrim Fathers who were the heirs of the simplistic sort of religion that came from the puritans of the era of the arch-traitor Oliver Cromwell. I see no sense in it at all but I don't think they tend to be very thoughtful about it themselves or they might be in danger of seeing the idiocy of it. For them, they grew more and more extreme over time to the point when any sort of pageantry or ceremony or hierarchy was all associated with Catholicism -the next of kin of Satan himself to their way of thinking. I don't think they expect paradise to be a republic but they will have nothing monarchial in this life because they can tolerate no hierarchy of any sort. Of course the problem with that is that when there is no authority there is no unity, no truth and ultimately no faith any more. These were the same sort who in early america claimed themselves to be so independent of any hierarchy or authority that they even claimed the right to reject the Bible when they disagreed with it (we've seen something of a revival of this in our own time) which is obviously something most rational, logical Protestants would agree is plainly absurd.


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