Friday, June 2, 2017
How About Restoring the Holy Roman Empire?
Now, should all of this sound too frightfully Roman Catholic for Protestant monarchists, remember that at the end of the Holy Roman Empire the Protestants were a well established and accepted force within the empire and several of the Prince-Electors were Protestants, though in a rather odd turn of events one of those Protestant electors was a Catholic. There was even a Protestant caucus within the Reichstag. In the last shuffling of the deck before the First Reich was dissolved, the Prince-Electors were: The Prince-Archbishop of Regensburg, the King of Bohemia, the King of Bavaria, the King of Saxony, the King of Prussia (Elector of Brandenburg), the King of Great Britain (Elector of Hanover), the King of Wurttemberg, the Grand Duke of Baden, the Elector of Hesse-Kassel and the Grand Duchy of Wurzburg (who later became the Grand Duke of Tuscany, long after the Empire was gone). Obviously, things had changed a great deal from the, not original but early and long lasting official organization of the empire as the Kingdom of Germany, the Kingdom of Italy, the Kingdom of Burgundy (Arles) which didn’t actually exist most of the time and the Kingdom of Bohemia. All of these were kingships held by the Emperor and, originally, there were supposed to be no other kings within the empire besides the emperor himself. That, of course, changed when the Elector of Brandenburg became the “King in Prussia” and later the “King of Prussia”.
In a modern restoration of the Holy Roman Empire, one could have electors such as Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia, Prince Donatus of Hesse, Archduke Karl of Austria, Prince Ernst August of Hanover, Duke Franz of Bavaria, Prince Alexander or Prince Rudiger of Saxony (I’m not going to get into that dispute here), Margrave Maximilian of Baden, Duke Carl of Wurttemberg and others. The others are where there could be some trouble. The clerical electors could prove problematic, one reason being that the Catholic Church in modern times has not exactly been zealously pro-monarchy and, assuming old attitudes prevail though they probably don’t, the lay electors might object to having churchmen involved in the election of the emperor given that the Church, under St Pius X, abolished any imperial involvement in the election of the pope after Emperor Franz Joseph last used his veto power. However, it is nothing that could not be worked out.
None of this is absolutely impossible. However, the biggest problem with restoring the Holy Roman Empire is, to my mind, undoubtedly the current mindset of modern Europe. Restoring the empire would be a comparatively small matter, indeed some maintain that Emperor Franz II had no power to dissolve the empire and so it still exists but is simply dormant, awaiting the election of a new emperor. The issue that should give traditional monarchists some pause about this is who would be elected, what would this revived empire really look like considering the values that prevail in Europe, the modern Catholic Church and the Protestant churches that the electors belong to. The motivations that those in power had in the past are not the motivations that those in power have today and my biggest concern with a revived Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation would be what torrent of changes it would immediately be subjected to and I can think of nothing more frightening the possibility that the electors might choose to “make a statement” with their vote. Even if they stuck to tradition and elected Archduke Karl of Austria, I would still fear what the threat of being unpopular might prompt him to do. However, at the end of the day, whatever they came up with would almost have to be a considerable improvement over what exists at the moment.
Personally, I tend to look back with more longing on the Roman Empire of Constantine and Theodosius than I do the Roman Empire of Otto and Frederick. However, the core, the spirit if you like, the “idea” of this Roman Empire is something the modern masters of the planet do not want us to remember or work to revive. The Holy Roman Empire hardly, if ever, worked the way the ideal was supposed to. However, that very ideal, that very vision, of western, European, Christian monarchies all in harmony, all pulling in the same direction with varying degrees of local autonomy terrifies the sort of rulers the world has today. Yes, powers such as France, Spain, Britain even largely Italy and so on were outside of it but the ideal was that they would all see themselves as being on the same team, this “team” known as Christendom, synonymous with “western civilization”. That is something worth considering, worth trying to work out, worth trying to strive for.