FALL 2004 ** HISTORY 238: GERMANY FROM UNIFICATION TO REUNIFICATION ** Mr. Patch
1. The "Holy Roman Empire" is founded in 962 with the coronation of Otto the Great (reigned 936-973) as "emperor" (caesar, Kaiser) in Rome.
2. The "Investiture Struggle" begins in 1072 between Pope Gregory VII and Emperor Henry IV, who both claim the final authority to confirm bishops in office. The emperor suffers his humiliating "road to Canossa" in 1077. Papal spokesmen, denying his authority over Italy, refer to the emperor as the "rex teutonicorum," i.e., "king [only] of the Germans." By the twelfth century, royal scribes in Germany refer to the "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation," to claim both universal dominion and association with the German people.
3. The last efforts to consolidate centralized royal authority are launched by the Hohenstaufen emperors Frederick I "Barbarossa" (r. 1152-1190) and Frederick II (r. 1212-1250), who suffer disastrous defeats by the Lombard League in Italy.
4. The "Golden Bull" of 1356 formally grants regalian rights to 7 "Electors" (3 lay princes + 3 prince-bishops + the King of Bohemia). The "Reichstag" of the Holy Roman Empire grants representation to over 200 autonomous lesser princes and 50 Imperial (or Free) Cities.
5. The Protestant
Reformation launched by Martin Luther in 1517 deepens divisions
between the mostly Protestant North and mostly Catholic South; religious
tensions culminate in the Thirty Years' War of 1618-1648, in which
many foreign armies intervene in German affairs, and approximately one-third
of the German population died.
6. The Habsburg Dynasty of Austria, which consolidated an almost perpetual hold on the office of Emperor in the 15th century, finds that its authority is ignored by the rising power of Prussia. King Frederick II "the Great" (reigned 1740-1786) conquers Silesia from Austria in 1740-42 and defends it successfully in the Seven Years' War of 1756-63.7. After the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, Austria and Prussia fail to cooperate to prevent French expansion. Austria suffers catastrophic defeat by Napoleon in the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805 while Prussia stubbornly remains neutral. Prussia declares war on Napoleon the following year but suffers equally catastrophic defeats at the Battles of Jena and Auerstadt (1806).
8. In the "Prussian Reform Movement" Chancellors Karl vom Stein (1807-08) and Karl August von Hardenberg (1810-22) abolish serfdom, open careers to talent, create a nationwide system of elite prep schools [the Gymnasium], and introduce municipal self-government. Hardenberg promises "democratic principles in a monarchical government," and the King of Prussia promises in 1815 to create a national parliament someday.9. The Congress of Vienna (1814-15) creates a loosely organized German Confederation (1815-1866), which includes 35 monarchical states and four Free Cities.
10. The Austrian Count Metternich persuades all members of the German Confederation to suppress the student Burschenschaften, freedom of the press, and academic freedom in the Carlsbad Decrees of 1819.
11. Prussia completes the formation of a customs union, Zollverein, in 1834, to include all German states but Austria, Hamburg, and Bremen.
History Department | Grinnell College
Last updated October 12, 2004