Germany 1215 CE

The unity of the Holy Roman Empire has been undermined by civil wars.

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What is happening in Germany in 1215CE

By the mid-11th century the Holy Roman emperor was the leading ruler within Europe. His power and prestige was such that he was able to nominate popes. Within his realm, the Church played a vital role in maintaining order and civilization within the empire, and in upholding imperial power, especially in the frontier regions. Thus, when the pope sought to assert control over the appointment of bishops, at the expense of the emperor, this was a direct challenge to the emperor’s authority. This led the the “Investiture Controversy”, which lasted for two generations and only ended in the Concordat of Worms (1122), a compromise which left both pope and emperor with a say in the appointments of bishops in Germany.

This struggle seriously damaged the authority of the emperors, which was followed by a prolongued civil war for control of the imperial crown. Anarchy spread throughout Germany and centralized authority virtually ceased. Local magnates and cities were left to manage their own affairs, and even after the anarchy was brought to an end by the strong rule of Frederick Barbarossa (reigned 1152-90), these local powers were left largely untouched.

While this political fragmentation was occurring a population upsurge has been taking place in Germany (as in other European countries) and thousands of German peasants are seeking farmland in the more sparsely populated regions to the east, especially in Saxony and Brandenburg. In the north east, the Holy Roman Empire expands with the annexation of the duchy of Pomerania (1181).

Next map, Germany in 1453

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