Background of Lives and Marriages, Kings and Emperors, Charlemagne to Wilhelm II

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Charlemagne's grandfather Charles Martel 686-741 also known as Charles the Hammer was famous for defeating an invading Moorish army
at Tours in France in 732 and halting northward Islamic expansion in western Europe. At this time, the West still paid lip service to a single Holy Roman Empire, under the reign of the emperor based in Constantinople.

 

Charlemagne King of the Franks (East and West) and the Lombards (Italy), Emperor 742-814

Charlemagne: Following a breakdown in communication with the eastern church in Constantinople that had culminated with their crowning of a lady emperor (or empress) in 797 AD, Charlemagne was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by the Pope on Christmas Day at the close of 800 AD as he knelt in prayer in Saint Peter's Church in Rome. It was said to be to his surprise - and that had he known what was in store, he would not have come. This could well be true, the man was said to have had a deep faith in God, also believing that government should be for the benefit of the governed. This coronation was now seen to be the recommencement of the Holy Roman Empire in the West. When Charlemagne learned about the Archbishop Bede's work on a standard calendar and history timeline over in Northumbria, England, he continued Bede's work by strongly supporting its general usage throughout the empire. And with a mint now firmly established at Dorestad on the Rhine with access to a significant quantity of silver, Charlemagne joined forces with King Offa of Mercia in England to standardise the silver penny (pfennig) at a set weight of just under 1½ grams of silver with 240 pennies making up a pound-weight (i.e. tower pound) containing about 350 grams.

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Louis (Charlemagne's only surviving son) King of Aquitaine in France 778-840.

Louis the Pious: Crowned as Holy Roman Emperor in 816. Crowned his eldest son Lothair in 817 as joint emperor with himself. After Louis's death, the kingdom broke into three realms: East Francia (much of modern day Germany), West Francia (France), and the somewhat ephemeral middle kingdom including the Kingdom of Italy and Rome under Lothair. Various emperors e.g. Charles the Fat followed, having minimal influence over East Francia and West Francia, ending with Berengar I of Italy who was dethroned and murdered by his enemies in 924.

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Now to trace Otto 1, the Saxon king who restored the united Holy Roman Empire in 962, we have Louis's daughter Gisela (born 821), marrying Eberhard I Duke of Friuli in north-east Italy 815-866
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Their daughter Ingeltrude (born 837), is thought to have married Henry Count of Saxony and Duke of Franconia in northern Bavaria.
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Their daughter Hedwiga married Otto I Duke of Saxony 851-912
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Henry Duke of Saxony and King of East Francia 876-936
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Otto I Duke of Saxony initially (as Otto II), then King of the Franks and of the Lombards (Italy), and Emperor 912-973

Otto 1: Notes compiled from WikiAnswers Rich silver mines were developed in Rammelsberg in Saxony at the time Otto was king, and this provided him with the money he needed to build up his military. Various subject dukes had rebelled against his father Henry, but Otto was now able to defeat them and strengthen himself in the process. These rebellions had included alliances with Louis IV of France, but Louis was now also defeated. In addition, there were rebellions by Hungarian tribes in the East, but these were also defeated. When Adelaide of Italy inherited the throne of that country in 950, she was abducted by Berengar of Ivrea, who took the throne and tried to marry Adelaide to his son. She escaped and requested German aid. In the confusion that followed, Otto invaded Italy in 951, married Adelaide himself and took the throne, assuming the title King of the Lombards. Berengar and his son Adalbert were allowed to remain Italian kings as Otto's vassals, however in 960 Berengar invaded the Papal States and the pope appealed to Otto. Otto marched again against Italy, Berengar's troops deserted him, and Otto this time declared Berengar deposed. Otto now proceeded to Rome, where the pope crowned him Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 962.

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Otto II King of the Franks and the Lombards, Emperor 955-983
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Otto III King (with his mother a regent), King of Italy, Emperor 980-1002

Otto III: Being only a small child when his father died, Theophanu his mother, a Roman princess from Constantinople in the east became regent. France then speedily broke away, with Hugh Capet (Hugh the Great) being declared King of the Franks in 987. Then, following Otto's sixteenth birthday in 996 when he was able to be crowned as emperor, he made Rome the administrative centre of his Empire, reviving elaborate Roman customs and the court ceremonies practised in Constantinople. He built an imperial palace on the Palatine Hill and established a regular administrative system of government for the capital, naming a patrician, a prefect, and a body of judges who were commanded to recognize only Roman law. He died around the time of his 22nd birthday and was immediately succeeded by his second cousin Henry (see below) who continued his work.

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Henry II (his grandfather Henry was the younger brother of Otto I) King, King of Italy, then Emperor 972-1024

Henry continued Otto's work of church-state relations and ecclesiastic administration throughout the rest of the Empire. He supported the bishops against the monastic clergy, aiding them in establishing their temporal rule over broad territories. He also strongly enforced clerical celibacy in order that the public land and offices he granted the church would not be passed on to heirs. In 1007 he founded the Diocese of Bamberg in Bavaria, which quickly became a centre of scholarship and art. Though married, Henry and his wife had no children.

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Conrad II King of the Romans, King of Italy, King of Burgundy, Emperor 990-1039

Conrad: He was related to Otto I through Otto's daughter Liutgarde. Orphaned young, Conrad grew up poor by the standards of the nobility and was raised by Burchard, Bishop of Worms. Married Gisela, also descended from Charlemagne. Upon Henry II's death in 1024, Conrad appeared as a candidate before the electoral assembly of princes at Kamba, opposite to the German town Oppenheim on the east banks of the Rhine. He was crowned king in Mainz, then went to Milan where he was crowned king of Italy. In Rome, the Pope crowned him emperor in 1027. In 1028 at Aachen (Aix la Chappelle) he had his son Henry elected and anointed King of the Romans. This procedure, election first, then crowning as king, then later travelling to Rome to become emperor upon his father the previous emperor's death, became the standard practice.

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Henry III Duke of Bavaria, King of the Romans, King of Italy, King of Burgundy, Emperor 1017-1056
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Henry IV Duke of Bavaria, King of the Romans, King of Italy, Emperor 1050-1106

Henry IV: During his reign, the pope treated him as an enemy and referred to him as rex teutonicorum, King of the Teutons, in order to brand him as a foreigner. However, it wasn't until 1806 that the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved and the German Empire formed.

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Henry V King of the Romans, King of Italy, Emperor 1086-1125
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Lothair III Duke of Saxony, King of the Romans, Emperor 1075-1137

College of Electors: Henry had no surviving children and Lothair was chosen by a small group of eminent nobles. Shortly afterwards, the right to choose the monarch was settled on an exclusive group of seven: three archbishops — Mainz, Trier and Cologne and four dukes — Bohemia, Brandenburg, Palatine of the Rhine and Saxony - subsequently referred to as the College of Electors.

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Conrad III King of the Romans, King of Italy 1093-1152

Conrad: Lothair had had only one surviving child, a daughter Gertrude, born 1115. Lothair married Gertrude to Henry (the Proud), the duke of Bavaria, in 1127. The electors however chose Conrad, whose mother Agnes was the sister of Henry V, the previous emperor. A civil war ensued, in which Conrad was victorious. Conrad was never crowned emperor and continued to style himself "King of the Romans" until his death. On his deathbed, in the presence of only two witnesses, his nephew Frederick Barbarossa and the Bishop of Bamberg, he allegedly designated Frederick, the son of his elder brother as his successor, rather than his own surviving six-year-old son Frederick. Frederick Barbarossa, who had accompanied his uncle on the unfortunate second crusade, forcefully pursued his advantage and was duly elected King in Cologne a few weeks later.

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Frederick I King of the Romans, King of Italy, Emperor 1122-1190
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Henry VI King of the Romans, King of Italy, King of Sicily, Emperor 1165-1197
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Otto IV King of the Romans, King of Italy, Emperor 1175-1218

Otto: The previous emperor Henry VI had one son Frederick, at that time two years old, but who later became Emperor Frederick II. For now the electors, with the encouragement of King Richard of England, elected Richard's nephew Otto, great grandson of the earlier emperor Lothair. Richard's sister Matilda had married Henry (the Lion) who was the grandson of Lothair through Henry (the Proud) and Lothair's daughter Gertrude.

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Frederick II King of the Romans, King of Italy, King of Sicily, King of Jerusalem, Emperor 1194-1250
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Henry VII King of the Romans, King of Sicily co-reigning with his father 1211-1242
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Conrad IV King of the Romans, King of Sicily, King of Jerusalem co-reigning with his father 1228-1254
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William II King of the Romans (in opposition to Frederick and Conrad) 1228-1256

William: Son of Floris IV, Count of Holland. Elected King of the Romans in 1247 after Frederick II was excommunicated. Importantly, a castle he built in 1248, later known as the Binnenhof Inner Court was the beginning of the city later known as The Hague The Hedge.

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Richard King of the Romans 1209-1272

Richard: Son of King John of England. One of the wealthiest men in Europe. Went on 6th crusade, fought no battles, but negotiated a prisoner release after a battle in Gaza in 1239. Elected King of the Romans in 1256.

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Rudolf I King of the Romans 1218-1291

Rudolf: Son of Count Albert IV of Habsburg and Seventh generation descendant of Count Radbot who had built Habsburg Castle in Switzerland. In 1278, after Rudolf's election as King of the Romans, defeated his rival for the throne on the battlefield and secured the duchy of Austria for the Habsburg dynasty for 640 years.

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Adolf King of the Romans 1255-1298

Adolf: Son of Walram II, Count of Nassau, a small German state. Father-in-law to Rudolf of Bavaria, the son of Louis II, Duke of Upper Bavaria and Count Palatine of the Rhine, and Matilda, a daughter of Rudolph I. Adolf was elected King of the Romans in 1292 following numerous concessions to the College of Electors.

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Albert I Duke of Austria, King of the Romans 1255-1308

Albert: Son of Rudolf I. Defeated and slew Adolf in battle on July 2nd 1298, and elected King of the Romans 25 days later. Famous today for being the Habsburg emperor in the William Tell story who placed a (probably legendary) bailiff, Hermann Gessler, under orders to deliberately provoke the people of Switzerland into a rebellion to serve as an excuse for Austria to invade Switzerland. In 1308 Albert was assassinated by his nephew over an inheritance matter.

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Henry VII Count of Luxembourg, King of the Romans, King of Italy, Emperor 1275-1313

Henry: Son of Count Henry VI of Luxembourg. His brother Baldwin, Archbishop of Trier, successfully won over a number of the electors in exchange for some substantial concessions. Consequently, Henry skilfully negotiated his way to the crown.

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Louis IV Duke of Lower and Upper Bavaria, Count of Holland and Zeeland, King of the Romans, King of Italy, Emperor 1282-1347

Louis: A younger son of Louis II and Matilda, daughter of Rudolph I. Elected King of the Romans in 1314 in preference to Henry VII's son John, who was at the time only 18.

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Charles IV Count of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia, King of Burgundy, King of the Romans, King of Italy, Emperor 1316-1378

Charles: Grandson of Henry VII through his son, King John of Bohemia. Elected King of the Romans in 1349.

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Wenceslaus Duke of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia, King of the Romans 1361-1419

Wenceslaus: Son of Charles IV. Elected King of the Romans in 1376, co-reigning with his father for two years. Deposed (as King of the Romans) by electors in 1400.

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Rupert King of the Romans 1352-1410

Rupert: Son of Rupert II, Count Palatine of the Rhine and great-great-grandson of Louis II and Matilda, through their eldest son Rudolf of Bavaria. Elected King of the Romans in 1400.

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Sigismund Prince of Luxembourg, King of Hungary, King of Bohemia, King of the Romans, Emperor 1368-1437

Sigismund: Another son of Charles IV. Elected King of the Romans in 1410.

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Albert II Archduke of Austria, King of Hungary, King of Bohemia, King of the Romans 1397-1439

Albert: Son of Albert IV, Duke of Austria. Married Elisabeth of Luxembourg, daughter and heiress of King Sigismund. Chosen to be King of the Romans in 1438, but never crowned, dying in 1439.

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Frederick III Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, Emperor 1415-1493

Frederick: Son of Duke Ernest, cousin of Albert II's father. Elected King of the Romans in 1440.

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Maximilian I Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, Emperor 1459-1519
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Charles V Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, Duke of Luxembourg, Flanders, Holland and Zeeland, King of Naples, Sicily, Castile and Leon, Emperor 1500-1558
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Ferdinand I Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, Emperor 1503-1564
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Maximilian II Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, King of Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia, Emperor 1527-1576
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Rudolf II Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, King of Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia, Emperor 1552-1612
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Matthias Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, King of Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia, Emperor 1557-1619
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Ferdinand II Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, King of Hungary and Bohemia, Emperor 1578-1637
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Ferdinand III Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, King of Hungary and Bohemia, Emperor 1608-1657
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Ferdinand IV Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, King of Hungary and Bohemia but pre-deceased his father before he could become emperor 1633-1654
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Leopold I Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, King of Hungary and Bohemia, Prince of Transylvania, Emperor 1640-1705
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Joseph I Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, King of Hungary and Bohemia, Emperor 1678-1711
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Charles VI Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, King of Hungary and Bohemia, Duke of Milan, Count of Flanders, King of Sardinia, Naples and Sicily, Emperor 1680-1740
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Charles VII King of the Romans, King of Bohemia, Emperor 1697-1745
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Francis I Archduke of Austria, German King, Grand Duke of Tuscany, Emperor 1708-1765
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Joseph II Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, King of Hungary and Bohemia, Duke of Luxembourg and Milan, Count of Flanders, Emperor 1741-1790
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Leopold II Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, Grand Duke of Tuscany, King of Hungary and Bohemia, Duke of Luxembourg and Milan, Count of Flanders, Emperor 1747-1792
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Francis II Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, King of Hungary and Bohemia, Emperor. Became Emperor of Austria in 1804, then abdicated as Roman Emperor in 1806 in the face of Napoleon. After Napoleon met his defeat at Waterloo in 1815, as Emperor of Austria became President of the German Conferation, also King of Lombardy-Venetia. 1768-1835
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Ferdinand I Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, Bohemia and Lombardy-Venetia. President of the German Conferation. Suffered considerably from epilepsy. Forced to abdicate in 1848 in favour of his brother's son, Francis Joseph, as revolutionaries marched on the palace. 1793-1875
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Francis Joseph I Became Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, Bohemia, Croatia and Lombardy-Venetia in 1848 upon his uncle's abdication. Became President of the German Conferation also in 1850. However, ceded these claims to Germany, also to Lombardy-Venetia in 1866 following a seven-week war between Austria on the one side and Prussia and Italy on the other side. 1830-1916


During this seven-week war, most of the mid-sized German states had opposed Prussia, by 1870 these states had been coerced and coaxed into mutually protective alliances with Prussia. In the event that a European state, in particular France, declared war on one of their members, they all would come to the defence of the attacked state. With skilful manipulation, Prussian General Bismarck laid out a situation in which France played the role of aggressor, and Prussia, that of protector.

 

Looking back at Prussia, Frederick William III 1770-1840 had become King in 1797.

Upon his death, he was succeeded by his son, Frederick William IV 1795-1861.

Upon his death, he was succeeded by his brother, Wilhelm I 1797-1888 who in 1871 now became Emperor again of a unified Germany.

Upon his death, he was succeeded by his son Frederick III 1831-1888 who reigned just 99 days before dying of throat cancer. He had married Victoria 1840-1901 princess royal (eldest daughter) of Queen Victoria in 1858 after she had just turned seventeen. Her first son Wilhelm was a breech birth via forceps delivery with the English obstetrician awkwardly crippling his left arm.

In 1888, Wilhelm II 1859-1941 succeeded his father as emperor.

 

Click here for a page on Wikipedia showing the sons and daughters of Queen Victoria (herself a descendant of King George II, also Charlemagne) and King Christian IX and Louisa of Denmark (also both descended indirectly from King George II) with their royal marriages in Europe and Russia during the 19th century producing numerous offspring, resulting in Queen Victoria's being nicknamed the grandmother of Europe and King Christian its father-in-law.

On another note, click here for some of the background to the rise of Stalin, Hitler, and World War 2.

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