No leading power in the HRE

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Max Sinister, Jan 1, 2006.

  1. Max Sinister Retired Myriad Club Member Banned

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    I was thinking about the big players in the HRE and how it came that no single power managed to get control of all of it. There were some who tried: Henry the Lion of Saxony and Bavaria (defeated); Ottokar Przemysl (dito); the Luxemburg dynasty (died out); and of course the Habsburgs (they got a lot, but other powers, esp. France wouldn't let them get all of the HRE for them). At least the Habsburgs were certainly the strongest dynasty in Germany after they inherited Bohemia, Hungary and Burgundy and became emperors for several centuries.

    Now I wondered what had happened if no power at all managed to get even as far as the Habsburgs. Let's say, they don't inherit said territories, are restricted to core Austria, a power like others. Sometimes they're elected emperor, but more often princes from other dynasties; the Wittelsbachs, the Luxemburgers (as long as they aren't died out), or others - the Wettines (Saxony), the Hohenzollern, maybe even the Bohemian Jagiellons (if you fear the latter might become too powerful: Let the prince-electors demand from them that they don't use troops from their relatives in Poland for internal German affairs).

    So what happens now that there are about a dozen middle powers in the HRE (Seven to nine prince-electors, plus maybe Hesse, W├╝rttemberg, Pomerania)? After the dynasties are established, there isn't much to do but to wait that some dynasty dies out and the current emperor can give it to his family. And even that wasn't possible later. At some time, the princes might decide to divide the realms of the church among them, or even the free cities and other little places, but else... Would the other European powers try to conquer parts of the helpless HRE, like France did? Since it's difficult for a dozen powers to agree, a big reform is unlikely.

    One could also think about the possibility of a French king elected emperor. IOTL this didn't happen, since the Habsburgs had enough American gold to pay for their election everytime... but TTL, it could happen, and the logical next step for France would be a conquest of Italy. A French Europe...
     
  2. Max Sinister Retired Myriad Club Member Banned

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    *bump*

    No ideas, anyone? Do we have to wait until the age of revolutions, when the Germans finally will decide to send their useless princes to hell? Or would Germany be a bit like Italy, where the borders stagnated mostly, and the states became playthings for the big powers (Austria and France)? TTL, however, won't have a strong Austria, or any strong German state...
     
  3. Justin Pickard Schweitzer/Sebelius 2016

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    I think you'd end up with a very different analogue to the Golden Bull of 1356, which would greater strengthen the power of the Prince-Electors, probably transforming the whole empire into either (a) a pseudo-democracy along Polish-Lithuanian lines, or (b) a Machievellian nightmare. OTOH, the church might retain far greater influence for a lot longer than in OTL, which could be interesting to watch pan out.
     
  4. Max Sinister Retired Myriad Club Member Banned

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    IOTL the HRE introduced 1495 the "Ewige Landfrieden" (don't know whether there's an equivalent in English; it means "eternal peace in the land"), making an end to the many feuds of the low-rank princes. Instead, they had to settle disputes at the Reichsgericht (Emperial court) - which was infamous because the processes could take years.

    At that time, however, the Habsburgs were already very mighty. I don't know whether it could've worked without them, too.

    So, it seems you're right: Either the dukes duke it out until there's a clear winner (which could happen if they see that the emperor is just one of a dozen princes and has no authority), or they manage to make peace, and even form a German army - which won't be able to conquer Europe, but at least strong enough to deter foreign powers from conquering Germany.
     
  5. Max Sinister Retired Myriad Club Member Banned

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    *bump*

    Until emperor Maximilian of Habsburg managed to win Burgundy (and made the way for the acquisition of Bohemia, Hungary and Spain), the Habsburgs weren't really as over-powerful as they became later. So, take Maximilian out, and Austria doesn't get everything, or only Burgundy, and the Netherlands could secede ITTL too. The next emperor becomes a Wittelsbach, and all bets are off. Especially interesting: What happens after the reformation?
     
  6. Hapsburg Robrotrenominator

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    The electors could continue doing what they were doing before the Luxemburgs became Emperors: elect only lower-rank nobles. The little guys, like counts and princes, of smaller lands. A few bigguns here and there, but mostly small fries.
    That could help keep a strong central figure in the HRE from forming for a long while, and the electors could keep being as greedy and tricky as they were, if not more so.
     
  7. Kabraloth Cubito ergo sum.

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    You'd pretty much have 1648 in 1520, I think: the virtual death of the state, but this time ehen the last instrument of power (the church) is broken up by the statelets.
     
  8. arctic warrior Scandinavian die-hard

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    The various German Dukes would battle it out in between them to see who's the leader of the pack, but other neigbouring empires would try their hand. France is one player, Denmark having conquered Holstein 1203 another. The German Dukes would probably, like Italian nobility excel in playing everybody against each other, only having bigger pawns themselves - Duchies instead of Cities. The Reformation could very well lead to the Danish king trying his luck as the first Protestant Emperor.
    HRE would be much more the checker board of Europe, only with a lot of players. Both in their own right but also brought in by the various German Dukes, by alliance or marriage. There would be ever shifting alliances throughout Europe, until somebody would finally break-up or unite the HRE. In the end you could have a kind of German Garibaldi uniting it all.
     
  9. Max Sinister Retired Myriad Club Member Banned

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    That part about the foreign interventions is true. Denmark had S-H, Britain had Hannover, Sweden had Western Pomerania (and sometimes more)... this might continue, although in other constellations. (OTOH many European countries had dynasties which came from Germany...)