PC: Preventing Imperial border gore

As allohistory and history fans most of us are familiar with the, er, interesting borders of the Holy Roman Empire. The thing is that it wasn't always the case, and it was a combination of various factors that led to the Imperial borders we all know and love.

So how would you deal with the HRE to minimize the border gore?
 
Technically, all states would be border gore if we displayed them on maps as we typically do by custom for the Empire. The Abbasid caliphate in 800, could on a map be broken into pieces in a map like structure similar to the Empire. However, political and social understanding of topics, does not permit this perception of matters. Yet, the Empire in popular european understanding, thanks to its feebleness in late eras and the ignorance/bigotry of the French and English crowns, led to a display that is unflattering to some and to others as (including myself) absolute beauty.

So, we can efficiently if we were less partisan in views of the Empire, could divide the empire into three-four distinct parts as shown on the map. Lotharingia, Germany, Italy and the associated Bohemia. If we were to take a step further, we would say, the Empire can be broken into say electors, within Germany, Bohemia, and then divide up Italy and Lotharingia into states to envisage its relative distance from Germany.

There is no way to change the nature of the borders, in the Middle Ages, without serious divergences, that I find unlikely. Rather, what should be discussed is why the Empire is depicted as she is? I would suggest, the easiest way to remove this situation is for the Empire to be perceived differently in our timeline. But the nature of the Empire, is one of composite kingdoms within which, there is an ancient buildup of ecclesiastical, communal and noble lands that coalesce into extremely complex borders. It would require a change in population or in how society worked in the european medieval era (which requires a POD in the 4th century CE) to abrogate such a complex system as feudalism and of the internal complexity of the Rhineland in that era.

EDIT: It should be noted, the weakness of how western intellectuals display different polities in the map, breed real world consequences. The partitions of Africa into nationalities or the Middle East is an example. Where, what should be areas depicted according to the extreme complexity of their ancient histories and customs, are depicted as if they are French or English absolutist regimes. This has led to destruction, misunderstanding and the breaching of Arab nationalities across the Mid East and other ethnic groups living nearby or among them.
 
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Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
Yeah, France especially is such a case. Just look at it's internal map before the Hundred Years War, the Albigensian Crusade, and the fall of Burgundy. The French Crown has very little power and several vassals that at times were stronger and was in a similar position as the HRE, unsurprisingly since they both were born out of the Carolingian Empire, and it was through some strong monarchs and a lot of luck, seriously a few bad dynastic wars or more frequent dynastic changes or better dynastic luck for the HRE could have easily switched the momentum on either side.
 
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Yeah, France especially is such a case. Just looked at it's internal map before the Hundred Years War, the Albigensian Crusade, and the fall of Burgundy. The French Crown has very little power and several vassals that at times were stronger and was in a similar position as the HRE, unsurprisingly since they both were born out of the Carolingian Empire, and it was through some strong monarchs and a lot of luck, seriously a few bad dynastic wars or more frequent dynastic changes or better dynastic luck for the HRE could have easily switched the momentum on either side.
Admittedly, the empire was rarely in a situation as poor as the French. It was almost never the case that the Emperor was weaker than one of his vassals individually, only ever if all of said vassals were banded together. The Emperor was in all of its internal conflicts, the superior military power in said wars. The emperor was bested by none of its vassals, but by its 'liege' the Papacy, who was able to bring down mostly any Emperor before 1300 and defeat them militarily. Without the Papacy objecting to Imperial power grabs, the Emperor would have unfettered power, most likely in comparison to the French monarchy prior to Philip II and even stronger than the Valois monarchs, almost surely.

Meanwhile, there is many cases, where individual vassals in the Frankish realm were legitimately superior to the Capetians or Valois. The Toulouse county for instance, was stronger than the Capetian kings; only the Albigensian Crusade turned this situation. The Burgundian dukes also rivaled and at times easily surpassed the Valois lords of Paris.
 
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Admittedly, the empire was rarely in a situation as poor as the French. It was almost never the case that the Emperor was weaker than one of his vassals individually, only ever if all of said vassals were banded together. The Emperor was in all of its internal conflicts, the superior military power in said wars. The emperor was bested by none of its vassals, but by its 'liege' the Papacy, who was able to bring down mostly any Emperor before 1300 and defeat them militarily. Without the Papacy objecting to Imperial power grabs, the Emperor would have unfettered power, most likely in comparison to the French monarchy prior to Philip II and even stronger than the Valois monarchs, almost surely.
Interesting thoughts. Perhaps an emperor like Frederick II Hohenstaufen, who endeavoured to make Italy his base of power, could defeat the Pope and increase imperial power. How this would effect the Church down the line would be interesting, of course.
 
I think that this would go hand-in-hand with making the empire a more cohesive entity. As others have noted, other empires have had similarly convoluted internal borders, including even the later German Empire, but people tend to ignore that given that they still ultimately represent a single state.
 
Interesting thoughts. Perhaps an emperor like Frederick II Hohenstaufen, who endeavoured to make Italy his base of power, could defeat the Pope and increase imperial power. How this would effect the Church down the line would be interesting, of course.
Frederick II certainly posed a serious threat to Papal supremacy in Europe and very nearly could’ve crushed Papal hegemony over Europe.

However, Frederick II was less interested in the other of his kingdoms. Frederick II was king of four different realms; Sicily, Italy, Germany and Lotharingia. The latter two, he is known for neglecting to a degree. Thus, the question would be how can Frederick II do to Italy what he did in Sicily?

Assuming he will not meddle in Germany and Lotharingia, this only leaves Italy. The issue with centralizing Italy as he did Sicily, is that in order to challenge the Papacy, he required extensive support from the Italian states. Frederick II even is known for conferring autonomy, higher titles and great rewards upon vassals in Italy who betrayed the Papacy, such as Forli. As such, Frederick II, even suppose he defeat the Papacy, it is only a step in a direction, not a result. In the end, Italy not ever entering a show kingdom status in relation to the empire, most likely intensifies its diversification in terms of feudal borders. For instance, most states will he unable to expand as they did in otl by war. This removes Venice as a potential player and abrogates the rise of Milan and the Lombard league in face of Venetian expansionism.
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Nevertheless, my opinion is that Frederick II was the weaker of the combattants. The Papacy commanded a wider array of support, was more well received in Europe and possessed the legal high-ground. There is a reason, that no european lord ever truly defeated the Papacy in war until the Western Schism. Even after the schism, Alexander VI proved the extent to which the Papacy was still a force for power, Machiavelli noted the potentially unlimited power of the Papacy as well.

Even the case of Boniface VIII, was something of a fluke. Had France invaded Italy and challenged Boniface VIII in the field, Philip IV would have met his match.
 
Easiest way is to consolidate and stabilise the Sterm Duchies and their rules of succession early on, in a way that ensures that their borders are pretty immutable and they can't be divided between rival claimants (they can only be inherited 'whole'). Make it normal that there can be frontier marches, but all future conquests that are consolidated get organised into additional duchies.

This wouldn't prevent all sorts of chaos when it comes to internal divisions of the duchies, but the basic structure of the Empire would be "standardised" from an early point.

This would give you Lower Lorraine, Upper Lorraine, Franconia, Saxony, Alamannia/Swabia, Bavaria and Bohemia. That's just seven Duchies, all with pretty clean borders. I think Austria wouldn't be allowed to just be absorbed by Bavaria, and would (after a time as "the eastern march") become a Duchy in its own right. The four frontier marches east of Saxony and north of Bohemia would probably be grouped into two Duchies as well: Veletia ("Wilzen") and Sorbia/Wendia ("Wenden") seem like the most obvious names. That yields ten Stem Duchies. Depending on how the empire develops territorially, Burgundy, Langobardia (meaning Northern Italy), Carinthia, Pommerania and Prussia would be additional candidates. Thuringia is presumably too small, and will probably get absorbed by Franconia or (most plausibly) Saxony. Frisia is the marchy "eternal frontier" facing the North Sea, and will probably remain an Imperial March on an immediately governed Imperial County forever.

And there you go.
 
Easiest way is to consolidate and stabilise the Sterm Duchies and their rules of succession early on, in a way that ensures that their borders are pretty immutable and they can't be divided between rival claimants (they can only be inherited 'whole'). Make it normal that there can be frontier marches, but all future conquests that are consolidated get organised into additional duchies.

This wouldn't prevent all sorts of chaos when it comes to internal divisions of the duchies, but the basic structure of the Empire would be "standardised" from an early point.

This would give you Lower Lorraine, Upper Lorraine, Franconia, Saxony, Alamannia/Swabia, Bavaria and Bohemia. That's just seven Duchies, all with pretty clean borders. I think Austria wouldn't be allowed to just be absorbed by Bavaria, and would (after a time as "the eastern march") become a Duchy in its own right. The four frontier marches east of Saxony and north of Bohemia would probably be grouped into two Duchies as well: Veletia ("Wilzen") and Sorbia/Wendia ("Wenden") seem like the most obvious names. That yields ten Stem Duchies. Depending on how the empire develops territorially, Burgundy, Langobardia (meaning Northern Italy), Carinthia, Pommerania and Prussia would be additional candidates. Thuringia is presumably too small, and will probably get absorbed by Franconia or (most plausibly) Saxony. Frisia is the marchy "eternal frontier" facing the North Sea, and will probably remain an Imperial March on an immediately governed Imperial County forever.

And there you go.
Why though would a composite monarchy wish to have large duchies like this? This creates a situation not dissimilar from that of the Frankish kingdom, wherein their regional lords ascended to powers higher than their liege and without recourse aside from overt crusading and civil war to break said vassals (mind you, France only was able to centralize to a degree due to Papal empowerment,,,). The Imperial model seems far more sustainable in this regard. Three separate main kingdoms/crowns and then relatively small and numerous vassals under it of often characters that invalidated their potentiality to become ruling monarchs.
 
Another interesting perspective to analyse is that the apparent border gore is an anachronic presentism. For all "formal" purposes, the Holy Roman Empire was a single severeign entity and internal borders didn't reflect territories as autonomous entities with geographical or cultural identities. HRE internal borders reflected the amalgamation of personal properties of dinasties - and only that.

That's to say, it did not meant to symbolize specific lands with an autonomous indentity independent from dynastic developments throughout history. The interruption of traditional Patrimonialism only happened in Europe after the French Revolution - the shift of the title King of France to Emperor of the French is pretty symbolic of that change.
 
Interesting thoughts. Perhaps an emperor like Frederick II Hohenstaufen, who endeavoured to make Italy his base of power, could defeat the Pope and increase imperial power. How this would effect the Church down the line would be interesting, of course.
Or go in the other direction, and have emperors stay out of Italian affairs altogether. Without the threat of Imperial domination, there's no particular reason for the Papacy to be hostile.
 
Or go in the other direction, and have emperors stay out of Italian affairs altogether. Without the threat of Imperial domination, there's no particular reason for the Papacy to be hostile.
There was never an issue with the Papacy permitting Imperial rule in the Kingdom of Italy. Only that the emperors cannot rescind the allodial donation of Pepin which is an eternal and legal affirmation of Papal holdings in that areas as its personal demense. Innocent III attacked overtly Italian states that resisted Otto IV and enforced Imperial rule in Italy in 1208-1209. The dispute only came when Otto IV, for some reason (perhaps we should call it, the Emperor-illness), rescinded all of his promises and demanded Sicily, Spoleto and invaded Papal direct lands in Spoleto and Latium. Innocent III defeated him soundly in the field of battle, before shaming him and sending Philip II upon him in a quasi crusade.

All they were required to do, was to leave be the Papal direct holdings and their rule over Italy would have been almost completely supported by the Papacy. and among the powers in Italy, there were none who could hope to face the Papacy in battle, much less the Papacy + Emperor. Nay, the reason the Emperors wished to bring the Papacy to task was a conflict of liege lord titles. The Papal formulation and the formulation that the Empire was founded upon, was that in legal theory, the Papacy was the overlord of the Empire and of all the Latino-Germanic states in Europe. Many Emperors, resented this situation and hence sought to rectify the issue of authority and in effect, usurp the Papal universal empire for themselves. In effect, become the Pope, not in respect to his religious authority, but in usurping the right to translatio imperii and hence the legal preeminence of the Papacy. All movements against the Papacy in the imperial court, were borne from this formula.
 
Another interesting perspective to analyse is that the apparent border gore is an anachronic presentism. For all "formal" purposes, the Holy Roman Empire was a single severeign entity and internal borders didn't reflect territories as autonomous entities with geographical or cultural identities. HRE internal borders reflected the amalgamation of personal properties of dinasties - and only that.

That's to say, it did not meant to symbolize specific lands with an autonomous indentity independent from dynastic developments throughout history. The interruption of traditional Patrimonialism only happened in Europe after the French Revolution - the shift of the title King of France to Emperor of the French is pretty symbolic of that change.
Which then begs the question - why are Imperial internal borders depicted on maps the way, say, internal borders of other feudal and premodern states are not?
 
Which then begs the question - why are Imperial internal borders depicted on maps the way, say, internal borders of other feudal and premodern states are not?
Probably because while the internal feuds of other states were mostly absorbed through time unto the Modern Age and became irrelevant as political entities in themselves (such as the French or English feudal vassals), the statelets of the HRE and their unabsorption was important for the diplomatic character of more modern history - such as the Thirty Years War and later the Napoleonic Wars and even the Unification of Germany. In essence, historiography is thought I'm counter-clockwise order: the past is put in a light that explains the present and the present shapes the narrative that's being told.

Or as Orwell put it: "those who control the present control the past"

German feudal domains became relevant in later politics closer to our own reality, while the other ones did not. So while it is relevant to explain how does states that were there appeared, it's less interesting to hear about the rise and fall of withered down internal divisions.
 
Probably because while the internal feuds of other states were mostly absorbed through time unto the Modern Age and became irrelevant as political entities in themselves (such as the French or English feudal vassals), the statelets of the HRE and their unabsorption was important for the diplomatic character of more modern history - such as the Thirty Years War and later the Napoleonic Wars and even the Unification of Germany. In essence, historiography is thought I'm counter-clockwise order: the past is put in a light that explains the present and the present shapes the narrative that's being told.

Or as Orwell put it: "those who control the present control the past"

German feudal domains became relevant in later politics closer to our own reality, while the other ones did not. So while it is relevant to explain how does states that were there appeared, it's less interesting to hear about the rise and fall of withered down internal divisions.
@SavoyTruffle It is also was/is utilized as a political tool, foil and satire on behalf the Napoleonic and English modern states. It was to be representative of the old Europe and of the bygone eras. In other words, it was intentionally enfeebled, for political points embracing reform or modernity. All of which, are somewhat hollow as proven in recent decades and even hollow in those days.
 
Which then begs the question - why are Imperial internal borders depicted on maps the way, say, internal borders of other feudal and premodern states are not?
There are good maps of Medieval Western Europe between the fall of the Carolingian Empire and the Hundred Years Wars depicting internal devisions and feudal entities in its complexity. But many maps oversimplify the past, and simply color a kingdom in a certain color, ignoring the complex medieval reality.

Detailed accurate and affordable Historical Atlases started to become a thing in the 19. century.
Mass education, printing and detailed maps became available. And it was in the interest of the states to emphasize nationalism in school education.
Many early historical maps where shown in school, or used in school books, and basic historical Atlases became part of education.

In this age, our view of history was dominated by nationalistic viewpoints. In these times, historians projected their nationalism into the past. We should identify with "our" "great medieval kings/heroes" defending our "country" against enemy "nations".
Look at this map, how great "our nation" extended its borders under the glorious reign of king XYZ in the X. century. And look at the lost territories during the decline during the reign of the weak king ABC . And here is a map of our great nation today, all those beautiful colonies we have all over the map to enlighten the natives. You can see how over millenia, heros defended our beautiful homeland and extended our borders.
This is of course an entirely anachronistic way of depicting history.

While this might be a little exaggerated, maps often have a certain viewpoint, interpretation or ideology.

Often, publishers reprint improved versions of previous editions of their Historical Atlas. Some standard maps emerged in the 19. century and are still the basis for some Historical Atlases today.
For example, the "Putzger Historischer Weltatlas " (Putzger Historical World Atlas) was first printed in 1877. Later in 1911, an extended English edition was printed by W.R. Sheperd. The publisher Cornelsen gained the rights for the German Edition after World War 2, and continues printing new editions.
This Atlas was printed 8,5 million times in multiple languages. You could find older versions on the Internet Archive.
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Now to the Holy Roman Empire. While it is clear, that it was not as good organized compared to neighboring realms, it had internal organization and common institutions, like the "Reichtag" or the "Reichskammergericht".
While it was political weak, it wasn't backwards in other aspects. Many places in the Holy Roman Empire had a vibrant culture, with great artists and a vibrant economy with great merchants. It had great and traditional universities.
In a time, when government wasn't about serving the citizens, and instead about oppressing them, more centralized governments where better at waging war, but not better for their citizens.

The religious conflicts and the 30 years war where great tragedies. But those conflicts not only devastated the Holy Roman Empire but created massive tensions and chaos in more centralized realms. Still the Holy Roman Empire managed to find solutions to continue to exist with a population consisting of multiple confessions. Meanwhile monarchs of more centralized realms often banned religious dissidents. If you where persecuted by your local ruler in the Holy Roman Empire, you could just travel to the next neighboring territory, meanwhile the Huguenots had to immigrate over large distances. Intellectuals persecuted by reactionary ruler X could find patronage by enlightened ruler Y.
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A more centralized Holy Roman Empire would not only change the political history of Europe, but also the entire cultural development of Germany. Far fewer baroque palaces in Thuringia and South West Germany, early nationalist writers and poets writing about entirely different topics (since in OTL, they often focused on the lack of a German Nation State and the many small states). Without the Mannheim school, the history of classical music will be entirely different, therefore the history of music will change.
A more centralized German State will change the urban and economic development. Today Germany has multiple centres, with several large cities, and many strong medium cities. Berlin doesn't dominate Germany. Many of these strong cities are either traditional trading centers or where capitals of various territories or grew during industrialization. Local rulers often strengtened and extended their own capital cities. The most extreme examples are baroque planned cities like Karlsruhe or Mannheim.
A more centralized Germany would have a stronger central city and somewhat weaker regional cities.
 
So, we can efficiently if we were less partisan in views of the Empire, could divide the empire into three-four distinct parts as shown on the map. Lotharingia, Germany, Italy and the associated Bohemia.
You forgot Burguny/Arelat, also source on Lotharingia being a distinct kingdom on the Empire? Last German king to use Rex Lotharii as far as I know was Henry the Fowler.
 
In a time, when government wasn't about serving the citizens, and instead about oppressing them, more centralized governments where better at waging war, but not better for their citizens.
I think this bit is unfair. Centralised governments were usually better for their citizens, as they were better able to clamp down on aristocratic feuding, bandits, piracy, and other such nuisances.
 
You forgot Burguny/Arelat, also source on Lotharingia being a distinct kingdom on the Empire? Last German king to use Rex Lotharii as far as I know was Henry the Fowler.
As part of the general understanding of the 13th century precedence and that of the 12th century, there were three major ecclesiastical posts. Each of these three were to be in theory, representative of the three realms of the Empire, later in the 13th century, these were called arch-chancellors and otherwise lords of the realms in place of its true masters. These three are defined as:

Cologne: Kingdom of Italy
Mainz: Kingdom of Germany (the division between whom Trier represented and whom Mainz represented, is the division between Germany and 'Lotharingia')
Trier: --- our discussion ---

Trier was a principle city and bishopric in the Kingdom of Lotharingia and what would seem to be the precedence, was that the bishop of Trier represented the following areas outside of Germany:

-Lorraine both upper and lower
-Alsace
- Much of modern Swizterland
-Burgundian or Free County of Burgundy
- The old Kingdom of Arles

As such, there was an understanding that these lands, were all part of one wider realm separate from Italy and Germany and yet united under Trier. As Trier has this position, within Lotharingia, and as Chancellor of all the lands mentioned, I use the term Lotharingia as being more preferred, though one could break this into two, Lotharingia and Arles. However, there is no separate chancellor between these two lands, each of which is shared by Trier.

It should be mentioned, that Trier is referred at times as chancellor of Arles, Burgundy and Lotharingia. In my opinion, considering all of the sources at hand, especially the wording of Innocent III in his registry, these are considered a single realm extending from Brabant to Provence. Innocent III for instance, mentioned in one of his registries, conferring the 'other titles' to Germany upon election. This is in my opinion is obviously referring to the concept of three composite kingdoms and addition to the Empire. So, there is no question that there is three royal demesne in the Empire (excluding Bohemia).

Now, why do I prefer the term Lotharingia for this third royal demesne? Specifically due to the fact that:

1. The bishop of Trier is listed as alternatively in different contexts as chancellor of Lotharingia, Arles and Burgundy. Implying that these are all one royal realm conjoined to Trier.

2. Trier is an historic landmark for the Lotharingian kingdom and was the source for the crowning of dukes of the Lorraine and lords of this region from times immemorial by 1235.

3. Trier represented these realms, as a sort of Middle Francian realm, beginning at the western side of the Rhine and extending to Arles. It is my opinion, that all of these terms, Burgundy-Arles-Lotharingia, were all referring to a conception of a royal realm between France and Germany, that is co-equal to Middle Francia. It matters little what it is called as it is called varied things by different sources both in the Papal registry, councils and other correspondences.

Trier was the primary chancellor for all of these realms which, seem to have been conjoined together under Trier as a sort of Middle Francian-like entity by 1200. By this virtue, that Trier was within Lotharingia, was its chancellor and yet also the chancellor of the realms of Arles and Burgundy, these three-two were all one. So, in my opinion it is best to refer to these lands all as Lotharingia, in respect of the conception of Middle Francia and Trier's role in conjoining these areas together into a demesne outside of Germany, Italy and France yet within the Empire. There is no better term for Middle Francia, than Lotharingia, unless you wish to say something that strains the tongue Lorraine-Burgundy-Arles.
 
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