Holy Roman Empire

The (second) medieval revival of the Western Roman Empire was referred to as The Holy Roman Empire which lasted from 962 AD to 1806.  By the year 1250, much of its power had vanished and by ca. 1650 the empire had lost virtually all power.  Nevertheless, the Empire endured until 1806, when it was abolished by Emperor Francis II.   

Francis II ruled thereafter as Francis I of the Austrian Empire (established in 1804).   Usually, the king of Germany became emperor  -considered by Europeans the title of most prestige- as soon as he was crowned by the pope.  

Given the many successes of the dukes of Saxony in fighting the Hungarians during the 10th century, most were chosen kings of Germany. The first Saxonian to become king was Henry the Fowler (919-936).  He was followed by his son Otto who became King Otto I in 936 and the first Holy Roman Emperor from 962 to 973.  

The Dynasties

Saxon Dynasty

Franconian (Salian) Dynasty


Otto I 1024-1039 Conrad II
973-983 Otto II 1039-1056 Henry III
983-1002 Otto III 1056-1106 Henry IV
1002-1024 Henry II 1106-1125 Henry V
    1125-1137 Lothair II

Hohenstaufen Dynasty

The Habsburgs

Henry V's nephews, The Hohenstaufen of Swabia were not always supported by the Church who favored candidates of the "Guelph" i.e. the "Welf" family of Bavaria and Saxony. The on-going struggle between these families and the intervention of the papacy drastically weakened the empire, culminating in the "Age of the Princes" in Germany and the "Great Interregnum" in the Holy Roman Empire.

The House of Habsburg (who derived its name from their castle "Habichtsburg" in Switzerland), was the most illustrious European dynasty.  Beginning in the 15th century, the Habsburgs became hereditary rulers of the Empire.  Through a sequence of "strategic marriages" they gained (by inheritance) the Netherlands, the Spanish kingdoms and Spain's Empire in the "New World", Hungary and Bohemia.


Conrad III 1440-1493 Albert II
1152-1190 Frederick I "Barbarossa" 1440--1493 Frederick III
1190-1197 Henry VI 1493-1519 Maximilian I
1198-1208 Philip of Swabia 1519-1556 Charles V
The Anti King Era 1556-1564 Ferdinand I
1198-1208 Otto IV (anti-king Welf) 1564-1576 Maximilian II
1208-1212 Otto IV 1576-1612 Rudolf II
1212-1250 Frederick II 1612-1619 Matthias
1250-1254 Conrad IV 1619-1637 Ferdinand II
1254-1273 Interregnum 1637-1657 Ferdinand III

When the Empire was restored in 1273, the princes refused to establish any one dynasty and during the following 150 years, candidates from four families were elected

1658-1705 Leopold I
1705-1711 Joseph I
1711-1740 Charles VI
1273-1291 Rudolf I (Habsburg) 1740-1742 Interregnum
1292-1298 Adolf (Nassau) 1742-1745 Charles VII
1298-1308 Albert I (Habsburg)

The Habsburgs - Lorraine

1308-1313 Henry VII (Luxemburg) 1745-1765 Francis I
1314-1346 Louis IV (Wittelsbach) 1765-1790 Joseph II
1346-1378 Charles IV (Luxemburg) 1790-1792 Leopold II
1378-1400 Wenceslas (Luxemburg) 1792-1806 Francis II
1400-1410 Rupert (Wittelsbach)

House of Savoy-Carignano

1410-1437 Sigismund (Luxemburg) Piemonte, Nice and Sardinia were ruled by the Dukes of Savoy until the year 1831.  This line died out and a very distant cousin, Carlo Alberto (Charles Albert) came to the throne. His son, Vittorio Emanuele II (Victor Emmanuel the 2nd) of Savoy led the armies that conquered what is now known as Italy over the years 1858 through 1871.  As a consequence, Vittorio Emanuele was proclaimed King of Italy in 1861; a dynasty that would fall with the end of WW2. 
1861-1878 Victor Emmanuel II
1878-1900 (Umberto) Humbert I
1900-1946 Victor Emmanuel III
1946 Humbert II
Source: The Almanac of Record Millennium Edition Created: January 2001
Updated: 10/16/01
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