Would you please elaborate on the ten European revivals of the ancient Roman Empire? (Part 4)


Previously, we covered the first six revivals of the ancient Roman Empire, after its demise. The sixth revival under Otto the Great occurred about 962 A.D., but it too would come to an end. It would take more than 450 years after Otto’s death, before the next revival of the ancient Roman Empire would occur.

The Seventh Revival under Charles V of Habsburg

Charles V of Habsburg was crowned in 1530 A.D. by pope Clement VII as Holy Roman Emperor, and Germany could speak again “with its former authority in Europe,” as it had done under Otto the Great. According to P.M. History, Charles V ruled over an empire which never saw the setting of the sun. The Book, “The Living World of History” states:

“Charles V., who was crowned in [1530], dominated Europe… His grandfather, the Emperor Maximilian, had gained the Netherlands by marrying the heiress Mary of Burgundy. His father, Philip the Handsome, had espoused Joanna… [the] future heiress of Spain, the kingdom of Naples (embracing southern Italy) and Sicily and the growing Spanish dominions in the recently discovered New World. And the Habsburg family inheritance included Austria and other districts, as well as the imperial crown of Germany. Such was the colossal empire that Charles possessed when, at the age of twenty, he was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in [1530]… [But] when the Pope was intriguing… against Charles, his… troops sacked Rome and imprisoned the Pope…”

What this shows is that the relationship between the Catholic Church and the State was not always without problems, since both sides wanted to have dominion over the other party. In Charles’ case, “peace” was established again between Church and State. The afore-mentioned book continues:

“The advancing Turks (who had captured Constantinople in 1453) were a growing menace… Taking the field in person, he drove the Moslems back in Hungary and in 1535 [he] was acclaimed as the shining champion of Christendom when he captured Tunis in North Africa… After forty years of sovereignty… [he] abdicated the imperial throne in favour of his brother Ferdinand and retired to a Spanish monastery where, in 1558, he died. Ferdinand… received the Habsburg Austrian inheritance; Charles’s son Philipp II got the rest. So the great Habsburg empire fell into two parts, the Austrian and the Spanish…”

The collaboration between the pope and Charles V is also seen in the following example, as stated in the above-mentioned work, when dealing with the Reformation:

“In the sixteenth century, Western Europe, despite all its political and religious quarrels, had been united for a thousand years on a fundamental matter… the West was a single Christian community acknowledging the spiritual authority of the Pope… in 1520, the Pope issued a bull, or decree, of excommunication against [Martin Luther]. Luther’s reply was to burn it. Next year the pope called on Charles V to suppress him. Luther, refusing to retract his words, was outlawed.”

Here we see how in the past, the Church would excommunicate someone or call him “anathema”, and the State would come in to prosecute or outlaw such a person. Similar events are going to happen in the near future.

The book, “Kingdoms of Europe,” adds the following:

“In 1556 Charles V divided his realms with his son, Philip II of Spain, and his younger brother, Ferdinand, who succeeded him as Holy Roman emperor in 1558. Until the dissolution in 1806 of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, as the loose German confederation came to be called, the Austrian Habsburgs were concerned with internal German affairs and with the problems raised by the Reformation, the rising power of France, the almost constant Turkish threat, and the necessity for reorganizing and developing an administrative system for their territories. Austria itself was merely a headquarters for their activities. Usually a Habsburg was chosen Holy Roman emperor by the electors of the empire.”

However, the Habsburg empire after Charles V was in name only a continuance of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. For all practical purposes, its power diminished constantly after Charles V, until it only had a shadowy existence.

The above-mentioned work continues:

“The Habsburgs opposed the Reformation and made every attempt to destroy it; in the territory of Austria they were almost completely successful in preventing the new movement from gaining a foothold… Internally… the Habsburgs consolidated their rule and reestablished the supremacy of the Roman Catholic church…”

Even though the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation endured officially until 1806 when the last Habsburg emperor abdicated, it had long before ceased to exist as the seventh revival of the ancient Roman Empire. Another revival was to occur instead—the eighth revival under Napoleon Bonaparte.

The Eighth Revival under Napoleon

Many believe erroneously that Napoleon was French. However, this was really not the case.

In “Living World of History,” we read:

“It was only by chance that France’s greatest military genius was a Frenchman at all. Corsica, where he was born in 1769, had only been acquired by France from Genoa the year before. Actually Napoleon was the second son of a poor Corsican lawyer of noble and, probably, Italian decent… [Napoleon’s] whole career was to blaze him forth as a superman… He could work or ride for hours on end. Food and sleep seemed unnecessary to him. His ambitions, like his vanity and selfishness, were boundless. No moral scruples restrained him. No man must stand in his way… In 1804… Napoleon attained the glory of being crowned Emperor of the French.”

The work, “Kingdoms of Europe,” elaborates:

“… on December 2, 1804, he was crowned in Notre Dame in great splendor. The pope was present, but Bonaparte placed the crown on his own head [apparently with the prior consent of the pope, according to P.M. History]… and he gave his soldiers eagle standards, in memory of the old Roman Empire… [Subsequently] Napoleon’s desire was fulfilled, His new wife presented him with a little son to perpetuate his imperial line, and the boy was promptly crowned king of Rome… in 1814… the French Senate, which Napoleon himself had created merely to register the laws, sent notice to him that it had deposed him from the rank as emperor.”

In their tongue-in-cheek article, “Good that there was Napoleon,” PM wrote:

“In 1804 he crowned himself in the presence of the Roman pope as emperor of the French… by the grace of God and the will of the nation, out of his own will as Caesar, and anointed by the church as Charlemagne… He appeased the Catholics with a concordat… not only the French, but also more and more Europeans saw the empire of Napoleon I as the continuation of the Roman Empire such as the Empire of the Franks had been. Even and especially Germans supported and accepted the French Emperor (who deposed the German Emperor), including Karl Theodor von Dalberg of Mainz, the arch chancellor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation… Soon, the new empire reached until the river Elbe—as had been the case under Charlemagne.”

P.M. History states that Napoleon believed to be Charlemagne—perhaps his reincarnation. He wrote in 1806: “Je suis Charlemagne” (“I am Charlemagne”). The magazine also states that three months before his coronation as Emperor, Napoleon travelled to Aachen to visit Charlemagne’s tomb and to pay homage to him.

Will and Ariel Durant, “The Story of Civilization—The Age of Napoleon,” point out the following:

“But he also thought, and often spoke, of Charlemagne, who, in a reign of forty-six years (768-814), had brought order and prosperity… and had won—or commanded—consecration by a Pope; had not he, Napoleon, done all these things? Had he not restored in France the religion that was checking the pagan riot let loose by the Revolution? Did he not, like Charlemagne, deserve the crown for life?…

“By 1801, it was generally agreed that the Holy Roman Empire, as Voltaire had said, was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire; that no important state recognized its authority, or the authority of the pope; that some new form of order and cooperation amid the chaos would have to be devised, accepted, or imposed. Napoleon accepted the challenge…

“On August 6 [1806] Francis officially declared the Holy Roman Empire dissolved, and renounced the Imperial title, remaining emperor of Austria. The glory of the Hapsburgs faded, and a new Charlemagne, ruling from France, assumed authority over western Germany” (pp. 193, 588, 590).

The following is stated in “The History of Europe and the Church” (Worldwide Church of God, ed. 1984):

“In 1799 the young hero returns from an expedition against the English in Egypt. He seizes power in a bold move, setting up a new government of three members. Borrowing a title from ancient Rome, he calls them consuls. He himself is First Consul—a virtual dictator at age 30… He dreams of being another Caesar… Napoleon dreams of a resurrected Roman-European civilization dominated by France… ‘ The influence of Rome is incalculable,’ he declares. ‘It was a serious error to break with this power’… In 1801 a concordat… is concluded between France and the Papacy.

“The Catholic Church again becomes the official church of France [His nephew, Napoleon III –some claim that he was Napoleon’s illegitimate son–would continue in the tradition of close collaboration between the French state and the pope, rescuing and assisting him against Italian revolutionists, such as Garibaldi.]… [After his coronation through the pope in 1804] Napoleon crowns himself again [in 1806], this time with the celebrated ‘iron crown’ of Lombardy. One of the great historic symbols of Europe, this crown had previously been worn by Charlemagne, Otto the Great and other European sovereigns…”

Historical books will tell you that the Holy Roman Empire ceased to exist in 1806. They fail to mention that this was just the shadowy existence of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, under the Habsburgs, but that in the meantime, Napoleon had already revived the Holy Roman Empire, but under French leadership.

The above-mentioned booklet explains:

“… it becomes clear that the Austrian-led Holy Roman Empire is dead. Napoleon… has usurped the Holy Roman Emperor’s primacy among European monarchs… On August 6, 1806, Holy Roman Emperor Francis II formally resigns his title and divests himself of the imperial crown… Technically, Napoleon has swept away the moribund Holy Roman Empire… but he perpetuates it, under a different name, for another eight years…

“In April 1810 Napoleon marries Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria… [She] is a Habsburg princess, the eldest daughter of the last Holy Roman emperor… In March 1811 she bears Napoleon a long-desired son, who is given the title ‘King of Rome.’ … With the fall of Napoleon in 1814, the time-honored system of Roman-inspired government first resurrected by Justinian in A.D. 554 comes to an end after 1,260 years.”

The empire of Napoleon constituted indeed another revival of the ancient Roman Empire—in size and also in tradition. As mentioned, Napoleon wanted to be another Charlemagne and apparently believed that he was (the reincarnation of ) Charlemagne. (As we will see, Hitler seemed to have believed something similar). But Napoleon’s empire fell apart in 1814. Another revival was to occur in due time.

(To Be Continued)

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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