Germany at the end of the Middle Ages. The German Empire of the 14th-15th centuries

The dynasty of the Habsburgs did not remain in power for long. At the beginning of the XIV century. the feudal lords elected King Henry VII of Luxembourg. He founded the Luxembourg dynasty, which persistently tried to conquer Italy, quarreled with the popes. All this, in the end, fed up with the princes. To the German kings did not have to beat the thresholds of Rome for the imperial crown, they in the Reichstag decided that the German king becomes an emperor regardless of the will of the pope. To such a bold decision, German society was already ready.

In the middle of the XIV century. the emperor became Charles IV. He made concessions to the princes, having issued in 1356 the “Golden Bull”, which confirmed the old privileges of the nobility and provided new ones. She allowed princes to have their own army, conclude military alliances, wage feudal wars. Cities to oppose princes were forbidden.

1356 g. From the “Golden Bull” by Charles IV

We command and establish that the Archbishop of Mainz, when the bishopric becomes aware of the death of the king or the emperor, within one month from the date of death, notified… of each Elector. If the Archbishop will hesitate with this message, let the electors on their own initiative… gather for three months in Frankfurt and elect the Roman king – the future emperor. It should be elected by a majority of votes. The newly elected must immediately approve the land holdings, privileges, rights and freedoms of Electors…

German Empire XIV-XV centuries. consisted of independent principalities, clear boundaries between which did not exist. There was no single government, a single army, a single treasury. If the Emperor was impatient to go to war with Italy, he occupied the army with his vassals. Legislative power belonged to the Reichstag, which consisted of princes, knights and representatives of imperial cities.

At the same time, the Reichstag solved only state-wide issues, but did not interfere in the affairs of the principalities. Each principality had its Landtag.


1437 the Habsburgs came to power again. They got a miserable inheritance. Part of the state territories fell under the rule of foreign kings. The emperor Frederick III lost at the end of the XV century. even their hereditary possessions – Austria, Styria and Carinthia.

But the German Empire did not fall apart. It gradually strengthened the forces interested in uniting the country under the monarch’s single authority. First of all, such power was burghers. In Germany, even talking about reforms that can turn it into a strong centralized state. But the all-powerful Electors prevented their conduct.

Medieval Germany enriched Europe with its scientific and technical achievements. It became the birthplace of printing, which made possible the communication of generations. Invented the printing press in the middle of XV century. German master Johann Guttenberg. This invention gave a powerful impetus to the development of European and world culture, marking the beginning of the era of book printing – the “Gutenberg era”.

Johann Guttenberg was born in Mainz on the banks of the Rhine. From a young age I traveled from one city to another, studied ancient objects. Arriving in Strasbourg, worked hard on the invention of wooden mobile letters, from which it was possible to compose the text. He worked secretly so that he was not accused of witchcraft. Returning to his native Mainz, he opened a new printing house there. He published church books. Eventually, he went bankrupt and died a poor man.

Reichstag -1) one of the organs of central authority in the Holy Roman Empire; 2) the German parliament.

“Golden Bull” – the decree with a hanging gold seal.

Landtag – meeting or congress of representatives from estates in the German principalities.

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Germany at the end of the Middle Ages. The German Empire of the 14th-15th centuries