Germany History – The Affirmation of the Predominance of the Electorate Part II

The history of Germany after the end of the interregnum had hitherto been characterized by a resumption of monarchical authority, oriented however towards the particular interests of the princes assumed to the throne against those of the other princes, and not towards the common interests of the kingdom.. Thus, and not for national purposes, it is also necessary to explain the abandonment by Rodolfo I, Adolfo, Alberto I, of the ancient universalistic imperial traditions, which in fact were reduced to repeated wearisome interventions in the affairs of Italy, in order to maintain within the limits of a more practical action in Germany. The successor instead of Albert I, if he did not neglect the interests of the family, wanted to fully resume the mission that medieval theories had assigned to the Empire. The electors, for the usual reasons, they gave preference to another modest Rhine nobleman, Henry, count of Luxembourg (November 27, 1308), from whom they immediately obtained the re-establishment of river duties and restrictive measures against the cities. For his part, Henry VII did not miss the opportunity to harm the Habsburgs, recognizing the Swiss confederates a position similar to that of the imperial cities, and to secure the kingdom of Bohemia for his home by marrying the sister of the last Premislide the son Giovanni, who invested with that crown (1310).  Immediately after, Henry VII left Germany for the unfortunate Italian adventure, which was to end with his immature death (24 August 1313).

According to Calculatorinc, two opposing parties of princes, Habsburg and Wittelsbach of the Palatinate of the Rhine, against Wittelsbach of Upper Bavaria, took the field for the succession, however, in agreement in seeking it out of Luxembourg; and only one day later there was a double election: on the 19th, in Sachsenhausen, of Frederick, Duke of Austria; on 20 October 1314, in Frankfurt, of Ludwig IV, Duke of Upper Bavaria. The Rhenish cities of southern Germany, favored in their interests, and the Swiss Confederates, confirmed in their freedoms, sided with Louis IV against the adversary. And precisely the victory of the Swiss over Leopold, Duke of Austria in Morgarten (November 15, 1315) marked the decline of the Habsburg fortunes, which then faded in Mühldorf (September 28, 1322), in front of the united arms of Ludwig IV, of Frederick IV of Hohenzollern, Burgrave of Nuremberg, and of John of Bohemia. The winner was ready to invest without waiting for the consent of the electors (1324) the eldest son, of the same name, of the brand of Brandenburg, where since 1320 the line of the Ascanî had been extinguished. A few years later, Louis IV engaged the Empire in the last medieval struggle with the Papacy, a struggle in which the popes of Avignon were seen to support French political interests on both sides of the Alps with theocratic doctrines, where the lords of the region Po Valley-Apennine, threatened by the Angevins, caused the German sovereign to come to their aid. This (1327-1330) resulted in complete failure. But the combined action of France and the papacy had brought about a vast movement in Germany, in which it seemed that all social classes, from princes to bourgeoisie, were finally to be united. The electoral princes were interpreted in Rense, only John of Bohemia absent, solemnly declaring (July 16, 1338) the full capacity for the exercise of imperial and royal power and the full right to bear the royal title in the one who they had elected without the need for any intervention under any form of the Apostolic See. The declaration was soon after (August) sanctioned by the Frankfurt diet, presided over by the emperor, and published as the law of the Empire. The Empire thus freed itself from the Papacy; ceased, as was wisely said, to be Sacred and Roman, in the universalistic and transcendental meaning attributed to these terms in the Middle Ages, to begin to become secular and national, and therefore German. But the Empire did not acquire unifying and centralizing effectiveness, not even with the new character, because this was determined by an act not on the initiative of the sovereign, but wanted by the electoral princes, intended to reiterate against any doubt that they, and not others, had of the crown. The national aspect of the movement was manifested in the same diet of Koblenz in September 1338, in which, if Ludwig IV, in settling as arbiter of the dispute for the French throne between two kings, Edward III and Philip VI, was the emperor in traditional exercise of his universal powers, in fact, in deciding in favor of the English king against the French, he was acting as a German ruler. The consequence was the war against France, alongside her natural enemy, England. But Ludovico IV felt the interests of the family, and not those of Germany, and did not take the favorable opportunity to shape a national kingdom. He withdrew from the war (1341), deluding himself into a France mediator of reconciliation between himself and the papacy; he alienated the soul of Edward III by hastening to occupy the domains of the Count of Holland, who was his brother-in-law, as soon as he died (1345), without having any regard for the aspirations of the English kings on those lands. Thus the national movement, left without a leader, languished and died out. Meanwhile the princes watched. the increase of Luxembourg’s power is concerned. The electoral marque of Brandenburg to the eldest son of Ludwig IV; the langraviato of Alsace to another son of his; reunited Upper and Lower Bavaria (1340) in its own line; finally, the Tyrolean heritage. Louis IV had agreed with the Habsburgs that, on the death of Henry of Carinthia, he would take the Tyrol, leaving Carinthia to the Dukes of Austria. But when Henry died (1335), he had not dared to proceed with the pact as far as he was concerned, because the heir Margherita Maultasch she had married a son of John of Luxembourg, Giovanni Enrico, whom the emperor made fief of the Tyrol. The discord between the spouses, and the hostility shown to Giovanni Enrico by the local nobility led Ludovico IV to declare the marriage of Margaret null and void, who married her son, former Margrave of Brandenburg (1342). A direct consequence was the agreement of Luxembourg with France and with the pope against him. On 11 July 1346 the three ecclesiastical electors, the King of Bohemia and the Duke of Saxony-Wittenberg accepted the invitation addressed by Clement VI to the princes to choose another sovereign, electing in Rense the first-born of John of Luxembourg, Charles, Marquis of Moravia. Again Germany was on the eve of a civil war; but the German princes did not show too much desire to face it. On the other hand, the death of Ludwig IV (11 October 1347) facilitated the solution of the conflict without bloodshed. The attempt of the Wittelsbachs to arouse an anti-Luxembourg coalition also failed, having Count Günther of Schwarzburg elected king (January 30, 1349), who, finding no supporters, renounced the crown and died after a few months (June 18). The Wittelsbachs reconciled with Charles IV, who confirmed them in their dominions.

Germany History - The Affirmation of the Predominance of the Electorate 2