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A History of Diplomacy in the International Development of Europe: Vol I The Struggle for Universal Empire
The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation
by David Jayne Hill, LL.D.

The collapse of the Empire as an effective form of government under the Carlovingians was produced by those national rivalries which had already pronounced the doom of universal dominion. The struggle between two opposing ideas -- that of a universal monarchy inherited from the Romans, and that of local rule derived from the instincts and usages of the Germans, accentuated by the personal ambitions of the national princes -- had now become the predominating movement in the political development of Europe. By a new combination of circumstances the imperial office had been transferred to a German king in the person of Charles the Fat. The Empire had thereby become the appanage of the German kingdom, -- a realm entirely outside the limits of the old Roman world. It was a transfer fraught with incalculable consequences, for it placed the conduct of the Empire in the hands of the nation of Europe the least Roman of all the European peoples. The change marks the beginning of a new era and of a new order of ideas, in which the most antagonistic elements were to be brought into the most intimate relations. The efforts to reconcile their contradictions, destined to a failure not less tragic than the disruption of the Empire of Charles the Great, constitute the principal interest of the period which now lies before us.


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