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Holy Roman Empire

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The Holy Roman Empire around 1630.

The Holy Roman Empire (Latin: Imperium Romanum Sacrum; German: Heiliges Römisches Reich; Italian: Sacro Romano Impero) was a monarchy in Central Europe during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. Although based on the Kingdom of Germany, it eventually consisted of a conglomeration of sub-states. The Kingdom of Germany emerged from the final partition of the Frankish Empire following the Treaty of Verdun in 843. Although the first Holy Roman Emperor was considered to be Charlemagne, crowned on December 25, 800, the continuous line of emperors from the Kingdom of Germany began only with Otto the Great. The last was Francis II, who abdicated and dissolved the Empire in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars.

Although the medieval emperor claimed to carry on the traditions of the ancient Roman Empire, most of the empire's subjects were Germans, and the empire is considered the forerunner of modern Germany and Austria. Founded as an expansive dynastic empire, the realm eventually became a loose association of small states and city-states, with few shared institutions.

The Empire's territorial extent varied over its history, but at its peak it encompassed the territories of present-day Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Belgium, and the Netherlands as well as large parts of modern Poland, France and Italy. For much of its history the Empire consisted of hundreds of smaller kingdoms, principalities, duchies, counties, Free Imperial Cities, and other domains. From the late 15th century onwards, the Holy Roman Empire was also known as the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (Latin: Imperium Romanum Sacrum Nationis Germanicæ; German: Heiliges Römisches Reich Deutscher Nation).

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