Roman-German king

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Lower town tower of Vöcklabruck from 1508 with the inscription: MAXIMILIANUS, DEI GRATIA REX ROMANORUM , including the coat of arms of his possessions

In recent historical research, the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire for the time between their election as king and their coronation as emperor are referred to as the Roman-German king . The modern terminology is intended to prevent confusion with the ancient Roman rulers of the royal era , as is the modern term Roman-German Kaiser to distinguish the medieval and early modern German rulers of the Holy Roman Empire from the Roman emperors of antiquity and the German emperorsof the German Empire founded in 1871 .

Its actual title was King of the Franks ( lat. Rex Francorum ) during the Ottonian period , and since the late Salian period Roman King or King of the Romans ( Rex Romanorum ). In addition, the title King in Germania ( Rex in Germania ) was in use in modern times .


The title rex Romanorum appeared during the late Ottonian period, reinforced during the time of Emperor Heinrich II , at the beginning of the 11th century. The subsequent Salian dynasty used it consciously and intensively to clarify their claim to Roman imperial dignity. This happened in contrast to the title rex Teutonicorum ( King of the Germans ) or rex Teutonicus ( German King ), which was not used officially in the Middle Ages (see also Regnum Teutonicum ). Since the monarchy was also connected with a sacred claim, the title rex Romanorum became the common title during the investiture dispute with the Pope .

Initially, there was no fixed location for the election of the king or the subsequent coronation. Most royal elections since 1147 took place in Frankfurt am Main . The traditional coronation site, on the other hand, was Aachen , which enjoyed a special reputation as the former imperial residence of Charlemagne . Both places were confirmed as permanent electoral and coronation cities by the Golden Bull in 1356 . The bull also named the electors (seven in the Middle Ages) and regulated the electoral modalities. From 1562 (until 1792) the coronation took place in Frankfurt am Main , the place where the king was elected.

In the late Middle Ages , rex Romanorum became the common title for the elected kings who had not yet been crowned emperors. In the early modern period , Maximilian I was the first to be named "Roman Emperor" ( clementia electus ) as King of the Romans in 1508 with papal permission . With the consent of Julius II , the emperor and his successors were allowed to use the title of “chosen emperor” and “king in Germania” from 1508, even without being coronated. Since Maximilian there has not been an imperial coronation by the Pope in Rome .

The designation Roman king was retained until the end of the empire, but later became a kind of crown prince title . It was bestowed on the emperor's designated successor when (as became the rule) he was elected and crowned king during his lifetime. The first example was Ferdinand I , who had been using the title since 1531 (long before Charles V's abdication ), as he was in charge of government in the empire and the hereditary lands due to the permanent absence of the emperor.

Rex in Germania or Rex Germaniae

With Maximilian I, Rex in Germania ("King in Germania", ie "King in German Lands" or "King in Germany") found its way into the imperial title. Its title was:

"We Maximilian von Gots genuinely elected Roman kayser, at all times merer of the empire , starving in Germania, Dalmatia, Croatia etc. kunig [...]"

The royal title increasingly became that in the German lands, the imperial title to that of Rome, and towards the end of the empire the title was only Romanorum Imperator, Germaniae Rex ("Kaiser der Römer, König von Germanien"). Joseph II, for example, had the [middle] title:

"We Joseph the Second, elected by the grace of God, Roman Keyser, at all times multiples of the empire, king in Germania, in Jerusalem, Hungary, Böheim, [...]"

The title was also part of the Great Title of the Emperor of Austria . Franz II called himself from 1804:

"We, Franz the Second, by God's grace chosen Roman emperor, at all times a number of the empire, hereditary emperor of Austria, king in Germania, in Jerusalem, in Hungarn, in Böheim, [...]"


Based on this tradition, Napoléon I , who himself recently became “Emperor of the French”, gave his son Napoleon Franz Bonaparte the title of Roi de Rome (“King of Rome”).

The in Frankfurt constitution envisaged by 1848 Reich head of Emperor of the Germans should take up the dignity of the Roman-German kings and emperors once again. This did not happen, however, as the elected Emperor Friedrich Wilhelm IV refused the crown offered to him by the Imperial Deputation .

See also



  1. Benedict Jacob Römer-Büchner: The election and coronation of the German emperors in Frankfurt am Main. Verlag Heinrich Keller, Frankfurt am Main 1858, p. 4.
  2. ^ Elisabeth Rothmund: Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672). Cultural patriotism and German secular vocal music. "To record the music, also increase our nation's fame". 2004, ISBN 3-03910-042-4 , p. 79; Hermann Weisert: The Reich title until 1806 . In: Archives for Diplomatics . Volume 40, 1994, pp. 441-513, here p. 449.
  3. Ernest Troger Georg Zwanowetz (eds.): New contributions to the historical geography of Tyrol. Festschrift for Univ. Prof. Dr. Franz Huter on the occasion of the completion of the 70th year of life. Wagner, Innsbruck 1969, p. 269.
  4. Karl Vocelka, Lynne Heller: The world of the Habsburgs. Culture and mentality history of a family. Styria, Graz / Vienna 1997, ISBN 3-222-12424-8 , p. 149.
  5. ^ Franz Gall: Austrian heraldry. Handbook of coat of arms science . 2nd Edition. Böhlau, Vienna 1992, p. 63.