As Reich Italy or Kingdom of Italy ( Latin regnum italicum ) is that of the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire claimed part of Italy in the Middle Ages and the early modern period referred to. Since Otto I tried the emperors to enforce their power in the area of the old Lombard Empire in northern Italy. This form of Italian policy was practically over with the end of the Hohenstaufen dynasty. However, until the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the Kingdom of Italy officially continued and the emperors remained fiefdoms for a number of territories.
The Longobard Empire , founded in 568, was conquered by Charlemagne in 774 and united with the Frankish Empire . After the decline of the Carolingian Empire , it was ruled by local rulers, so-called national kings , from the end of the 9th to the middle of the 10th centuries .
Otto I accepted the Lombard royal crown in Pavia in 951 and was crowned emperor in Rome in 962. He connected the Eastern Franconian Empire (or the Roman-German Empire that eventually emerged) with the Italian Kingdom ( regnum Italiae ). This was the beginning of the Italian policy of the Roman-German rulers of the Middle Ages, which often turned out to be problematic. The power of the emperors was based in particular on the appointment of bishops and the granting of count rights to them. The " Reich Church System " was less efficient than in Germany. Compared to the empire north of the Alps, the secular power of the bishops was very limited, not least because the influence of the urban parishes that had emerged from the 10th century grew. These began to act unauthorized at the turn of the 11th century. The early Italian nobility also had a relatively loose relationship with the emperor. The leading territorial lords in Northern Italy were the Arduins in the marquisates of Turin and Susa , the Margraves of Ivrea , the Aleramides , the Obertenghi , the various counties in Trento and Friuli , the Marquis of Verona , the Counts of Canossa in Emilia-Romagna, the Bonifacier and bosonids in the Margraviate of Tuscany and the Dukes of Spoleto .
After the death of Otto III. the imperial power in Italy was weakened, so that Arduin could be elected King of Italy by Ivrea . Despite various campaigns by Henry II , Arduin could not initially be defeated; only Bishop Leo von Vercelli succeeded in this. Konrad II tried to restore rule. He tried to win over the big ones and also fought the robber nuisance. Within Italy, a contrast had developed between the great ( capitanei ), who already possessed their land by hereditary rule, as ensigns of the Holy Roman Empire , and the small feudal people ( valvassores ), who also endeavored to make their fiefs hereditary. There were riots of valvassores . Conrad decided in 1037 with the Constitutio de feudis in favor of the valvassores , who since then have also inherited their fiefs.
With the investiture controversy , the imperial church system in Italy fell into crisis. The cities, on the other hand, began to gain power, largely due to their economic performance. The emperors Friedrich I. and Heinrich VI. strove for the renewal of imperial power in imperial Italy. Both spent a considerable part of their reign in Italy. In their absence they were represented by legates. In 1158, at the Diet of Roncaglia , Frederick I tried to regain control of the cities in Northern Italy and to reorganize the situation in favor of the emperor. He tried to win back the Mathildic goods claimed by the Pope for the empire. He claimed the payment of outstanding taxes, pushed for palaces in the cities and tried to use the regalia , which were mostly at the disposal of the cities, for fiscal and political purposes. Friedrich wanted to strengthen the control of the municipalities through the investiture of the municipal magistrates. But all this led to resistance from the Lombard cities as well as from the Pope. Finally, in 1177/1183, the emperor had to recognize the election of mayors.
Frederick II was able to consolidate the imperial power in Italy again. He began to align the ruling structures with those of the Kingdom of Sicily . He installed mayors in subjugated cities. Ten general vicariates were established in imperial Italy. The management was taken over by confidants from southern Italy or members of the imperial family. The vicars had a staff of officials and were subordinate to the emperor or his son Enzio of Sardinia , who had been general legate for Italy since 1239. The court court that emerged from the Sicilian Grand Court was also responsible for Imperial Italy.
The imperial possessions in Italy, especially in northern Italy, had been divided into numerous fiefs of the empire since the High Middle Ages . Among them were ten larger areas and about 250 smaller fiefdoms. In the empire, the archbishop of Cologne was responsible for Italy as arch-chancellor . However, the office lost its practical importance in the High Middle Ages.
Late Middle Ages
The imperial presence in the form of the Italian trains decreased after the end of the Hohenstaufen. The weak kingship in Germany was unable to maintain the power of the empire in Italy. However, imperial Italy remained of great importance for the empire into the 14th century. Henry VII tried to pacify imperial Italy and subordinate it to imperial power during his Italian expedition from 1310-1313, ultimately in vain. After all, he was the first king after Frederick II to obtain the imperial crown in 1312 and appointed the Visconti as imperial vicars for Milan and other signori . He died in Italy in August 1313 during a planned campaign against the Kingdom of Naples without having achieved his main goal. The subsequent Roman-German kings, however, largely renounced an old-style Italian policy. Ludwig the Bavarian had himself crowned in Rome in 1328 in the absence of the Pope with whom he was in conflict. As a Roman-German ruler, Charles IV undertook two campaigns in Italy (1355 and 1368/69), the first of which brought him the imperial crown. He granted imperial privileges to cities and signatories against payment. The papal attempt to gain control over imperial Italy, however, also failed.
With the conquest of Terraferma by Venice in the 14th century, large areas were lost. Imperial Italy became a more peripheral region of the empire in the 15th century. However, Maximilian I still played a relatively active role there, at least at times.
Early modern age
Maximilian and his grandson Karl waged ten wars against France for imperial Italy between 1494 and 1559. Charles V was able to restore numerous imperial rights thanks to the resources available to him. He was also the last emperor to be crowned by a pope (1530 in Bologna). In 1531 there was an imperial execution against the rebellious city republic of Florence in favor of the Medici . These were enfeoffed with the Duchy of Tuscany . In 1555 another imperial execution took place against Siena , whose territory was added to Tuscany. Against the Pope's attempt to gain access, the Duchy was elevated to a Grand Duchy in 1569 .
When the Austrian Habsburgs provided the emperors, the problem arose that they themselves initially had no Italian territory. The Spanish Habsburgs, as the strongest power in Italy, therefore also threatened imperial rights. This was one of the reasons why Ferdinand I refused to hand over the imperial vicariate over Italy to Philip II . In the time of Rudolf II in particular , the small imperial fiefs were threatened by the Spanish-ruled Milan.
The Mantuan War of Succession (1628-1631) was a conflict in which Ferdinand II tried, against the resistance of France, to withdraw the area as a settled fiefdom and to lend it again. Conversely, France tried to remove the imperial feudal order in imperial Italy. After that, imperial Italy was a secondary theater of the Thirty Years' War . Since the war between Spain and France continued until 1659, the Spanish possessions in imperial Italy remained disputed, and the emperor as liege lord intervened militarily several times. Philip IV tried in vain in 1653/1654 to have the feudal sovereignty transferred over imperial Italy.
With the decline of Spanish power and the growing French influence at the end of the 17th century, especially since the time of Leopold I , the court in Vienna began to strengthen the imperial influence in Italy again. Italy became another mainstay of the great power Austria . Leopold I and Joseph I received considerable sums of money from imperial Italy for their wars.
In the course of the War of the Spanish Succession , the Bourbon Spanish King Philip V tried to claim feudal sovereignty for Spain. In fact, in 1702, some princes swore vassal oath to him . After the battle of Turin , the emperor prevailed militarily. Under the plenipotentiary of Castelbarco, imperial Italy became a feudal "field of experimentation". For some lords and cities it turned out to be attractive to receive the investiture from the emperor. Others were reluctant to do so. Overall, the imperial side used the opportunity after the victory to collect imperial fiefs and claim disputed areas for themselves. Taxes were collected. Vienna took a hard hand against insubordinate rulers. The rulers of Mantua , Mirandola and Piombino and some smaller lords lost their fiefs. However, the procedure often followed the logic of the war and not a systematic approach. Incidentally, the fief policy was an advantageous thing for the emperor, but it can only be understood to a limited extent as a policy to strengthen the empire.
Leopold I bought the following of Savoy by ceding part of the Duchy of Milan and the imperial fiefs in the Langhe . Due to claims of imperial fief in the Papal States occurred in 1708 to the ultimately fruitless Comacchiokrieg between Pope Clement XI. and the Emperor Joseph I. This anachronistic conflict, which caught the attention of Leibniz or Lodovico Antonio Muratori , was reminiscent of the clashes between the emperor and the pope in the Middle Ages. Without the support of the French, the Pope ultimately had to give in. At the end of the War of the Spanish Succession, most of the Spanish possessions in northern Italy, especially the Duchy of Milan, fell to the Austrian Habsburgs.
Under Charles VI. the Italian policy was continued. However, the empire lost its reputation. The corrupt Spanish Council, which is responsible for Italy, played an important role in this. There were even plans to completely separate imperial Italy from the empire and create an empire under the sovereignty of the Pope.
The Austrian supremacy in northern Italy was threatened and militarily fought during the War of the Polish Succession and after the death of Charles VI. by the Austrian War of Succession . In this context, Louis XV attacked . In 1744 the idea of the separation of imperial Italy from the empire came up, but failed because of the resistance of Karl Emanuel III. of Sardinia. In the Peace of Aachen of 1748 the feudal sovereignty of the empire over imperial Italy was confirmed.
The Grand Duchy of Tuscany had been in the possession of Franz Stephan von Lothringen , Maria Theresa's husband, since 1737 , who was awarded it in a large country and territory swap after the Medici died out through the Peace of Vienna . With this, Austria had gained further power in northern Italy, while the Spanish Bourbons consolidated their rule over southern Italy. The Habsburg-Bourbon conflict ended in Italy with the Franco-Austrian alliance of 1756. Joseph II tried to reassert the imperial rights in imperial Italy, which had meanwhile been lost.
The history of Imperial Italy ended with the expansion of republican France into Italy and the establishment of subsidiary republics, and at the latest with the end of the Holy Roman Empire.
Location and composition
By and large, imperial Italy extended from the French and Swiss borders to the border of the Republic of Venice and in the south to the border of the Papal States. In this area, however, there were also territories to which other powers made claims or which saw themselves as completely independent. In 1731 there were still thirteen imperial fiefs in Lombardy. These included Milan, Mantua, Montferrat , Mirandola and the principalities of the Gonzaga , such as the Duchy of Guastalla . In Liguria there were 19 fiefdoms including areas belonging to the Doria family . In addition there were 20 Bononesian imperial fiefs. These included Modena, Ferrara, the Spinola and Doria areas. There were also ten fiefdoms in Tuscany, including Florence, Piombino, Soramo and Comacchio . In addition there were eleven Tirnisan imperial fiefs. As imperial cities, Lucca and Genoa de jure also belonged to imperial Italy. However, Genoa denied belonging to the Reich and did not recognize the institutions of the Reich justice system. The Reich did not confirm this step. Savoy with Piedmont belonged in a certain sense to imperial Italy, at least until the elevation to kingship. The country had a special role insofar as it belonged to the Upper Rhine Empire and had a seat and vote in the Reichstag .
A distinction must be made between the large territories and the small fiefs. Compared to the former, the imperial access options were narrowly limited. This looked different in the case of the small fiefdoms. These formed imperial Italy in the narrower sense. The emperors tried to protect them from the larger neighboring states. If necessary, however, they were prepared to waive their rights for overriding reasons. So Charles VI renounced. in favor of the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1735 on the fiefs in the Langhe. There were also differences with regard to the granting of feuds. While the large fiefs were awarded with great ceremony by the emperor himself, this was done by the imperial court council for the smaller ones .
Reich legal status
The feudal relationship between the Italian territories and the emperor lasted until the end of the Holy Roman Empire. Constitutionally, the Kingdom of Italy took a different path than the core of the empire. The provisions of the perpetual peace from 1495 did not apply to Italy. They were not integrated into the Reichskreisordnung either . The cities and princes of imperial Italy had no rights in the imperial constitution . The emperor was also king of Italy, but the communes and territories had no influence on the election. The emperors raised various Italian families to the rank of imperial prince . However, these had neither a seat nor a vote on the Reichstag, which is why the surveys had no consequences under Reich law. There was also no Italian assembly of estates. There was therefore no basis for specifically Italian legislation. This development in the late Middle Ages and the early modern period contrasts with the period up to the 14th century, when imperial Italy was the area with the most intensive imperial legislation. As a result, Italy was the least dense European kingdom.
The Reichshofrat as the top Lehnsbehörde was the main agency of the Kingdom of Italy Kingdom. The Reichshofrat also served as the highest court. The number of cases was so great that a special department (Latin expedition) was created, which dealt in particular with imperial Italy. Since 1651 the Latin expedition was headed by a secretary to the Imperial Council. A Reichshof tax was assigned to the Reichshofrat , comparable to a public prosecutor whose task, among other things, was to locate alienated imperial rights. The Reichshof Chancellery also played an important role. Its Latin department was to a large extent concerned with questions of imperial Italy. Imperial Italy was basically a matter for the emperor, but the imperial estates, especially the electors , also claimed a say. Italian affairs were also the subject of the Reichstag on several occasions .
The office of imperial vicar had existed for a long time. This was responsible for part of the Italian fiefdom and was transferred to a local prince. However, it was problematic because the owners used the position less for the benefit of the emperor than for their own interests. The plan of a vicariate general with broad competencies, such as Philip II of Spain in the 16th or the Dukes of Savoy in the 18th century, was therefore never realized. However, Savoy was able to enforce the hereditary status of the office for its territory as early as the 14th century and has maintained a priority position since the 16th century.
Instead, the emperors sent temporary commissioners. Since this type of influence also proved to be only of limited effectiveness, a single general commissioner was appointed for all of imperial Italy. This imperial representation since the 17th century and especially from 1715 was the plenipotentiary . The plenipotentiary initially had its seat in Milan, since Charles VI. it was in Pisa until 1801. For the first time there was a central authority responsible for the whole of Imperial Italy in the country itself.
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