In the Holy Roman Empire, the emperor was elected. At the time of Luther there were 7 electors — 4 from dynastic families and 3 were ecclesiastical electors: the Archbishop of Cologne, the Archbishop of Trier and the Archbishop of Mainz.
The prince-elector title of the 4 dynastic families was hereditary and each was given the right to mint coins and exercise jurisdiction within their territories – their sons were to be groomed for office and trained to be administrators and know the four imperial languages: German, Latin, Italian and Czech. The dukes/princes frequently feuded with each other, often escalating into local wars.
The medieval idea of a united Christendom as a single political entity with the Church and the Empire providing the dual institutional infrastructures was declining.
Before the Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian I died, he allegedly initiated an unprecedented “election campaign” with massive bribes (in the 1 million gulden range) to bribe the prince-electors to elect his grandson Charles, then King of Spain and prevent Francis I of France from gaining power.
Charles was heir to three of the largest Dynastic holdings in Europe: House of Valois-Burgundy (Artois, Flanders and Hainult in France + Luxembourg); House of Hapsburg (Austria ) and the House of Trastamara (Castile and Aragon in Spain)
“Because of widespread fears that his vast inheritance would lead to the realization of a universal monarchy and that he was trying to create a European hegemony, Charles was the object of hostility from many enemies. “ [Ref: wiki Charles V]
So this is the stage that Luther stepped upon ….
“in 1517, Martin Luther launched what would later be known as the Reformation. At this time, many local dukes saw it as a chance to oppose the hegemony of Emperor Charles V.” [Ibid]
Have a Merry Christmas everyone … after the holidays we’ll start looking at Luther’s sermons and publications leading up the St. Peter’s indulgence.
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