Scholars continue to debate at what point it is possible to speak of Germany or a German state. Even though the Romans had often grouped several peoples under the name Germans, it is doubtful that most of these groups viewed themselves as connected in any cultural, linguistic, or political sense. The formation of an eastern Frankish kingdom in the 9th century seems a watershed event in German development (see Holy Roman Empire), although this kingdom featured a diversity of cultures and political allegiances. Most of the medieval “German” rulers actually considered themselves kings of the Romans, and, later, Roman emperors. Not until the 15th century did the emperors officially add “of the German nation” to their title.
On the other hand, it is undeniable that the medieval emperors who called themselves Roman were in fact Germans. During the 10th to 13th centuries, their state, the Holy Roman Empire, was the most powerful in Europe, dominating not only German lands but northern Italian city-states as well. In turn, the decline of the Holy Roman Empire marked a period in which political power was fragmented among many German princes. By the time that the late-15th-century emperor Maximilian attempted to revive imperial authority and institutions, the division of power among German princes had become entrenched. Even his powerful grandson, Charles V, was eventually forced to recognize the political pluralism of Germany, which prevailed until the late 19th century.
Throughout western Europe and northern Africa, the political and cultural bonds of the Roman Empire were gradually replaced by a multitude of successor states.
In 486 the Salian chieftain Clovis defeated the last Roman governor in Gaul and established a Frankish kingdom that included southwestern Germany. Clovis and his successors, known as the Merovingian dynasty, succeeded in uniting many Germanic tribes under one king. Following his conversion to Christianity in about 500, Clovis formed a special relationship with the bishop of Rome (later known as the pope). He forcibly converted his subjects from the Arian form of Christianity to the Roman version (see Arianism). During the following century, many monasteries and churches were built in the Merovingian kingdom, usually sponsored by the king or wealthy nobles.
In 751 the Merovingian dynasty was overthrown by the Frankish noble Pepin the Short. In order to boost his own claims to legitimate rule, Pepin secured the endorsement of the kingdom’s bishops and the pope; this was the beginning of a long tradition of church leaders conferring kingship. The rule of Pepin’s son Charles had a major impact on German and European history. Known as Charlemagne (Charles the Great), the ambitious king expanded the Frankish kingdom to include large parts of modern-day Germany and Italy during his long reign (768-814). He fought the Slavs south of the Danube River, annexed Bavaria, and ferociously subdued and converted the pagan Saxons in the northwest. Charlemagne was received in Rome as the champion of Christianity and restorer of the western empire. Just as importantly, he supported the papacy against Rome’s restive populace. On Christmas Day in 800, he was crowned emperor of the Romans by Pope Leo III, thereby reviving the Roman imperial tradition in the west as well as setting a precedent for dependence of the emperors on papal approval. "Germany" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
Photos of European countries to visit
Photos of Asian countries to visit
Photos of America