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The illuminated Reich: memory, crisis and the visibility of monarchy in late medieval Germany

Scales, L.

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Authors



Contributors

Jason Coy
Editor

Benjamin Marschke
Editor

David Sabean
Editor

Abstract

Writing towards the close of the thirteenth century, the German polemicist Alexander von Roes returned a dismal judgement on his times. In the half century between Frederick II’s imperial coronation and the Council of Lyon in 1274, the ‘Roman Empire’ had so much declined as to pass almost out of remembrance. In fact it had reached a point from which ‘it cannot decrease any further without being completely destroyed’. The image of a Reich stunted and diminished after its ostensible heyday in a high-medieval Kaiserzeit remains an all-too-familiar one, nourished in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by the nationalist longings and anxieties of a German historiography morbidly preoccupied with false turnings. Yet it is a difficult image to banish altogether, and perhaps we should not try. A chronicler observed of one of the kings of Alexander’s calamitous half-century, Richard of Cornwall (1257-72), that he ‘came nowhere in the German lands except to the Rhine, and was in fact impotent in the Reich’. Richard’s reign may have marked a particular low point, yet the chronicler’s words point towards a theme which might be inscribed above the entire late medieval history of the imperial monarchy: the problem of presence.

Citation

Scales, L. (2010). The illuminated Reich: memory, crisis and the visibility of monarchy in late medieval Germany. In J. Coy, B. Marschke, & D. Sabean (Eds.), The Holy Roman Empire, reconsidered (73-92). Berghahn Journals

Publication Date Oct 1, 2010
Deposit Date Feb 3, 2011
Publicly Available Date Mar 6, 2015
Publisher Berghahn Journals
Pages 73-92
Book Title The Holy Roman Empire, reconsidered.
Chapter Number 4
ISBN 9781845457594
Publisher URL http://www.berghahnbooks.com/title.php?rowtag=CoyHoly

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Copyright Statement
This chapter appears in a larger collection published by Berghahn Books (http://www.berghahnbooks.com/title.php?rowtag=CoyHoly). Scales, Len 2010. ‘The illuminated Reich : memory, crisis and the visibility of monarchy in late medieval Germany.’ In The Holy Roman Empire, Reconsidered, eds. Jason Philip Coy, Benjamin Marschke, and David Warren Sabean. New York: Berghahn Books.






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