All About History

SURVIVING 1806

When did the empire’s decline begin? Was there a specific event that in hindsight proved to be the point of no return?

The empire’s history is generally written as one of terminal decline from at least 1648, if not already from the demise of the Staufer around 1250. The idea of ‘decline’ assumes degeneration from a ‘complete’ or at least better condition to a worse one. In the empire’s case, this is usually presented as a descent from a centralised state to a decentralised, fragmented one. Yet Charlemagne’s regime was never centralised, and it is better to see the empire’s history as a succession of different forms of imperial rule in which the emperor’s power waxed and waned. In terms of ‘decline’ relative to the empire’s end in 1806, we can identify a

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