Who was the first ruler of the Holy Roman Empire?

1/10/2013 • Ask Mr. History

Who was the first ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, Charlemagne or Otto I?


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Dear YH,  

Although Charlemagne was crowned Roman Emperor in the West in 800, the first use of the term “Holy Roman Emperor” was applied when Pope John XII crowned Otto, Duke of Saxony, Emperor Otto I on February 3, 962. Ostensibly, Otto was the pope’s chief protector, but within the year, discovering John XII conspiring against his growing power, Otto marched into Rome and replaced him with Leo VIII. This touched off centuries of on-and-off conflict as to who really did speak for Western Christianity, the Emperor or the Pope.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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