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'Lands' And 'Fatherlands'. Changes In The Plurality Of Allegiances In The Sixteenth Century Holy Roman Empire

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Chapter Summary

In recent years, the question as to what extent early modern Germany should be called a 'nation' and the early modern Holy Roman Empire its state, or Reichsstaat, has led to some debate. The fifteenth-century regnum, however, was itself an ill-defined entity, and any number of factors, not least coincidence and accidents, determined who was going to be invited or present at Hoftagen and Reichstagen in the later fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. By the second half of the sixteenth century, lawyers in the service of princes had introduced the term patria in order to designate an area under single administrative, executive, and judicial control. Legal dictionaries and handbooks for students referred to the provinces of the later Roman Empire and their heads, the presides provinciarum, to provide an example for this new meaning of patria.

Keywords: Germany; Holy Roman Empire; Reichsstaat; sixteenth century



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