Front Page Titles (by Subject) 40.: The German Imperial Power Under Frederick III - Judgments on History and Historians
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40.: The German Imperial Power Under Frederick III - Jacob Burckhardt, Judgments on History and Historians 
Judgments on History and Historians, ed. Alberto R. Coll (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
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The German Imperial Power Under Frederick III
The German nation had a memory—the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation—as of an erstwhile world dominion which had assumed its mightiest form under Charlemagne, and under the Ottonians constituted at least a European primacy over Gaul, Italy, and the Slavs. But the tribal consciousness of the individual regions and then their inclination toward separate living always worked counter to the Empire, and since the Salians and the Hohenstaufens it had been possible for the individual princes to join the popes against the emperors. After the death of Henry VI, there was only a semblance of imperial power in Germany and it was not worth abolishing.
After the end of the Hohenstaufens royalty lived on in Germany only in very reduced form; its main value was the collecting of expired fiefs for the family. And a king had to hurry with this, for he was only an elective king, and every election was a new deal. But his power was little more than that of the territory concerned.
The nation which had been split into more or less viable pieces was divided into individual powers, parts that were contented, i.e., grasping, and parts discontented, i.e., threatened. In the latter, the old mighty Empire appeared as a dream image, the more glittering the more impossible it was, while the king, who was present in the flesh and had been crowned emperor on an Italian tour, was regarded as a caricature and all the more decisively deprived of the last vestiges of respect and obedience.
Friendship with the popes was a matter already fostered by the Luxemburgers, but completely inevitable in Frederick III’s situation. And the Vienna Concordat only gained for him what Brandenburg, Cleves, and others also gained for themselves. Later others, too, found the emperor dispensable as a court of appeal and went to the pope for decisions on German affairs.
Much poison circulated about Frederick III is mere modern national liberalism. After four hundred years people trample on a man who was helpless in his time and chuckle over everything that in the remotest periods happened to the house of Austria in the way of sorrow and shame.