Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: July 2020

Chapter 13 - Dynasties and the Non-Dynastic World

from Part II - A Sense of Dynasty


This chapter looks at elective monarchy and also the way dynasties interacted with powers of a non-dynastic nature. The papacy is a notable example of elective monarchy but the most important case of elective kingship is the Holy Roman Empire, where the long-term dynasties of the tenth to thirteenth centuries never completely eroded the elective principle, and where the later Middle Ages saw seven different dynasties in power. Although the Church offered the chance of ecclesiastical office to members of the aristocracy throughout Europe, the ruling dynasties did not follow their practice of placing younger sons in the Church to any extent, though royal women were placed in monasteries. Republics, though rare, could be found in Venice and Iceland, and embryonic republican institutions arose in many of the larger cities, and this often led to conflict between towns and their nominal dynastic overlords, notably in the case of the Holy Roman Emperors and the Lombard Leagues of northern Italy. Relations might also be tense between dynasties and the kingdoms they ruled, where the community of the realm, perhaps organized in representative estates, might well decide it had its own interests distinct from and possibly antagonistic to its dynastic sovereigns.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO