EMPEROR

From Agepedia

Jump to: navigation , search

EMPEROR (from the Latin imperator; in German, Kaiser, from Casar*); the title of the highest rank of sovereigns. The word imperator, from imperare, to command, had very different meanings among the Romans at different periods. In the most general sense, it signified the commander of an army, as imperium did the command itself. In early times, consuls were called imperatores before they entered on their office. The soldiers afterwards conferred the title on their general,." after a victory, by hailing him impcrator; the senate also called a victorious general imperator until he had celebrated his triumph. At a still later period, no one was honored with this title, who had not defeated a hostile army of at least 10,000 men. After the overthrow of the republic, imperator became the title of the rulers, or emperors, and indicated the supreme power; the word rex being too odious to be assumed. Victorious generals were still, however, sometimes saluted with the title imperator, in its original sense. In the time of the republic, the title was put after the name, as Cicero imperator ; when it came to signify emperor, it was put before the name, as imperator Claudius. With the destruction of the Roman empire, the title was lost; but it was renewed in 800 A. D., when Charlemagne was crowned emperor of the West. For a long time, the title was considered as belonging to the sovereignty of Rome; hence, on the division of the empire among the sons of LouisleDebonnaire, Lothaire, Icing of Italy, received the title. Charles the Bald, and several princes of Italy, bore it, until Otho I, in 962 A. D.. finally united the imperial crown with that of the German kings. Yet it was for many centuries considered necessary to be crowned at Rome in order to be formally invested with the title of emperor.* Derived from the title of dignity Ccemr, which in the last ages of the Roman dominion, denoted only the assistants and successors of the actual emperor. I'he name Cc&sar, it is wel. known, was adopted by the successors of Julitu Coesar, as a title of honor, as the brothers of Napoleon were called Napoleon, after having ascended thrones, as Joseph Napoleon. Jeromf Napoleon. The Russian Czar (q. v.) is not derived from Caesar, but is of Slavonic origin. * For reasons too many to be enumerated here, the idea that the bishop of Rome was the highest spiritual ruler, and the emperor of the holy Roman empire (or of Germany), the highest temporal sovereign, was gradually developed. One reason undoubtedly was, that the German or Teutonic tribes were actually, in the beginning of the middle ages, the ruling people in most countries of Europe ; but many other reasons, particularly a strange confusion of the universal empire of Rome with the universal empire of Christendom, and the idea of a universal church, as an organized society, to be supported, of course, by a temporal power, contributed much to give this idea currency1. The impartial historian cannot doubt that, in the barbarous period of the middle ages, the authority of the pope was beneficial to Europe, and almost the sole support of civilization; but it would 'be hard to say what advantage Germany derived from taking part, ex officio, in all the quarrels of Europe, and from that unfortunate desire of possessing temporal authority over Italy, which has been one of the chief causes of her inferiority to some other states of Europe, in respect to the developement of her political institutions. As the emperor was considered the highest temporal officer in Christendom, all the other states were regarded as dependent upon him ; some of these, therefore, to show their independence, made claim to tke imperial dignity, although they did not assume the title; as, for instance, the sovereigns of Castile, France and England. The eastern empire having been finally overthrown by the conquest of Constantinople, in 1453, the imperial dignity in the East became extinct The sultans, who succeeded the emperors, have never received, in official language, the title of emperor. Tljis title was adopted in Russia by Peter I, in 1721, but the right of the Russian sovereign to its possession was not acknowledged by the German empire until 1747-by France in 1745, and by Spain in 1759. Napoleon adopted the old idea of an empire, as a general union of states under the protection, or at least political preponderance, of one powerful state; the political system of a balance of power, had proved insufficient to maintain a general peace, and Henry I Vs plan of a great European confederacy held out no prospect of permanent tranquillity. Napoleon crowned himself as emperor in 1804. In 1806, the German empire, 1000 years old, became extinct, and the German vmperor, Francis II, adopted the title of Francis I, emperor of Austria. The French empire was destroyed in 1814, by the peace of Paris. Great Briuiin is considered as an empire, the crown is imperial, and the parliament is styled the Imperial Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland; but the king himself has never adopted the imperial title, though this measure was proposed in parliament in 1804. The empire of Mexico, or Anahuac, established by Iturbide, was only momentary in its duration; but the empire of the Brazils, founded in 1822, seems to be firmly established. The sovereigns of Siam, China, Japan, and of Fez and Morocco, are often, though with little propriety, called emperors. At the coronation of the German emperors, princes and kings appeared as servants; the emperor promised to do justice, to be an upright sovereign, to consult the good of his subjects, to protect the church, to defend the empire, to be the guardian of widows and orphans; and not until the assembled people had replied to the question, " Will you submit to this sovereign and prince, and obey him ?" with shouts of Yes, Yes {Fiat, fiat, fiat), were the unction and coronation (of which Gothe gives a description in his account of his life) performed. Formerly, it was only the coronation of the sovereign as German king, that took place at Frankfort, in Germany. This was followed by the imposition of the crown of Lombardy, an iron circle, made of a nail reputed to be from the cross of Christ, set in gold; and finally by the coronation as Roman emperor, performed by the pope in Rome. But from the time of Maximilian I, the German emperors were crowned in Germany only. After the fall of the French empire, a large number of persons in Germany, without organization or settled plan, desired the restoration of the German empire. The Germans, from a want of practical knowledge, then lost an opportunity of taking one step towards securing personal liberty, by wasting the time in vague declamation. That party, particularly, who wished for the restoration of the empire, talked of a glory, power and happiness which had never existed; they were actuated by indistinct historical recollections, and phantoms of their own creation, and, not a few, by their aristocratical predilections. A worse model of government, and a more perplexed political system, than the late German empire, cannot be contrived.