This exhibit addresses the politics and power struggles of the Holy Roman Empire during the Early Modern Period. When compared to its contemporaries, the Holy Roman Empire is a unique political entity in that it never became a centralized nation. Instead, it remained a loosely bound union of disparate states. This failure to consolidate was in spite of the best efforts of the Hapsburgs, a powerful family that held the position of emperor for centuries. This exhibit traces Hapsburg attempts, and their ultimate failure, to unite the Holy Roman Empire and the corresponding attempts to resist them.

This theme is divided into two main periods: before and after the Peace of Westphalia. Before the Peace of Westphalia, the Hapsburgs were uncontested as the most dominant house in the Holy Roman Empire and actively sought to unite the empire. However, the Peace of Westphalia marked the end of Hapsburg hopes to form a centralized nation and saw their fall from dominance with the emergence of Prussia.

This exhibit aims to provide insight into how the Hapsburgs tried to unite the Holy Roman Empire and how they were resisted, as well as provide context to the eventual end of their dominance.


Andrew Fitch