Holy Roman Empire
This article may contain outdated information that is inaccurate for the current version of the game. It was last updated for 1.6.
The Holy Roman Empire (HRE) is a unique political structure in the game, made up of numerous, variously-sized states of the Germanic region and northern Italian Peninsula in Europe. Members are considered 'Princely states' and their heads are 'Princes'. From these Princes, up to seven are Prince-Electors, who vote on which Prince will be the next Holy Roman Emperor upon the death of the previous one. The Holy Roman Emperor has various powers at his disposal and a great deal of responsibility to maintaining and protecting the Imperial territorial, religious, and cultural status quo.
- People talking about the HRE may be referring to the country with the same name that is formed after the Emperor has enacted the final Imperial Reform: Renovatio Imperii, and it is important to distinguish which incarnation of the HRE you are talking about.
Historically, the Empire existed from the 10th to the 19th centuries, and had up to 300 members. It considered itself to be the spiritual successor state to the Roman Empire, even though it never controlled Papal Rome and wasn't a unified state (and also, up to 1453, despite the continued existence of the genuine Eastern Roman Empire). The balance of power between the various Princes, Electors and the Emperor was always in flux, and imperial unity was further weakened by the Reformation. From the 15th century on, except for a handful of years under the house of Wittelsbach (during the early years of the reign of Maria Theresa) the Emperor was from the House of Habsburg, rulers of Austria.
- 1 Game interface
- 2 Emperor
- 3 Electors
- 4 Princes
- 5 Imperial reforms
- 6 Dismantle HRE
- 7 Religious leagues
- 8 Notes for Crusader Kings II converted saves
- 9 Historical context
- 10 External references
The Holy Roman Empire interface is a small shield on the bottom of the screen (only visible as long as the HRE exists). Under the icon is a number which shows the Authority of the current reigning Emperor.
Within the interface are a number of shields of various sizes. Each of them can be clicked on, which will bring up the Diplomatic interface to examine and interact with that nation. Also note that as a handy reminder, the Imperial Authority of the current Emperor is displayed in the upper left corner of this window.
- Current Emperor: The large shield in the upper left corner shows the blazon of the country who is current Emperor. Beside that is the percentage of current Imperial Authority, ranging from 0 to 100. The higher the value, the more respect the Princely states of the Empire have for the Emperor. Beneath the shield, the game will state specifically the name and nation of the current Emperor, e.g. "X of Y is the Emperor".
- Electors: These are the seven princes that have the power to elect the next Emperor. When the number of electors is less than seven (for example, an elector has been annexed or conquered, but not vassalized), the Emperor has the ability to appoint a new Elector among the nations belonging to the Empire. Note that the Emperor can have vassal Electors (subjugating them by force, or having them before becoming an Emperor), but cannot grant electorate to a state which is already their subject (a vassal or a lesser partner in personal union).
- Underneath each of their shields is a smaller shield, representing that elector's current choice of successor to the Imperial crown. They can vote for themselves, or for other nations. Dependent Electors will almost always vote for their suzerain overlord, even if they are not part of the Empire. Next to it is a number which represents that Elector's current support of your own ruler as successor. This will range from a positive number, which means the Elector favors the player's ruler to some degree, to as low as -1000 (often because the Elector is at war with the player's nation, or the player's country adheres to a different religion. Hovering over the shield will display a tooltip showing all the factors that play into the elector's current attitude.
- Princes: below the Electors is a display of all the shields of the current member states of the Empire. This number can shrink or grow over time as member states are conquered or new ones find a home within the Empire's boundaries.
- Imperial Reforms: the upper-right of the interface shows the list of eight possible Imperial Reforms, with a green check next to any that are currently enacted.
- Leave HRE: At the bottom left is a button for those who have had enough of the Emperor's meddling in their lives. Selecting to Leave HRE will take the member's nation out of the Empire. However, there are diplomatic consequences to such a decision.
- Dismantle HRE: If the Emperor's capital is controlled and the electors either have their capitals occupied or are allied to you, it is possible to dismantle the Holy Roman Empire.
- Religious Leagues: As of version 1.8, a devastating pan-Imperial war may occur if any Elector converts to Protestantism.
The Emperor is the leader of the Holy Roman Empire, tasked with defending and maintaining the sovereignty of member states.
Friedrich III of Austria starts the game, in 1444, as Emperor.
Electing the Emperor
- See also: #Electors
Emperors, once chosen, serve for life. However, if the emperor is vassalized, forced into a personal union, or otherwise annexed, a new emperor will be elected. On the death of the current Emperor, the Imperial Electors choose a replacement from within the Christian world, with the exact eligible denominations determined by the outcome of Religious Leagues.
An Emperor can only be selected from candidates that are:
- Male (NB: Austria can get an event that removes this requirement permanently if they have a female heir)
- The accepted Imperial religion (either Catholic or Protestant). If the Peace of Westphalia event happens, any Christian may be chosen.
- Independent rulers (i.e. not a vassal)
- Monarchs (i.e. not rulers of republics or theocracies)
Notably, being a member of the Empire is not a requirement, though electors will usually prefer members.
Benefits of being Emperor
The Emperor gets the following bonuses:
- +1 diplomatic relations cap
- +1 possible advisors
- +1 military leader without upkeep
- +5% Spy Offense
- +50 base annual manpower per member state.
- +0.5 land force limit per member state.
Powers of the Emperor
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The Emperor has the following powers and duties:
- Bestow Imperial Grace
- Available from the diplomacy screen as an emperor, this action gives a +40 relationship with a Prince of the Empire at the expense of one point of Imperial Authority. This relationship bonus will disappear if the nation loses the Emperor status.
- Propose Imperial Reforms
- Available from the Holy Roman Empire interface, the Emperor can call for a vote on an Imperial Reform. Unlike in EU3, the Emperor can see how the members of the Diet will vote before calling for the reform by hovering over the reform button, and why they support or oppose by hovering over the shields of each imperial prince.
- Defend the Empire
- The Emperor receives a call to arms when outside powers declare war on a Prince of the Empire, or members declare war on each other without a casus belli. Unlike a regular Call to Arms this does not usually have an effect on prestige, but does affect Imperial Authority. If you refuse this call, you lose Imperial Authority and if you win a war that results, you gain Imperial Authority. Regardless of the outcome, answering this call to arms gives you a +50 relations boost with regular members of the Empire, and +100 with the electors. The opinion of the nation that was under attack will not be affected however.
- Revoke the Electorate
- The Emperor automatically gains a casus belli against any Elector of a heretic religion to revoke the electorate. This action will make the other Electors a bit leery.
- Appoint an Elector
- If there are fewer than seven electors in the Empire, the Emperor can appoint a new Elector in the diplomacy screen to any independent nation inside the Empire. Subject nations cannot be made into electors.
- Imperial Ban
- Once it passes the first Imperial reform, The Emperor gains a casus belli against all non-HRE nations that control any HRE territory, such as Burgundy or Venice at the start of the game. HRE territory owned by non-members is shown with yellow diagonal lines in the Imperial map view. Conquering the target province gives the emperor a claim on the province.
- Imperial Liberation
- The Emperor gains a casus belli against nations that annex a member state, with the goal to liberate the said prince and succeeding to liberate the prince will result in a higher imperial authority. The casus belli is automatically given upon the annexation, and will expire in 60 months.
- Enforce religious unity
- This is a diplomatic action to enforce the Emperor's religion on other nations within the empire that follow heretical beliefs. The acceptance of the request depends on the target nation's opinion of and attitude towards the Emperor, the Emperor's diplomatic reputation and prestige, the target nation's number of provinces and whether the target is an Elector. If the target is an elector or Defender of the Faith, it counts for a -1000 points reduction on the likelihood of acceptance, effectively rendering peaceful conversion impossible. If the target accepts the request, they convert to the Emperor's religion and one province becomes converted automatically. The Emperor suffers a relations hit (-25) with other Princes with the same heretic religion as the target nation. If the target rejects to convert peacefully, the Emperor suffers a prestige hit and gains a casus belli against the prince.
- Demand unlawful territory
- The Emperor can demand another nation, member or not, to return unlawfully held imperial territory to the Emperor, refusal of which gives the Emperor an Imperial Liberation casus belli and gives all member states a relations penalty with the unlawful land's holder. The territory is considered unlawful if the owner does not have a core yet.
- Re-Election Bonus
- The emperor gains a bonus to his chances of re-election relative to the current level of imperial authority, at approximately +1 per point of imperial authority.
Imperial authority is used to pass reforms within the Empire and perform certain Emperor actions. The Emperor needs at least 50 Authority to pass a reform and the consensus of at least half of the members of the Empire. When a reform is passed, all Imperial Authority is removed (the counter is set to 0). After you pass Proclaim Erbkaisertum you get an additional +25% Imperial Authority to every action you take.
Imperial Authority changes as follows:
- +10 for maintaining the Imperial Crown through successive generations until the Erbkaisertum decision is proclaimed.
- +1 for each province added to the Empire. In order to do this, the target province must be Christian (of any denomination), core territory and either directly connected via land border or share a sea tile with an Imperial province. For example, Roma directly borders Siena, and Napoli shares a sea tile with Siena. Any provinces not in Europe cannot be added to the empire, however there is no pre-defined border between Europe and the other continents, so eventually the player will run into a wall where they are not allowed to add provinces to the empire due to them "not being in the European region".
- +0.08 monthly if there are no internal wars in the Empire.
- -0.1 monthly for every elector who is a vassal of another country.
- -10 for declining a defensive call to arms from a member being attacked by a foreign nation.
- Winning a defensive call to arms will grant as much as 30 IA, in addition to a substantial relations boost with every HRE member nation. But it will only be awarded if the defensive War Leader negotiates a victory. The Emperor can negotiate a separate peace, but won't earn any IA.
- Member states converting to a heretical doctrine reduces Authority by the member's basetax*2. There is no loss if the Peace of Westphalia is in effect.
- -1 to Enforce Religious Unity on a Heretical member of the HRE.
- Restoring an HRE member state by forcing another nation to release them in a peace deal gives Imperial Authority roughly equal to the nation's basetax/2, with a cap at 20 IA.
- -0.1 each month if there are fewer than seven electors.
- -10 if a non-HRE nation annexes a member of the HRE.
- Following ideas increase the Imperial Authority gained:
|—||Italian (cU) idea 6: Heir to the Empire||—||—|
|Bohemian traditions||Austrian idea 1: Imperial Ambitions||—||—|
The Electors are the nations that vote for the next Emperor. When there are fewer than seven electors, the Emperor may grant the electorate to another independent nation within the Empire. Electors are incredibly protective of their sovereignty and are unlikely to vote for a nation that has an elector as its vassal. The Emperor may go to war with a country in order to remove the electorate from them.
These states begin as electors in 1444:
AI voting criteria
This section may contain outdated information that is inaccurate for the current version of the game. The last version it was verified as up to date for was 1.6.
AI electors weight candidates according to the following criteria: (non-exhaustive list)
- + current opinion, from -200 to +200.
- + ( Legitimacy - 50), from -50 to +50.
- + Prestige/4, from -25 to +25
- + Imperial Authority, for the current emperor.
- +50 for an alliance with the candidate.
- +10 for a royal marriage with the candidate.
- -10, if a one-province minor.
- +5 for each imperial province owned after the second, to a maximum of +50. Doesn't apply if not a member state. Non-HRE provinces aren't counted.
- +5 for same culture group.
- -50 for heretic religion (i.e., different branch of Christianity).
- +50 for subject electors, towards their overlord.
- -50 for independent electors towards a candidate with electoral subjects (stacks).
- -50 for non-HRE states.
- -20 to +20 for trust [?].
- +5 per point of diplomatic reputation.
- -200 if at war with the candidate. (NB: this is a severe penalty, but not automatically disqualifying).
- -1000 if ineligible (non-monarchy, female candidate, not Christian or not independent).
Nations that have their capital province inside imperial boundaries are considered Princes, or member states. These are the non-electoral states that begin the campaign in 1444 as part of the Empire:
- The Hansa
Imperial integrity is a bonus given to all members in the HRE (except the emperor) as long as there are more than 25 princes.
Joining the HRE
A nation may add provinces to the HRE if the provinces border the HRE and the nation has good relations with the Emperor. Adding a capital province to the HRE will make that nation a member state.
Adding a province to the HRE as a non-member requires the Emperor to have an opinion towards the state wishing to join of at least:
'100 + CultureModifier * (BaseTax + VassalBaseTax * VassalIncomeModifier)
where CultureModifier is 2 if belonging to the same culture group as the emperor and 4 otherwise, and VassalIncomeModifier is the percentage listed in the subjects page - the base is 10% and feudal monarchies get +25%, though other factors can also increase this. For example, in 1444 the Teutonic Order has 42 base tax, no vassals, and a culture group shared with the Emperor, so it requires (100 + 42*2 = ) 184 opinion from the Emperor to join. Since relations can't exceed 200, this means that a nation of the emperor's culture group (usually German) can't have more than 50 base tax, while one of a different culture group can't have more than 25 base tax. Since vassal's base tax also contributes, releasing provinces to vassals will only slightly reduce the relations required.
Current member states add their own holdings to the Empire regardless of the Emperor's opinion, provided that they border or share a sea zone with province which are already members, the province religion is any denomination of Christianity, the nation has a core on the province, and the province is in Europe. Provinces connected with a water crossing can be added to the empire, as well as isolated islands provided they share a sea zone with a province already in the empire. Adding a new province to the Empire increases Imperial Authority by 1 point.
Leaving the HRE
This section may contain outdated information that is inaccurate for the current version of the game. The last version it was verified as up to date for was 1.7.
A member state may leave at any time if it is at peace. Leaving removes all core provinces from the Empire. Non-core provinces are ceded to the Emperor.
Non-members may remove owned imperial territory at will if at peace by clicking on the eagle icon in the province window. This lowers imperial authority and significantly hurts relations with the emperor.
Unlawful territory is provinces that are in the HRE, but are owned by a country that does not have a core on them. This applies even if the owner is a member of the HRE. Such territory is usually acquired through either war or vassalisation, peaceful or not. The HRE emperor may request the owner of unlawful territory to return the province to its original owner, and refusing this request will reduce your relation with all HRE members by -25 and give the emperor an Imperial Liberation casus belli against you. The province in question will also receive the following penalties for a duration of 10 years:
- Local unrest: +10
- Local tax modifier: -33%
- Local manpower modifier: -50%
- Monthly autonomy change: +0.1
The Emperor with the support of enough member states may attempt to pass imperial reforms. The reform sequence in the game is loosely based on proposals that were made in the historical Holy Roman Empire starting in the 15th century, in order to "reform" it as the more centralized and efficient structure it was considered to be in the 10th-12th centuries. Such reforms would have shaped it into something more like the nation-states of the rest of Europe. They were usually promoted by smaller members and the Emperor, and opposed by Empire's electors and more powerful members.
The threshold for proposing a reform is having 50 Imperial Authority. Once the Emperor has more than 50 imperial authority and half of the members support, for each additional point they gain a boost to the nations' willingness to support said reforms. Vassals and lesser partners of a personal union will almost always support you.
The player can now choose to either support or oppose reforms.
Princes (e.g., members) may either support or oppose the Emperor's reforms due to:
- Economic Power: The larger the prince's economy, the less likely they are to support a reform ( -0.2 per Provincial base tax including Capital and Building Modifier)
- Having the same government type: +/- (Monarchies get +2 with other monarchies, -5 with theocracies, republics being neutral)
- Opinion of Emperor: +10% of positive, or -50% of negative
- Religion: -20 if the prince's religion is considered heretical by the Emperor
- Being a subject of Emperor: +25
- Overextension of the Emperor, scaling with OE (-25 at 100%)
- Allied with Emperor: +5
- Same Dynasty: +3
- Culture: -5 if the prince's culture is different but in the same Culture Group as the Emperor's, -10 if it is outside the Culture Group
- High Imperial Authority: For each point of Imperial Authority above 50, there is a +1 to reform support
- Previous reforms passed: 3 points of penalty for each previous reform.
- Diplomatic Reputation: +1 for each point of diplomatic reputation.
Call for Reichsreform
This reform gives the Emperor the "Imperial Ban" casus belli against non-members with Imperial territory.
- The Emperor gains +1 yearly prestige, -2% build cost and -2% technology cost.
- Members gain -2% build cost and -2% technology cost.
Reform the Hofgericht
- The Emperor gains +0.5 yearly prestige +1 yearly legitimacy and -%10 core creation cost.
- Members gain +0.1 yearly prestige and +0.2 yearly legitimacy .
Enact Gemeiner Pfennig
- The Emperor gains a +15% global tax efficiency modifier.
- Members gain +1 diplomatic reputation.
With this reform, HRE member states (including the Emperor) are forbidden from declaring war on one another. It is still possible for them to end up at war as a result of honoring alliances with non-members or intervening in succession wars.
However, if the Emperor is not an HRE member (e.g. France or Spain), he can still declare war on other HRE members. In return, HRE members can declare war on the non-member Emperor
- The Emperor suffers +10% stability cost.
- Members gain -10% stability cost.
Following this reform, there are no further elections for Emperor. The state which passes this reform automatically remains Emperor. The "elector" part of the HRE panel dialogue changes to reflect this. You no longer gain +10 Imperial Authority on a succession from this point. Also, the Emperor no longer needs to pay diplomatic relations upkeep for vassal status of any HRE members. Non-HRE vassals are not affected, and any other regular diplomatic relations will still require upkeep (for example, royal marriage).
- The Emperor gains +25% on any further Imperial Authority it gains.
- Members gain +0.3 yearly legitimacy.
Revoke the Privilegia
Revoking the Privilege of Non-Appeal means that HRE members are in effect no longer independent. Once this reform is implemented, all members who support it will become vassals of the Emperor. Members who do not support it will leave the Empire and the Emperor will gain a CB on them. For this reason, when playing as the Emperor it is worth increasing your Imperial Authority to a level where each members would vote yes for it. Try distributing bribes, royal marriages, alliances and other relation-improving maneuvers to members who oppose it, before implementing the reform.
The vassal relationships gained as a result of this decision do not count towards diplomatic upkeep, although royal marriage relationships will continue to. If the Emperor releases a vassal within HRE territory as an Imperial Prince, the newly released vassal will not count towards diplomatic upkeep either. A nation liberated after this reform, however, will not automatically become the Emperor's vassal.
- This reform is where the HRE will be the strongest, as any country that the emperor declares war on will have a large swarm of vassals to fight through. If the Empire is strong enough, they can usually take most (if not all) large Eurasian nations, even without any allies (providing the vassal swarm is large enough). A common strategy when playing as Austria and having the 2nd last reform passed is to rotate between targets. Attacking (in no particular order) the 3 countries that have been listed above will keep the players army and navy tradition high and allow him/her to recruit better and better generals as time progresses. When playing as an expansionist Austria (when aren't you) it is prudent to feed captured land to your vassals and make them even stronger, giving your Eastern land to, for example, Pomerania, Brandenburg, and Bohemia and your western land (France, Spain/Castile, and maybe even Northern Africa) to the small vassals you have in the Western part of the Empire, and taking the Ottomans and the Black Sea for yourself or giving it to other members.
The last reform will consolidate all member states of the HRE into a true, unified nation. The nation that carries out this reform will become the HRE and will immediately inherit all remaining states (those that did not leave the HRE as a result of Revoking the Privilegia or otherwise). The HRE will get cores on imperial provinces held by non-members.
This reform is easy to pass, as all the remaining HRE states are now your vassals and will usually vote for it. This has a very, very negative impact on your relations with former HRE members who left when you revoked their privileges - they get a special "Unified the Empire" -100 relation penalty with you. In addition, you will get a lot of aggressive expansion when trying to conquer their provinces.
If you played your cards right and made it this far by being nice and defending any and all princes (even the ones who insulted and backstabbed you for centuries), it's quite likely you will actually be weaker after uniting the empire. You will also lose the 2% tech bonus.
Like Germany, a united HRE does not have its own country-specific ideas and will simply carry over whatever the founding nation (Emperor) had; similarly, it is considered the cultural union of Germany: all cultures in the Germanic group will consider the HRE to be their own nation, and thus give no penalties.
In order to dismantle the HRE, it is necessary to declare war against the Emperor, occupy the Emperor's capital, and have none of the Electors as "independent." Whether an Elector is counted as "independent" is not determined by whether they are independent or subject nations. The conditions are:
- If the Elector is independent and does not join the war, it is "independent."
- If the Elector is allied to the war leader against the Emperor, it is "not independent."
- If the Elector is a vassal of the war leader against the Emperor, it is "not independent."
- If the Elector is a vassal of someone else than the war leader, and does not participate in the war, it is "independent."
- If the Elector is a vassal of the Emperor, or is independent and allied to the Emperor and joins the war, the Elector is "not independent" if their capital is captured.
That is, in order to dismantle the HRE, it is helpful or even necessary to either ally with or vassalize the Electors, and the war must involve the Emperor and all Electors on either side. This, however, does not necessarily mean all Electors must be at war: an Elector allied to the war leader still counts as "not independent" even if it is not directly involved in the war, and if a third party (including rebels) takes one of the allied/vassalized Elector capital, the Elector is "independent" again. Dismantling the HRE will grant +100 prestige to the war leader, and remove the HRE interface altogether.
At the start of the game in 1444, one can only be elected Emperor if they follow the state religion - Catholic. However, Electors can be of any Christian religion. After 1550, if one of the Electors has become Protestant (but not Reformed) and the Empire hasn't been reformed to the point of becoming hereditary, then the Religious Leagues can be formed. Any nation may join either league, regardless of religion, including states outside the HRE. The Protestant League is created and headed by the newly-converted Elector, and the Catholic League will begin with the current Emperor at the head. After this, one League can declare war on another league at any time.
If the heretical religion (the religion that can't be elected Emperor, usually Protestantism) is victorious in a League war, they will be able to be elected Emperor, and the religion that could be elected Emperor (usually Catholicism) can no longer be elected Emperor. The religion that lost its Imperial rights can win this right back by another League War.
If the Imperial religion wins a League war, then the Religious Leagues are dismantled and Electors can only be members of the Imperial religion. This can happen for Catholics or Protestants, depending on which is the Imperial religion.
If any League war lasts a long time (exact time unknown), then a Peace of Westphalia-esque treaty is drafted, allowing any Christian to be elected Emperor. This is the only way for a Reformed, Orthodox or Coptic ruler to become emperor.
If the Religious Leagues are not triggered in the HRE by 1625 the Imperial Parliament convenes in a Diet to proclaim the Emperor's religion the sole faith. Also, after 30 years with no League War occurring then there is a chance that the Diet will occur in the favor of the Emperor. The mean time of this happening is 5 years after the initial 30 year and it will only trigger if you are at peace.
Notes for Crusader Kings II converted saves
This section may contain outdated information that is inaccurate for the current version of the game. The last version it was verified as up to date for was 1.6.
- If the Holy Roman Empire is transferred from Crusader Kings II while having max (absolute) crown authority, it will be represented in Europa Universalis IV as a single nation.
- Currently, using the CK2 converter does not check all reforms as passed; if the HRE exists in your game as a single nation as a result of being imported while at Max Crown Authority, it will still be able to pass reforms. However, if it attempts to pass Renovatio Imperii, your game will freeze. The only way to avoid this is to use the console command imperial_authority 0 to occasionally reset the current Imperial Authority.
- An imported HRE does not have its own set of ideas at present; it instead seems to use a generic group of ideas for its government type.
The Empire was the dominant political power in central Europe during this historical period. Compared to earlier centuries, when the Emperor wielded more control over his territory, the Empire by the EU4 timeframe had become greatly decentralized, and its member states acted autonomously. The power of the Emperor was still considerable. He has the power to intercede in the wars and affairs of the member states of the Empire. If the Emperor can enact reforms, he can eventually centralize all the separate nations of the Empire under his banner, and turn the Holy Roman Empire into a unified powerhouse. Alternatively, the Empire can wane in power, and, as happened historically in the age of Napoleon, it can eventually be dismantled. In game, however, the Holy Roman Empire usually passes a moderate number of reforms. What happens largely is the elimination of most one province minor states and leads to an end game scenario of 8-18 states instead of the original 50.