Culture of the Holy Roman Empire

Dear Sidonia,

At the dancing after your half-sister’s marriage, I was disturbed by your father’s remarks. Not the ones you might think. The blasphemy about Jesus being a traitor in the Roman’s eyes and being executed as one is historically accurate.

My worry is that he may convince you “Emperor Ferdinand is no better than a Roman dictator.”

Our Holy Roman Empire has seen much change over the last few centuries, as the powers and influence have grown. She has slowly shaped herself into something fine and recognizable. The various countries are not ruled by the will of a single man, but with a rare sort of shared leadership. Indeed there are nobles a plenty, but there are men who will make their voices heard and cast a vote.

Our Imperial Diet is made of leading princes, a grand term, more so those who hold considerable lands and fiefdoms in the empire. Regardless who is Emperor, that man must consult these princes on all matters related to the countries and the empire. There are men of the cloth in the Imperial Diet, so the hand of God is always watching over the fate of the many nations.

The courtly fashions of Ferdinand I (and Maximilian II if that comes to pass) celebrate all the Empire’s connection with the great countries like Spain and France. One must only take a glance around to see the Spanish influence so clearly. The noble men of the court wear a Spanish Cape, a short, loose fitting garment that covers his shoulders, a garment that only the truly fashionable and esteemed can wear with ease and distinction. The cut and quality of the cloth is down to the noble’s own choice, but it would be a foolish man to wear the wrong colors. The fair noble ladies of the court favor the fashions of many lace and ruffles, worn at the cuffs of their dresses and necklines. Both of the sexes wear the pleated ruff about their necks; it must be white and perfectly starched or indeed they will be made a mockery at court. The noble man must always be armed, for they will never know if they must defend their honor or their lives. The elegance of a light and nimble sword will suit the noblemen’s dress, for his must be quick and not be hindered by heavy clothing.

Whilst the culture of the Holy Roman Empire has only served to increase, the new method of producing books have ensured the widespread use of the printed word. The words that monks strove so hard to copy and reproduce has become merely mechanical, and now anything is printed and bound. It has been a major cause of our schism with the Catholics and will have an increasingly important role on not only our empire’s future, but the world’s.

There is much art supported by our Emperor and his Habsburg family in this era. Many of our affluent and talented men will travel to our realm to learn what they can of art and literature. Some would say that we copy the Italian style, but this is not true, this empire has connections around the world but it still stands firm as a statue on matters of art and belief, we will look and listen yet stay true to our motherland’s identity.

Our empire over the generations has birthed some of the finest minds and artists conceivable, the culture is varied and rich with the different faiths, but the view of all of this may depend upon which side a man is placed. Our belief that a man cannot earn his place in heaven by the giving of land and riches to the church has horrified many of the nobles, but it seems the ravings of men such as Martin Luther have stuck in the mind of many people. Some who embrace our new vein of thinking are acting dangerously.

If Maximilian becomes our next Emperor, we may be blessed to live under the reign of an Emperor who seems to be sympathetic to our views.

For how long this may last, no one is sure, but for the moment, there is freedom of thought and movement within the Holy Roman Empire.

Yet there is trouble ahead. The old belief does not yield easily to the new. If Maximilian does as some Lutheran urge him to do and declare himself Lutheran, this empire will rip to shred by war.

Even if Maximilian manages to sooth the inner turmoil, the Ottoman Empire may well tear asunder this fragile fabric we call an Empire.


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