In 800, Charlemagne traveled to Rome to celebrate Christmas with Pope Leo III. As Charlemagne rose from prayer, Leo placed a crown on Charlemagne’s head and proclaimed him Augustus, emperor of the “Holy Roman Empire. The coronation united Christendom under Charlemagne’s rule but also troubled the newly crowned emperor. If the Pope had the power to proclaim Charlemagne as King, the Pope might also have the right to remove his power.
Charlemagne did not invite the Pope when he passed the crown to his son in 813. Nealy a millennium later, as Pope Pius VII was set to crown Napoleon Emperor of France in 1804, Napoleon took the crown and placed it on his head.
Christmas Day 800, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.
In 1804, Napoleon was about to be crowned Emperor of the French. At the moment of his crowning, Napoleon unexpectedly took the crown from Pope Pius VII and crowned himself.
The empire Charlemagne created crumbled soon after he died in 1814, and the promise of returning the glory of Rome to Western Europe soon faded. The term Holy Roman Empire described various Frankish and German lands for another ten centuries, but the empire never again attained Charlemagne’s promise. Francis II was the last monarch to call himself the Holy Roman Emperor. But after a defeat by Napoleon’s army, Francis renounced his title in 1804 and instead decreed himself emperor of Austria.
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Mr. Donn has an excellent website that includes a section on the Middle Ages.