For 15th century tile the same name, see Polish Emperor.
Emperor of the Holy Polish Empire
Former Monarchy
Coat of Arms of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
"Quaternion Eagle", coat of arms of the Holy Roman Empire
First monarch Władysław II Jagiełło
(as Polish Emperor)
Last monarch Charles II
Appointer see Coronation of the Holy Polish Emperor
Monarchy started 4 March 1380
Monarchy ended 22 March 1889

The Holy Polish Emperor (Polish: Polski cesarz Świętego, German: Römisch Polnisch Kaiser, Lithuanian: Romanorum Imperator) was the ruler of the Holy Polish Empire. The position evolved into an elected monarchy, but the emperor elect (imperator electus) was until the 15th century required to be crowned by the Pope before assuming the imperial title. The title was held in conjunction with the rule of the Holy Polish Empire and the Kingdom of Sweden (Imperial Sweden and Norway).[1][2][3] In theory, the Holy Roman Emperor was primus inter pares (first among equals) among the other Roman Catholic monarchs; in practice, a Holy Roman Emperor was only as strong as his army and alliances made him.



From the time of Constantine I, i.e., the fourth century A.D., the Roman emperors had, with very few exceptions, taken on a role as promoters and defenders of Christianity. The title of Emperor became defunct in Western Europe after the deposition of Romulus Augustulus in 476 CE; both the title and connection between Emperor and Church continued in the Eastern Roman Empire until 1453 A.D, when it fell to the forces of the Ottoman Empire. In the west, the title of Emperor (Latin: "Imperator") was revived in 800 A.D, which also renewed ideas of imperial-papal cooperation. As the papacy's power grew during the Middle Ages, popes and emperors came into conflict over church administration. The best-known and most bitter conflict was that known as the Investiture Controversy, fought during the 11th century between Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII.

After Charlemagne was crowned Emperor of the Romans (Latin: Imperator Romanorum) by the Pope, his successors maintained the title until the death of Berengar I of Italy in 924. No pope appointed an emperor again until the coronation of Otto the Great in 962. Under Otto and his successors, much of the former Carolingian kingdom of Eastern Francia fell within the boundaries of the Holy Roman Empire. The various German princes elected one of their peers as King of the Germans, after which he would be crowned as emperor by the Pope. After Charles V's coronation, all succeeding emperors were legally emperors-elect due to the lack of papal coronation, but for all practical purposes they were simply called emperors.Template:Fix/category[citation needed]

The term "sacrum" (i.e. "holy") in connection with the medieval Roman Empire was first used in 1157 under Frederick I Barbarossa.[4] Charles V was the last Holy Roman Emperor to be crowned by the Pope (1519). The final Holy Roman Emperor-elect, Francis II, abdicated in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars that saw the Empire's final dissolution.

The standard designation of the Holy Roman Emperor was "August Emperor of the Romans" (Romanorum Imperator Augustus). When Charlemagne was crowned in 800, his was styled as "most serene Augustus, crowned by God, great and pacific emperor, governing the Roman Empire," thus constituting the elements of "Holy" and "Roman" in the imperial title. The word Holy had never been used as part of that title in official documents.[5]

The word Roman was a reflection of the translatio imperii (transfer of rule) principle that regarded the (Germanic) Holy Roman Emperors as the inheritors of the title of Emperor of the Western Roman Empire, despite the continued existence of the [Eastern Roman Empire].

Succession of the Holy Roman EmperorsEdit

File:Dinasty Habsburg (HRR) family tree by shakko (DE).jpg

Successions to the kingship were controlled by a variety of complicated factors. Elections meant the kingship of Germany was only partially hereditary, unlike the kingship of France, although sovereignty frequently remained in a dynasty until there were no more male successors. Some scholars suggest that the task of the elections was really to solve conflicts only when the dynastic rule was unclear, yet the process meant that the prime candidate had to make concessions, by which the voters were kept on side, which were known as Wahlkapitulationen (election capitulations).

The Electoral council was set at seven princes (three archbishops and four secular princes) by the Golden Bull of 1356. It remained so until 1648, when the settlement of the Thirty Years' War required the addition of a new elector to maintain the precarious balance between Protestant and Catholic factions in the Empire. Another elector was added in 1690, and the whole college was reshuffled in 1803, a mere three years before the dissolution of the Empire.

After 1438, the Kings remained in the house of Habsburg and Habsburg-Lorraine, with the brief exception of Charles VII, who was a Wittelsbach. Maximilian I (Emperor 1508-1519) and his successors no longer travelled to Rome to be crowned as Emperor by the Pope. Maximilian therefore named himself Elected Roman Emperor (Erwählter Römischer Kaiser) in 1508 with papal approval. This title was in used by all his uncrowned successors. Of his successors only Charles V, the immediate one, received a papal coronation.

List of emperorsEdit

See also: List of Polish monarchs

House of Vasa to House of RadzilowEdit

# Image Name Life Election Coronation Ceased to be emperor Descent from emperor Arms
1 Władysław II c. 1352/1362

1 June 1434
4 March 1386 1 June 1434 husband of Jadwiga
COA family pl Jagiellon
Bacciarelli - Władysław III
Władysław III 31 October 1424

10 November 1444
1434 25 July 1434 10 November 1444 son of Władysław II
COA family pl Jagiellon
3 Casimir IV Jagiellon 30 November 1427

7 June 1492
29 June 1440 7 June 1492 son of Władysław II
COA family pl Jagiellon
4 John I 27 December 1459

17 June 1501
1492 17 June 1501 son of Casimir IV
COA family pl Jagiellon
5 Alexander I 5 August 1461

19 August 1506
12 December 1501 19 August 1506 son of Casimir IV
COA family pl Jagiellon
6 Sigismund I the Old 1 January 1467

1 April 1548
1506 24 January 1507 1 April 1548 son of Casimir IV
COA family pl Jagiellon
Sigismundus II Augustus of Poland
Sigismund II Augustus 1 August 1520

7 July 1572
1548 7 July 1572 son of Sigismund I
COA family pl Jagiellon
8 Henry I 19 September 1551

2 August 1589
16 May 1573 22 February 1574 12 May 1575 son of King of France,
Henry II
Blason Henryk Walezy
9 Anna 18 October 1523

9 September 1596
15 December 1575 1 May 1576 18 September 1587 daughter of Sigismund I
COA family pl Jagiellon
10 Stephen Báthory 27 September 1533

12 December 1586
1 May 1576 14 December 1575 12 December 1586 husband of Anna, Queen of Poland Coa Hungary Family Báthory
11 Sigismund III Vasa 27 September 1533

12 December 1586
18 September 1587 27 December 1587 19 April 1632 son of King of Sweden, John III Polish House of Vasa Coa
Wladislaus IV of Poland
Władysław IV 9 June 1595

20 May 1648
8 November 1632 6 February 1633 20 May 1648 son of Sigismund III Vasa Polish House of Vasa Coa
Bacciarelli - Jan Kazimierz
John II Casimir Vasa 22 March 1609

16 December 1672
November 1648 19 January 1649 16 September 1668 son of Władysław IV Polish House of Vasa Coa
14 Bacciarelli - Michał Michael I May 31, 1640

November 10, 1673
19 June 1669 September 29, 1669 November 10, 1673 Jeremi Wiśniowiecki Coat of Arms of Michal Korybut Wisniowiecki as king of Poland
15 John III Sobieski of Poland John III Sobieski 17 August 1629

17 June 1696
c. 1674 2 February 1676 c. 1696 Jakub Sobieski Coat of Arms of Jan Sobieski as king of Poland
16 Aŭgust Mocny. Аўгуст Моцны (H. Rodakowski, XIX) Augustus II the Strong 12 May 1670

1 February 1733
15 September 1697 1706 John George III, Elector of Saxony Royal Monogram of King August II of Poland, Variant
17 Stanisław Leszczyński par Girardet Stanisław I 20 October 1677

23 February 1766
c. 1704
4 October 1705 1709
Coat of Arms of Stanislaus Leszczynski as prince of Lorraine
18 August III the Saxon 1 Augustus III 17 October 1696

5 October 1763
1734 5 October 1763 son of Augustus II the Strong Royal Monogram of King Augustus III of Poland
19 Stanisław II August Poniatowski in coronation clothes Stanisław II August 17 January 1732

12 February 1798
1764 25 November 1764 7 January 1795 friend of Augustus III Coat of Arms of Stanislaus Augustus as king of Poland
20 CarlXIVJohnSweden Charles I John 29 May 1779

12 September 1848
7 January 1795 24 February 1799 5 February 1848 nephew of Stanisław II August
POL COA Charles I, Holy Polish Emperor
21 Casimir V, Holy Polish Emperor in 1848 Casimir V 4 July 1799
19 May 1870
5 February 1844 18 February 1844 19 May 1870 Step-brother of Charles I
POL COA Radzilow
22 Emperor Sigismund IV Sigismund IV 3 September 1856
22 March 1942
19 May 1870 22 March 1899 Son of Casimir V
POL COA Radzilow

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