First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

The imperial sovereignty taken from the Romans, Gauls and Lombards, and now received through the aforesaid Otto, from here devolved for the first time upon the German nation, and has been there maintained to the present time. In praise, commendation, and recognition of this most excellent imperial dignity, it is to be remarked:

That the Roman royal power (called the Holy Roman Empire) had its origin in innate human reason, which is a guide of the best mode of living and which all must obey; for when our first parents were driven out of Paradise and the Garden of Pleasure, and mankind roved about in the fields and forests like cattle, man, whom God had endowed with reason, bethought himself that man might be highly useful to mankind in living a righteous life. Accordingly some of the people who had formerly lived in the forests according to the habits of wild animals, were drawn together either through the guidance of nature, or by the will of God, the Master of all nature; and they formed associations, built houses, surrounded the cities with walls, devised all manner of arts, and led an agreeable and amiable civic life. But just as one person may derive much usefulness from another, so also one may acquire various evils from another. And so men began to wrong society, to violate faith and confidence, to break the peace, to harbor secret animosities against one another, to deprive one another of their possessions, and to stray from the paths of virtue into those of error. When the masses were oppressed by the powerful and mighty among them, they decided to take refuge with a man of exceptional virtue, who would protect the poor against the rich and powerful, and treat the masses with equality, righteousness and fairness. Accordingly many people elected kings, and the principalities multiplied. The multiplication of kings and princes resulted in many dissensions and revolts. And in time they fell out with each other as to their landed possessions, and at other times as to their jurisdictions. As there was no tribunal to pass upon their differences; and as neither would submit to being less respected than the other, so they took to arms and decided the matter by war. Thus the most amicable associations of men were dissolved. But the benign forethought of human nature, always inclined to the best, thought of consolidating everything into a single principality, without which a general peace was not possible. Thus originated the Assyrian kingdom. In the same manner the Greek state expanded from Europe to Asia and Lybia, under the power and good fortune of Alexander the Great; and Carthage did likewise. But as these empires never succeeded in subjugating the whole world, nor in bringing about universal peace, therefore it pleased human nature, or God the Lord and ruler of such nature, to revive the Roman Empire. In the beginning Rome was ruled by seven successive kings; and after their passage, was governed by men elected in pairs; but finally by a single ruler. Julius Caesar was the first sole ruler of the empire, and to him the people gave all power and authority. And although at times two emperors ruled jointly, as Diocletian and Maximian, yet at other times there were even more; but this occurred by might rather than as a matter of right. To such imperial dignity some were elevated by senatorial election, and others by acclamation of the people; some were chosen by the nobility, and others were appointed by order of the emperors. The sovereignty was at various times exercised by Italians, Spaniards, Africans, Dalmatians, and Greeks, and for ever so long from Constantinople, with great dignity. But when the Greeks became so neglectful of Rome that they permitted the Romans to be oppressed with the burdens of various wars, the Roman people, who with their own blood had set up the Empire, appealed for help to Charles the Great in France, a native German; and he came to their assistance and with the consent of the pope was crowned as Roman emperor. During the period of one hundred and ten years, from Emperor Charlemagne to Louts, the son of Arnulf, the empire increased in Gaul to no mean extent, and afterwards passed to Lombardy. Finally it devolved upon Duke Henry, King Otto’s son, and from him to the present by orderly elections, upon Emperor Frederick III and King Maximilian his son, who were invested from heaven with the highest authority in temporal matters, so that they might be fortunate in war, favor peace, and uphold the common welfare; for the fulfillment of which all peoples, all nations, and all kings and princes should willingly submit themselves to this empire.[The Holy Roman Empire comprised the western part of the old Roman Empire, which was severed from the eastern part in the year 800, and was given by the pope to Charlemagne, who was crowned ‘Emperor of the Romans.’ When Charlemagne’s empire was divided, Ludwig, a German, became Kaiser; but on the death of Charles the Fat the title fell into abeyance for seventy years. In 962 Pope John XII gave the title to Otto I the Great, and changed it into ‘The Holy Roman Empire.’ Otto took Charlemagne for his model, and the ‘Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation’, the greatest political institution of the Middle Ages, was now established. In theory it was the union of the world-state and the world-church – an undivided community under Emperor and Pope, its heaven-appointed secular and spiritual heads. As an actual political fact, it was the political union of Germany and Italy, in one sovereignty, which was in the hands of the German king. The union of the two peoples was not without its advantages to both; but it was also productive of evils. The strength of the German nation was spent in endless struggles abroad, and this stood in the way of the building of a compact kingdom at home. For Italy it was the rule of foreigners, of which she might feel the needs, but to which she was never reconciled. Maximilian I was the Emperor when the first German edition of the was published; while his father, Frederick III, who died in August 1493, was on the throne when the first Latin edition appeared six months earlier.]