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

Imperial power and royal might were not introduced for the common good through the power of nature alone, but also through the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, in whose hands all kingdoms of the world were confirmed by word and deed; and by the time that all countries had been defined, he desired to be born. And he endured the taxes of Augustus, and paid tribute for himself and for Peter. When he was asked whether it was becoming to pay tribute to the emperor, and was shown the coin, he said, Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s. And so the holy Ambrosius says, If the emperor desires tribute, we are not opposed to him, the property of the church, and all farms and fields shall pay it. And so emperor Justinian says that his power was given him by heavenly majesty. Likewise, among the clergy, all patriarchs, primates, and other bishops and prelates are subject to the Roman pope, although at times the Greeks gainsaid this; and the unfaithful sect of the Hussites also gainsaid it. And so it is clear that all laymen are subject to the Roman emperor. The following illustration shows how the election of the emperor was secured upon strong foundations after considering the weakness of empire and the uncertainties of the future. In consequence the highest imperial power was maintained longer among the Germans than elsewhere; and so it appears that he who excelled all others in virtue and worthiness, should also be placed above them. So Pope Gregory the Fifth, with the consent of Emperor Otto, established and ordained the election of an emperor, which has been observed from that time to our own. And so it is proper for the Germans alone to elect an emperor, who is called Caesar and and king of the Romans, and is considered an emperor and an Augustus, if the pope should confirm him. As all the people and princes from time to time receive benefits from the emperor, as from a lord of the world, they are justly obligated to him as obedient subjects. And although some refused to obey the Roman Empire, yet after the monarchy of Augustus Octavian, no one was so foolhardy or obstinate us to dare to call himself ruler of the world and prince of all the earth, except under the title of Roman king. Now to demonstrate the wickedness of those who say they are under no obligation to the Roman Empire, but are free of it: Although their opposition may be overcome by arms rather than law, so that they may be compelled to acknowledge themselves subservient under the law, of which they regard themselves as free, it is to be noted that all those who deny being under the yoke of the emperor, say they attained such liberty either through choice or by worthy deeds or singular virtues. But since the Roman Empire was established by God over all the people in this world, it is to be recognized as a clear matter of right, and no one should hold reservations in the matter nor endanger the same. It must be admitted that such liberties as take away the highest authority, are unseemly and impotent; for out of those arise discord, robbery, murder, and wars, where there is no supreme power, which according to the order of justice, may regulate such wars. But when we live under a single head, all obedient to the same ruler, acknowledging a single prince in worldly affairs, peace will flourish over all the earth, and we adapt ourselves to better and sweeter harmony. This is shown by the fact that from the beginning of the world to the present there never has been universal peace, except when as one celestial empire the world flourished under the sole rule of the emperor Augustus; which happened to the honor of Christ our Savior, who assumed our human attributes. And so it should suffice that the divine Architect of the world, showed us the means of securing peace with all the world under a single ruler. And although we do not deny that the might and authority of the kings and princes are great, yet we also say that they are all subject to the Roman Empire, and should therefore be subservient to it, rendering the same obedience to the Roman emperor that they require of their subjects.

When Roman imperial sovereignty devolved upon the Germans (Alemannos), it became founded upon a stronger foundation, consisting of four pillars, namely four dukes, four margraves, four landgraves, four burgraves, four counts, four barons, four freemen, four knights, four cities, four villages and country estates, as the following design illustrates.


The Foundation of the Holy Roman Empire, according to the Latin and German editions of the Chronicle, and this English translation of it, consisted of the following:

quatuor ducesvier herzogenfour dukes
quatuor marchionesvier marggrafenfour margraves
quatuor landgraviivier lantgrafenfour landgraves
quatuor burgraviivier burggrafenfour burgraves
quatuor comitesvier grafenfour counts
quatuor baronesvier panzerherrenfour barons
quatuor liberivier freien (Freiherrn)four freemen
quatuor militesvier ritterfour knights
quatuor civitatesvier stett (stätte)four cities
quatuor villaevier dorfferfour villages
quatuor rusticivier pawrn (bauern?)four country estates
The double-page woodcut that follows illustrates all of these except the four barons (quatuor barones), which were probably omitted for want of space.