Holy Roman Empire Overview
The Holy Roman Empire was a loose union of the lands of Germany. It was so-called until the 15th century, when it was renamed to the Holy Roman Empire of The German Nation. The Empire was created in 800 AD after Charles the Great and it lasted until Francis the Second in 1806 AD.
The Frankish empire was divided by the treaty of Verdun and the Holy Roman Empire only had the central and later only the eastern parts of France. Before the Renaissance period, most Christians in the west regarded the German emperors as heirs of the ancient Roman empire. Eastern Christians and the Byzantine empire rejected these claims. Historians often treat the Holy Roman Empire as a completely different state to the classical Roman Empire.
The Reich (empire) elected an emperor, who was crowned by the pope until 1508 AD. The empire lacked centralization, which made the kingdoms of England and France powerful in the later periods of the middle ages. The territories of the empire were divided and ruled independently by knightly orders, cities and religious figures, sometimes princes or kings. Religion was one of the few things that kept the empire together was religion (which is why the empire had the "holy" prefix).
The empire was ruled by franks of the Carolingian dynasty, until the death of Louis, the last Carolingian. The leaders of the major German states elected Conrad the first of the franks in 911 AD. At this time the empire was only a union of the Germanic tribes. This union was led by franks until the Hohenstaufen dynasty, which came to power in 1138.
A mentionable event before the Hohenstaufens was the investiture controversy during which Pope Gregory the seventh declared a ban on king Henry the fourth (Emperor from 1084 to 1106 AD). This was taken back after the walk to Canossa in 1077. During the time, German dukes elected a second king, whom Henry the fourth defeated after the three year war in 1080.
The Hohenstaufen dynasty restored the glory of the empire even under the conditions of the concordat of Worms. Frederick "Barbarossa" the first was the first to call the empire "holy". Also, under Frederick, there was an attempt to restore the idea of the Roman empire, declaring that the emperor's power was independent from the pope.
After Barbarossa, Frederick the second was the last of the Staufen, who first reigned in Sicily, until he was crowned emperor in 1220. He is famous for claiming power over Rome and that his army managed to claim Jerusalem in a Crusade in 1228 AD, while under the pope's ban. After the Staufen, the Habsburg dynasty claimed power over the Holy Roman Empire for a short time. After the Habsburgs, Henry the seventh from the house of Luxembourg became emperor.
During the 15th century the empire saw many reforms, such as the creation of the Reichstag and the legal acts that gave the empire a structure, which ended in 1806. After the reformation, a great crisis had befallen the Holy Roman Empire. Martin Luther initiated what would later be known as the reformation, which divided the empire into religious states. Bohemians rebelled and the 30 year war (1618-1648 AD) devastated the empire.
The Empire had a long decline until it was dissolved on August 6, 1806. Germany would not become a unified state again until 1871 AD.
Many of these events can be found in common history books or around the net. (Wikipedia for instance)