These items are thought to have once belonged to Charlemagne, who in 774 officially founded what was later called the Holy Roman Empire. (The title was an attempt to claim that the Emperor had inherited an unbroken line of power from the Caesars.) Consider the HRE an ancient predecessor to today’s European Union. It consisted of several kingdoms ruled by princes, dukes, etc. who elected a leader from among their group. The leader (later called Emperor) had limited power, and the kingdoms retained their independence. However, they owed their allegiance to the Emperor, who helped facilitate order and trade between kingdoms. Pictured are the Book of Gospels used during Charlemagne’s “swearing in,” his saber, and the reliquary of St. Stephen.

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