The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Imperial Dignity to Princely Autonomy: a historical-philosophical study on the evolution and meaning of sovereignty in the Holy Roman Empire


  • Robin Reimers

Summary, in English

This thesis conducts a study in conceptual history into the meaning of sovereignty within the Holy Roman Empire, a European political institution of states that lasted from 962 to 1806 AD. Three classical theorists in sovereignty, namely Jean Bodin, Thomas Hobbes, and Samuel von Pufendorf comprehend the main philosophical corps of the thesis, which will be operationalised by studying three constitutional documents from the Holy Roman Empire: the Golden Bull, the Treaty of Osnabrück, and the Treaty of Münster. It is concluded that a significant detraction took place within these three centuries: the mantle of an ‘imperial dignity,’ the joint sovereignty of the Emperor and the Prince-Electors, was abandoned in favour of particularist sentiment of national sovereignty, which can be explained by advances in philosophical thought and changes in international norms.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree


  • History and Archaeology
  • Philosophy and Religion
  • Social Sciences


  • Sovereignty
  • political philosophy
  • Holy Roman Empire
  • Golden Bull
  • Westphalia
  • political theory
  • European Studies


  • Mattias Nowak