12b Federalism

The old empire was led by a monarch. It was characterized by classes, an emperor and imperial states with common institutions. This organization spanned the single states which emerged under the order of the empire on the basis of feudalism. The empire set the general conditions for the coexistence of the powers. The vir-princedoms and duchies acknowledged the emperor as head of state and were subject to the empire’s laws, jurisdiction and the enactments of the Reichstag. At the same time they could participate in the empire’s politics by electing the king, election capitulation, Diets and estate proxies and guide them according to their interests. The amplitude of governmental power was scattered over the centuries: It was neither incumbent on the emperor nor on the Pope. Not on the Reichstag and not on the single states. The importance of the em- peror reduced and the role of the church as well – another element which has been involved in the empire’s structure – was declining. Churchly authorities and goods were taken by sovereigns. The Reformation pushed this process and secularization worsened the problems. From the early modern age on the empire has become a defensive structure. Stability, legal protection and peace-keeping were the main tasks. The search for a common ground, the pursuit for consensus and harmony are in the whole German principles, a federal premise which is based on a one thousand year old tradition.