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The dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire occurred de facto on August 6, 1806, when the last Holy Roman Emperor, Franz II of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, abdicated his title and released all imperial states and princes from their oaths and obligations to the empire.

Franz II-I, Holy Roman Emperor and Emperor of Austria

The empire was dissolved following a military defeat by the French under Napoleon at Austerlitz. Napoleon reorganized much of the Empire into the Confederation of the Rhine, a French satellite.

Emperor Franz survived the demise of the Holy Roman Empire by continuing to reign as the Emperor of Austria.

Holy Roman Empire in 1806

In 1804 Emperor Franz united his hereditary lands as Archduke of Austria and Kings of Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia into The Austrian Empire. Prior to the creation of this empire the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperors ruled these lands in person union and not as a centralized state.

The Austrian Empire would last until the Habsburg empire’s final dissolution in 1918 in the aftermath of World War I.

German Empire & Austrian-Hungarian Empire

The Napoleonic Confederation of the Rhine was replaced by a new union, the German Confederation in 1815, following the end of the Napoleonic Wars. It lasted until 1866 when Prussia founded the North German Confederation, a forerunner of the German Empire which united the German-speaking territories outside of Austria and Switzerland under Prussian leadership in 1871. This state developed into modern Germany.

From the Emperor’s Desk: Starting Monday I will begin a series on an in-depth examination of the ending of the Holy Roman Empire.