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With Otto I, King of East Francia crowned as Emperor of the Romans by Pope John XII on February 2, 962 thus begins what many historians (such as myself) site as the actual start of the Holy Roman Empire.

Also, many historians also count Otto I the Great as the last King of East Francia. Since Conrad of Franconia took the throne of East Francia and with his successors Heinrich I the Fowler and Otto the Great the Kingdom of East Francia transformed from a Frankish Kingdom to that of a Germanic Kingdom.

Any firm distinction between the kingdoms of Eastern Francia and the Kingdom of Germany is to some extent the product of later retrospection. It is impossible to base this distinction on primary sources, as the name Eastern Francia for the kingdom remains in use long after the name Kingdom of Germany comes into use.

Under Arnulf of Carinthia the terminology Rex Francorum Orientalium was largely dropped and the kingdom, when it was referred to by name, was simply Francia. When it was necessary, as in the Treaty of Bonn (921) with the West Franks, the “eastern” qualifier appeared once more. Heinrich I refers to himself as rex Francorum orientalium, “King of the East Franks”, in the treaty.

With Otto the Great marking the end of the Kingdom of East Francia, his son and successor Otto II as Emperor and King is often cited by historians as the start of the Kingdom of Germany or German Kingdom. In Latin: Regnum Teutonicorum “kingdom of the Germans”, Regnum Teutonicum “German kingdom”, regnum Alamanie “kingdom of Germany”.

By the 12th century, the historian Otto of Freising, in using the Carolingian terminology, had to explain that the “eastern kingdom of the Franks” (orientale Francorum regnum) was “now called the kingdom of the Germans” (regnum Teutonicorum).

Therefore, the Kingdom of East Francia didn’t cease to exist the way the Kingdom was described had changed.

Like medieval England and medieval France, (Western Francia which evolved into the Kingdom of France) medieval Germany consolidated from a conglomerate of smaller tribes, nations or polities by the High Middle Ages.

The term rex teutonicorum (“king of the Germans”) first came into use in Italy around the year 1000. It was popularized by the chancery of Pope Gregory VII during the Investiture Controversy (late 11th century), perhaps as a polemical tool against Emperor Heinrich IV.

In the twelfth century, in order to stress the imperial and transnational character of their office, the Emperors began to employ the title rex Romanorum (king of the Romans) on their election.

In the next section I will discuss in more detail the transformation of the usage of the title King of Germany to that of King of the Romans.