Holy Roman Empire

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Empire rankHoly Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire.png
Primary culture

Capital province
Brandenburg (50)

Empire Government monarchy.png

State religion

Technology group
WesternWestern technology group
The HRE in 1444. The emperor is in purple. Electors are orange. Free cities are blue. Dark green are Imperial provinces, owned by HRE member-states or otherwise.

The Holy Roman Empire (HRE) is a unique political structure in the game, made up of numerous, variously-sized states of the Germanic region and northern Italian Peninsula in Europe. Members are considered 'Princely states' and their heads are 'Princes'. From these Princes, up to seven are Prince-Electors, who vote on which Prince will be the next Holy Roman Emperor upon the death of the previous one. The Holy Roman Emperor has various powers at his disposal and a great deal of responsibility to maintaining and protecting the Imperial territorial, religious, and cultural status quo. In the Common Sense DLC, the Emperor can appoint up to eight Free Imperial Cities which are OPMs, cannot be electors, and give the emperor more authority in exchange for trading bonuses (for example, Ulm).

  • People talking about the HRE may be referring to the country with the same name that is formed after the Emperor has enacted the final Imperial Reform: Renovatio Imperii, and it is important to distinguish the HRE country and the HRE political structure:
    • Country: "Man the HRE just annexed the Commonwealth!"
    • Political Structure: "If I can call Sweden into the war against Austria then I may be able to dismantle the HRE!"

Historically, the Empire existed from the 10th to the 19th centuries, and had up to 300 members at some points. The first Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne, was crowned "King of the Romans" in Rome by the Pope in the year 800, but it wasn't until 962 that the HRE as a united polity came into being. It considered itself to be the spiritual successor state to the Roman Empire, even though it never directly controlled Papal Rome (and also despite, up to 1453, the continued existence of the Eastern Roman Empire and until the late 15th century of various Byzantine holdout states such as Trebizond, Theodoro, etc.). It experienced high amounts of decentralization towards the end of the Middle Ages, which is represented in-game by the special HRE interface (see below). The balance of power between the various Princes, Electors and the Emperor was always in flux, and imperial unity was further weakened by the Reformation. From the 15th century on, except for a handful of years under the house of Wittelsbach (during the early years of the reign of Archduchess Maria Theresa) the Emperor was from the House of Habsburg or Habsburg-Lorraine, the rulers of Austria and many other European nations.

Game interface

The Holy Roman Empire Interface, showing Austria as the Emperor

The Holy Roman Empire interface is a small shield (with a picture of an Imperial eagle) on the bottom of the screen (only visible as long as the HRE exists). Under the icon is a number which shows the Authority of the current reigning Emperor.

Within the interface are a number of shields of various sizes representing members of the HRE. Each of them can be clicked on, which will bring up the Diplomatic interface to examine and interact with that nation. Also note that as a handy reminder, the Imperial Authority of the current Emperor, as well as the Emperor's name and his/her main country, is displayed in the upper left corner of this window.

  • Current Emperor: The large shield in the upper left corner shows the blazon of the country who is currently the Emperor. Beside that is the percentage of current Imperial Authority, ranging from 0 to 100, and below it the amount of Imperial authority earned per month. The higher the value, the more respect the Princely states of the Empire have for the Emperor. Beneath the shield, the game will state specifically the name and nation of the current Emperor, e.g. "X of Y is the Emperor".
  • Electors: These are the seven princes that have the power to elect the next Emperor. When the number of electors is less than seven (for example, an elector has been annexed or conquered and ceases to exist, but not vassalized), the Emperor has the ability to appoint a new Elector among the nations belonging to the Empire. Note that the Emperor can have vassal Electors (subjugating them by force, or having them before becoming an Emperor), which reduces authority gain, but cannot grant electorate to a state which is already their subject (a vassal or a lesser partner in personal union).
Underneath each of their shields is a smaller shield, representing that elector's current choice of successor to the Imperial crown. They can vote for themselves, or for other nations. Dependent Electors will almost always vote for their suzerain overlord, even if they are not part of the Empire. Next to it is a number which represents that Elector's current support of the player's own ruler as successor. This will range from a positive number, which means the Elector favors the player's ruler to some degree, to as low as -1000 (if the player's monarch is ineligible to be Emperor). Hovering over the shield will display a tooltip showing all the factors that play into the elector's current attitude.
  • Princes: below the Electors is a display of all the shields of the current member states of the Empire. This number can shrink or grow over time as member states are conquered or new ones find a home within the Empire's boundaries. Adding more members will increase authority, and removing members will lose authority.
  • Imperial Free Cities: Free Imperial Cities are a new addition as of Common Sense. Any one-province republic in the empire may be designated a Free City, to a maximum of 8. Free Cities gain a special government type giving them bonuses to development, and always call the emperor into a war when attacked, even if the attacker has a valid CB. The HRE gets 0.01 Authority per month for each Free City. A Free City that gains a second province loses its status.
  • Imperial reforms: the upper-right of the interface shows the list of eight possible Imperial Reforms, with a green check next to any that are currently enacted.
  • Leave HRE: At the bottom left is a button for those who have had enough of the Emperor's meddling in their lives. Selecting to Leave HRE will take the member's nation out of the Empire and remove all of its provinces from the Empire. However, there are diplomatic consequences to such a decision.
  • Dismantle HRE: If the Emperor's capital is controlled and the electors either have their capitals occupied or are allied to the nation attempting to dismantle the empire (almost always the player), it is possible to dismantle the Holy Roman Empire and disable the HRE mechanics permanently for 100 prestige.
  • Religious league: As of version 1.8, a devastating pan-Imperial war may occur if any Elector converts to Protestantism and can be resolved by the Peace of Westphalia. This has the result of determining which denominations can have Emperors.


The Emperor is the leader of the Holy Roman Empire, tasked with defending and maintaining the sovereignty of member states.

Friedrich III von Habsburg of Flag of Austria Austria starts the game, in 1444, as Emperor.

Electing the Emperor

See also: #Electors

Emperors, once chosen, serve for life. However, if the emperor is vassalized, forced into a personal union, converts to a heretical denomination before the Thirty Years' War, or otherwise annexed, and his/her nation ceases to exist, a new emperor will be elected. On the death or disqualification of the current Emperor, the Imperial Electors choose a replacement from within the Christian world, with the exact eligible denominations determined by the outcome of Religious Leagues.

An Emperor can only be selected from candidates that are:

  • Male (unless Pragmatic Sanction decision has been enacted by Emperor with female heir)
  • The accepted Imperial religion (either Catholic or Protestant). If the Peace of Westphalia event happens, any Christian may be chosen.
  • Independent rulers (i.e. not a vassal)
  • Monarchs (i.e. not rulers of republics or theocracies)

If there is no candidate qualifying these conditions, most often from the outcome of religious league war and all of the rulers of that religion being female, then the Empire is automatically dismantled and the HRE ceases to exist.

Notably, being a member of the Empire is not a requirement, though electors will usually prefer members.

Election happens immediately once a new Emperor has to be chosen and the candidate with the majority of votes wins the election. In case of a tie in the number of votes, the current emperor retains the title. In case that candidates who are not Emperor are tied, the country with the higher tag order wins the election. The tag order is defined in the game files; for example, Sweden has the highest tag order out of all countries.

An Emperor cannot lose the election for Emperorship while in the midst of a League War.

Benefits of being Emperor

{{SVersion|1.18} The Emperor gets the following bonuses:[1]

Spy network construction.png +10% Spy network construction
Possible advisors.png +1 Possible advisors
Diplomatic relations.png +1 Diplomatic relations
Leader(s) without upkeep.png +1 Leader(s) without upkeep
Prestige.png +1 Yearly prestige

Additional for every member state:[2]

Land forcelimit.png +0.5 Land force limit
Manpower.png +500 Manpower

Additional for every Free City:[3]

Tax income.png +2 Tax income
Land forcelimit.png +0.5 Land force limit
Manpower.png +1000 Manpower

Powers of the Emperor

{{SVersion|1.18} The Emperor has the following powers and duties:

Bestow Imperial Grace

This action gives the Emperor a +40 relationship modifier with another nation within the Empire at the expense of Imperial authority.png -1 Imperial Authority. This relationship bonus will disappear if the country stops being emperor.

Propose Imperial Reforms

Available from the Holy Roman Empire interface, the Emperor can call for a vote on an Imperial Reform. Unlike in EU3, the Emperor can see how the members of the Imperial Diet will vote before calling for the reform by hovering over the reform button, and why they support or oppose by hovering over the shields of each imperial prince. A prince's decision to support a reform is largely based on their opinion of the emperor, the amount of imperial authority and the emperor's diplomatic reputation.

Grant Free City Status

Grant Free City status to nations in the HRE that only own one province. Free Cities get a special republican government, a bonus to Tax income.png tax income and will always be able to call in the Emperor when they are attacked, even in internal HRE wars. The Emperor gets a bonus to Tax income.png tax income, Manpower.png manpower and Imperial authority.png imperial authority for each Free City in the HRE, but there can only be 8 Free Cities in total at any given time. A Free City that gains a second province or leaves the HRE will lose their Free City status. Free Cities cannot be Electors. Monarchies get a -50 penalty to accepting and theocracies get -100, so getting one-province republics released may be necessary to create more free cities. A nation that feels Threatened by the Emperor will have a +20 modifier to becoming a Free City, so that they can have guaranteed Imperial protection.

Defend the Empire

The Emperor receives a call to arms when outside powers declare war on a prince of the empire, or members declare war on each other without a casus belli. Unlike a regular Call to Arms this does not usually have an effect on prestige, but does affect Imperial Authority. If the emperor decides to refuse this call, Imperial Authority drops by -10. However, if the Emperor wins the resulting war, Imperial Authority increases. Regardless of the outcome, answering this call to arms gives the emperor a +50 relations boost with regular members of the Empire, and +100 with the electors. The opinion of the nation that was under attack will increase by +10 because of the honored alliance relation boost.

Revoke the Electorate

Remove an elector at the expense of worsened relations with other electors and Imperial authority.png -10 Imperial Authority. This action is not available unless the HRE has an official religion.

Appoint an Elector

If there are fewer than seven electors in the Empire, the Emperor can appoint a new Elector in the diplomacy screen to any independent nation inside the Empire. Appointing an elector gives a +50 relations boost with the new elector. Subject nations and Free Cities cannot be made electors.

Imperial Ban

Once the first imperial reform has been passed, The Emperor gains a casus belli against all non-HRE nations that control any HRE territory, such as Burgundy at the start of the game. HRE territory owned by non-members is shown with yellow diagonal lines in the Imperial map view. If an outside power conquers the target province, the emperor gains a claim on the province.

Imperial Liberation

The Emperor gains a casus belli against nations that annexed a member state, with the goal to liberate the said prince. Succeeding to liberate the prince will result in an imperial authority bonus. The casus belli is automatically given upon the annexation, and expires in 60 months (5 years).

Enforce religious unity

This is a diplomatic action which allows the Emperor's to force his/her state religion on other nations within the empire that follow heretical denominations. The acceptance of the request depends on the target nation's opinion of and attitude towards the Emperor, the Emperor's diplomatic reputation and prestige, the target nation's number of provinces and whether the target is an Elector. If the target is an elector or Defender of the Faith, it counts for a -1000 points reduction on the likelihood of acceptance, effectively rendering peaceful conversion impossible. If the target accepts the request, they convert to the Emperor's state religion and one random province becomes converted automatically. The Emperor suffers a relations hit (-25 which is cumulative) with other Princes with the heretic religions of all denominations. If the target refuses to convert peacefully, the Emperor suffers a prestige hit and gains a casus belli against the target. It can only be demanded if the League War have already fired and the HRE official religion is either Catholic or Protestant

Demand unlawful territory

The Emperor can demand another nation, member or not, to return unlawfully held imperial territory to the Emperor, refusal of which gives the Emperor an Imperial Liberation casus belli and gives all member states a relations penalty with the unlawful land's holder. The territory is considered unlawful if the owner does not have a core on it. Denying the request will also result in higher unrest, lower tax and manpower and a negative monthly autonomy change in the recently conquered province. If target country refuse the Demand, Holy Roman Empire loses 1 Imperial authority.pngImperial Authority.

Re-Election Bonus

The emperor gains a bonus to his/her chances of re-election relative to the current level of imperial authority, at approximately +1 per point of imperial authority.

Imperial authority

Imperial authority is used to pass reforms within the Empire and perform certain Emperor actions. The Emperor needs at least 50 Authority to pass a reform and the consensus of at least half of the members of the Empire. When a reform is passed, all Imperial Authority is removed (the counter is set to 0). After the reform Proclaim Erbkaisertum has been passed, the emperor gains an additional +25% Imperial Authority to every action taken.

Imperial Authority changes as follows:

Imperial Authority Modifiers
  • +10 for maintaining the Imperial Crown through successive generations until the Erbkaisertum reform is passed.
  • +1 for each province added to the Empire. In order to do this, the target province must be Christian (of any denomination), core territory and either directly connected via land border or share a sea tile with an Imperial province. For example, Rome directly borders Siena, and Napoli shares a sea tile with Siena. Any provinces not in the European region cannot be added to the empire.
  • +0.10 monthly if there are no internal wars in the Empire.
  • +0.005 monthly for every Free City in the Empire.
  • +0.004 monthly for every Prince over 25 in the Empire
  • -0.005 monthly for every province owned by a country not in the Empire. As of patch 1.12, this also applies for provinces under the suzerainty of non-HRE members (for example, Provence leading a PU with Lorraine, Holstein in vassalage to Denmark). Provinces owned by non-HRE members who are subjects of HRE members do not decrease IA, although they are still subject to the Imperial Ban.
  • -0.1 monthly for every elector who is a vassal. This does not apply to electors who are juniors in a Personal Union.
  • -0.1 each month if there are fewer than seven electors.
  • -10 for declining a defensive call to arms from a member being attacked by a foreign nation.
  • Winning a defensive call to arms will grant as much as 30 IA, in addition to a substantial relations boost with every HRE member nation. But it will only be awarded if the defensive War Leader negotiates a victory. The Emperor can negotiate a separate peace, but won't earn any IA.
  • -0.01 for every Heretical prince in the Empire (this includes Orthodox and non-Christian religions, and is halved once Religious Peace has been proclaimed)
  • -1 to Enforce Religious Unity on a Heretical member of the HRE.
  • -5 to Revoke Free City Status.
  • -10 if a non-HRE nation annexes a member of the HRE.
  • Following ideas increase the Imperial Authority gained:
Imperial authority.png Traditions Ideas Bonuses Policies
(invalid bonus type “imperial authority” for Template:Bonus table)

Additional modifiers:

+25% from Imperial Reform Proclaim Erbkaisertum.
+25% from Imperial Reform Revoke the Privilegia.
+25% from triggered modifiers Catholic Empire and Protestant Empire.


If the Emperor has a female heir he can, under certain conditions, take the decision that in the future women can become empress.

Execute decision.pngPragmatic Sanction

Our heir is a woman but the Imperial crown can only pass to a man. It would be intolerable if our dynasty should lose their hold on the crown they worked so hard to acquire due to a mere technicality. Let us use all our influence to ensure our female heir will be considered as our successor when the time comes to elect a new Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

Potential requirements

The country:

  • is a member of the Holy Roman Empire.
  • has not enacted this decision before.

No female can become emperor.


The country:

No female can become emperor.


The country:

Msg event.pngThe Pragmatic Sanction

The Pragmatic Sanction, solemnly rendered by Emperor $EMPERORNAME$ on [GetDateText], established the indivisability of his lands and established succession by order of first born child, even to a woman. No doubt $EMPERORNAME$ also plans for his female heir to in time take his seat on the Imperial Throne.

Trigger conditions
  • None
Is triggered only by

the decision ‘Pragmatic Sanction’.

Event button 547.png
We can have an Empress!

Females can become emperor.


The Electors are the nations that vote for the next Emperor. When there are fewer than seven electors, the Emperor may grant the electorate to another independent nation within the Empire. Electors are incredibly protective of their sovereignty and are unlikely to vote for a nation that has an elector as its vassal. The Emperor may go to war with a country in order to remove the electorate from them if they follow a heretical denomination; with Common Sense, he can simply revoke the electorate instead (and can't go to war to do it). Electors may vote for non-members of the HRE too.

If there are no electors in the empire, hereditary rule is instituted.

These states begin as electors in 1444:

  1. Flag of Bohemia Bohemia
  2. Flag of Brandenburg Brandenburg
  3. Flag of Cologne Cologne
  4. Flag of Mainz Mainz
  5. Flag of The Palatinate The Palatinate
  6. Flag of Saxony Saxony
  7. Flag of Trier Trier

If an elector loses has the Empire status, it will stay on the empire, unlike any other HRE nation.

AI voting criteria

AI electors weight candidates according to the following criteria: (non-exhaustive list)

  • + current opinion, from -200 to +200.
  • + Legitimacy.png Legitimacy - 50, from -50 to +50.
  • + (Prestige.png Prestige - 50) / 2, from -25 to +25
  • + Imperial authority.pngImperial Authority, for the current emperor.
  • +30 for an alliance with the candidate.
  • +10 for a royal marriage with the candidate.
  • -25, if a one-province minor.
  • +25 or +50 for being sufficiently large and an HRE member.
  • +5 for same culture group.
  • -50 for heretic religion (i.e., different branch of Christianity).
  • +50 for subject electors, towards their overlord.
  • -50 for independent electors towards a candidate with electoral subjects (stacks).
  • -50 for non-HRE states (like Byzantium).
  • -20 to +20 for trust.
  • +200 for being the leader of a religious league.
  • -200 for being a member of the opposing religious league.
  • +10 per point of positive Diplomatic reputation.png diplomatic reputation.
  • -5 per point of negative Diplomatic reputation.png diplomatic reputation.
  • -200 if at war with the candidate. (NB: this is a severe penalty, but not automatically disqualifying).
  • -1000 if ineligible (non-monarchy, female candidate before Pragmatic Sanction, not Christian or not independent).


Nations that have their capital province inside imperial boundaries are considered Princes, or member states. These are the non-electoral states that begin the campaign in 1444 as part of the Empire (although Italian states are nearly guaranteed to leave soon by "Shadow Kingdom" event):

  1. Flag of Aachen Aachen
  2. Flag of Alsace Alsace
  3. Flag of Ansbach Ansbach
  4. Flag of Anhalt Anhalt
  5. Flag of Austria Austria
  6. Flag of Augsburg Augsburg
  7. Flag of Baden Baden
  8. Flag of Bavaria Bavaria
  9. Flag of Brabant Brabant
  10. Flag of Bremen Bremen
  11. Flag of Brunswick Brunswick
  12. Flag of Cleves Cleves
  13. Flag of Ferrara Ferrara
  14. Flag of Friesland Friesland
  15. Flag of Frankfurt Frankfurt
  16. Flag of Gelre Gelre
  17. Flag of Genoa Genoa
  18. Flag of Lübeck Lübeck
  19. Flag of Hesse Hesse
  20. Flag of Holstein Holstein
  21. Flag of Liege Liege
  22. Flag of Lorraine Lorraine
  23. Flag of Lüneburg Lüneburg
  24. Flag of Magdeburg Magdeburg
  25. Flag of Mantua Mantua
  26. Flag of Mecklenburg Mecklenburg
  27. Flag of Milan Milan
  28. Flag of Modena Modena
  29. Flag of Münster Münster
  30. Flag of Nassau Nassau
  31. Flag of Nuremberg Nuremberg
  32. Flag of Oldenburg Oldenburg
  33. Flag of Pomerania Pomerania
  34. Flag of Ravensburg Ravensburg
  35. Flag of Salzburg Salzburg
  36. Flag of Savoy Savoy
  37. Flag of Saxe-Lauenburg Saxe-Lauenburg
  38. Flag of Siena Siena
  39. Flag of Silesia Silesia
  40. Flag of Switzerland Switzerland
  41. Flag of Thuringia Thuringia
  42. Flag of Tuscany Tuscany
  43. Flag of Ulm Ulm
  44. Flag of Utrecht Utrecht
  45. Flag of Wurzburg Wurzburg
  46. Flag of Wurttemberg Wurttemberg

Joining the Empire

A nation may add provinces to the HRE if the provinces border the HRE via land connection or shared sea tile, and the nation has good relations with the Emperor (seen in province screen) or is the Emperor. Adding a capital province to the HRE will make that nation a member state. Adding a province to the HRE as a non-member requires the Emperor to have an opinion towards the state wishing to join of at least:

100 + CultureModifier * Development

where CultureModifier is 0.5 if belonging to the same culture group as the emperor and 1 otherwise. For example, in 1444 the Flag of Teutonic Order Teutonic Order has 115 development and a culture group shared with the Emperor, so it requires (100 + 0.5*115 = ) 157 opinion from the Emperor to join. Since relations can't exceed 200, this means that a nation of the emperor's culture group (usually German) can't have more than 200 development, while one of a different culture group can't have more than 100 development. Since vassal's development counts, releasing provinces to vassals can not help joining the HRE.

Current member AI states that are the Emperor, provided that they border or share a sea zone with province which are already members, the province religion is any denomination of Christianity, the nation has a core on the province, and the province is in Europe. Provinces connected with a water crossing can be added to the empire, as well as isolated islands provided they share a sea zone with a province already in the empire. Adding a new province to the Empire increases Imperial Authority by 1 point. The AI will only add their provinces to the HRE if they are the HRE Emperor.

Free Imperial Cities

Free Imperial Cities are one-province republics granted special favors by the Emperor. The game begins with the maximum number of Free Cities in the Imperial authority.png HRE. In the chance that number decreases, the emperor may appoint new ones (if the proposed nation accepts) as needed up to the maximum number of 8 Free Cities. For every Free Imperial City, the amount of Imperial authority.png Imperial Authority is increased by +0.005 monthly, and the Emperor also receives +2 Gold Icon.png annually for each city. In return, they get a special government type (breaking any pre-existing Royalmarriage.png Royal Marriages with no penalty), and the Emperor is always called into War.png war if a Free City is attacked, even if the attacker is in the Empire and has a valid Casus belli.png Casus Belli. However, if the free city is not a co-belligerent then the Emperor will not join and thus the free city can be annexed without Emperor intervention this way, however, it will give the player lots of agressive expansion, for anexing a non co-belligerent and for anexing a free city. If the emperor attacks a free city, it will suffer with -1 Icon stability.png stability.

At the start of the game, the Imperial Cities are:

  1. Flag of Aachen Aachen
  2. Flag of Bremen Bremen
  3. Flag of Frankfurt Frankfurt
  4. Flag of Hamburg Hamburg
  5. Flag of Memmingen Memmingen
  6. Flag of Nuremberg Nuremberg
  7. Flag of Ravensburg Ravensburg
  8. Flag of Ulm Ulm

As with Electors, the empire functions properly with them at their max number. The AI will always grant the status of Free City to the maximum of 8, as long as there are 8 eligible nations.

To offer Free City status to a nation, these requirements must be met:

  • Has a single Province icon.png province, with at least 10 total Development.png development. If a Free City takes a second Province icon.png province, it loses its status.
  • Must be a member of the Imperial authority.png Holy Roman Empire.
  • Must not be a subject nation, such as a Vassal.png vassal or the junior in a Personal union.png personal union. Free Cities can never be Vassalage.png vassalized, either diplomatically or in a War.png war resolution. If a Free City becomes a Vassal.png vassal in some other way, it remains a Free City.
  • Must not be an Imperial authority.png Elector.
  • Must be at peace.

If a nation qualifies, other factors such as diplomatic reputation, trust, and government type will affect the offer of becoming a Free City. In particular, Republics are much more willing to become Free Cities than Monarchies or Theocracies.

  • +50 to -50 from trust/distrust
  • +20 to -50 from opinion.
  • +20 Threatened attitude Threatened attitude
  • +10 Friendly attitude Friendly attitude
  • +10 Alliance.png Ally attitude
  • +3 or -3 per point of Diplomatic reputation.png Diplomatic Reputation (Rounded down to nearest whole number)
  • -1000 More than one Province icon.png province
  • -1000 Imperial authority.png Elector of Holy Roman Empire
  • -1000 Hostile attitude Hostile attitude or Outraged attitude Outraged attitude
  • -1000 Subject of another country
  • -1000 Ruler has a Militarist Militarist personality
  • -20 Neutral attitude Neutral attitude
  • -50 Government monarchy.png Monarchy
  • -100 Government theocracy.png Theocracy

Any Free City that loses its status becomes an Government republic.png Oligarchic Republic. A Free City loses its status under any of these conditions:

  • The Emperor may revoke Free City status from a nation at the cost of 5 Imperial authority.png Imperial Authority and a -100 opinion malus with that country. The AI will never use this option.
  • The Free City is no longer a part of the Holy Roman Empire, be it because it left the Empire, the Empire is dismantled, or the Empire is unified into a single nation Flag of Holy Roman Empire Holy Roman Empire.
  • The Free City annexes a second Province icon.png province. Free Cities may control Vassal.png vassals, Subject colony icon.png colonial nations, or Icon protectorate.png protectorates.

Leaving the HRE

A member state may leave at any time if it is at peace. Leaving removes all core provinces from the Empire, reduces authority significantly, and hurts relations with the emperor. Non-core provinces are ceded to the Emperor.

Non-members may remove owned, and cored, imperial territory at will if at peace by clicking on the eagle icon in the province window. This lowers imperial authority by -1 and significantly hurts relations with the emperor.

Non-electors forming nations results in those nations leaving the HRE. Also should the North Italian region not be entirely in the HRE by 1490 the Italian states will leave through the "Shadow Kingdom" event.

Unlawful territory

Unlawful territories are provinces that are a part of the HRE, but are owned by a Christian country that does not have a core on them. This applies even if the owner is a member of the HRE.

Liberating territory from a non-HRE member that controls HRE territory will NOT allow for the emperor to demand it. For example, if Burgundy takes over territory on the eastern HRE front, and the player then reconquers that territory from Burgundy, the player will not get unlawful territory. If the player were to conquer that land before Burgundy it would be considered unlawful.

The HRE emperor may request the owner of unlawful territory to return the province to its original owner. Note that while a country is at war, the emperor may not demand the return of territory. It is therefore possible to 'chain' wars back to back and core territory while at war to avoid unlawful territory demands. Being allied with positive opinion to the emperor makes it less likely that he will demand unlawful territory from a nation.

Refusing a demand for unlawful territory will reduce relations with all HRE members by -25 and give the emperor an Imperial Liberation casus belli against the target. The province in question will also receive the following penalties for a duration of 10 years:

  • National unrest.png Local unrest: +10
  • Local tax modifier.png Local tax modifier: -33%
  • Local manpower modifier.png Local manpower modifier: -50%
  • Local autonomy.png Local autonomy: +0.1 per month

The nation holding the unlawful territory also receives the following penalties for each un-cored province:

  • -1 yearly Prestige.png prestige
  • -0.5 yearly Legitimacy.png legitimacy

Imperial reforms

The Emperor with the support of enough member states may attempt to pass imperial reforms. The reform sequence in the game is loosely based on proposals that were made in the historical Holy Roman Empire starting in the 15th century, in order to "reform" it back into the more centralized and efficient structure it was considered to be in the 10th-12th centuries. Such reforms would have shaped it into something more like the conventional nation-states of the rest of Europe. They were usually promoted by smaller members and the Emperor, and opposed by Empire's electors and more powerful members.

The threshold for proposing a reform is having 50 Imperial Authority. Once the Emperor has more than 50 imperial authority and half of the members' support, for each additional point they gain a boost to the nations' willingness to support said reforms. Vassals and lesser partners of a personal union will almost always support the player.

The player can now choose to either support or oppose reforms. In prior patches the player automatically opposes reforms.

Princes (i.e. members) may either support or oppose the Emperor's reforms due to:

Reason Modifier
Economic power -0.2 per provincial base tax including capital and building modifiers
Same government type Monarchies: +2 with other monarchies
Theocracies: -5 with other theocracies
Republics: neutral
Opinion +10% of positive opinion of the Emperor (i.e. +20 at +200 opinion)
-50% of negative opinion of the Emperor (i.e. -100 at -200 opinion)
Heretic -20 if the prince's religion is considered heretical by the Emperor
Subject of Emperor +25
Overextension -25% of the emperor's current Overextension.png overextension (i.e. -25 at 100%)
Alliance with the Emperor +5
Same dynasty as the Emperor +3
Different culture -5 for different culture in the same culture group
-10 for culture in a different culture group
Imperial Authority +1 for each point of Imperial authority.png Imperial Authority above 50
Previous reforms passed -3 for each previous reform
Diplomatic Reputation +1 for each point of Diplomatic reputation.png diplomatic reputation
Weak emperor -2 for each point of total Development.png development of the Emperor's provinces less than 100, taking local autonomy into account

List of reforms and their effects

Reform Emperor Princes Notes
Call for Reichsreform
  • Construction cost.png -5% build cost
  • Development cost.png −5% Development cost
  • "Imperial Ban" casus belli against non-members with Imperial territory
  • Construction cost.png -5% Build cost
  • Development cost.png −5% Development cost
Institute Reichsregiment
  • National unrest.png -2 National unrest
Reform the Hofgericht
  • Legitimacy.png +0.50 Yearly legitimacy
Enact Gemeiner Pfennig
  • Diplomatic reputation.png +1 Diplomatic reputation
Ewiger Landfriede
  • Prestige.png +0.50 Yearly prestige
  • Technology cost.png -5% Technology cost
  • Princes may not declare war on one another (a non-member Emperor is not affected)
Proclaim Erbkaisertum
  • Imperial authority.png +25% Imperial Authority
  • Will remain Emperor on all further successions
  • No longer gains Imperial authority.png +10 Imperial Authority on succession
  • Vassal princes do not use diplomatic relation slots
  • Legitimacy.png +0.50 yearly legitimacy
  • There are no more elections for Emperor. Electors no longer vote.
Revoke the Privilegia
  • Imperial authority.png +25% Imperial Authority
  • Stability cost modifier.png -10% stability cost
  • All princes who support the reform become vassals of the Emperor.
  • All princes who do not support the reform will leave the Empire, and the Emperor gains claims on their Imperial provinces
Renovatio Imperii
  • Inherit all princes
  • Change country to Flag of Holy Roman Empire Holy Roman Empire
  • Change rank to Empire rank Empire
  • Gain cores on all Imperial provinces held by self or neighbouring non-members
  • Gain Administrative power.png 250 administrative power

Gain country modifier "Rome Reborn" for the rest of the campaign:

  • Prestige.png +1 Yearly prestige
  • Tax income.png +5% Tax income modifier
  • Inherited by the emperor.
  • The Holy Roman Empire interface is disabled.

Notes and strategies for specific reforms

Ewiger Landfriede

It is still possible for princes to end up at war as a result of honoring alliances with non-members or intervening in succession wars.

Revoke the Privilegia

When playing as the Emperor, in order to get as many princes as possible as vassals, it is worth increasing Imperial Authority to a level where all or most members would vote yes for this reform. Try distributing gifts, royal marriages, alliances and other relation-improving maneuvers to members who oppose it, before implementing the reform. Once passed, if a new vassal is engaged in war, as the vassal overlord the emperor will take control, but be aware that this includes wars with belligerents both outside and inside the Empire, which may mean that instead of becoming overlord of a HRE province the player declare war on it, even if it agreed to the reform. Ewiger Landfriede means this should not happen too often, but it's something to be aware of.

Due to the previous reform, the vassal relationships gained as a result of this decision do not count towards diplomatic upkeep, although royal marriage relationships will continue to. If the Emperor releases a vassal within HRE territory as an Imperial Prince, the newly released vassal will not count towards diplomatic upkeep either. A nation liberated after this reform, however, will not automatically become the Emperor's vassal.

As of patch 1.11, passing this reform also changes the way that vassal liberty desire is calculated. Before the reform, each vassal's liberty desire reflects the combined strength of all vassals. If two vassals each have 10% of the strength of their overlord, their desire contribution from relative strength will be 10% (half of combined strength from all vassals). After the reform, they (and all newly gained HRE vassals) calculate their strengths individually divided by 2. Thus, each of the two previous vassals will have 5% liberty desire (half of strength for that vassal only) from relative strength. In this way, Revoking the Privilegia can help an overlord stabilize their relationship with vassals both inside and outside the HRE.

This reform is where the HRE will be the strongest, as any country that the emperor declares war on will have a large swarm of vassals to fight through. If the Empire is strong enough, they can usually take most (if not all) large Eurasian nations, even without any allies (providing the vassal swarm is large enough). A common strategy when playing as Austria and having revoked the privilegia is to rotate between targets. Attacking (in no particular order) the 3 countries that have been listed above will keep the player's army and navy tradition high and allow him/her to recruit better and better generals as time progresses. When playing as an expansionist Austria (which is recommended most of the time), it is prudent to feed captured land to vassals to make them even stronger, giving eastern land to, for example, Pomerania, Brandenburg, and Bohemia and western land (France, Spain/Castile, and maybe even Northern Africa) to the small vassals in the western part of the Empire, and taking the Ottomans, the Black Sea, and nearby steppes for the player or giving it to other members.

Renovatio Imperii

The last reform will consolidate all member states of the HRE into a true, unified nation, with the emperor becoming its ruler. This reform is easy to pass, as all the remaining HRE states are now vassals and will usually vote for it. This has a very, very negative impact on relations with former HRE members who left when the player revoked the privilegia - they get a special "Unified the Empire" -100 relation penalty with the emperor. In addition, there will be a lot of aggressive expansion when trying to conquer their provinces. Note that the cores the emperor gets on imperial territory of non-members will not include those that left as a result of the previous reform, since that reform already removed all of their provinces from the empire.

Even if the player did everything right and made it this far by being nice and defending any and all princes (even the ones who insulted and backstabbed the emperor for centuries), it's quite likely the player will actually be weaker after uniting the empire since HRE bonuses are lost upon enacting the decision.

Like Germany, a united HRE does not have its own country-specific ideas and will simply carry over whatever the founding nation (Emperor) had.

Dismantle HRE

In order to dismantle the HRE, it is necessary to declare war against the Emperor, occupy the Emperor's capital, and have none of the Electors as "independent." Whether an Elector is counted as "independent" is not determined by whether they are independent or subject nations. The conditions are:

  1. If the Elector is independent and does not join the war, it is "independent."
  2. If the Elector is allied to the war leader against the Emperor, it is "not independent."
  3. If the Elector is a vassal of the war leader against the Emperor, it is "not independent."
  4. If the Elector is a vassal of someone other than the war leader, and does not participate in the war fighting against the war leader, it is "independent."
  5. If the Elector is a vassal of the Emperor, or is independent and allied to the Emperor and joins the war, the Elector is "not independent" if their capital is captured.

That is, in order to dismantle the HRE, it is helpful or even necessary to either ally with or vassalize the Electors, and the war must involve the Emperor and all Electors on either side. This, however, does not necessarily mean all Electors must be at war: an Elector allied to the war leader still counts as "not independent" even if it is not directly involved in the war, and if a third party (including rebels) takes one of the allied/vassalized Elector capital, the Elector is "independent" again. Dismantling the HRE will grant +100 prestige to the war leader, and remove the HRE interface altogether.

In addition, the HRE will automatically be dismantled if there is nobody eligible to be elected Emperor (see above for requirements).

Italy and the HRE

The "Kingdom of Italy" region. Red provinces are owned by non-HRE nations in 1444.

By the 15th century, the Empire's control over Italy was increasingly tenuous. To represent this, an event ("The Shadow Kingdom") will automatically remove the northern Italian states from the Empire in year 1490, unless the entire 'Kingdom of Italy' region is under the control of the Empire by this time, or all Italian HRE states are subjects of German members. In particular, all of the Italian lands belonging to Venice (except Venezia itself) and the Papal States in 1444 must be taken by the empire to retain Italy. AI Italian states that are vassals of non-Italian HRE states will remain in the empire, and a player-controlled nation may also choose to stay. However staying in the Empire incurs Submission to the Emperor malus.

Religious leagues

HRE interface while it's "in a state of religious war", with the league leaders and members on each side.

At the start of the game in 1444, a ruler can only be elected Emperor if they follow the dominant religion - Catholic. However, Electors can be of any Christian religion. After 1550, if one of the Electors (that is not a subject nation) has become Protestant (but not Reformed) and the Empire hasn't been reformed to the point of becoming hereditary, then the religious leagues can be formed. Any nation may join either league, regardless of religion, including states outside the Empire, and even if they have a truce with the Emperor. The Protestant League is created and headed by the first newly converted Elector, and the Catholic League will begin with the current Emperor at the head. After this, the Protestant League can declare war on the Catholic League at any time using the "Religious League" casus belli, which has the "Show Superiority" wargoal. If a league leader is attacked by any nation during a league war, their fellow league members will automatically join the war as defenders of the leader. This can make attacking nations in the HRE that aren't in the league against the Emperor particularly difficult, as the aggressor would have to fight the target, their allies, the Emperor, the Emperor's allies, and all nations in the Emperor's league.

Joining a league war grants the "Joined League War" country modifier for 100 years from the start of the war, which gives the following benefits:

  • Army tradition.png +0.5 Yearly army tradition
  • Military technology cost -5.0% Military technology cost

If a league wins the war by enforcing the "Religious Supremacy" peace term for 50% war score, that league will have their religion made the permanent official religion of the Holy Roman Empire. This disables further league wars and means that only countries of this religion can become electors or emperors. Furthermore, all countries with their capitals in Europe, even if outside the Empire, will gain the following benefits if they follow the victorious religion:

  • Legitimacy.png+0.25 Yearly legitimacy
  • Tolerance own.png +1 Tolerance of the True Faith
  • Missionary strength.png +1% Missionary strength
  • Imperial authority.png +25% Imperial authority

If any league war lasts a long time (exact time unknown), or if it ends in a peace that does not involve either side securing the "Religious Supremacy" peace term, the (Peace of Westphalia) is signed, ending the religious war and allowing any Christian to be elected Emperor. This is the only way for a Reformed, Orthodox or Coptic ruler to become emperor. The Peace of Westphalia also disables religion-based casus bellis such as "Cleansing of Heresy" between Christians inside the Empire. Emperors will no longer gain or lose imperial authority for Princes converting after the Peace of Westphalia is signed, also the monthly imperial authority loss for heretic princes is halved.

If the religious leagues are not triggered in the HRE before 1635, the Imperial Parliament convenes in a Diet to proclaim the Emperor's religion the sole faith with the same effect as if the Catholic League had won the league war. This will happen if none of the Electors convert to Protestant. If the Leagues do form, then after 30 years with no league war occurring, there is a chance that the Diet will occur in the favor of the Emperor. The mean time of this happening is 5 years after the initial 30 years without a league war, and it will only trigger if the player is at peace, not in a regency, and has no truces with any of the electors in the opposing leagues.


There are a few missions[4] related to election of the emperor.

Diplomatic power.png Improve relations with the Elector of $COUNTRY$

The elective system of the Holy Roman Empire is sometimes a real problem. Recently we have noticed that we are not as popular as we could be with the Elector of §Y$COUNTRY$§W. To ensure that our dynasty remains emperor, we must strengthen our ties.

Type: Electors
Mission trigger.png
Acquisition conditions

The target country:

  • is an elector.
  • is not the emperor.
  • has an opinion of at least 0 towards this country.
  • has an opinion of less than 50 towards this country.

This country:

  • is the emperor.
  • has not completed successfully this mission during the last 20 years.
  • does not have the modifier “Supportive Elector”.

The 6th imperial reformProclaim Erbkaisertum’ is not enacted yet.

Acquisition chance

Base weight: 1000


The target country:

  • will be backing this country to become emperor: ×1.07
  • has at least 4 cities: ×1.04
  • has the same religion as this country: ×1.20
  • has the same primary culture as this country: ×1.15
  • has the same dynasty as this country: ×1.05
  • is a neighbor of this country: ×1.02
Success conditions

The target country has an opinion of at least 100 towards this country.

Failure conditions

This country is not the emperor.

Mission effect.png

This country gets the modifier “Supportive Elector” for 10 years with the following effect:

  • Imperial authority.png+10% imperial authority.
Temporary effects


Diplomatic power.png Become Emperor

We have been blessed with Electoral dignity amongst the princes of the Empire. However if we could improve relations with other electors, the Imperial throne could be within our grasp.

Mission trigger.png
Acquisition conditions

This country:

At least 1 known elector will be backing this country to become emperor.

Acquisition chance

Base weight: 2000


This country:

  • has at least 8 cities: ×1.25
  • has at least 12 cities: ×1.50
  • is in the Germanic culture group: ×1.10
Success conditions

This country is the emperor.

Failure conditions

At least one of the following is true: This country:

  • is not member of the Holy Roman Empire.
  • is a subject nation.
  • is a lesser partner in a personal union.
  • is not a monarchy.

Mission effect.png

This country gets the modifier “Succesful bid for the Imperial Throne” for 10 years with the following effects:

  • Prestige.png+1 yearly prestige,
  • Diplomatic reputation.png+1 diplomatic reputation.
Temporary effects


Note: The corresponding mission for Austria is ‘Reclaim the Imperial Crown’.

Diplomatic power.png Make $COUNTRY$ vote for us!

$COUNTRY$ is an elector of the Holy Roman Empire, but sadly they are not endorsing our ambitions to be Emperor. We must change this, with promises, threats and gold!

Type: Electors
Mission trigger.png
Acquisition conditions

The target country:

  • is not a subject nation.
  • is controlled by the AI.
  • has less than 6 cities.
  • has an opinion of at least 50 towards this country.
  • is not voting for this country as emperor.
  • is not voting for the emperor as emperor.

This country:

  • has a Germanic culture or is a member of the Holy Roman Empire.
  • is a monarchy.
  • has a Christian faith.
  • has at least 4 cities.
  • has a male ruler.
  • does not have the modifier “Foreign Contacts”.
  • has not completed successfully this mission during the last 20 years.

The religion of this country is the dominant faith of the Holy Roman Empire.

Acquisition chance

Base weight: 1000


The target country:

  • has an opinion of at least 50 towards this country: ×1.07
  • has the same religion as this country: ×1.10
  • has the same primary culture as this country: ×1.10
  • has the same dynasty as this country: ×1.10
  • is a neighbor of this country: ×1.10
Success conditions

The target country will be backing this country to become emperor.

Failure conditions

At least one of the following is true:

  • The target country:
    • is controlled by a human player.
    • is not an elector.
    • is a subject nation.
    • has at least 6 cities.
  • This country:
    • does not have a Germanic culture or is not a member of the HRE.
    • is not a monarchy.
    • does not have a Christian faith.
    • has less than 4 cities.
    • has a female ruler.

Mission effect.png

This country gets the modifier “Foreign Contacts” for 10 years with the following effect:

  • Diplomatic reputation.png+1 diplomatic reputation.
Temporary effects


Notes for Crusader Kings II converted saves

  • The Europa Universalis 4 Save Converter can be used to transfer Crusader Kings II games to EU4.
  • If the Holy Roman Empire is transferred from Crusader Kings II while having maximum (absolute) crown authority, it will be represented in Europa Universalis IV as a unified nation.
  • Currently, using the CK2 converter does not check all reforms as passed, and the HRE mechanics are not disabled; if the HRE exists in game as a single nation as a result of being imported while at Maximum Crown Authority, it will still be able to pass reforms. However, if the emperor attempts to pass Renovatio Imperii, the player's game will freeze. The only way to avoid this is to use the console command imperial_authority 0 to occasionally reset the current Imperial Authority, edit the mod/save files to remove the mechanics, or simply declare war, occupy the HRE's capital, and push the "Dismantle Empire" button.
  • An imported HRE does not have its own set of ideas at present; it instead seems to use a generic group of ideas for its government type. One can go into the mod/save files and edit the ideas to whatever one wishes.
  • If imported from a save game where the emperor and electors are not Catholic, the HRE will be auto-dismantled into its component states upon game start. HRE view with assigned emperor and electors will be available in the menu but not in-game.

Historical context

The Holy Roman Empire was the dominant political power in Central Europe during this historical period. Compared to earlier centuries, when the Emperor wielded more control over his territory, the Empire by the EU4 timeframe had become greatly decentralized, and its member states acted with great autonomy. The power of the Emperor was still considerable. He had the power to intercede in the wars and affairs of the member states of the Empire. If the Emperor can enact the reforms, he can eventually centralize all the separate nations of the Empire under his own banner, and turn the Holy Roman Empire into a unified powerhouse which in the right hands can be almost unstoppable. Alternatively, the Empire can wane in power, and, as happened historically in 1806, it can eventually be dismantled. In game, however, the Holy Roman Empire usually passes a moderate number of reforms. What happens largely is the elimination of most one province minor states and leads to an end game scenario of 8-18 mid-sized states instead of the original 50.

External references


  1. See in /Europa Universalis IV/common/static_modifiers/00_static_modifiers.txt (Static modifiers#Emperor).
  2. See in /Europa Universalis IV/common/static_modifiers/00_static_modifiers.txt (Static modifiers#States in the Holy Roman Empire).
  3. See in /Europa Universalis IV/common/static_modifiers/00_static_modifiers.txt (Static modifiers#Free Cities in the Holy Roman Empire).
  4. The script code is located in /Europa Universalis IV/missions/Emperor_Missions.txt.
Country guides

Central African technology group Central African.png Kuba.png KubaMutapa.png Mutapa
East African technology group East African.png Ethiopia.png EthiopiaMogadishu.png Mogadishu
Muslim technology group Muslim.png The Mamluks.png MamluksMorocco.png MoroccoTlemcen.png TlemcenTunis.png Tunis
West African technology group West African.png Air.png AirMali.png Mali

Eastern technology group Eastern.png Jerusalem.png Jerusalem
Muslim technology group Muslim.png Arabia.png Arabia Ardabil.png Ardabil Hisn Kayfa.png Hisn Kayfa Oman.png Oman
Indian technology group Indian.png Assam.png Assam Bahmanis.png Bahmanis Bengal.png Bengal Orissa.png Orissa
Chinese technology group Chinese.png Bali.png Bali Brunei.png Brunei Dai Viet.png Dai Viet Japan.png Japan Khmer.png Khmer Korea.png Korea Majapahit.png Majapahit Malaya.png Malaya Pagarruyung.png Pagarruyung Pasai.png Pasai Sunda.png Sunda
Nomadic technology group Nomadic.png Jianzhou.png Jianzhou Timurids.png Timurids Uzbek.png Uzbek

Western technology group Western.png United States.png United States
Mesoamerican technology group Mesoamerican.png Maya.png Maya
North American technology group North American.png Caddo.png Caddo Cherokee.png Cherokee Iroquois.png Iroquois

Andean technology group Andean.png Chachapoya.png Chachapoya Cusco.png Cusco Muisca.png Muisca
South American technology group South American.png Mapuche.png Mapuche