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German Humanists, Tacitus' Germania


It is well known he German Humanists (1490-1540) used Tacitus’ Germania to advance their notion of the German nation in response to Italian criticism. But less attention has been given to the German nature of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (1509). I argue that Humanists after Conrad Celtis (Bebel, Wimpheling, Cochlaeus, Brant, Irenicus, Franck, Hutten) emphasized the Germanness of the empire by reinterpreting the traditional Translation of Empire, the Germanic migrations out of Germania after Constantine, and the designation of a new national purpose (the protection and expansion of the Church and the faith). They grafted the new views of the nation with the fifth world empire, Germany as the descendent of Roman-era Germania, and the contemporary Holy Roman Empire.