The Holy Roman Empire (Latin: Imperium Romanum Sacrum, German: Heiliges Römisches Reich, Italian: Sacro Romano Impero, Czech: Svatá říše římská, Slovene: Sveto rimsko cesarstvo, Dutch: Heilige Roomse Rijk, French: Saint-Empire romain germanique) was a complex political union of territories in Central Europe existing from 962 to 1806. The empire grew out of East Francia, a primary division of the Frankish Empire, and explicitly proclaimed itself the continuation of the Western Roman Empire under the doctrine of translatio imperii ("transfer of rule" via a succession of singular rulers vested with supreme power). Frankish king Charlemagne was crowned as emperor by Pope Leo III in 800, restoring the title in the West after more than three centuries. The title was passed in a desultory manner during the decline and fragmentation of the Carolingian dynasty, eventually falling into abeyance. The title was revived in 962 when Otto I was crowned Holy Roman Emperor (Latin: Imperator Romanus Sacer), beginning an unbroken line of emperors running for over eight centuries.
The territories making up the Empire lay predominantly in Central Europe. At its peak in 1050, under Emperor Henry III, it included the Kingdom of Germany, the Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Italy, and the Kingdom of Burgundy. The Holy Roman Empire never achieved the extent of political unification formed in France, evolving instead into a decentralised, limited elective monarchy composed of hundreds of smaller sub-units, principalities, duchies, counties, Free Imperial Cities, and other domains. The power of the emperor was limited, and while the various princes and lords of the Empire were his vassals and subjects, they possessed an extent of privileges that gave them de facto sovereignty within their territories.
The last Holy Roman Emperor was Francis II, who abdicated and dissolved the Empire in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars.
Before 1157, the realm was merely referred to as the Roman Empire. The term sacrum ("holy," in the sense of "consecrated") in connection with the medieval Roman Empire was used beginning in 1157, under Frederick I Barbarossa ("Holy Empire") -- the term was added to reflect Frederick's ambition to dominate Italy and the Papacy; the form "Holy Roman Empire" is attested from 1254 onward.