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 A Quotable Collection


Part I: G.K. Chesterton

The double eagle is the ancient emblem of the double empire of Rome and of Byzantium; the one head looking to the west and the other to the east, as if it spread its wings from the sunrise to the sunset.it had been the badge of Austria as the representative of the Holy Roman Empire.- The New Jerusalem

Very few authors have written on as many subjects as the great Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936), a journalist converted to the faith as well as a poet and fiction writer, and he had very much to say on the subject of the Holy Roman Empire.


The new wild doctrines in the old wild lands had sucked Central Europe into a cyclic war of creeds. In this the house which stood for the legend of the Holy Roman Empire, Austria…  fought for the old religion against a league of other Germans fighting for the new.

On the whole we shall be right if we see the first throes of the modern international problems in what is called the Thirty Years’ War; whether we call it the revolt of half-heathens against the Holy Roman Empire, or whether we call it the coming of new sciences, new philosophies, and new ethics from the north.- A Short History of England


they will often tell you (in their praises of the coming age) that we are moving on towards a United States of Europe. But they carefully omit to tell you that we are moving away from a United States of Europe, that such a thing existed literally in Roman and essentially in mediaeval times. They never admit that the international hatreds (which they call barbaric) are really very recent, the mere breakdown of the ideal of the Holy Roman Empire.

Read any thirty or forty pages of pamphlets advocating peace in Europe and see how many of them praise the old Popes or Emperors for keeping the peace in Europe…

Now it can be easily shown that the thing we call aristocracy in Europe is not in its origin and spirit an aristocracy at all…It is simply the remains of a military organization, framed partly to sustain the sinking Roman Empire, partly to break and avenge the awful onslaught of Islam. The word Duke simply means Colonel, just as the word Emperor simply means Commander-in-Chief. The whole story is told in the single title of Counts of the Holy Roman Empire, which merely means officers in the European army against the contemporary Yellow Peril.- What’s Wrong With the World


The fact is, of course, that a narrow nationality has grown steadily and strongly for the last six hundred years; and European nations are much more divided now than they were in the time of the Holy Roman Empire, to say nothing of the Pagan Roman Empire.- As I Was Saying


We have had nearly four hundred years of divided Christianity and have grown used to it; and it is the Reunion of Christendom that we think of as the extraordinary event. But they still thought the Disunion of Christendom an extraordinary event. Neither side had ever really expected it to remain in a state of Disunion. All their traditions for a thousand years were of some sort of union coming out of controversy, ever since a united religion had spread all over a united Roman Empire. From a Protestant standpoint, the natural thing was for Protestantism to conquer Europe as Christianity had conquered Europe. In that case the success of the counter-Reformation would be only the last leap of a dying flame like the last stand of Julian the Apostate. From a Catholic standpoint the natural thing was for Catholicism to reconquer Europe, as it had more than once reconquered Europe; in that case the Protestant would be like the Albigensians: a passing element ultimately reabsorbed. But neither of these natural things happened. Prussia and the other Protestant principalities fought against Austria as the heir of the Holy Roman Empire in the Thirty Years War. They fought each other to a standstill. It was utterly and obviously hopeless to make Austria Protestant or Prussia Roman Catholic. And from the moment when that fact was realized the nature of the whole world was changed. The rock had been cloven and would not close up again, and in the crack or chasm a new sort of strange and prickly weed began to grow. The open wound festered.- Anti-Religious Thought in the Eighteenth Century


I have already shown that the real Outline of History for the last few centuries largely consisted of Prussia dragging down the Holy Roman Empire, and transferring the Imperial Crown, the Kaiserdom or Kingship of the Germanies, from the old Catholic Princes who claimed to have it from Charlemagne, to a Protestant prince who had been but lately a Prussian squire. In short, the whole modern business has been the building up of a new Protestant Empire in the north, on the ruin of the old Catholic Empire in the south. The Heresy of Race


Of course, there was always Germany, in the sense that there were always Germans. But in so far as those Germans had a country, a culture, a common centre of their civilisation, it was never, through all the ages, what we now call Germany. It was what we now call Austria. In so far as they were ruled by a Kaiser, the Emperor of Austria was the one and only Kaiser. In so far as there was a German Empire, the Austrian Empire was the one and only German Empire. They were more loosely federated than the solid nations like France; they could be regarded as small separate kingdoms and dukedoms; but in so far as they were ever one thing, this was the one and only thing. If they belonged to any Empire, it could only conceivably be the Holy Roman Empire, and the great imperial throne upon the Danube.- The End of the Armistice


Two full-length essays by Chesterton, Austria and Austria and the Nazis, will be published separately on the site.