The Holy Roman Empire has made pivotal and defining contributions to Western civilization-but its many reincarnations have also come with painful and catastrophic consequences. European leaders aim to unite the fractured continent of Europe by reviving the legacy of this extraordinary church-state combine. One of the great lessons of this empire is that it always comes back. There is always another resurrection. The Holy Roman Empire is not just a relic of history. It is about to play a central role in world events. Coming to understand about the nature and character of this powerful institution tells you as much about the future as it does about the past.