The New International Encyclopædia/Kaiser
KAISER, kī'zẽr (OHG, keisur, AS. cāsere, OS. kēsur, Goth. kaisar, Gk. καῖσαρ, kaisar, emperor, from Lat. Cæsar, referring especially to Gaius Julius Cæsar). The German equivalent for Emperor. Under the early Roman Empire the acknowledged heirs to the throne added the name Cæsar to their own in honor of the ‘divine Julius.’ Diocletian (q.v.) made it distinctively a title and bestowed it on the two associates and successors of the senior Emperors or Augusti. On the division of the Roman Empire (395 A.D.) the title was borne by the Emperors of the West and of the East. It passed away in the West with the dethronement of the last Emperor (A.D. 476), but was revived in 800, when Charles the Great was crowned Roman Emperor in Saint Peter's, at Rome. From this time dates the association of the Roman Imperial title with the kingship of a ‘barbarian’ nation, first the Franks and then after 962 the Germans. (See Holy Roman Empire.) From Otho the Great to Francis II. the King chosen by the German nation as King of the Romans became Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, at first by consecration at Rome, but later through the very act of election. It was customary, however, for the German King of the Romans to be chosen during the lifetime of the Emperor, on whose death he succeeded to the higher title. Charles V. was the last German King crowned in Italy, namely at Bologna, in 1530. In 1806 the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved, but the Imperial title was retained by the House of Hapsburg, the head of which since 1804 has borne the title of Emperor (Kaiser) of Austria. On January 18, 1871, William I. of Prussia assumed the title of German Kaiser as head of the newly created Empire. See Cæsarism; Czar.