James Bryce Bryce.

The book of history. A history of all nations from the earliest times to the present, with over 8,000 illustrations (Volume 9) online

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Frankish count or duke, Conrad, was
Conrad elected. He was a suitable
Receives a char . acter in the eyes of the
Crown leading ecclesiastical princes,
and he was also related to the
Carolingians, so that the breach with the
old dynasty seemed less violent ; and by
the choice of Conrad the crown remained
" among the Franks." Upon all these
questions people thought as tribesmen;
therefore the crown was regarded as the
property of the Frankish tribe. A request
was sent to the most powerful duke, the


Saxon Otto, of the house of the Ludolfings,
which was declined ; this was but one of
the preliminary negotiations which pre-
ceded the election at Forchheim, on
Frankish soil, on November 8th, 911.

Such was the indifference with which
the revival of the monarchy was viewed ;
its existence was made conditional upon
individual consent, and its power was yet
further diminished. None the less it
remained in existence, and, precarious as
that existence was, it yet became a tra-
ditional and historical idea. If its prac-
tical power decreased, it secured an in-
fluence less easy to estimate, which
eventually enabled it to surmount the
considerable dangers which were yet to
threaten its existence. Hence, we observe
that the passage from Charles the Great
onwards through German history is by
no means direct, and is explicable solely
by the partitions between 843 and 870.
Of his immense, statesmanlike work,
many achievements disappeared entirely
and with unmerited rapidity. The perma-
nent element in his work, which exercised
an enduring and decisive influence upon
. , Germany, is the fact that

Charlemagne s Char i esunite d a large number
Influence c -,. ~ .

~ oi diverse leutonic tribes

on Germany ,, *. i r ,i

on the right bank of the

Rhine with his own empire ; by adminis-
tration, by civil and ecclesiastical govern-
ment, he bound them so firmly together
that they were unable to separate in spite
of their mutual animosity. Their crown,
however, their political union, their com-
mon institutions, and their future nation-
ality were plants which either withered or
grew with difficulty, and for a long time
could be preserved from extinction only
by the most careful attention.

These new growths would certainly
have perished had not Conrad I., or
whoever advised him, taken a step in the
hour of death which produced a profound
and salutary impression. The proud and
powerful Saxons were extremely anxious
that the crown and the leadership should
fall to themselves, the youngest members
of the imperial alliance. Expediency and
generosity, on the other hand, urged the
Franconians to give their consent. In this
way they remained the supporters and
preservers of the power of the crown,
though this was a pleasure which they did
not exaggerate. Thus, in the midst of
general indifference, these two tribes at
last elected a king, the son of the deceased


The Saxon

Duke Otto. The most dangerous moment
in the existence of the German crown had
been passed,/ and henceforward all was

The methods of Henry I. (the Fowler)
consisted largely in a policy of humouring
the particularist spirit as far as possible.
He acted like the layman he was, grant-
ing neither the right of coronation nor any
obvious influence to the imperialist section
of the clergy ; their influence would not
have suited him personally, and his
energies were expended chiefly in cases
where others would have been glad of his
help, entirely for the benefit of his Saxons,
in whose duchy the Thuringians were
incorporated. Thus it was only his own
duchy that he liberated from the Magyars
in 933 by means of a truce and a victory,
acting as if this were the course of action
generally approved. He proceeded very
cautiously to secure the recognition of the
supreme royal authority in Bavaria and
Alamannia (Swabia) ; he even left the
appointment of Bavarian bishops in the
hands of the Bavarian duke. As soon,
however, as the Swabian duchy fell vacant
and a leader was required, he
immediately chose a foreign
duke for the country from
among the Franconian sup-
porters whom he wished to reward.
Lotharingia alone, which with its duke,
Giselbert, had given offence to all the
other Germans, he proceeded to treat
severely on the first favourable oppor-
tunity, which he also seized to secure his
recognition as East Frankish king by the
West Frankish government, though he
was not himself a Carolingian. He carried
on his former Saxon policy, with the
military power of his well-trained Saxon
troops, by making an advance into the
Slavonic lands of Eastern Europe. He
thus pointed out the road for the future,
which was to be a German and not
merely a Saxon line of advance, so soon
as the tribes co-operated and the gain of
the individual became that of the nation.
The same remarks apply to his creation
of a Saxon frontier against the Danes, the
mark of Schleswig.

The succession of his son, Otto I., which
he had personally secured, began in 936
with a kind of manifesto against Henry's
careful policy of retirement. The new
generation and the imperialist clergy were
anxious to announce their theory of the
constitution. Otto was crowned in

of Henry I.

Aix-la-Chapelle with great solemnity and
reaped the fruits of Henry's silent suc-
cesses. The great dukes acted as his
household officers during the coronation
feast, thus admitting their position, not
only as servants of the empire, but also
as servants of the king. Otto further
announced his general position as primus
inter pares and a crowned tribal
Saxons and duke , immediately entrust-

Franks ,, J c

. ., . ing the Saxon government to
at Variance , , , r

the hand of a representative,

Hermann Billung, who was specially
commissioned to guard against the Danes
and the Baltic pirates. With Hermann the
great Margrave Gero administered the
frontiers and directed the Saxon policy of
expansion upon the Slavonic side.

Otto was .anxious from the outset to
appear as the universal king, equally
supreme in every matter. The natural
reaction took place ; there were dissensions
between Saxons and Franks ; revolts
were joined by two of Otto's own
brothers, who had been unable to under-
stand why Otto should be elevated
rather than themselves, at this moment
when the dynastic theory was only
nascent ; there were complications with
several of the dukes and with the superior
clergy in the course of these revolts.
Otto had some difficulty in averting these
dangers, and as among the Danes, Bur-
gundians, and West Franks, or French,
there was no lack of tribal or dynastic
tendencies, a kind of protectorate over
their kings was immediately offered him.
Otto's system of placing the duchies in
the hands of personal friends or imme-
diate and younger relations was not carried
out in every case. His son, Ludolf of
Swabia, was no exception. He, like his
Bavarian uncle Henry, Otto's brother,
, was carrying on an independent foreign
policy beyond the south frontier, exactly
as the duchy had done during the weakest
period of the German crown. Henry, how-
ever, having learned wisdom
Ch n t k v many attempts at revolt

and past favours, maintained
his Father .- ji i - - i r\.,

friendly relations with Otto,

whereas Ludolf was inclined to act out of
jealousy with his uncle. Hence the Swabian
duke was induced to challenge his father
prematurely to a trial of strength. The
latter's interference in Italy was urged
upon him by the necessity of showing
that the king himself was master of his
foreign policy. The Saxons thus followed



the paths leading beyond the Alps which
had been used by the old Merovingians
and by their successors, the Carolingians,
of whom Arnulf was the last.

At length the claims of East Francia to

Italy and the imperial crown, which had

long been allowed to lapse, were revived.

Otto acted like Charles the Great by pro-

, claiming himself " Rex Fran-

* corum et Langobardorum "

* at Pavia, and by demanding

Italian Crown ... , r,

the imperial crown at Rome
shortly afterwards. Between these two
steps he married Adelheid, the sister of his
protege, Conrad of Burgundy, and the
widow of Lothair, one of the kings who for
some decades past had occupied Italian soil
by usurpation. She was a pleasing and
distinguished lady, though she did not
bring with her the Italian crown a gift
which Otto, indeed, had never expected.

The imperial crown was refused him
by the timorous Alberic, who had made
himself governor of Rome and lord of th'e
papacy ; in Germany the old revolts were
for a moment revived with the help of
Ludolf. Otto therefore returned and
agreed to a convention concerning Italy,
which satisfied no one except Henry of
Bavaria, who gained the old Friuli with
Verona and Aquileia for his duchy.
Among the dissatisfied parties was Beren-
gar of Ivrea, who had regarded his own
kingdom in Italy as secure upon the death
of Lothair, and who had now received
only a diminished feudal kingdom ; dis-
satisfied also were Otto's son-in-law, the
Frankish duke, Conrad of Lorraine, and
Ludolf and his partisans.

A new and formidable revolt broke out,
the danger of which was increased by a
simultaneous invasion of the Magyars, but
public opinion declared in favour of the
king. After 954, Otto suppressed the revolt
and initiated a new policy, entrusting to the
bishops a certain share of the secular
government in the duchies and counties,

The Clever anc * securm g tnat c l se personal
connection with them which
he had desired to introduce in
the case of the dukes. His
capable brother Bruno, the Archbishop
of Cologne, was given the supervision of
Lotharingia, always a thorn in the side
of the empire, and it was henceforward
divided into two duchies. For the help
of the Saxon policy against the Slavs,
and the Germanisation of the country
beyond the Elbe, he proposed to support

of Otto

the power of the army and the margrave
by making Magdeburg on the old frontier
a metropolitan seat, and thus a
centre of ecclesiastical activity. Upon
the Magyars' return in 955, Otto inflicted
upon them at the Lechfeld, near Augsburg,
a heavy defeat which finally liberated
Germany from these marauding raids,
and was regarded throughout the empire
as an exploit which had secured the salva-
tion of the common monarchy.

The consequence and power of the ener-
getic German king were now obviously in
their maturity both at home and abroad ;
all his activity and all earlier events were
turned to some account. The splendour
of the age of Charles the Great either
revived or was surpassed ; Greeks and
Saracens sent embassies with presents of
honour from empire to empire, according
to the forms of courtesy in use at the
period. This fact was an invitation to
consider the possibility of reviving the
imperial power of Charles. It was a
possibility further implied by the fact
that the Saxon dynasty had attempted
and failed to unite its interests with those
. p of the tribal dukes, had trans-

, ferred its favour to the upper
that Pointed , c ,,

clergy of the empire, and was

to Koine . f f, ... ,

in close sympathy with the

missionary and universal aims of the
Church. The Church and its wide influence
possessed at that time as its head Pope
John XII. ; and it was therefore all the
more important to withdraw no longer
from the Roman ecclesiastical centre of
gravity the influence of an imperial power
which could make ecclesiastical policy its
own and become the ally and patron of the
Church. Moreover, the revival of the
empire would provide a definite solution
of those Italian problems which had been
raised by the behaviour of Berengar and
of his son, Adalbert. Every recent deve-
lopment of Otto's later policy seemed to
point the way to Rome. The foundation
of the archbishopric of Magdeburg could
most easily be arranged at Rome, since it
was opposed by the Metropolitan of Mainz,
who could, from Rome, be prohibited from
further extending his great ecclesiastical
province eastward.

It therefore appeared that the most
tangible national object, the extension of
the empire and of the nationality upon
the Baltic and in the eastern interior,
could best be furthered by measures under-
taken in the distant country of Italy.


The expedition to Italy was begun in
961 ; in the course of it Otto accepted
the Lombard crown, and was finally
crowned as emperor at Rome by the Pope
on February 2nd, 962. Henceforward the
imperial power was not thought to have
been fully acquired until this form was
carried through. Shortly afterwards the
papacy was altered by a
forcible change of Pope under
'papacy ^6 judici 3 ^ supervision of the
emperor himself. Northern and
Central Italy immediately became new dis-
tricts of the empire, as formerly under
Charles the Great ; the Pope became the
chief imperial bishop, even as the Metro-
politan of Mainz had been the chief
bishop of the German kingdom. The
latter was obliged to assent to the bestowal
of archiepiscopal rank upon the new see of

Like Charles, Otto proceeded to effect
a composition with Byzantium, which
was indignant at his rise to power.
After much ill-feeling an understanding
satisfactory to both sides was secured by
the marriage of the emperor's niece, Theo-
phania, with Otto's son and namesake,
whom he had already, in 961, appointed to
succeed him. Like Louis the Pious, this
second Otto became emperor during his
father's lifetime, in 967, for the purposes
of the Greek marriage contract. The
Saxon dynasty thus calmly established
itself, both in its old and new positions,
and it seemed that Otto the Great was
about to resume the Carolingian tradi-
tions in their entirety, when he died on
May 7th, 973.

The government of Otto II. (973-983)
is remarkable in Germany rather for the
continuance than the extension of his
father's work. The centre of gravity for
the empire shifted so far that it no longer
remained in Germany. The existence of
the imperial crown made the Lombard
crown a superfluity, and this later theory of
G the situation secured the com-

Affairs ei plete uniformity of the whole

We're' Decided empire Imperial assemblies
upon Italian soil decided
the affairs of Germany. For the coronation,
the emperor's successor, the child Otto HI.,
who was designated at Verona the Arch-
bishop of Ravenna, as well as the Arch-
bishop of Mainz, travelled to Aix-la-
Chapelle. The relations of this son of
Adelheid and husband of Theophania with
the Mediterranean thus differed widely

from those entertained by the successor
of Henry I.

The conquest of Graeco-Saracen Lower
Italy - - an enterprise threatened by
Otto I. in order to put pressure on
Byzantium became for Otto II. the
most important object of his reign. His
carelessness brought down upon him the
appalling defeat of July I5th, 982, at the
modern Capo di Colone, south of Cotrone,
which inflamed the slumbering hostility
of the Lombards, Wends and Danes. The
emperor died before he could repair these
heavy losses. The difficult work of re-
storing the prestige of the empire devolved
upon the regent Theophania. With the
help of Archbishop Willigis of Mainz
she defeated the intentions of the younger
Henry of Bavaria, a grandson of Henry I.
and a Ludolfing, who considered himself
as much better qualified to rule than a
queen-regent of alien nationality and
dynasty, or even, in the last resort, than
Otto III. himself, who. though crowned,
was still a minor.

Otto III. suffered more than any other
German ruler from the consciousness that he
o in was n th m g but a German.

.. KTf' i We learn from reliable evi-

Nothing but , , rr,

G dence that Theophania was

inclined to manifest her per-
sonal scorn and contempt for the Germans,
and even for the German characteristics of
her own husband. Otto III. complained of
" the rudeness of his Saxon character,"
which had not been entirely overcome
by his tutors, who were chiefly foreigners,
or by the foreign friends with whom he
surrounded himself. He changed his
capital to Rome, and thus to the neigh-
bourhood of his friend Gerbert, whom he
made Pope Sylvester II. in 999. He
fulfilled that theory of the empire which
had already been manifest at the court of
Otto II., by organising his court upon
Byzantine models. He proclaimed him-
self upon his seal and otherwise as the
first real restorer of the Roman Empire in
the full sense of the term ; for this reason
he added " Romanorum " to the title
" Imperator." He regarded the Germans
merely as a nation subject to the empire,
which had its capital in Rome. He
assumed the secondary title " Saxonicus,"
by which he meant not " the Saxon," but
" the Governor of the Saxons," after the
pattern of the old triumphal titles of
Africanus, Germanicus, etc. Believing
that the prestige of this empire was but


increased by powerful vassals, he be-
stowed ecclesiastical independence upon
Poland by founding the
archbishopric of Gnesen
over the grave of his
Czech friend, Woitech.
This measure destroyed
the usefulness of Magde-
burg. In the same spirit
he freed the Poles from
their obligations to the
German Empire and to
the Saxons. He helped
the Hungarians to secure
a royal crown as a papal
fief, and to found the
archbishopric of Gran.
By the latter measure he
destroyed the position of
the Bavarian Church
among the mixed peoples
of the Hungarian terri-

Otto was himself to
feel the bitterness of
beholding the collapse of
the empire thus modelled
upon antique forms. The
Romans drove out the
German who had re-
nounced his nationality
from his


order to secure the transformation
the Slavs on the Upper Main into
true Germans. His in-
terference in Italian
affairs in 1004 was merely
confined to preventing the
foundation of a national
supremacy by Arduin, or
Hartwin, of Ivrea.

Instead of treating Ger-
many and Italy as one
kingdom, after the ex-
ample of Otto II., he
followed that of Otto
I., and accepted the
Lombard crown which
Arduin had temporarily
lost. In 1014 he made
a rapid journey to receive
the imperial crown.
This restoration of the
German monarchy as
ruling separate kingdoms
led to the acquisition of
Burgundia for the Ger-
man crown through a
treaty which promised
German protection to the
childless king, Rudolf III.
The latter in return
promised the royal suc-

"aurea Roma." He died
in 1002, while he was
attempting to make a
forcible re-entry, and the
transference of his corpse
to Germany was completed
amid the revolt of Italy.

King Henry II., a
Ludolfing of the Bavarian
line, whose election was
not secured without the
opposition of rivals, is,
more than all' others, the
restorer of the royal power
in Germany and the Ger-
man sphere of interest.
Although personally a
South German, he resumed
the policy of the Saxon
rulers. He averted the
danger of a great Slav Em-
pire, under the energetic
Duke Boleslav Chabry,
maintained German sup-
remacy over Poland and
Bohemia, and founded
the bishopric of Bamberg,

-, The Emperor Henry 1 1. and his wife Kunigunde,
pampered from their tomb in the Cathedral at Bamberg. CCSSlOn to Henry in hlS

The Emperor Otto III., who suffered
from the consciousness of being " nothing
but a German," changed his capital
to Rome, and proclaimed himself as the
first real restorer of the Roman empire.

territory. This acquisi-
tion, which could not be
refused, and also Henry's
close but entirely polit-
ical relations with the
Church, which were main-
tained not so much through
the worldly-minded
bishops as through the
reformers, obliged him to
enter the paths of imperial
policy. In 1019 and 1020,
at the request of the Pope
and at the appeal of the
faithful Lombard episco-
pate, he was begged to
return to Italy. He un-
dertook the journey in 1021
and 1022, and re-organ'sed
the affairs of the north and
centre. In his case, how-
ever, all these resumptions
of imperial policy had a
prospect of permanence and
successes he had previously
been careful to secure the
predominance of Germany.



In the course of the bitter struggle between Pope Gregory VII. and King Henry IV., the former excommunicated the
emperor and deposed him from the imperial dignity. Henry, unable to bear the social results of the papal ban,
scrambled over the slippery slopes of Mont Cents, in the depth of an unusually severe winter, that he might make his

eace with the angry Pope. Gregory retired to the castle of Canossa, and to that fortress high up in the Apennines
e was followed by the humble emperor. For three days Henry, clad in the thin white robe of a penitent, shivered in
the courtyard of Canossa, and absolution -vas at length granted to him only on humiliating terms of submission,










HTHE policy of the childless Henry II.
* was continued in many respects by
Conrad II., a Rhineland Franconian of
Salic extraction. His dexterity in crush-
ing a Franconian rival of the same name
secured his success in the royal election
of September 24th, 1024. The empire
had thus passed out of the hands of the
Saxons, who had practically lost it in
1002 ; such, at any rate, was their own
opinion when the Bavarian Duke Henry
secured the crown, although he was a
Ludolfing. The fact that it now returned
to the Franconians was due not so much to
a regular resumption of the old principle
of succession as to the closer relations
subsisting among the great Rhine eccle-
siastical princes. Conrad, though not edu-
cated by court chaplains like most future
emperors, but by laics, like Henry I., did
not reject the imperial ideas which were
forced upon his notice in the most varied

directions. He attempted to

c* P ria c - combine them with an essen-

r wn tially German policy. Hence

to Conrad ,, J ,, T , ,- * , . / , ,

after the Italian bishops had

visited him at Constance during his
royal progress and had invited him to
come to Italy, he accepted the invitation
in 1026, received the imperial crown in
1027, and extended the power of the em-
pire from Lombardy, where it was urgently
required, to the south, including the posi-
tion of the Normans, who were now settled
in Lower Italy. As the legal successor of
Henry he was able to renew the compact
with the king of Burgundy and to re-
sume the government of the country in
1033, after Rudolf's death, being for-
mally elected and crowned in this case as
in Italy. The Imperium of the Germans
thus comprehended three separate king-
doms, with a guarantee for their perma-
nent union.

The alliance of the Polish duke, Mesko
II., with his uncle Canute of Denmark
and England threatened danger to this
government, which Conrad was able to

avert by immediately contracting a friend-
ship of his own with the Danish king.
This was consolidated in 1035 by the
marriage of the emperor's son, Henry III.,
with Canute's daughter Gunhild, or
Kunigunde, and by the surrender at that
_ moment of the mark of

J ^n* d C * Schleswig. The brave Saxons
h^Kf arria e sett ' e d i n this mark remained
none the less Germans, and
even advanced their nationality beyond the
Schlei, further northward. This friend-
ship made it possible to retain the imperial
supremacy unimpaired in Poland and
Bohemia, and in 1036 to bring to a tri-
umphant conclusion certain complica-
tions with a people who had been useful
as allies against Poland, the Slav Liutizes.
Polish and Burgundian affairs gave rise
to certain difficulties, with which was
connected the revolt of Conrad's stepson,
Ernest, the heir of the Swabian duchy,
and Count Conrad, who in 1024 had been
over-reached in the royal election by the
adroit management of Archbishop Aribo,
who wished to secure the election to the
elder Conrad. However, Conrad II. sur-
mounted all these difficulties in 1030.
In the constitutional and social de-
velopment of the empire Conrad proved
himself a practical and creative ad-
ministrator. Both in Germany and in
Italy he supported the vassals of the
great feudal lords in their efforts to secure
a hereditary title to their fiefs. By
this action he united the interests of that

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