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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episcopal elections? throughout the empire
were left to the cathedral chapters, in


imitation of the Pope's election by the
cardinals. The enfeoffment of the nomi-
nees with the regalia was to take place,
though only in Germany, before their
consecrations, which were thus far made
dependent upon the consent of the crown ;
this enfeoffment, as distinct from investi-
ture, was to be carried out so as to exclude
the theory that it implied appointment to
ecclesiastical office. Henry V., who was
personally an unattractive character, died
on May 23rd, 1125, too early to secure
the restoration of order, or to reconcentrate
and revive the powers of the crown.

The Hohenstauffen Frederic of Swabia
would have received the crown, for which
he came forward as a candidate in
August, 1125, had he not been the private
heir and nominee of Henry V. The duke
of Saxony was therefore preferred to the
succession, notwithstanding his strong
position and in spite of, or on account
of, his indifference. Thus the kingdom
returned to the Saxons, and Lothair in
consequence undertook a burden of
responsibility and a policy analogous to
those of Otto I. At the same time his
consciousness that he was a
servant of the Church proved
even more inconvenient than
before 1125, during his
membership of the alliance. It was
necessary for him to gain some support
against the Hohenstauffen, who were con-
tinuing the struggle. They had elected
the younger brother, Conrad, duke of a
portion of Franconia, as opposition king,
for the reason that Frederic of Swabia was
suffering under a bodily infirmity. Lothair
therefore won over the Guelfs by the
marriage of his daughter and heiress,
Gertrude, with Henry the Proud in 1127,
while the Zahringers were bought with the
concession of the imperial governorship in
Burgundy. In this quarter they had
secured considerable wealth as heirs of the
Rheinfeld family and also by a second
inheritance of a county in North Bur-
gundy which Lothair assured to them;
they were unable, however, to turn to
the best account the important position of
governor, which they held at the same time.
The old single-headed eagle of the empire
which these dukes had added to their
coat of arms, in virtue of their office, was
transferred, after their extinction in 1218,
to their heirs of Fiirstenberg, on whose
shield it is still to be seen. It was
under the rule of Lothair (1125-1137)

Lothair Won
the Guelfs

that the great families of the empire
consolidated their power and became of
importance owing to the extent and
locality of their possessions. The nucleus
of the old allodial estates of the Guelfs
was situated on the north of Lake Con-
stance ; in the meantime they had
entered 'upon the inheritance of the

_. . , Billungs in Saxony, and were

The Imperial , ,

>,. next in succession to the
Crown Given r , , t .,

property of the family of
to Lothair o i- u - A u u- u

Suplmburg, with which were

closely connected the inheritances of
Northeim and the Ludolfings.

Lothair opposed the enterprise of the
Hohenstauffen in Italy, where he received
the imperial crown in the Lateran on
June 4th, 1133. He attempted to alienate
the property of Matilda from her Salian
heirs by acknowledging it as a possession
of the Pope, who placed this interpretation
upon previous promises of Matilda, and
received it from the Pope as a fief. He
evaded, however, the form of the oath of
allegiance, and did not acknowledge himself
the Pope's " vassal " (homo), as the Curia
maintained at a later period. A recon-
ciliation was effected in Germany, under
which the Hohenstauffen renounced their
claim to the crown in October, 1134, and
in September, 1135. A second journey to
Rome, in 1136-1137, emphasised by its
splendour the unity of the empire and the
freedom which the emperor had acquired.
Pope Innocent II. regarded the change
thus betokened by the emperor's action
and his expedition as highly inconvenient.
The old imperial rights were enforced
throughout the country, and the feudal
supremacy over the Normans of Lower
Italy was reasserted.

On his homeward journey Lothair
died, on December 4th, 1137, in the
Alpine village of Breitenwang on the
Lech. The empire was again at the
height of its power ; intellectually and
materially a period of prosperity was
beginning, to which a consider-

e able impulse was given by the

G * t D Crusading movement, and it

was promoted with surprising

rapidity by the laity, who were now

awaking from their long torpor.

Western Europe as a whole outstripped
Byzantium after this decade, and no longer
stood in need of Byzantine civilisation
when it had learnt the method of
drawing inspiration from the sources of
classical civilisation.







^va^^?WrK^ ,S -
K^^^'^&r^&^i .






IN view of the situation existing from
1137 to 1138, many have asserted that
the Guelfs ought to have succeeded in
securing the throne with the other inherit-
ance of Lothair ; in that case the German
nation would have entered upon a period
of straightforward North German rule
instead of the Swabian government, which
eventually lost its vigour in Italy. Con-
jectures of this kind are invariably to be
mistrusted. Otto I. extended the imperial
policy to Italy. Otto II. and III. forgot
the claims of Lower Germany in view of
their desire to advance to the Mediter-
ranean and Italy. Though Lothair had
grown old in the politics of Lower Germany,
he had devoted the end of his life to war-
fare and organising work in Lower Italy.
We shall find the Guelf Otto IV. pursuing
the policy of the Hohenstauffen as soon as
he is emperor. It was, in any case, no
mere imperial dream which
Why ttry induced the Hohenstauffen to

attach such importance to the
a Throne T , ,.

Italian possessions. It was, on
the contrary, the imperative necessity of
augmenting the resources of the crown,
even more than the power of their own
family, by means of Italian wealth.

The reason why Henry the Proud did not
become king, after his step-father Lothair,
is to be found in the apprehensions which
the princes entertained of his growing
power in Swabia, Bavaria and Saxony, and
still more in the disappointment which the
Church had suffered through Lothair's
action. The elevation of Conrad III. was
primarily due to the Church. Against a
candidate and a wearer of the royal
insignia who was so firmly established as
Henry, all that could be done was to sup-
port the rival and his independent power ;
a third unimportant claimant would have
been useless. We may, indeed, venture to
say that the fact that the Guelfs did not
then succeed to the crown preserved for
them the fruits of those efforts which the

son of Henry the Proud carried to a
successful conclusion in the north.

King Conrad considered that it was
impossible to break up the power of the
Guelfs, and to divide among his Babenberger
and Ascanian friends the offices which
,. they were holding. Thus the

at sm struggle began which divided
the empire, and especially the

the empire , . r

bwabian territory, between the

Guelfs and Ghibellines that is, Waib-
lingen. In May, 1142, the question was
temporarily settled that is to say,
deferred. Henry died on October 20th,
1139, before attaining the age of thirty-
two. His son of the same name (the Lion)
was allowed to inherit the Saxon duchy ;
but the margrave, Albert the Bear,
became immediately dependent upon the
empire, and was given the imperial post of
chamberlain. This high office and Albert's
exploits laid the foundation of that position
which Brandenburg afterwards enjoyed as
an imperial electorate ; the old duchy of
Saxony could thus be represented by two
votes among the ruling nobility of the
imperial principalities, while to the other
hereditary duchies of Germany not even a
single vote was accorded.

Between 1147 and 1149 Conrad, much
against his will, undertook his fruitless
crusade to Damascus. At the same time
a crusade against the Wends was under-
taken by the princes of Lower Germany,
and those who were somewhat hostile to
the king, after a loyal agreement had been
concluded between the two parties. The
c results did not indeed corre-

rusa es S p On d w jth the amount of energy

that f. , ... J

Failed displayed, though the position
of the young Duke Henry in
this district was thus confirmed from the
first. The alliance between the Guelfs
and Zahringers was renewed at the Lake
of Schwerin in the course of this crusade ;
about the year 1147 Henry married the
Zahringer Clementina.



been too incompetent. In 1154 Bavaria
was given back to Henry the Lion, the
result being that Austria became the special
duchy of the Babenbergers, with certain
exceptional rights, affecting its obligations
to the empire, secured by the " Privi-
legium Minus " of September I7th, 1156.
The result of this fifty-second election was
thus to secure the equipoise of Guelf and
Hohenstauffen, though for the moment
under a reconciliation which guaranteed
peace upon both sides.

Since the time of Charles the Great,
no king had been inspired with so keen a
desire to secure peace and prosperity for
his country as Frederic showed in his
measures of organisation and legislation.
He proved that his electors had been
perfectly correct in their choice of him as
successor to the throne. The constitution
of the empire was almost entirely re-
modelled by his action ; but the transfor-
mation was effected without- difficulty.

The election of Frederic Barbarossa on
March 4th, 1152, as the successor of
Conrad III. was an attempt to heal the
opposition between the WaiWingen and
the Guelfs. So great importance was
attached to this object that no difficulty
was made in passing over Frederic of
Rotenburg, the surviving son of Conrad
III. Frederic Barbarossa, the Swabian
nephew of the deceased king, was a son of
a Guelf mother, and occupied in some
respects a position midway between the
two parties, though not entirely coincident
with the position of Conrad III.

The hopes of both parties had been placed
upon him during the last crisis, imme-
diately after the Crusade. He had dis-
tinguished himself upon the Crusade no
less than in a rapid series of exploits at
home ; he was ready to become king, and
his desires were accomplished without
difficulty and with the help of various
agreements. His choice is a sign of the
recognition given to
bravery and of the
effort for unity during
this period, in which
the spirit of chivalry
was upon the increase.

These influences
made Frederic's
position firm and
powerful from the
outset, though he
succeeded a transition
government which
had been marked by
great irresolution.
Hence his foreign
policy was able to
make the ideal of
Imperial suzerainty
effective. In the
usual domestic
struggle between
Danish families for
the succession in that
kingdom, he was able
to secure the success
of one competitor,
Sven, by accepting
him as an imperial
vassal. Between 1154
and 1155 he secured
the imperial crown,


, . , Even under the revived "Holy Roman Empire" it was no uncommon occurrence for

men an achievement emperor and Pope to be in violent opposition to one another; and Frederic Barbarossa

for which Conra H ha r\ u as not ee ? m tr ? uble with the Papacy, as the following pages and illustrations show.

Oa Here we see the ambassadors of the emperor being received by the Pope and the Doge.



In choosing Frederic Barbarossa as the successor of Conrad III., in 1152, the electors selected a man well worthy of
their confidence and support. His measures of organisation and legislation were proof of his great ability, and it was
generally recognised that no man since the time of Charlemagne had been inspired with such a keen desire to secure
peace and prosperity for his country. After settling the affairs of Germany, Frederick paid his first visit
to Italy, received the Lombard crown at Pavia, and in 1155 was crowned emperor in Rome by Adrian IV.

He did not, like Charles, attempt to secure
the immediate administrative powers of
the monarch against the feudal system,
but remodelled that system by introducing
a series of military gradations. The spirit
of patriotism which was then passing over
the nation, the sense of nationality among-
the Germans which was arising to con-
sciousness throughout all classes, enabled
him to make the episcopacy the mainstay
of his throne ; such men as Archbishop
Rainald of Cologne and Christian of Mainz
proved themselves most reliable princes
among the German nobility, and became
Frederic's best advisers and generals.
On the other side, he turned especially
for support to the " ministeriales," both
to those of the empire and of his own
family, and to those of the German Church.
In continuation of the policy begun by
Conrad II., he helped the class of the
more important " ministeriales " to become
free vassals and to incorporate themselves
with the lower nobility. The chivalrous

spirit of the time, which made these
social modifications possible, was marked
by a high conception of the loyalty due
to the position and person of the chief
overlord. The secular princes might join
this temporal hierarchy of feudal re-
tainers as they pleased ; loyaity was
expressly demanded by Frederic only of
individuals in close dependence upon him,
or of those whom he used to counter-
balance the great dukes. The chivalrous
and national spirit of the age rapidly
brought these temporal princes to the
emperor's side, often in consequence of
loss and irritation, as is shown, for instance,
by the history of Berthold of Zahringen.

To the end of his reign, Frederic
continued his policy of dividing the old
duchies and of reducing the position of
the imperial princes, with the result that
only the spiritual lords, the diminished
dukes, and the more important princes of
the Wends were reckoned among the
"principes," with the exception of certain



palatine counts and margraves, and the
counts of Anhalt these last as Ascanii.
Hence this order was limited to those
secular princes who were actually of
supreme importance, while the remainder,
the chief body of the counts, were reduced
to the rank of free lords without sovereign
jurisdiction. Thus, in addition to the old
hereditary dukes, a generation of younger,
more vigorous, and more loyal princes
received a new accession of consequence ;
at the same time the preponderance of the
spiritual lords in conjunction with the
emperor was secured throughout the

The new class of burghers remained
undisturbed by the modifications and
the new demands of this chivalrous empire.

Certain distinctions had been purposely
created by legislation to separate the
merchant and the knight, while the
regulations of the public peace, which
provided against speculation in corn and
other possibilities of the kind, seemed to
indicate some animus against the burgher
class. On the other hand, other princely
houses were, or became, careful to advance
the prosperity of the burghers. Of these,
the Zahringers were the most important,
while the Guelfs also did much by their
creation of new cities from Munich to
Liibeck ; their economic resources were
based more or less upon the revenues
which they received in their capacity of
landlords from the towns and from com-
merce. This new social organisation of the


The old duel between emperor and Pope broke out once more during- the reign of Frederic Barbarossa, whose
quarrel with the occupant of St. Peter's chair began in 1157. In the following year Frederic crossed the Alps, and
after compelling Milan to submit, held a triumphant diet at Roncaglia. Revolts succeeding, Milan was besieged,
and more than three years elapsed before the opposition was overcome and the town finally captured and destroyed.

The Lombard League, which was an outcome of the enmity of the Italian cities to the emperor, took final
shape in 1168, and in the battle of Legnano, in 1176, it defeated Frederic, who was compelled to make
submission to Pope Alexander III. by the Peace of Venice. Frederic and the Pope became reconciled,
and the bitter struggle with the Lombard League was brought to an end with the Peace of Constance in 1183.

From a painting in the Ducal Palace at Venice.

empire developed rapidly in every quarter.
The terms "prince," "lord," "citizen"
and " peasant " came into general use ;
the terms " free " and " unfree " had not
entirely disappeared, but became anti-
quated, while their meaning was often
inverted, though the conservatism of Lower
Saxony preserved them for the longest

Notwithstanding all these regulations,
the crown still needed some secure source
of revenue, as the private and public
revenues of the empire had fallen too
largely into the hands of the princes.
Such a source could be found in Italy.
Even in that country the royal revenues

had largely been alienated from the crown.
They had fallen into the hands of the
towns, the individual prosperity of which
had steadily increased their importance.
In Italy national and feudal organisation
had almost disappeared. The bishops and
imperial officials of former times, together
with their vassals, had seen their preroga-
tives undermined by the development of
the town and had accommodated them-
selves to this development. The blow
delivered by Frederic I. against this state
of affairs, shortly after his first expedition
to Italy, was no doubt an act of oppres-
sion and implied a sudden overthrow
of what had grown by degrees. The



impoverished condition of the crown and
of the empire in the midst of a general
and growing prosperity was a bitter experi-
ence, while the impossibility of opening
other s6urces of revenue increased the
seriousness of the financial situation. The
crown, moreover, was theoretically justi-
fied in vindicating its former rights.

To the famous imperial diet of Roncaglia
in November, 1158, Frederic had sum-
moned from Bologna a number of doctors
learned in the civil law, which had lately
been revived as a study in
the Italian universities, and
was still the basis of common
law in the towns. These
experts advised the emperor
to adopt the decisive course
of declaring all the royal
dues payable to himself, and
their actual recipients to be
dependent upon him and
obliged on their side to prove
their rights individually. This
assembly of civilians is also
of importance in another
direction. It marks the be-
ginning of a classical renais-
sance which was to permeate
mediaeval thought and civi-
lisation and modify the
imperial theory ; it is also a
proclamation of the revival
of Roman law, which was
demanded by the imperial
interests. The idea of using
the antique imperial law for
the advantage of the medi-
aeval crown had long before
occurred to the acute
Henry V. ; the diet of 1158
had merely put it into
tangible shape.


whatever of common interest. However,
the most powerful of the German princes,
Henry the Lion, refused his help to the
emperor when it was urgently required.
Shortly afterwards Frederic lost the battle
of Legnano on May 29th, 1176, though not
for want of the duke's help ; with a
sudden change of plan, he attempted to
secure an armistice and a settlement in

It was most important for him to
come to an arrangement with the Guelfs ;
and at the cost of some
sacrifices he secured a. recon-
ciliation with Pope Alex-
ander III. in the Peace of
Venice, in the summer of
1177. The royal revenues in
the Church states and the
inheritance of Matilda were
guaranteed to him after a
lapse of fifteen years, and
Alexander was relieved of the
presence of Calixtus III.,
the imperialist anti - Pope.
An armistice was also con-
cluded with the Lombard
communes ; a peace with them
was finally arranged at Con-
stance on June 25th, 1183.
The emperor saved his terri-
torial supremacy, his judicial
rights, his influence upon the
administration of independent
communes, the fodrum the
payment for the expense of
maintaining the emperor and
his armies and a yearly sum
as compensation for his fiscal
rights in the territory of
those communes which would
not, or could not, prove their
rights in accordance with the

The long war between the with MS following of yassais this principles formulated at the

empire and the rich Lorn- {^f "o^difiVaraction'to^rd diet of Roncaglia. Within

bard communes soon broke Frederic Barbarossa, the latter, in their own walls the towns

out, and was prosecuted with ] l80 ' declared his lands forfeited ' were in undisputed possession
appalling animosity. After 1170 the towns

were forced into close alliance with the
papacy, which was also intimidated by the
spectacle of an empire of wide influence con-
ducted upon secular principles by a band
of spiritual princes. However, the bishops
and the secular princes of Germany con-
tinued their fidelity to the emperor. On
the one side stood German feudalism and
chivalry, and on the other the power of
the Italian cities ; these parties were in
violent opposition, and had no point

of the revenues and the supreme power.
Thus was removed all opposition on the
emperor's side to the development of free
and independent city states which was
then taking place in Italy. At the same
time, the influence of the crown in Italy
was now far greater than in 1152 ; and
after the conclusion of peace, the splendour
of the empire as head and front of the
knightly organisations, which Barbarossa's
vigour in these struggles and negotiations
had maintained, was further advanced.


Among those violent adversaries the
emperor himself secured a popularity and
a distinction which the leading commune,
Milan, soon strove to share as an honour of
special importance.

The destruction of Henry the Lion falls
between the peace of Venice and that of
Constance. Since 1156 Germany had
been practically divided into two empires,
that of the west and south, extending
towards Burgundy and
Italy, and the Bavarian-
Saxon Empire, with a
Slavonic and northern
policy. Henry the Lion
had extended his con-
quests to Pomerania, and
had founded Liibeck as a
permanent Saxon harbour
on the Baltic. This duke,
with his independent
vassals and his "domestic
disturbances," acted as an
independent king ; more
than once the abbots and
bishops within his terri-
tory, who were possessed
of territories or dioceses,

his town of Brunswick a ducal residence of
unparalleled splendour. Upon the occa-
sion of a breathing space from his domestic
work, he made independent expeditions
eastward, like a great king, in 1172. We
must also mention the fact that about
1174 Frederic obtained the reversion of
the estates of Henry's uncle, Welf VI.,
which consisted of the old Swabian Guelf
lands to the north of Lake Constance.


had joined the temporal lords of Saxon}'
against Henry. The histories of the empire
and of this ducal power run almost in
parallel lines. A further-line of demarca-
tion was secured when Henry exchanged
certain Zahringer estates in the Breisgau,
which he had gained by marriage, for
certain royal estates in the Harz district.
Side by side with Goslar, and sur-
passing that royal town, Henry made


This must be added to
the points of difference and
division between the two
great cousins, although it
might eventually lead to
the further consolidation
of the two monarchies.

The crisis was initiated
by the refusal of this
uncrowned monarch in
Lower Germany to place
his army at the disposal
of the Hohenstauffen in
the hour of danger; his
help had been requested as
a favour and not as. a
matter of feudal right. The
Emperor Frederic regarded
himself as paralysed in the
freedom of his own policy by this growing
Guelf kingdom in the other half of
Germany. The refusal to render military
substance implied something more than
a policy of mutual avoidance, and an

Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceThe book of history. A history of all nations from the earliest times to the present, with over 8,000 illustrations (Volume 9) → online text (page 14 of 55)