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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understanding on the point was impera-
tively demanded. It must always remain
a matter for our admiration when we
consider the means by which Frederic,
though simultaneously opposed by the



towns, the Pope and the Guelfs, ex-
tricated himself from these difficulties,
came to an agreement with all three with
no loss of supremacy, obliged his opponents
to niake peace and to grant concessions,
and then advanced with determination
upon the Guelfs. This was a daring
resolution, but the best he could make,
. , as in any other case his action
1 would be perpetually thwarted

H g K? f f rm the side of Germany. Had
His Rights ^

Frederic made concessions to

his adversary to secure the help which he
desired for reclaiming the utmost of his
rights beyond the Alps, we should have
every reason for blaming an empire which
neglected its domestic power to secure
supremacy in the south, and thereby
destroyed the unity of the nation. Frederic
made his plans for the decisive struggle with
the greatest caution, availed himself of the
weapons of formal right, and used them to
the utmost by dexterous policy.

As soon as the whole position was trans-
ferred from the level of political force to
the strict theory of constitutional and
feudal law, the ground was cut from under
the foundations of this second great state
within a state, the existence of which
had hardly been disputed. The emperor
appeared not as an opponent but as a
judge, and immediately sent the princes
who had a grudge against Henry to the
attack. The Guelf was thus handed over
to the judgment of feudal and common
law, was deprived of his ecclesiastical
and imperial fiefs, of his rights of local
justice, of his allodial domains, and was

In November, 1181, the struggle con-
cluded with some diminution in the
severity of the sentence ; the annihilation
of this family would have been an un-
paralleled proceeding, and the effects of
'such acts of extirpation are often disas-
trous to the triumphant party. The sen-
tence of outlawry was removed, and
Henry received his Saxon
' allodial territory once more. He

Lion 11- j , r

in Exile was> " owever ' obliged to go for
a time into exile in order that
the new arrangements might be carried out
without his personal interference, and
for this purpose he chose England, where
relatives of his family were settled.

The Saxon duchy was broken up ; a
number of its subjects were made imme-
diately dependent upon the empire, while
a ducal power over the west was given


to the archbishopric of Cologne and the
remainder of the east was transferred to
an Ascanian line. In 1180, as a reward
of service, the Count Palatine of Bavaria,
Otto of Wittelsbach, was created a duke,
which implied a restoration of early his-
torical family connections. The duchy
was, however, further diminished by the
fact that certain provinces were made
independent or dependent upon the empire;
these were Styria, Tyrol and Istria.

The highest point of imperial power is
marked, after the comparatively favour-
able peace of Constance in 1183, by the
brilliant festival of Mainz at Whitsuntide,
1184, when Frederic's elder sons, Henry
and' Frederic, were knighted. Equally
obvious on the .occasion of this festival
is the enthusiasm of the nation and of the
contemporary court poets Walther von
der Vogelweide and others for the splen-
dour which surrounded this great em-
peror and leader. The emperor's position
was advanced even more by the general
current of events in Europe than by his
personal victories ; and in the autumn of
the same year, William II. of Sicily, the
L b rd Norman ruler of Lower Italy,
though a sworn ally of the
Guelfs since the Crusade of
Conrad III., offered to the
Hohenstauffen prince, Henry, the hand of
his heiress, Constance, notwithstanding
the vigorous opposition of the Pope.

There was a strange and general move-
ment of lay feeling throughout the world,
which tended to compose the difference
between political opponents, between the
chivalrous and the trading, and which even
under the cassock of the distinguished pre-
late appeared in open or secret, opposition
to the principles of secular or hierarchical
self-renunciation. As we have already
observed, Milan requested the honour that
within its walls,, as a counterpart to the
festival of Mainz, should take place the
imperial celebrations of January 27th, 1186 ;
it was a marriage destined to strengthen
the hold of the Hohenstauffen upon Italy
in an unparalleled degree and to bring
Lombardy between two fires.

Henry was, then, crowned thus in Milan
with the iron crown of the Lombards.
It is remarkable that the emperor gave his
successor the title of Caesar, which the
classical Augusti bestowed upon their
presumptive heirs ; Augustus and his
imperial power had in point of time. pre-
ceded Peter, the apostle of Christ. In 1165

Two Fires

A great festival was held at Mainz, at Whitsuntide, 1 184, on the occasion of the knighting of the emperor's elder
sons, Henry and Frederic. The brilliancy of the event was matched by the enthusiasm of the nation, and the ceremony
is described as marking "the highest point of imperial power," the Emperor's position being then at its zenith.

Frederic demanded the canonisation of
Charles the Great from the then Pope,
Paschal III. This was a matter of political
expediency, and the translation of the
Prankish emperor's remains was carried
out with due solemnity. Frederic now
surpassed the energies of his model, and
united the foundations of national Genman
supremacy with the traditions of the uni-
versality and magnificence of the old
classical empire.

The Curia despaired of the laity, but
not of itself or its ideal of the predomin-
ance of the Church. It placed its hopes,
in spite of all, upon the possibility of
recovering the ecclesiastical, military

and political power which had belonged
to the episcopate. Its opposition to the
fiscal rights of the crown was a clever
move in the interests of the ecclesiastical
princes. According to these rights, when
an episcopal chair fell vacant, the personal
property of the deceased and the enjoy-
ment of his revenues reverted to the crown,
until a successor had been appointed ;
and this was a source of income which
had recently assumed a value unforeseen
by the simplicity and poverty of the past.
The evil results of the overthrow of
Henry the Lion, which had relieved the
Low German ecclesiastical princes of a
burden, were further announced in the



self-seeking policy of Philip of Heinsberg,
Archbishop of Cologne. He forthwith

while Henry VI. was on his road to
Sicily, a menacing understanding was

grasped at the proffered friendship of begun between the Archbishops of Cologne
Rome, and, abandoning his position as and Mainz and the other princes ; but,
the high official and helper of the emperor, fortunately for Henry, the life and soul
came forward as the representative of Rome
and the hierarchical idea in Germany, and
looked about him for political support. The
tension was then relieved by the

of the opposition at home and abroad,
Richard Cceur de Lion, was trapped in
Austria on imperial soil, on December
2ist, 1192, by the Babenberger duke,

destruction of the kingdom of Leopold, whom he had personally insulted
Jerusalem by Saladin and the before Acre. Leopold handed over his

prisoner to the emperor, and the con-
spiracy was broken up.

On February 4th, 1194, the Emperor
Henry, who had held that title since
April I4th, 1191, surrendered the pledge
which he possessed in the person of the
adventurous Plantagenet for a ransom
of 150,000 marks. In the spring of
the same year, 1194, Henry the Lion
abandoned his hopeless atti-
tude of defiance and became
reconciled, after his son, of
the same name, had received,
as the son-in-law of the
Hohenstauffen Count Palatine
Conrad, the promise of the
succession in this Rhenish
principality, which was formed
of Franconian lands, and the
official revenues of Lorraine.
In 1194 Henry gained a com-
plete victory and shattered
the resistance of the Normans
Henry VI. had accepted all KING PHILIP OF SWABIA in Southern Italy. On Christ-

nrartiral anrl irlpal Unable to secure the succession TN v rpr pj vpf 1 fVm

Q . lde ^ of Henry's son, Frederic, then but maS U ^ f 16 recelved

conceptions of universal wide one yea r old, the Hohenstauffen crown at Palermo and secured
supremacy ; but both before party was forced to elect Philip of his possession by the severity
and after his father's death, SwaWa; he was murdered in 1208. of his measures. After these
on the River Salef on June loth, 1190, he events there appears in German history.


Jerusa em ^ rusa( j e o f t ^ e emperor ; he was
the supreme head of European chivalry,
and in conjunction with France arid Eng-
land he drew his sword on behalf of the
eastern policy of the Church, an action
which tended further to consolidate the
ecclesiastical position. With imperial con-
ceptions which were greater than any
previous German ruler had entertained,
but which were almost forced
upon his notice, he appeared
in the Slav states to the north
of the Balkans, and on the
East Mediterranean ; he held
out a prospect to the
Armenian Leo II. of the
grant of a royal fief by the
empire ; but his career was
closed by his sudden death.
The account of the Crusade
will be found in the later
section devoted to the

was obliged to secure his position in
Germany and in Italy. The old Duke Henry
of Saxony had already appeared upon
German soil in October, 1189, in a defiant
and revengeful spirrt, which was stimulated
by the English king, Richard Coeur de Lion.
This monarch in the winter of 1190-1191
entered into relations with the Norman

the imperial idea of amalgamating in one
whole the German, Italian, and Burgundian
kingdoms with the independent Sicilian
monarchy, which was not subject to
election, provided that the house of
Hohenstauffen should be secured against
the uncertainties of an election, or, in other
words, if the empire could be

revolt in South Italy against the husband *Jenry s guaranteed to that family by

of I r\ncta r/"*k anrl r\r\t-\/-\corl + Vn"c* ^l*-i>-*o ropoaola lor ^.LX ..f l_ ^ J^4. rt _

of Constance, and opposed those claims
of supremacy to which Henry was legally
entitled by the death of William II.,
on November i8th, 1189. It proved pos-
sible, however, to secure a favourable
change of position. The friendship of

the Empire

right of hereditary succession.

In return for this concession,
Henry proposed to abandon the "Jus
Spoliorum " in favour of the ecclesiastical
princes, and to permit the secular princes to
extend the rights of succession to include

France was certain, and Philip of Cologne, their female relatives. These arrangements

l__ ___*_ _ 1 i 1 1 . l "

who was intimidated by the appearance
of the Lion, became a temporary helper
and intermediary. Afterwards, indeed,

are intelligible only upon the supposition
that Henry, instead of abandoning his
independence in the Norman kingdom,


proposed to subject the whole empire to a
centralised administration of officials, for
which purpose he had successfully em-
ployed the German Order of Knights in
Italy. He must also have proposed to
transform the German princely families
into a class of high territorial nobles an
attempt which the French crown after-
wards carried out successfully.

This tremendous innovation would
have transferred the centre of gravity of
the empire beyond question to the
shores of the Mediterranean; and there-
fore the opposition beyond the Alps,
in Lower Germany and in the territory of
Cologne, with its relations with England
and the North Sea, was especially keen.

The plan was repeatedly discussed in
December, 1195, but was finally aban-
doned at the end of 1196.

There was one achievement visible to
all the world, and standing as evidence
of the universal and imperial, no less
that the monarchical, tendency of this
strong government : this was Henry's
enterprise in the East one of the
successful Crusades, notwithstanding the
fact that it was prematurely abandoned
owing to the sudden death of the
emperor on September 28th, 1197. Since
the emperor took no personal share in the
undertaking, his Arch-Chancellor, Conrad
of Wittelsbach, the Archbishop of Mainz,
acted as his representative. This crown
, official led a number of high
! secular princes, and crowned
Amalric king of Cyprus and
Leo II. king of Armenia.
; accepting both as vassals of
; the emperor. The dangers
of the electoral rights of
the princes, which Henry
had proposed to abolish,
were never revealed with
more appalling clearness
than on the death of
Henry VI. one of the
most decisive events, if
not in German history,
yet in that of the mediaeval
k. empire.

The Hohenstauffen party
could not secure the suc-
cession of Henry's son,
Frederic, the child of Con-
stance, who had been
chosen in 1196 and was then
but one year old ; they were
forced to appoint Philip of
Swabiaon March 8th, 1198,
at MiihlhauseninThuringia,
an election preferable under
the circumstances, though
not unanimous, and were
obliged to leave Italy to
itself. The opposition were
at first in favour of
Berthold V. of Zahringen ;
when, however, he declined,
they chose, on June 9th,
at Cologne, Otto, the
second son of the deceased
Henry the Lion. In the
last reign the empire had
_ _ _ _________ __ _ _____ ^_^__._ I ___ M ___ 1>1> __ 11 __ 1 _^___ reached an unexampled




reduced even Byzantium to the position
of a vassal state ; now two rival kings had
suddenly reappeared, who would be likely
to -fritter the power of the crown away, in
order to increase their own following.
Pope Innocent III., who held the balance
between the two parties, claimed the
right of arbitration, which Otto at last
conceded to him in the hope of
securing his support. Philip, how-
ever, who championed the rights
mgs of the secular power, gradually
asserted his position, but only to be
murdered in consequence of a private
quarrel immediately after his success,
on June 2ist, 1208.

Otto IV. immediately proceeded to effect
a reconciliation with the party of the
Hohenstauffen, and to reassert the royal
and imperial rights wherever possible, and
even in Italy. Upon this sudden change
in 1210 the Church again proceeded to play
off the Hohenstauffen against the Guelfs,
as it had done in 1138, the Guelf candi-
date being Frederic II., king and heir of
the two Sicilies. The Hohenstauffen proved
victorious, supported as they were by
Otto's enemies and by the opposition of
France to the Anglo-Guelf alliance on
the Lower Rhine.

Frederic, who had been present since the
midsummer of 1212, remained completely
master of Germany after the Emperor Otto
had been defeated by Philip Augustus at
Bouvines on July 27th, 1214. For more
than three decades he was able to use this
position to overcome all difficulties by the
surrender of the German crown rights, while
working to secure the expansion of the
monarchy in Italy and its close connection
with the fully centralised official power
of the Norman kingdom ; he also added
the crown of Jerusalem to that of Sicily
on March i8th, 1229.

As early as July i2th, 1213, he had
renounced in writing at Eger the crown
rights resigned by the Concordat of Worms.
and had also surrendered the
''J us Spoliorum," the property
f Matilda and the possessions

. ;, ,,, , . .

in the Church states claimed
by the Curia. The importance of the docu-
ment was increased by the addition of
letters of consent from the princes, a
further constitutional development. On
March 22nd, 1209, Otto IV. had made the
same concessions at Speier to secure his
election as emperor, but had afterwards
cunningly explained that the consent of

t r\

Of OttO

the princes had not been secured. For
this reason more careful measures were
taken for the future. In May, 1216,
Frederic surrendered the regalian rights ;
in 1220 he was anxious to exchange
positions with his son Henry, who had
been originally intended for the kingdom
of Sicily.

Frederic now proposed to administer
Sicily himself, while bringing his son as
regent to Germany ; for this purpose, at
Frankfort-on-Main, on April 26th, he
guaranteed the territorial rights of the
ecclesiastical princes, limited the sphere
of the royal jurisdiction, and renounced all
fiscal claims upon towns, castles and
customs houses. The regency of his
crowned son gradually developed into a
kind of opposition kingdom, and in order
to deprive Henry of his friends, Frederic
threw the German towns entirely into the
power of the princes by the Privilege of
Worms of May ist, 1231, removing their
powers of self-administration and of con-
cluding alliances with one another ; at
the same time he recognised the territorial
power of the secular princes. The empire
thus became a loosely connected
congeries of ruling princes


under a royal or imperial head.
In 1233 he also threw Germany
open to the prosecution of heretics by the
Church, which proceeded to torment the
alienated laity with inquisitions and
martyrdoms. The Dominican inquisitor,
Master Conrad of Marburg, and his assist-
ants, were given full power of jurisdiction
until the indignation of the people and of
the secular princes put an end to the
persecution after a few years of terror.

After the youthful policy of King Henry
had clashed with that of his father in July,
a certain return to the centralising policy
was implied by the measures of August
I5th, 1235. These were a great ordinance
for the public peace, by whch the Teutonic
right of prosecuting private war was con-
siderably limited, and the foundation of a
permanent high court of justice. At that
time the allodial possessions of the Guelfs
were made immediately dependent upon
the duchy of Brunswick-Liineb-urg.

While this period is almost void of
imperial exploits of successes, German
independence, as such, was beginning to
develop. Otto IV. in his necessity, and
also Frederic, to gain support against
Otto, had surrendered Holstein and the
German Baltic districts to the Danes in


1201 and at the end of 1214 ; the coura-

feous blow delivered by Count Henry of
chvverin in May, 1223. and the bravery of
the allied Low German estates in the
brilliant fight of Bornhovede, recovered
these territories from their foreign ruler
on July22rid, 1227.

In the distant country of the Prussians
the Teutonic Order of Knights, founded
before Acre on March 5th, 1198, began in
1228 a series of conquests under the leader-
ship of the great Hermann of Salza, who
was a faithful counsellor and a kind of
German conscience to Frederic II. On the
battlefield of Liegnitz the Mongols were
repelled on April gih, 1241, by the bravery
and heroic death of Duke Henry II. of
Lower Silesia. From Silesia to Prussia
and Jutland, industry and culture, accom-
panied by a full consciousness of German
nationality, proved invariably triumphant ,
and transformed the native dynasties
of the Slavs into German princely houses.
Hungary, which had been severely
ravaged by the Mongols, recovered her
prosperity through the efforts of the new
German colonists, who were summoned
to the country. It seemed that Bohemia

and even Poland would be peacefully
overcome by the powerful growth of
the German nationality ; the Bohemian
court, like the Silesian, was already

Frederic proceeded to wage his wars
against the Lombards in Italy. He relied
upon his Sicilian troops rather than on
German support. He asserted the rights
of the empire, not through the German
knights whom his father had employed,
but through the support of great civic
families on whom he counted to end the
period of self-government. His successes
threatened to become a danger to the
States of the Church in 1241, but resistance
in that quarter was encouraged by the
determination and the statesmanship of
Sinibaldi Fieschi of Genoa, Innocent IV.

At the Council of Lyons, on July lyth,
1245, this Pope excommunicated the em-
peror and deposed him from all his king-
doms. He then offered the Norman kingdom
to some new vassal and secured the election
of an opposition king even in Germany. On
May 22nd, 1246, Henry Raspe, the land-
grave of Thuringia, was elected, and upon


The illustration represents an incident that followed the battle of Benevento in 12S6, in which the German Kine

Manfred was defeated by Charles of Anjou. Manfred was slain, and his family fell into the hands of the conqueror

From the painting by Eduard von Engcrth in the Art Museum at Vienna


his death before Ulm in February, 1247,
Count William of Holland was appointed
in September.

The transference of the imperial power
to the princes is clearly expressed in the
fact that their tool, the counter king,
was not necessarily possessed of princely
rank or power of his own. On December
I3th, 1250, during the preparations called
forth by the defeat of Vittoria on
February i8th, 1248, a misfortune due to
carelessness, Frederic II. died where we
do not know. He carried with him to his
grave the empire of Charles the Great,
Otto I., Barbarossa and Henry VI.

For the revival of that empire he
had never made the smallest effort.
He had little or no personal sympathy
with the German nationality. He was
a product of Italian and Saracen educa-
tion, a poet in the Italian language,
the independent monarch of a centralis d
government, the champion of a closely
organised monarchy upon modern lines
in his own hereditary kingdom ; and
in Upper Italy he was " the first of the
moderns," standing on the threshold of
the future Italian renascence.
German feudalism and chivalry
had no attractions for him ; he
was equally out of sympathy
with the rich and joyous development of
Central European culture as exemplified in
Germanic civilisation, with the home of
the Nibelungen, of Wolfram, of Walther,
and of mediaeval romanticism.

Conrad IV., son of Frederic II., had been
already crowned in 1237, an d attempted
to maintain his kingdom by securing his
possessions in Sicily. There he died at
Lavello on May 2ist, 1254. His half-
brother, Manfred, in opposition to Con-
rad's son, Conradin, to whom he was
opposed, as Philip of Swabia had been
opposed to Frederic II. in 1198, sought
to preserve the Sicilian monarchy by
making himself its representative, after
1258, but was defeated at Benevento on
February 26th, 1266, by Charles of Anjou,
who was in allegiance with the Curia.
Charles, the capable but ruthless brother
of Louis IX. of France, continued the
traditions and the work of the Emperor
Frederic II. among that motley collection
of peoples which formed the Norman state.
In Germany a change of circumstance
was marked by the continued rise of the



Conrad IV.

citizen class. Privileges had been hastily
granted to this class by Frederic II. after
1242, when he began to feel the pressure
of the princes, especially of the ecclesias-
tical party. The great town federation
which began in 1254 with Mainz and
Worms, and speedily reached Regensburg
and Liibeck, included numerous members
and relatives of the princely

ls * class. King William was satis-
the German , , .

... fied to remain the patron of the

Citizens , , .

alliance and to increase his

prestige by this position ; it was, indeed,
rather fostered than diminished by the
early decay and the growth of disunion
within the federation.

In January, 1256, William died in
the course of a local Frisian quarrel,
and a year afterwards a more restricted
body of the princes, who had preserved
this right against the rising power of the
third estate and wished to turn it to
pecuniary account, chose two masters who
were able to pay for the distinction. Of
these, Richard of Cornwall and Poitou,
brother of the English king, Henry III.,
.was a man of straw ; on the other hand,
the bold Alfonzo X. of Castile pursued the
Italian and Mediterranean policy of the
Spaniards, which materially influenced the

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 15 of 55)