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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Apennine peninsula in the course of
following centuries, and seized the oppor-
tunity of basing his plans upon the inherit-
ance of the Hohenstauffen.

Side by side with these mock govern-
ments proceeded the enterprise of
Conradin. He had been educated by
his uncle, Duke Lewis of Bavaria, and
though not elected to the German
crown, he was duke of Swabia, with
a hereditary claim to the crowns of
Jerusalem and Sicily. He hoped to
reconquer the latter state, and then
possibly to change the course of events in
Germany. The downfall of this courageous
youth, on October 29th, 1268,
_ \ f conjoined with the permanent

End of r T* u ii-

~ .. imprisonment of Enzio by the

Conradin r T- i r

people of Bologna, from May
26th, 1249, to March i4th, 1272, caused the
extinction of the male line of the Hohen-
stauffen and the dissolution of the duchy
of Swabia. The last Hohenstauffen were
avenged upon the house of Anjou by the
instrumentality of Manfred's son-in-law,
Peter of Aragon, and the Sicilian Vespers
of March 30 th, 1282.










ABOUT the middle of the thirteenth
century all continuous influence on
the part of the crown had practically
ceased. The idea of national unity and
of common authority was again over-
shadowed by the old invincible Teutonic
tendencies to separatism and to the
formation of small independent federa-
tions. Thus, when these broken
n epc, n j orces f oun( i themselves inade-
quate to secure their own
Federations n , , , .

purposes, help was sought in

temporary alliances and in unstable con-
nections. The primitive characteristics of
Teutonic constitutional life individualism
on the one hand, completed or voluntarily
extinguished by a process of federation
upon the other reasserted themselves in
the face of the later or foreign conception
of uniformity, though they reappeared
in changed form and in different stages.
There is no doubt that the manner in
which the monarchy had been finally
administered contributed largely to the
triumph of these tendencies. We enter
upon a period of alliances and peace
unions, of town leagues and Kansas, of
noble and chivalrous societies, of princely
alliances and electoral diets.

Among these movements appears a
remnant of the royal power which is not
absolutely extinguished, but is used now
for this purpose and now for that. The
kingdom has revived, but its means of
subsistence are refused whenever it
threatens to become a real force. With
the exception of the leading civic offices,
which continually call for a change of
occupancy, all else had become hereditary.
The restricted class of the high nobility,
though not predominant, was able to
retain within its limits the power to
confer the crown ; and this it exercised
in different directions, taking full care that
the remnants of monarchical influence
should never put forth new roots.


The German history of this period
consists of territorial aims and events, of
capacity and effort applied to local enter-
prises. It was not the imperial government
but the rivalry of individual forces in
the most varied localities that secured
the great increase of material pros-
perity and culture with which a detailed
history of the nation must deal, and
the evidence of which is still to be
seen in the north and south of Ger-
many, in her Gothic churches and
warehouses, her sumptuous palaces and
lordly castles, or in the collections which
illustrate the progress of artistic taste
in manufacture and the development
of civilisation.

Meanwhile the crown was utterly im-
poverished as compared with those who
should have been its subjects. In this
position it was retained by the repeated
elections of monarchs who possessed no
means at all, or only so much as would
prevent a more important personality from
grasping the monarchy. Under such
circumstances the various emperors natu-
rally attempted to find support for them-
selves and for their houses ; in other words,
they regarded their immediate object as
the task of making themselves distinguished
and prosperous princes, like their electors.
On occasion they attempted to divert the
wealth of the towns to their own coffers,
but a more successful method was the
seeking or the using of favour-
able opportunities to make
mperors t nemse } ves strong territorial
lords. But all attempts to
exalt the conception of the monarchy
proved fruitless. Moreover, their efforts
were marked by a general individualism.
Among other points we observe that
the interests of an individual emperor
were practically confined to the geo-
graphical boundaries of the district which
he had inherited or might acquire. During


the period of rivalry between the Saxons
and Hohenstauffen this had not been the
case to the same extent. The Sicilian
Frederic II. is an exception ; he was no
more a German than Alfonso of Castile.
Upon the whole, however, rulers like
Lothair of Saxony or Otto IV. had raised
the crown above the sphere of mere
territorial politics and given it a more
imperial significance.

After the interregnum, it was the house
of Capet which chiefly aimed at that
imperial and universal position vacated
by the fall of the Hohenstauffen. This
family was established by Charles of
Anjou in Provence, in Lower Italy, and
in the Arelate province of the kingdom
of Burgundy, which belonged historically
to the Germans. It embraced Italy
upon two sides, and afterwards, when
established in Hungary, upon three. It
began to resume the policy of Frederic I.
and Frederic II. in Lombardy. It then
surrounded the papacy, whose power the
French strove to use as an instrument
of their imperial designs, in a mean
spirit of aggrandisement which is wholly
alien to that of the former
German emperors, with their
erm . devotion to ecclesiastical ideals.
Towards the close of the
thirteenth century the Capets began to
cast glances upon the shattered body
of the German Empire, to consider the
possibility of acquiring and incorporating
it in their own world power. Nor, after
the elections of 1257, can we ^ ee ^ an y sur '
prise when we find enthusiastic French-
men proclaiming the advantage offered
by this prospect to the peace of the world
and to civilisation in general.

The man who averted these compre-
hensive foreign ambitions and recalled the
Germans to their own course of develop-
ment was not one of themselves, but a
foreigner, Pope Gregory X. The entire
change of political circumstances had
forced upon his notice the necessity for a
German monarchy worthy of the name,
which he could use as a counterpoise to
the imperialism of the Capets. He there-
fore threatened the princes with a choice
of his own making if they did not elect a
king of their own after Richard's death
on April 2nd, 1272.

Since Frederic I. had proposed to
limit the number of the princes, and
therefore of the electors, certain events
which were taken as precedents, certain

theoretical and literary formulae, including
the precedent of the cardinal bishops, had
tended to produce an isolation of the elec-
toral body and had secured a certain re-
cognition for the theory that seven princes
were the special electors to the empire.
However, the rise of the electoral college is
by no means a simple process, and it was
_ _ only the Golden Bull of 1356
Bull ftwhich defined the existence
1 1 R a. of this new element in the con-

o 1 1 3 D o L-..- A it.

stitution. Among the princes
who belonged to this corporation the
wish for a native king had been gaining
ground since 1272. The most powerful of
the lay princes in the empire was King
Ottokar of Bohemia. After the extinction
of the Babenbergers, in 1246, Ottokar had
emerged triumphant in 1251, notwith-
standing the tortuous intrigues of the
Emperor Frederic II. and of other princes
to secure this inheritance. He had ruled
over Austria and Styria with Carinthia and
Carniola since 1269. It was his earnest
desire to open Bohemia and Moravia to
German immigrants, to found towns and
to introduce civilisation of the German
type, and so to raise the level of their
civilisation. In the east a great and
uniform power was in process of forma-
tion under the Premyslids. He also
extended his influence to the north-
east, where he was in close connection
with the pioneers of German expansion ;
the young town of Konigsberg in Prussia
adopted his name in his honour and in
memory of his co-operation with the
Teutonic Order. Hence in every respect
it was intelligible that he should not be
the king the electors desired and that
they attempted to exclude him from all
influence upon their choice.

On September 28th, 1273, they elected
a man who was not a prince, but a Swabian
count, Rudolf of Hapsburg, the candidate
of Archbishop Werner of Mainz. Rudolf's
hereditary lands lay in the Sundgau and
Aargau ; his family had in-
_ u herited a considerable portion

of the large territories of the
the Throne .., . v u -

Zahnngers, who became extinct

in 1218, through the house of Kyburg
and in conjunction with their property ;
this important Swabian and Burgundian
territory had been further increased by the
cleverness and foresight of Rudolf. Thus
it was not an entirely unimportant per-
sonage who was brought forward from the
south-west to confront the new Henry


the Lion in the east. Moreover, from the
outset Rudolf was resolved to assert his
position as king. The relation between
himself and Ottokar was analogous to
that which had formerly existed between
King Conrad I. and Duke Otto the Illus-
trious of Saxony ; there are many points
of similarity in their respective rela-
tions to the electoral princes.
Conrad, however, had avoided
the stronger territorial lord,
' who did not care to be king,
as his candidature was not seriously
considered, and had finally offered the
empire to his son. Rudolf, on the other
hand, formed the bold resolve of over-
throwing Ottokar and securing his terri-
torial power for himself. Here, again,
we see points of resemblance with the
destruction of the rival Guelf by
Frederic I. Rudolf utilised the legal pre-
text of unfulfilled feudal obligations, and
summoned the Bohemian in due form
before his court. Ottocar, like Henry, had
to deal with risings at home and with the
opposition of the Bohemian superior clergy,
whom Rudolf again turned to his own
account. He was also helped by the Bo-
hemian particularist movement against the
Germanising territorial lords and the oppo-
sition to the Hungarian king, Ladislaus.
With their help Rudolf secured the upper
hand in the fierce decisive struggle on the
Marchfeld at Diirnkrut, in which Ottokar
lost not only the battle but also his life at
the hand of his subjects on August 26th,
,1278. It was not the princes of the
empire who helped Rudolf to this success ;
on the contrary, Ottokar found valuable
allies among them wherever the king
revealed his purpose. These purposes,
however, were attained by calmness and
dexterity. The Premyslids were restricted
to Bohemia and Moravia, to the satis-
faction of other rulers ; at the same time
the policy of German immigration, which
had been fostered by the native rulers, was

Rise of now b rou 8 nt to an end. The
. process of Germanisation and
the Mouse of i ,

Ha sbur immigration came to a stand-
still, and the policy of the suc-
ceeding Premyslids was now turned from
its former paths to Poland and Hungary
that is, to paths which did not affect
Germany. In Austria and Styria, which
were at first governed by an imperial
vicar, the house of Hapsburg quietly
seized the territorial supremacy. Carinthia
and Carniola were transferred to Rudolf's

supporter, Duke Meinhard of Gorz and
Tyrol, whose daughter, Elizabeth, was
married in 1276 to Rudolf's eldest son,

Austria being thus secured, Rudolf then
attempted to lay his hands upon Hungary.
In the west, within the hereditary pro-
perty of the Hapsburgs, he was anxious
to restore the duchy of Swabia and the
royal prerogative in Burgundy for the
benefit of his house. These efforts, how-
ever, proved fruitless. The achievements
which he had secured by bravery and care
conferred too great a distinction upon his
son, Albert of Austria, to secure the latter
the favour of the electors. His third son,
Rudolf, might have been a possible can-
didate, as the old view of the hereditary
rights of a chosen and reigning family was
not altogether dead, and as Rudolf was
to inherit only the old Hapsburg posses-
sions ; he, however, died in 1290 before
his father. Moreover, Albert was rejected
by the adoption of a new theory, to which
the force of precedent was given ; as
Rudolf I. had not been emperor, it was
asserted that no king of the Romans or
, successor could be elected

The King s du . hig ]ifetime As re .
Concessions to j ,, i , ,

the Papacy S*rds the imperial rights m
Italy, Rudolf had renounced
Lower Italy and Sicily and also the "recupe-
rations " of the Patrimony in favour of the
papacy, in 1275 and 1279, but had renewed
the contracts of Otto IV. and Frederic II.,
made during their time of alliance with
the papacy, and had secured the recogni-
tion of his title by Gregory. In Upper
Italy, therefore, the possibility of restora-
tion remained open to the German imperial
power, and homage was there offered to
Rudolf through his ambassadors.

Upon the death of Rudolf I., on July
I5th, 1291, an even less important per-
sonality than Rudolf had been in 1273 was
elected on May 5th, 1292 ; this was Count
Adolf of Nassau, who had to buy his
election by heavy sacrifices from the rem-
nants of the imperial demesnes. The new
king could see no other way of asserting
his position than that which Rudolf had
followed to secure control of some prin-
cipalities. For this purpose he thought he
might turn to account the violent family
quarrels of the Wettins. This family,
which belonged to Meissen, had secured
Thuringia after the death of Henry
Raspe, in 1247. The Hessian portion
of the province had gone as a special


landgraviate to an heiress of Brabant, be-
longing to the family of the landgraves
of Thuringia, which had become extinct in
the male line in 1263. Adolf now interfered
in the family quarrel of the Wettins by
purchasing the lordship of Meissen and
Thuringia, which were the property of the
aggrieved party ; this he was enabled to
do by using the subsidies which England
had been sending since 1294 in return for

Austria. Three of his six married sisters
brought him into connection with the
princes of Bohemia, Wittenberg in Saxony,
and Brandenburg ; these relationships
offered more or less tangible prospects to
his relatives, calmed their opposition, and
induced them to take sides against the
king. The electors of Adolf had grown
dissatisfied with their choice, and Albert
was therefore chosen king on June 23rd,
1298, at the instance of
Wenzel II. and Archbishop
Gerhard of Mainz, while
Adolf was simultaneously
threatened with the sen-
tence of deposition from
the electoral body. The
matter was decided by
Adolf's overthrow at the
battle of Gollheim, not far
from the Donnersberg, on
July 2nd.

It was naturally only to
be expected that the powers
which had created the
opposition king should
quarrel with him as soon
as he was sole ruler. It
proved impossible perma-
nently to satisfy all his
helpers, though Albert had
hoped to secure this end
by renouncing his duchies,
which he placed in the
hands of his sons as his
vassals. In other direc-
tions he showed that the
Hapsburg lust of territory
was by no means appeased.
He took upon himself the
claims to Meissen, which
Adolf had bought, and
attempted also to appro-
priate Holland, Zeeland,
RUDOLF OF HAPSBURG ACCEPTS A CROWN an( j Frisia upon the death

When the Swabian count, Rudolf of Hapsburg, was elected Emperor of Germany, Q ^Q local ruler, John I.,

in 1273, the country was the scene of many disorders, and these he at once pro- . . K however he

ceeded to suppress. By defeating and killing Ottokar, the powerful Bohemian A ' V V',- j

king who held Austria, Styria, Carinthia and Carniola, he laid the foundation of was Obliged tO fCtl

the future greatness of the famous house of Hapsburg. Rudolf died in 1291. favour of the Hainaulter,

the promised co-operation of himself and John II. of Avesnes, who derived a here-
^Vii^oirw acrsincf Franrp ditarv ri^ht from the female line ol

the German chivalry against France.
This proceeding was highly questionable,
and was also an enterprise beyond his
powers, as he was wanting in that calm,
clear strength of calculation which had
distinguished Rudolf I.

Meanwhile, Adolf was opposed, not only
by the Wettins, whom he was attempt-
ing to oppress, but also by Albert of

ditary right from

Rudolf I. had originally and unsuccess-
fully attempted to burden the towns with
heavy direct taxation to supply the
royal privy purse, but had afterwards
courted the friendship of these mercantile
republics. This latter policy was continued
by Adolf, and followed by Albert, who



abolished, in favour of the towns, in 1298,
all the territorial customs-houses which
had been illegally erected since 1245.
In his relations with the lower nobility
and the knightly classes he followed in
the steps of Adolf, whom he had over-
thrown. Thus the jealousy entertained
by the electors towards the crown, which,
A Kb' h w **k tne ^ e lp * tne other
FMB f PS or( ^ ers ' seeme d likely to recover
* Kin re * ts P 05 ^ 011 ' became steadily
Ltng accentuated, until the decision
could no longer be postponed.

As usual, the three Rhine Archbishops of
Treves, Mainz, and Cologne, together with
the Wittelsbach Count Palatine, Rudolf the
Stammerer, asserted the electoral power
against the crown and the Hapsburgs.
Brandenburg, Saxony and Bohemia clung
to that side which they considered most
important for their territorial position ;
during the various elections their votes
were simply placed at the disposal of one
or another of the electoral archbishops.
These four archbishops now met on October
I4th, 1300, at Heimbach, near Bingen,
and deposed Albert, but in the following
years he rapidly overthrew them one after

The king's relations with France and
the Pope were dictated solely by the
desire to avoid interference with his
German policy. The papal biretta had
lately been changed by Boniface VIII. to
the double tiara, denoting the supremacy
of the world. This ambitious successor of
Gregory and Innocent opposed the im-
perialism of France by advancing those
pontifical claims which had already raised
the papacy above the empire. The
struggle between the supreme powers in
Church and State now lay between Rome
and France, as a result of the change in
the political situation. In reference to
Germany, the papacy needed only to com-
plete the acquisitions already made. For
this purpose Albert, after the end of 1302,
steadily offered every oppor-

1 he Oreat st A *i ii

J^ 1 ^ . , n AP" 1 30th, 1303,
received the papal confir-

mation of his title, which, much
to his disgust, had hitherto been withheld ;
he made no difficulty in declaring that
both the electoral rights of the prince and
the military power of the chosen king or
emperor were subject to the supremacy of
the Pope as overlord. These direct con-
cessions were the greatest triumph which
the hierarchical theory ever gained over

Triumph of
the Pope

a generally recognised German govern-
ment. At the same time they implied very
little in actual practice, and affected the
independence claimed by the electors "in
greater measure than the power of the
Icing. Immediately afterwards the French
monarchy pronounced its theories upon
the subject, and the papal sentence of
excommunication was followed by the
imprisonment of the Pope in his own
territory on September 7th, 1303. From-
the time of Boniface's successor, Benedict
XL, the papacy long continued to be a
tool in the rjands of the French monarchy,
and was resident, not in Rome, but at

Albert had in 1306 secured the succession
of his son Rudolf to Bohemia upon the
extinction of the Premyslids. Rudolf,
however, died on July 4th, 1307, and the
Bohemian crown fell, against the will of
the German king, to Henry of Carinthia.
On March 3ist, 1307, his general, Henry
of Nortenberg, was defeated at Lucka by
the Wettins, Frederic and Diezmann. It
must, however, be allowed that the position
of Albert was solid and powerful. He might
v wt have been able to transform

T^ Wh WM the electoral crown into a
Murdered by , , , ,

M- vi u monarchy had he not been
His Nephew , T

murdered, on May ist, 1308,

by his nephew John, son of the above-
mentioned Rudolf, who had demanded
his old Hapsburg inheritance, and inter-
preted the king's reluctance as an
intention to withhold it entirely. As upon
the death of Henry V., the premature
death of this stern and ruthless man
must be regarded as a severe loss to the
cause of the German monarchy.

Upon the death of Albert the work of
the practical Hapsburg politician, the
strengthening of the monarchy, was handed
over to the political idealism of his suc-
cessor, Henry VII. This petty count of
Luxemburg, born between 1274 and 1276,
was brought forward as a candidate by his
brother Baldwin, who was but twenty-two
years of age, and had just been appointed
Archbishop and Elector of Treves, and by
the Archbishop of Mainz, Peter of Aspelt,
who was of a Luxemburg family. Henry
was successfully elected on November 27th,
1308. The opposition candidate was
Charles of Valois, brother of the French
king, Philip IV. Thus the ambition of
France, which was now determined to lay
hands upon the German crown, was frus-
trated by this means, and the turbulence


of the Rhineland princes was abated.
Meanwhile, however, though Henry's land
was entirely Prankish, early residence,
education, and connections made him
half a Frenchman.

A true product of Romance civilisation,
Henry now proceeded to revive the splen-
dour of the Romano-German Empire to the
full extent of its historical theory, as if
there had existed no obstacles or over-
whelming difficulties in Germany or Italy.
He viewed the position with the eyes of a
Capet rather than an electoral prince. His
enterprise was favoured
at the outset by many
facts. Though he was
half a foreigner and
possessed but little terri-
tory, he had no great or
united opposition against
him in Germany. Neither
Pope Clement V., who
was dependent upon
France, nor the French
king was disinclined to
leave him unfettered
within certain limits ; it
was possible that he
might be useful for their
purposes, and he might
also be able to organise
for the Pope that great
final crusade upon which
the Curia, untaught by
two centuries of exper-
ience, continued to rely
for the fulfilment of its
old hopes of universalism.
If successful, he might
break the bonds in which
France had confined the

than as an effective determination. In
Bohemia, where Peter of Aspelt possessed
long-standing connections, the Carinthian
had not been able to establish himself, and
in the summer of 1310 the crown of the
Premyslids was offered to Henry's son
John, born in 1296 together with the
king's daughter Elizabeth ; the offer was
accepted, and a compromise with the house
of Hapsburg was then facilitated.

Such were the prospects with which th^
Luxemburger crossed the Mont Cenis and
appeared in Lombardy at the end of
October, 1310, accom-
panied by 3,000 troops.
There, however, the same
theory of imperial su-
premacy which gave its
character to the whole
enterprise and provided
it with both moral and
intellectual strength,
eventually hampered and
destroyed a success which
had at first seemed easy.
Henry refused to accept
the support of the group
which stood ready to help
him. He would not pur-
chase their homage at the
price of his help. He
wished to be not a par-
tisan king, but an all-
powerful mediator, the
one and only emperor of
peace. He thus seized
the opportunities which
he found here and there,
chiefly among the Ghi-
bellines, to attract even
his most distant oppo-
nents and to secure their

'rl"^^ ' f f This illustration, reproduced from the tomb of

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