T. F. (Thomas Frederick) Tout.

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at the treaty of Verdun, paved the way for the modern idea
of a national state. The Empire stifled the early The growth
possibilities of a German nation, and Empire and of national
Papacy combined to make impossible an Italian monarchies
nation. But in France other prospects arose. Through its
virtual exclusion from the Empire, France had been delivered
from some very real dangers. The early Capetians were
shadows round which a mighty system revolved; but they had

IO European History, 918-1273

a lofty theory and a noble tradition at their back, and the time
at last came when they could convert their theory into practice.
Philip Augustus made France a great state and nation.
Power Under St. Louis the leadership of Europe passed

passes from definitely from the Germans to the French from
t tne P e P^ e ru led by the visionary world-Empire
to the people ruled by a popular and effective
national monarchy. The alliance between France and the
Church, the preponderance of French effort in the Crusades,
the spread of the French tongue and literature as the common
expression of European chivalry, had made the French nation
famous, long before a large proportion of the French nation
had been organised into a French state. The Spanish peoples
acquired strong local attachments; the English became
conscious of their national life. Alfonso the Wise of Castile
and Edward i. of England rank with St. Louis and Philip the
Fair. Even Frederick n. owed his strength to his national
position in Germany and Naples, rather than to his imperial
aspirations. Before our period ends, the national principle
had clearly asserted itself. Trade, art, literature, religion
began to desert cosmopolitan for national channels, and
the beginnings of the system of estates and representative
institutions show that the great organised classes of mediaeval
society aspired to share with their kings the direction of the
national destinies. The Empire had fallen ; the Papacy was
soon to be overthrown ; feudalism was decayed ; the cosmo-
politan culture of the universities had seen its best days. It
is in the juxtaposition of what was best in the old, and what
was most fertile in the new, that gives its unique charm to
the thirteenth century. The transition from the Dark Ages
to the Middle Ages had been worked out. There were
signs that the transition was beginning that culminates in the
Renascence and the Reformation.



The Transference of the German Kingship from the Franks to the Saxons
The Reign of Henry the Fowler The De.ence of the Frontiers and the
Beginnings of the Marks Otto i.'s Rule as German King The Feudal
Opposition and its Failure The First and Second Civil Wars The
Reorganisation of the Duchies The Marks established Battle on the
Lechfeld Otto's Ecclesiastical Policy His Intervention in Italy and its
Causes Italy in the Tenth Century Degradation of the Papacy
Theodora and Marozia Alberic and John XH. Otto's Second Inter-
vention in Italy His Coronation as Emperor His later Italian Policy
His Imperial Position and Death.

THE death of Conrad i., in December 918 (see Period i.
pp. 475-7), ended the Franconian dynasty. In April 919 the
Election of Franconian and Saxon magnates met at Fritzlar
Henry the to elect a new king. On the proposal of Eber-
Fowier, 919. hard, Duke of Franconia, and brother of the dead
king Conrad, Henry, Duke of the Saxons, called Henry the

1 Giesebrecht's Geschichte der deutschen Kaiserzeit gives a full account
of German and Italian history from 919 to the latter part of the reign of
Frederick I. Richter and Kohl's Annalen des deutschen Reichs im
Zeitalter der Ottonen und der Salur, include an excellent series of
extracts from the original sources. Prutz's Staatengeschichte des Abend-
lands im Mittelalter (vol. i. Oncken's Series) is a popular working-up of
the whole period. A French account is in Zeller's Histoire de FAlle-
magne ; while Lavisse and Rambaud's Histoire gtnirale du iv 1 Siecle a
nos jours, vols. i. and ii., is certainly the best presentation of the general
history of the early Middle Ages. Bryce's remarkable essay on The Holy
Roman Empire, and Fisher's detailed Medieval Empire are the best books
in English. The facts are related in Henderson's History of Germany
during tht Middle Ages, and in Milman's History of Latin Christianity,
Gregorovius' Geschithtt dtr Stadt Rom im Mittelalter is now translated.

The Saxon Kings of the Germans 13

Fowler, was elevated to the vacant throne. Henry had been
already marked out for this dignity, both by the great position
of his house and nation, and by the wish of the last king.
Yet the voluntary abdication of the Franconian and the
transference of the monarchy to the Saxon forms one of the
great turning-points in the history of the German nation.
The existence of a separate German state had been already
secured by the work of Louis the German and Arnulf of
Carinthia. Yet so long as the sceptre remained in the Caro-
lingian hands, the traditions of a mighty past overpowered
the necessities of the present. Down to the death of Conrad,
the Franks were still the ruling nation, and the German realm
was East Frankish rather than German. The accession of
the Saxon gave the best chance for a more general The Saxon
development on national lines. For of all the five nation,
nations of Germany, the Saxons were the least affected by the
Carolingian tradition. Christianity was still less than a century
old with them, and formal heathenism still lingered on in the
wilder moors and marshes of the north. Roman civilisation
was still but a sickly exotic; and, free from its enervating
influences, the Saxons still retained the fierce barbaric prowess
of the old Teutonic stock, while the primitive Teutonic in-
stitutions, which were fast disappearing in the south before
the march of feudalism, still retained a strong hold amidst
the rude inhabitants of northern Germany. In the south the
mass of the peasantry were settling down as spiritless and
peaceful farmers, leaving the fighting to be done by a limited
number of half-professional soldiers. But among the Saxons
every freeman was still a warrior, and the constant incursions
of heathen Danes and Wends gave constant opportunities
for the practice of martial habits. The old blood nobility
still took the leadership of the race. Not only were the
Saxons the strongest, the most energetic, and most martial
of the Germans, but the mighty deeds of their Ludolfing
dukes showed that their princes were worthy of them. It
was only the strong arm of a mighty warrior that could

14 European History, 918-1273

save Germany from the manifold evils that beset it from
within and without. The Ludolfings had already proved on
many a hard-fought field that they were the natural leaders
of the German people. The dying Conrad simply recognised
accomplished facts, when he urged that the Saxon duke should
be his successor. The exhausted Franconians merely accepted
the inevitable, when they voluntarily passed over the hegemony
of Germany to their northern neighbours.

There were, however, insuperable limitations to the power
of the first Saxon king of the Germans. Henry the Fowler

Henry's was ^ tl ' e more influential as king than as duke.

German There was no idea whatever of German unity or

policy. nationality. The five nations were realities, but
beyond them the only ties that could bind German to
German were the theoretical unities of Rome the unity of
the Empire and the unity of the Church. From the circum-
stances of his election and antecedents, Henry could draw
no assistance from the great ideals of the past, by which he
was probably but little influenced. He feared rather than
courted the support of the churchmen. When the Church
offered to consecrate the choice of the magnates by crowning
and anointing the new king, Henry protested his unworthiness
to receive such sacred symbols.

Thus Germany became a federation of great duchies, the
duke of the strongest nation taking precedence over the others
with the title of king. Even this result was obtained only
through Henry's strenuous exertions. His power rested
almost entirely on the temporary union of the Saxons and
Franconians. The southern and western nations of Germany
were almost outside the sphere of his influence. Lotharingia
fell away altogether, still cleaving to the Carolings, and recog-
nising the West Prankish king, Charles the Simple, rather
than the Saxon intruder. Henry was conscious of the weak-
ness of his position, and discreetly accepted the withdrawal
of Lotharingia from his obedience, receiving in return an
acknowledgment of his own royal position from Charles the

The Saxon Kings of tJte Germans 1 5

Simple. Swabia and Bavaria were almost as hard to deal
with as Lotharingia. They had taken no practical share in
Henry's election, and were by no means disposed to acknow-
ledge the nominee of the Saxons and Franconians. It was
not until 921 that Henry obtained the formal recognition of
the Bavarians, and this step was only procured by his
renouncing in favour of Duke Arnulf every regalian right,
including the much-cherished power of nominating the
bishops. Henry was no more a real king of all the Germans
than Egbert or Alfred were real kings over all England. His
mission was to convert a nominal overlordship into an actual
sovereignty. But he saw that he could only obtain the formal
recognition necessary for this process by accepting accom-
plished facts, and giving full autonomy to the nations. His
ideal seems, in fact, to have been that of the great West
Saxon lords of Britain. He strove to do for Germany what
Edward the Elder and Athelstan were doing for England.
It is, from this point of view, of some political significance
that Henry married his eldest son Otto, afterwards the famous
Emperor, to Edith, daughter of Edward, and sister of Athel-
stan. Yet, like England, Germany could hope for national
unity only when foreign invasion had been successfully warded
off. The first condition of internal unity was the cessation
of the desolating barbarian invasions which, since the break-
up of the Carolingian Empire, had threatened to blot out
all remnants of civilisation. Saxony had already suffered
terribly from the Danes and Wends. To these was added
in 924 a great invasion of the Magyars or Hungarians, the
Mongolian stock newly settled in the Danube plains, and
still heathen and incredibly fierce and barbarous. The
Magyars now found that the Bavarians had learnt how to
resist them successfully, so that they turned their Invasion OI
arms northwards, hoping to find an easier foe in barbarians
the Saxons. Henry, with his Franks and Saxons, checked -
had to bear the full brunt of the invasion, and no help
came either from Swabia or Bavaria. Henry had the good

1 6 European History, 9 1 8- 1 273

luck to take prisoner one of the Hungarian leaders, and by
restoring his captive and promising a considerable tribute, he
was able to procure a nine years' truce for Saxony. Two
years later the Magyars again swarmed up the Danube into
Bavaria, but Henry made no effort to assist the nation which
had refused to aid him in his necessity.

Thus freed from the Magyars, Henry turned his arms against
the Danes and the Wends. In 934 he established a strong
mark against the Danes, and forced the mighty Danish king,
Gorm the Old, to pay him tribute. He was even more successful
against the Slavs. In 928 Brennabor (the modern Branden-
The defence burg), tn e chief stronghold of the Havellers, fell
of the into his hands, and with it the broad lands

[ e " n and between the Havel and the Spree, the nucleus of
ningsofthe the later East Mark. But more important than
Henry's victories were his plans for the defence
of the frontiers. He planted German colonists in the lands
won from the barbarian. He built a series of new towns,
that were to serve as central strongholds, in the marchland
districts. The Saxon monk Widukind tells us how Henry
ordered that, of every nine of his soldier-farmers, one
should live within the walls of the new town, and there
build houses in which his eight comrades might take shelter
in times of invasion, and in which a third part of all their
crops was to be preserved for their support, should necessity
compel them to take refuge within the walls. In return,
the dwellers in the country were to till the fields and harvest
the crops of their brother in the town. Moreover, Henry
ordered that all markets, meetings, and feasts should be held
within the walled towns, so as to make them, as far as pos-
sible, the centres of the local life. Some of the most ancient
towns of eastern Saxony, including Quedlinburg, Meissen, and
Merseburg, owe their origin to this policy. Henry also
improved the quality of the Saxon cavalry levies, teaching his
rude warriors to rely on combined evolutions rather than
the prowess of the individual horseman. So anxious was

The Saxon Kings of the Germans ij

he to utilise all the available forces against the enemy, that
he settled a legion of able-bodied robbers at Merseburg,
giving them pardon and means of subsistence, on the con-
dition of their waging war against the Wends.

The effect of these wise measures was soon felt. Henry
had laid the foundation of the great ring of marks, whose
organisation was completed by his son. He had also in-
spired his subjects with a new courage to resist the bar-
barian, and a new faith in their king. When the nine
years' truce with the Hungarians was over, the Saxons re-
solved to fight rather than continue to pay them a humiliating
tribute. A long series of victories crowned the Henr , g
end of Henry's martial career. He was no longer triumph and
forced to strictly limit himself to the defence of death> 936 '
his own duchy of Saxony, and the southern nations of Germany
could honour and obey the defender of the German race
from the heathen foe, though they paid but scanty reverence
to the duke of the Saxons. Lotharingia reverted to her
allegiance after the sceptre of the western kingdom had
passed, on the death of Charles the Simple, from her
beloved Carolings. Yet Henry never sought to depart from
his earlier policy, and still gave the fullest autonomy to
Saxon, Bavarian, and Lotharingian. He still lived simply
after the old Saxon way, wandering from palace to palace
among his domain-lands on the slopes of the Harz, and
seldom troubling the rest of the country with his presence.
Yet visions of a coming glory flitted before the mind of the
old sovereign. He dreamed of a journey to Rome to wrest
the imperial crown from the nerveless hands of the pre-
tenders, whose faction fights were reducing Italy to anarchy.
But his end was approaching, and the more immediate
task of providing for the succession occupied his thoughts.
His eldest son, Thankmar, was the offspring of a marriage
ansanctioned by the Church, and was, therefore, passed
over as illegitimate. By his pious wife Matilda, the pattern
of German housewives, he had several children. Of these


I 8 European History, 9 1 8- 1 273

Otto was the eldest, but the next son, Henry, as the first
born after his father had become a king, was. looked upon
by many as possessing an equally strong title to election.
The king, however, urged on his nobles to choose Otto as
his successor. He died soon after, on 2nd July 936, and was
buried in his own town of Quedlinburg, where the pious care
of his widow and son erected over his remains a great church
and abbey for nuns, which became one of the most famous
monastic foundations of northern Germany. ' He was,' says
the historian of his house, ' the greatest of the kings of Europe,
and inferior to none of them in power of mind and body '
But Henry's best claim to fame is that he laid the solid
foundations on which his son built the strongest of early
mediaeval states.

Otto i. was a little over twenty years of age when he
ascended the throne. While his father had shunned the
Coronation of consecration of the Church, his first care was
otto i., 936. t o procure a pompous coronation at Aachen. As
strong a statesman and as bold a warrior as his father,
the new king was so fully penetrated with the sense of
his divine mission, and so filled with high ideals of king-
craft, that it was impossible for him to endure the limita-
tions to his sway, in which Henry had quietly acquiesced.
Duke Eberhard of Franconia was the first to resent the
pretensions of the young king. He felt that he was the
author of the sway of the Saxon house, and resolved to
exercise over his nation the same authority that he had
wielded without question in the days of King Henry. Mean-
The attack while, the death of Duke Arnulf of Bavaria gave
on the duke. Q tto an opportunity of manifesting his power to

doms, and the '

First civil the south. He roughly deposed Arnulfs eldest
war, 938-941. sorij Eberhard, who had refused to perform
him homage, and made his younger brother Berthold duke,
but only on condition that the right of nominating to the
Bavarian bishoprics, which had been wrung from the weakness
of Henry, should now be restored to the crown. Moreover,

Revival of the Roman Empire by Otto I. 19

he set up another brother, Arnulf, as Count Palatine, to
act as a sort of overseer over the new duke. But while
Franconia and Bavaria were thus deeply offended, Otto's
own Saxons were filled with discontent at his policy. They
resented Otto's desire to reign as king over all Germany, as
like'iy to impair the dominant claims of the ruling Saxon
race. They complained that he had favoured the Franks
more than the Saxons, and the sluggish nobles of the
interior parts of Saxony were disgusted that Otto had over-
looked their claims on his attention in favour of Hermann
Billung and Gero, to whom he had intrusted the care of
his old duchy along with the government of the Wendish
marches. Thankmar, the bastard elder brother, Henry,
the younger brother who boasted that he was the son of a
reigning king, were both angry at being passed over, and put
themselves at the head of the Saxon malcontents. In 938, a
revolt broke out in the north. The faithfulness of Hermann
Billung limited its extent, and the death of Thankmar seemed
likely to put an end to the trouble. But Henry now allied
himself with Duke Eberhard of Franconia ; and Duke
Giselbert of Lotharingia, Otto's brother-in-law, joined the
combination. A bloody civil war was now fought in West-
phalia and the Lower Rhineland. The army of Otto was taken
at a disadvantage at Birthen, near Xanten; but the pious
king threw himself on his knees, and begged God to protect
his followers, and a victory little short of miraculous followed
his prayer. However, the rebels soon won back a strong
position, and the bishops, headed by Archbishop Frederick of
Mainz, intrigued with them in the belief that Otto's term
of power was at an end. But the king won a second un-
expected triumph at Andernach, and the Dukes of Franconia
and Lotharingia perished in the pursuit. Henry fled to
Louis, king of the West Franks, whose only concern, how-
ever, was to win back Lotharingia from the eastern king-
dom. At last Henry returned and made his submission to
his brother ; but before long he joined with the Archbishop

2O European History, 918-1273

of Mainz in a plot to murder the king. This nefarious
design was equally unsuccessful, and Henry, under the
influence of his pious mother, sought for the forgiveness of
his injured brother. At the Christmas feast of 941 a recon-
ciliation was effected. The troubles for the season were

Otto now sought to establish his power over the nations
by setting up members of his own family in the vacant
Thereo ni- duchies. Franconia he kept henceforth in his
sationofthe own hands, wearing the Prankish dress and
ostentatiously following the Frankish fashions.
Over Lotharingia he finally set a great Frankish noble,
Conrad the Red, whom he married to his own daughter,
Liutgarde. The reconciled Henry was made Duke of
Bavaria, and married to Judith, the daughter of the old
Duke Arnulf. Swabia was intrusted to Otto's eldest son,
Ludolf, who in the same way was secured a local position
by a match with the daughter of the last duke. But the
new dukes had not the power of their predecessors. Otto
carefully retained the highest prerogatives in his own hands,
and, by the systematic appointment of Counts Palatine to
watch over the interests of the crown, revived under another
name that central control of the local administration which
had, at an earlier period, been secured by the Carolingian
missi dominici,

The new dukes soon fell into the ways of their predeces-
sors. They rapidly identified themselves with the local
its failure. traditions of their respective nations, and quickly
The Second forgot the ties of blood and duty that bound
civil war, tnem to K j ng otto. Henry of Bavaria and


Ludolf of Swabia soon took up diametrically
different Italian policies, and their intervention on different
sides in the struggle between the phantom Emperors, that
claimed to rule south of the Alps, practically forced upon
Otto a policy of active interference in Italy. Ludolf was
intensely disgusted that his father backed up the Italian

Revival of the Roman Empire by Otto 1. 21

policy of Henry, and began to intrigue with Frederick of
Mainz, Otto's old enemy. Conrad of Lotharingia joined the
combination. Even in Saxony, the enemies of Hermann
Billung welcomed the attack on Otto. At last in 953 a
new civil war broke out which, like the troubles of 938, was
in essence an attempt of the ' nations ' to resist the growing
preponderance of the central power. But the rebels were
divided among each other, and partisans of local separatism
found it doubly hard to bring about an effective combination.
The restless and turbulent Frederick of Mainz died during
the struggle. Conrad and Ludolf made their submission.
A terrible Hungarian inroad forced even the most reluctant
to make common cause with Otto against the barbarians.
But the falling away of the dukes of the royal house had
taught Otto that some further means were necessary, if he
desired to continue his policy of restraining the ' nations ' in
the interest of monarchy and nation as a whole. That fresh
support Otto found in the Church, the only living unity out-
side and beyond the local unities of the five nations.

Even King Henry had found it necessary, before the end
of his reign, to rely upon ecclesiastical support, especially in
his efforts to civilise the marks. There the fortified The
churches and monasteries became, like the new organisation
walled towns, centres of defence, besides being of the Marks -
the only homes of civilisation and culture in those wild
regions. But King Henry had not removed the danger of
Wendish invasion, and the civil wars of Otto's early years
gave a new opportunity for the heathen to ravage the German
frontiers. In the midst of Otto's worst distress, Hermann
Billung kept the Wends at bay, and taught the Abotrites and
Wagrians, of the lands between the lower Elbe and the Baltic,
to feel the might of the German arms. His efforts were ably
seconded by the doughty margrave, Gero, of the southern
Wendish mark. By their strenuous exertions the Slavs were
for the time driven away from German territory, and German
rule was extended as far as the Oder, so that a whole ring

22 European History, 918-1273

of organised marchlands protected the northern and eastern
frontiers. These marks became vigorous military states, pos-
sessing more energy and martial prowess than the purely
Teutonic lands west of the Elbe, and destined on that
account to play a part of extreme prominence in the future
history of Germany. Owing their existence to the good-will
and protection of the king, and having at their command
a large force of experienced warriors, the new margraves
or counts of the marches, who ruled these regions, gradually
became almost as powerful as the old dukes, and, for the
time at least, their influence was thrown on the side of the
king and kingdom. Under their guidance, the Slav peasantry
were gradually Christianised, Germanised, and civilised,
though it took many centuries to complete the process. Even
to this day the place-names in marks like Brandenburg and
Meissen show their Slavonic origin, and a Wendish-speaking
district still remains in the midst of the wholly German-
ised mark of Lausitz. To these regions Otto applied King

Online LibraryT. F. (Thomas Frederick) ToutThe empire and the papacy, 918-1273 → online text (page 2 of 45)