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for a fleet from the great Doge Peter Orseolo. But worse
news now reached him. Rome itself now rose in revolt, and
Otto, postponing in despair his warlike operations, could only
find consolation in visits to the holy Romuald in his inac-
cessible island hermitage amidst the swamps of Ravenna, and
in the practice of penances, mortifications, and scourgings.
Recovering his energy, he now sought to obtain an army from
Germany to procure, as in the old days, the subjection of
Italy; but it was the very moment of the crisis of the
Gandersheim struggle, and no German help was forthcoming.
A sharp fever now attacked Otto at the very moment of



The Later Saxon and Early Salian Emperors 47

the collapse of all his plans. He died on 23rd January
1002, at Paterno, near Rome, when only twenty-two years
old. With him perished his lofty ambitions, rjeathof
He had made himself the wonder of the world ; otto in.,
but all that he had accomplished was to play the
game of the high ecclesiastical party. The tendency of his
policy, like the latter Carolings, was to subordinate the
visionary Empire to the practical Papacy, thus exactly
reversing the ideas of the great Saxons, and bringing out in
its most glaring contrast the incompatibility of the union of the
German kingship with the imperial claims to universal domi-
nation. Within a year Sylvester n. followed him to the tomb.

For eighty years the Saxon kings and emperors had suc-
ceeded from father to son, and even a minority had not
broken down the tendency towards heredity which Henry n.,
seemed rapidly divesting the German kingdom of I002 - I02 4.
the elective character which it had shared with the Empire
itself. Otto ni.'s death without direct heirs now reminded
the German magnates that they still could choose their king,
and, in the absence of any strong claimant, there was a whole
swarm of aspirants after the vacant dignity. The friends of
the Saxon traditions, which Otto in. had so violently set at
naught, hoped for the election of the brave and experienced
Eckhard of Meissen; but as Eckhard was travelling to the
south to pursue his candidature, he was murdered to satisfy
a private revenge. His removal secured the appointment of
Henry, Duke of Bavaria, the son of Henry the Quarrelsome,
and the nearest kinsman of competent age and position to
the dead ruler. Thus the throne was retained in the hands
of the Saxon house, though it now was held by a branch that
had long attached itself to the traditions of its southern duchy.
Bavarians, Lorrainers, and Franks accepted Henry at once ;
the Saxons and Swabians only after a short hesitation.

It was a great thing that the succession had been peaceably
settled. Yet the new king had neither the power nor the
energy of the Ottos. Raised to the throne by the great



48 European History, 918-1273

magnates, Henry II. never aspired to carry on the despotic
traditions of the earlier Saxon kings, but thought to rule with
the help of frequent Diets and Councils. He had more
authority over the Church, and his personal piety and zeal
for good works, in which he was well supported by his wife
Cunigunde, procured for him in after times the name and re-
putation of a saint, and in his own day kept him on good terms
with the clergy, though he was never their slave. He used
his bishops and abbots as instruments of his temporal rule,
and systematically developed Otto m.'s system of making the
bishops and abbots the local representatives of the imperial
power by granting them the position of Count over the
neighbouring Gau. On one great matter he gave much
offence to the German bishops. He set up a new bishop-
Henry II. r ' c at Bamberg in Franconia, laying in 1004
and the the foundations of its new cathedral, and con-
ferring on it such extensive privileges that
every bishop in Germany was annoyed at the new prelate
holding a position next after the archbishops, while the
Archbishop of Mainz resented the merely nominal ties of
obedience that bound the Bishop of Bamberg to him as his
metropolitan. Henry was a friend of the Cluniac monks,
and it was through his efforts that these zealous Church
reformers first got a strong position in Germany.

Henry had no trouble with the Hungarians, whose great
king, St. Stephen, the founder of the settled Magyar state,
Henry ii. was n ' s brother-in-law and friend. But it was
and the among his chief cares to uphold the old Saxon
supremacy over the Slavs, which Otto in. had
generously or fantastically neglected. Poland was now a for-
midable state, and its Duke Boleslav, who had become a terror
to the marks before the death of Otto, aspired to build up
a strong Slavonic power, and drive back the Germans over
the Elbe. It was no longer the frontier warfare of the days
after Otto the Great's victories. It was rather a stern fight
between two vigorous nations, in which Henry only won the



The Later Saxon and Early Salian Emperors 49

upper hand after long and costly efforts. Even at the last
he was forced to hand over the mark of Lausitz to the Poles,
to be held as a fief of the German kingdom. Henry's laborious
policy, his shrinking from great efforts, and his fixed resolve
to concentrate himself on little objects within his reach, stand
in the strongest contrast to the vast ambitions of his prede-
cessor. Yet, in his slow and determined way, Henry brought
back the German kingdom to a more national policy, and
did much to restore the havoc wrought by Otto's vain
pursuits of impossible ideals. As a German king, he was in
no wise a failure, though he raised the monarchy to no new
heights of power.

Henry's success in Germany was closely connected with
his failure in Italy. Under his cautious rule the plans of
Otto in. were quickly lost sight of. On the death of Syl-
vester ii., the Papacy fell back into its old dependence on
the local nobles. At first a third Crescentius, son of Otto m.'s
victim, assumed his father's title of Patrician, ruled Rome at
his pleasure, and nominated two puppet Popes in succession.
But a stronger power arose, that of the Counts of Tusculum.
Before long a series of Tusculan Popes, set up by the good-
will of these powerful lords, again degraded the Papacy, and
threatened to deprive it of the obedience and respect of
Europe. It was the same in the secular as Henry n.
in the spiritual sphere. Before the German sue- and Italy,
cession had been settled, Ardoin, Marquis of Ivrea, had
got himself elected King of Italy, and held his own
for many years against the partisans of Henry reinforced
by German armies. In 1004 Henry went over the Alps,
and submitted to be elected and crowned king at Pavia,
though the Ottos had borne the Italian crown without con-
descending to go through such formalities. Despite this
Ardoin long maintained himself. At last, in 1013, Henry
went down to Italy again, and on i4th February 1014 re-
ceived the imperial diadem from Pope Benedict vm. But no
striking result followed this renewal of the Empire. Benedict,

PERIOD II. D



50 European History, 918-1273

who was a zealous partisan of the Count of Tusculum,
now sought, by advocacy of the Cluniac ideas, to maintain
himself against an Antipope of the faction of Crescentius.
In 1020 Benedict visited Germany to consecrate the cathedral
of Bamberg, and signalised his visit by taking Henry's
foundation under his immediate care. It seemed as if the
old alliance of Papacy and Empire were renewed. Next
year Henry crossed the Brenner at the head of a strong
German army, which traversed all Italy, in three divisions,
commanded respectively by Henry himself, the Patriarch of
Aquileia, and the Archbishop of Cologne. But by the time
the Lombard dukes of Capua and Salerno had made their
submission, and Henry was marching through Apulia, a
deadly sickness raged in his host and compelled its im-
mediate retreat. Next year Henry was back in Germany.
It is significant that the office of Count Palatine of Italy
ceased to exist during his reign. The Emperor was no longer
an effective ruler of the peninsula.

In the latter years of his life Henry attached himself still
more strongly to the Cluniac party, and, as with Otto in., his
friendship for foreign priests brought him into renewed con-
flict with the German bishops. Aribo, Archbishop of Mainz,
led the opposition to Henry and Benedict But just as the
conflict was coming to a head, Benedict vni. died (1024).
He was quickly followed to the grave by Henry himself.
With him perished the last king of the male stock of the
Ludolfing dukes of Saxony. His dull and featureless reign
was but a tame conclusion to the brilliant period of the
Ottos

The ecclesiastical differences that had troubled Germany

during Henry ii.'s lifetime lay at the root of the party struggles

The two l hat now raged round the appointment of his

Conrad*, successor. As in Henry's case, there was no

specific candidate marked out by birth and

special fitness for the choice of the German nation. The

bishops, led by Aribo of Mainz and Burkhard of Worms.



The Later Saxon and Early Salian Emperors $ I

resolved to take full advantage of this freedom of election
to prevent the accession of any prince inclined, like the
late Emperor, to favour the spread of Cluniac ideas. They
therefore urged the claims of Conrad of Swabia. Conrad
was the great-grandson of Conrad the Red and his wife Liut-
garde, Otto the Great's daughter, and consequently nephew
of Pope Gregory v., and descended from the Ludolfings on
the female side. Though only the possessor of part of his
rich family estates in the Rhineland, Conrad had made a
lucky marriage with the widowed Gisela, Duchess of Swabia,
the granddaughter of Conrad, king of Aries, and a descen-
dant of the Carolingians. This gave him the guardianship
of the young Duke Ernest of Swabia, Gisela's son by her
former husband, and secured for him a leading position
among the German magnates. Conrad was a valiant and
experienced warrior, and an intelligent statesman, possess-
ing a clear head and a strong will, resolutely bent on
securing practical objects immediately within reach. He
had persistently held aloof from the ecclesiastical policy of
his predecessor, with whom he had been more than once
in open feud. He was still more hostile to his cousin, Conrad,
Duke of Carinthia, the son of another Conrad, a younger
brother of his father Henry, who, through the caprice of their
grandfather, had inherited the mass of the Rhenish estates
of Conrad the Red, usurping the position of the elder line.
This second Conrad was now the candidate of the Cluniac
party against Conrad of Swabia. But the great prelates
were still all-powerful; despite the opposition of the
Lorrainers, among whom Cluniac ideas had gained a firm
hold, Conrad of Swabia was elected king. His path to the
throne was made smooth by the generosity of his rival,
who, at the last moment, abandoned his candidature,
and voted for his cousin. Aribo of Mainz Conrad ii..
crowned Conrad in his own cathedral, regard- 1084-1039.
less of the claims of the rival Archbishop of Cologne, the
diocesan of Aachen, the proper place for the coronation



52 European History ', 918-1273

But Aribo refused to confer the crown on Gisela, since the
Church regarded her marriage with Conrad as irregular by
reason of their affinity. Pilgrim of Cologne now saw his
opportunity for making terms with the victor. He gave
Gisela the crown which Aribo had denied her. Thus Conrad
entered upon his reign with the support of all the leaders
of the German nation. The younger Conrad remained
faithful to his old rival ; while his younger brother Bruno,
who became Bishop of Toul, soon became one of the
greatest supports of the new dynasty.

When Conrad n. became king, he found everything in
confusion : but within two years of his accession he had in-
itaiian fused a. new spirit and energy into every part of
policy. n i s dominions. His first difficulty was with
Lorraine, whose two dukes had opposed his election, and now
refused to acknowledge its validity. They sought the help
of King Robert of France, whose weak support availed them
but little. Conrad soon put down their rebellion, and with
almost equal ease quelled the revolt of his ambitious and
unruly step-son, Ernest of Swabia. Germany was thus
appeased, but Italy, where the imperial power had become
very feeble in the later part of the reign of Henry n., was
still practically outside Conrad's influence. His authority
was only saved from complete ruin by the policy of the
Lombard bishops, who saw in the Emperor their best pro-
tection against the proud and powerful lay aristocracy, and
especially against the warlike margraves, who now aspired to
renew the part played by Ardoin of Ivrea. But conscious
that they did not possess sufficient strength to continue
successfully a policy in which even Ardoin had failed, the
leaders of the north Italian nobility looked elsewhere abroad
for help to counterbalance the German soldiery of the
Emperor. When King Robert of France rejected their
advances, they found what they sought in William v., the
Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Poitou, an aged and ex-
perienced warrior, and a strong friend of the Chmiacs, who



The Later Saxon and Early Salian Emperors 53

hoped to find in Italy a suitable endowment for his young
son William. This was the first occasion in which the policy
of calling in the French to drive out the Germans was adopted
by the Italians. But the times were not yet ripe for the inter-
vention of a French prince in Italy. William crossed the
Alps, but found that he could make but little progress against
the vigorous opposition of the Lombard bishops, headed by
Aribert of Milan, and tried to make up for his weakness
in Italy by uniting himself with the Lorraine rebels, and
by stirring up an anti-German party in the kingdom of Aries.
But nothing came of his elaborate schemes, and in 1025 he
went home in disgust.

Early in 1026 Conrad crossed the Brenner, and in March
received the Lombard crown from Aribert in the cathedral
of Milan. Pavia, the old Lombard capital, shut
its gates on the Emperor, who was thus unable to imperial
be hallowed in the usual place. For a whole year coronation,
Conrad remained in northern Italy, and gradually Ioa7 '
forced his enemies to make their submission. In the spring
of 1027 the way to Rome at last lay open, and on Easter
Sunday Conrad was crowned Emperor by Pope John xix.
The function was one of the most striking and memorable
ceremonies in the whole history of the mediaeval Empire. It
was witnessed by two kings Rudolf in., the last of the kings
of Aries, and Canute of Denmark, the conqueror of Eng-
land and Norway, then at Rome on a pilgrimage. But the
clear head of Conrad was not in the least turned by the
mystic rite. Content that his twofold coronation gave him
a firm hold over Italy, he quickly recrossed the Alps and
resumed his proper work as a German king, taking good
care that there should be no clashing between his German
and Italian interests. Before his return he visited southern
Italy, and ensured the obedience of the Lombard dukes,
who still guarded the frontier against the Greeks of Calabria.

On his return to Germany, Conrad felt that his power was
sufficiently secure to take steps towards retaining the Empire



54 European History, 918-1273

in his own family. In 1028, he persuaded the magnates to
elect, and Pilgrim of Cologne to crown, as his successor his
Fail of Ernest e ldest son, Henry, who was but ten years of
of swabia, age. This act roused the jealousy of the greater
nobles, who found in Conrad's son-in-law, Ernest
of Swabia, an eager champion of their views. Ernest again
plunged into revolt; and when pardoned, at the instance
of his mother the Empress, still kept up his close friendship
with the open rebel, Werner of Kyburg, Count of the Thurgau,
a district including the north-eastern parts of the modern
Switzerland. In 1030 Conrad ordered Ernest to break off
from all dealings with his friend, and, as a sign of his
repentance, to carry out in person the sentence of outlawry
and deprivation pronounced against him. Ernest refused to
give up Werner, whereupon Conrad deprived him of his
duchy. Bitterly incensed with his father-in-law, the young
duke left the palace, and wandered from court to court, seeking
help to excite a new rebellion. But Conrad was so strong
that neither foreign prince nor discontented German noble
would make common cause with Ernest. In despair he took
to a wild robber life of adventure, lurking with a few faithful
vassals amidst the ravines and woods of the Black Forest.
Before the summer was out Ernest was overpowered and
slain. His commonplace treason and brigandage were in
after ages glorified in popular tales, that make his friend
Werner a model of romantic fidelity, and he himself a gallant
and chivalrous warrior. After his fall, Conrad reigned in
peace over Germany.

The inroads of the Hungarians and Poles now forced fresh

wars on Conrad. In 1030 he waged a doubtful contest against

Stephen of Hungary. In the succeeding years he

Hungary ' J . . .

and Poland, obtained great successes against the Poles, winning
1030-1033. back in 1031 Lausitz and the other mark districts
that Henry n. had been forced to surrender to their king
Boleslav, and compelling his successor Miecislav, in 1032, to
do homage to him for the whole of his kingdom. But great



The L ater Saxon and Early Salian Emperors 5 5

as were Conrad's successes in the east, they were surpassed by
his brilliant acquisition of a new kingdom in the west, where
in 1032 he obtained the possession of the kingdom of Aries.

The kingdom of Aries or Burgundy had fallen into evil
days. During the long reigns of Conrad the Pacific (937-993)
and Rudolf in. (993-1032) all power had fallen

. . , ' . ... , Union of the

into the hands of the territorial magnates, and Areiatewith
now the threatened extinction of the royal house the Em P re .
seemed likely to plunge the Arelate into worse
confusion. Rudolf in. was old and childless, and had long
sought to make arrangements to prevent the dissolution of his
kingdom with his death. In 1007 he had concluded with
Henry n., his nephew, an agreement by which Burgundy was
to fall on his death to the German monarch, but the Bur-
gundian nobles had more than once forced him to renounce
his treaty. An increasing sense of his powerlessness drew
Rudolf, who was Gisela's uncle, more closely to Conrad n.
He hurried to Rome to be present at his coronation, and he
trusted entirely to him for protection against his turbulent
nobility. The contract of succession was renewed, and on
Rudolf's death, in 1032, Conrad entered into possession of
the Arelate. Count Odo of Champagne set himself up as
a rival and national king, but the German portions of the
Arelate favoured Conrad from the beginning. In 1033 he
was chosen king, and crowned at Ueberlingen, near Con-
stance; and in 1034 Odo was forced into submission, while
Conrad triumphantly wore his crown at Geneva and received
the homage of the lords of Burgundy. Henceforward the
kingdom of Aries was indissolubly united with the Empire.
Despite the small amount of power which even the strongest
Emperors could exercise in the Arelate, the acquisition was
one of no small importance. The Arelate was for the most
part a Romance land, and its union with the Empire made the
Empire less German, and, for some generations at least, pre-
vented the natural tendency to union between France and the
Burgundian lands from being carried out. Moreover, the



56 European History, 918-1273

acquisition of the Arelate, by virtue of a contract of succession,
increased the already strong tendency towards hereditary
monarchy in Germany and Italy. Again, Burgundy was Jthe
chief home of the Cluniacs, and one very important con-
sequence of its absorption by Conrad was a gradual increase
of Cluniac influence all over the Empire. And most of all, the
new-won kingdom was useful to the Emperors as acting as a
sort of buffer-state to protect Italy from French interference.
The attempt of William of Poitou had taught Conrad the
necessity of thus guarding the Italian frontier. For the next
few generations the acquisition of the Arelate made such
projects more difficult. Supplementing the final adhesion of
Lotharingia to the Eastern Kingdom, the lapse of the Arelate
completed the absorption of the ' Middle Kingdom ' in the
German Empire. Of the threefold partition of Europe by
the Treaty of Verdun in 843, only the ancient dominions
of Charles the Bald France, in the narrower sense were
outside the powers of the Emperor. Henceforth Conrad
ruled not only all the lands that had gone in 843 to Louis
the German, but also over the districts that had then fallen to
the share of the Emperor Lothair. Two-thirds of the Caro-
lingian Empire were thus concentrated under Conrad.

Ten years of Conrad's rule had now brought the Holy
Empire to a point of solid prosperity that was seldom
surpassed. But Conrad saw that there were still
benefice* great dangers inherent in his position, and fore-
declared most among these was the smallness of the num-
ber of the feudal dignitaries with whom he had
direct legal dealings. There were no longer indeed the five
national dukedoms in their old united strength and dignity.
There were no longer dukes of Franconia ; Lorraine was
already divided into two distinct duchies, of Upper and
Lower Lorraine. Swabia was showing signs of a similar
tendency to bifurcation ; Bavaria, after the rearrangement of
976, was in a much less imposing position than under the
Saxon Emperors, and even in Saxony the margraves



The Later Saxon and Early Salian Emperors 57

were a strong counterpoise to the more imposing but
not more powerful dukes. In the last generations the
more vigorous of the counts and margraves had shaken
off their dependence on the dukes, and aspired to stand
in immediate relations with the Emperor. Yet the whole
drift of the time was towards feudalism, and towards
making a limited number of tenants-in-chief, whether dukes,
margraves or counts, the sole persons with whom the Emperor
had any direct relations. Secure in their own hereditary
tenure of their fiefs and allodial properties, the great lords of
Germany claimed an absolute control over all their vassals.
The old tie of national allegiance that bound every subject to
his sovereign had fallen into neglect as compared with the
new link of feudal dependence of vassal on lord. The leading
tenants-in-chief considered that their powers over their vassals
were so absolute that it was the bounden duty of a tenant to
follow his lord to the field, even against his overlord. With
the same object of strengthening their own position, the
great lords strove to prevent the fiefs of their vassals from
assuming that hereditary character which they had already
acquired in practice, if not in theory, for their own vast
estates.

Conrad showed a shrewd sense of self-interest in posing as
the friend of the lesser tenants against the great vassals of
the crown. Whether he also secured the best interests of
Germany is not quite so clear. The great vassals were strong
enough to maintain order; the lesser feudalists had neither
their resources nor their traditions of statecraft. It was too
late to revive with any real effect the national tie of allegiance,
and the scanty means of an early medieval king had always
made somewhat illusory great schemes of national unity.
Conrad did his best for the protection of the under-tenants by
establishing for them also that hereditary possession of their
benefices which gave them some sort of permanent position
over against their overlords. This was secured in Germany
by a mere recognition of the growing custom of heredity,



5 8 European History, 918-1273

though in Italy a formal law was necessary to attain the same
end. Another advantage won by Conrad by this action was
that in securing the recognition of the principle of heredity in
every fief, he made a long step towards securing the heredity
of the crown. For Conrad, much more distinctly than his
Saxon predecessors, sought definitely to make both the royal
and imperial crown hereditary in his house. As a further
step towards breaking down the greater nobility, he strove
to get rid of the national duchies altogether. He persuaded
the Bavarians to elect the young King Henry as their duke,
and, on the death of his last stepson, gave Swabia also to
his destined successor. On the death of his old rival, Conrad
of Carinthia, the great Carinthian mark was also handed over



Online LibraryT. F. (Thomas Frederick) ToutThe empire and the papacy, 918-1273 → online text (page 5 of 45)