End Of The Frank Dynasty And Rise Of The Hohenstaufens


Henry V.'s Character and Course. --The Condition of Germany. --Strife

concerning the Investiture of Bishops. --Scene in St. Peter's.

--Troubles in Germany and Italy. --The "Concordat of Worms."

--Death of Henry V. --Absence of National Feeling. --Papal

Independence. --Lothar of Saxony chosen Emperor. --His Visits to

Italy, and Death. --Konrad of Hohenstaufen succeeds. --H
s Quarrel

with Henry the Proud. --The Women of Weinsberg. --Welf (Guelph) and

Waiblinger (Ghibelline). --The Second Crusade. --March to the Holy

Land. --Konrad invited to Rome. --Arnold of Brescia. --Konrad's


[Sidenote: 1106. HENRY V. AS EMPEROR.]

Henry V. showed his true character immediately after his accession to

the throne. Although he had been previously supported by the Papal

party, he was no sooner acknowledged king of Germany than he imitated

his father in opposing the claims of the Church. The new Pope, Paschalis

II., had found it expedient to recognize the Bishops whom Henry IV. had

appointed, but at the same time he issued a manifesto declaring that all

future appointments must come from him. Henry V. answered this with a

letter of defiance, and continued to select his own Bishops and abbots,

which the Pope, not being able to resist, was obliged to suffer.

During the disturbed fifty years of Henry IV.'s reign, Burgundy and

Italy had become practically independent of Germany; Hungary and Poland

had thrown off their dependent condition, and even the Wends beyond the

Elbe were no longer loyal to the Empire. Within the German States, the

Imperial power was already so much weakened by the establishment of

hereditary Dukes and Counts, not related to the ruling family, that the

king (or Emperor) exercised very little direct authority over the

people. The crown-lands had been mostly either given away in exchange

for assistance, or lost during the civil wars; the feudal system was

firmly fastened upon the country, and only a few free cities--like those

in Italy--kept alive the ancient spirit of liberty and political

equality. Under such a system a monarch could accomplish little, unless

he was both wiser and stronger than the reigning princes under him:

there was no general national sentiment to which he could appeal. Henry

V. was cold, stern, heartless and unprincipled; but he inspired a

wholesome fear among his princely "vassals," and kept them in better

order than his father had done.

[Sidenote: 1110.]

After giving the first years of his reign to the settlement of troubles

on the frontiers of the Empire, Henry V. prepared, in 1110, for a

journey to Italy. So many followers came to him that when he had crossed

the Alps and mustered them on the plains of Piacenza, there were 30,000

knights present. With such a force, no resistance was possible: the

Lombard cities acknowledged him, Countess Matilda of Tuscany followed

their example, and the Pope found it expedient to meet him in a friendly

spirit. The latter was willing to crown Henry as Emperor, but still

claimed the right of investing the Bishops. This Henry positively

refused to grant, and, after much deliberation, the Pope finally

proposed a complete separation of Church and State,--that is, that the

lands belonging to the Bishops and abbots, or under their government,

should revert to the crown, and the priests themselves become merely

officials of the Church, without any secular power. Although the change

would have been attended with some difficulty in Germany, Henry

consented, and the long quarrel between Pope and Emperor was apparently


On the 12th of February, 1111, the king entered Rome at the head of a

magnificent procession, and was met at the gate of St. Peter's by the

Pope, who walked with him hand in hand to the platform before the high

altar. But when the latter read aloud the agreement, the Bishops raised

their voices in angry dissent. The debate lasted so long that one of the

German knights cried out: "Why so many words? Our king means to be

crowned Emperor, like Karl the Great!" The Pope refused the act of

coronation, and was immediately made prisoner. The people of Rome rose

in arms, and a terrible fight ensued. Henry narrowly escaped death in

the streets, and was compelled to encamp outside the city. At the end of

two months, the resistance both of Pope and people was crushed; he was

crowned Emperor, and Paschalis II. gave up his claim for the investiture

of the Bishops.

[Sidenote: 1122. THE CONCORDAT OF WORMS.]

Henry V. returned immediately to Germany, defeated the rebellious

Thuringians and Saxons in 1113, and the following year was married to

Matilda, daughter of Henry I. of England. This was the climax of his

power and splendor: it was soon followed by troubles with Friesland,

Cologne, Thuringia and Saxony, and in the course of two years his

authority was set at nought over nearly all Northern Germany. Only

Suabia, under his nephew, Frederick of Hohenstaufen, and Duke Welf II.

of Bavaria, remained faithful to him.

He was obliged to leave Germany in this state and hasten to Italy in

1116, on account of the death of the Countess Matilda, who had

bequeathed Tuscany to the Church, although she had previously

acknowledged the Imperial sovereignty. Henry claimed and secured

possession of her territory; he then visited Rome, the Pope leaving the

city to avoid meeting him. The latter died soon afterwards, and for a

time a new Pope, of the Emperor's own appointment, was installed in the

Vatican. The Papal party, which now included all the French Bishops,

immediately elected another, who excommunicated Henry V., but the act

was of no consequence, and was in fact overlooked by Calixtus II., who

succeeded to the Papal chair in 1118.

The same year Henry returned to Germany, and succeeded, chiefly through

the aid of Frederick of Hohenstaufen, in establishing his authority. The

quarrel with the Papal power concerning the investiture of the Bishops

was still unsettled: the new Pope, Calixtus II., who was a Burgundian

and a relation of the Emperor, remained in France, where his claims were

supported. After long delays and many preliminary negotiations, a Diet

was held at Worms in September, 1122, when the question was finally

settled. The choice of the Bishops and their investiture with the ring

and crozier were given to the Pope, but the nominations were required to

be made in the Emperor's presence, and the candidates to receive from

him their temporal power, before they were consecrated by the Church.

This arrangement is known as the Concordat of Worms. It was hailed at

the time as a fortunate settlement of a strife which had lasted for

fifty years; but it only increased the difficulty by giving the German

Bishops two masters, yet making them secretly dependent on the Pope. So

long as they retained the temporal power, they governed according to the

dictates of a foreign will, which was generally hostile to Germany. Then

began an antagonism between the Church and State, which was all the more

intense because never openly acknowledged, and which disturbs Germany

even at this day.

[Sidenote: 1125.]

Pope Calixtus II. took no notice of the ban of excommunication, but

treated with Henry V. as if it had never been pronounced. The troubles

in Northern Germany, however, were not subdued by this final peace with

Rome,--a clear evidence that the humiliation of Henry IV. was due to

political and not to religious causes. Henry V. died at Utrecht, in

Holland, in May, 1125, leaving no children, which the people believed to

be a punishment for his unnatural treatment of his father. There was no

one to mourn his death, for even his efforts to increase the Imperial

authority, and thereby to create a national sentiment among the Germans,

were neutralized by his coldness, haughtiness and want of principle, as

a man. The people were forced, by the necessities of their situation, to

support their own reigning princes, in the hope of regaining from the

latter some of their lost political rights.

Another circumstance tended to prevent the German Emperors from

acquiring any fixed power. They had no capital city, as France already

possessed in Paris: after the coronation, the monarch immediately

commenced his "royal ride," visiting all portions of the country, and

receiving, personally, the allegiance of the whole people. Then, during

his reign, he was constantly migrating from one castle to another,

either to settle local difficulties, to collect the income of his

scattered estates, or for his own pleasure. There was thus no central

point to which the Germans could look as the seat of the Imperial rule:

the Emperor was a Frank, a Saxon, a Bavarian or Suabian, by turns, but

never permanently a German, with a national capital grander than any

of the petty courts.

The period of Henry V.'s death marks, also, the independence of the

Papal power. The "Concordat of Worms" indirectly took away from the

Roman (German) Emperor the claim of appointing the Pope, which had been

exercised, from time to time, during nearly five hundred years. The

celibacy of the priesthood was partially enforced by this time, and the

Roman Church thereby gained a new power. It was now able to set up an

authority (with the help of France) nearly equal to that of the Empire.

These facts must be borne in mind as we advance; for the secret rivalry

which now began underlies all the subsequent history of Germany, until

it came to a climax in the Reformation of Luther.


Henry V. left all his estates and treasures to his nephew, Frederick of

Hohenstaufen, but not the crown jewels and insignia, which were to be

bestowed by the National Diet upon his successor. Frederick, and his

brother Konrad, Duke of Franconia, were the natural heirs to the crown;

but, as the Hohenstaufen family had stood faithfully by Henry IV. and V.

in their conflicts with the Pope, it was unpopular with the priests and

reigning princes. At the Diet, the Archbishop of Mayence nominated

Lothar of Saxony, who was chosen after a very stormy session. His first

acts were to beg the Pope to confirm his election, and then to give up

his right to have the Bishops and abbots appointed in his presence. He

next demanded of Frederick of Hohenstaufen the royal estates which the

latter had inherited from Henry V. Being defeated in the war which

followed, he strengthened his party by marrying his only daughter,

Gertrude, to Henry the Proud, Duke of Bavaria (grandson of Duke Welf,

Henry IV.'s friend, whence this family was called the Welfs--Guelphs).

By this marriage Henry the Proud became also Duke of Saxony; but a part

of the Dukedom, called the North-mark, was separated and given to a

Saxon noble, a friend of Lothar, named Albert the Bear.

Lothar was called to Italy in 1132 by Innocent II., one of two Popes,

who, in consequence of a division in the college of Cardinals, had been

chosen at the same time. He was crowned Emperor in the Lateran, in June,

1133, while the other Pope Anaclete II. was reigning in the Vatican. He

acquired the territory of the Countess Matilda of Tuscany, but only on

condition of paying 400 pounds of silver annually to the Church. The

former state of affairs was thus suddenly reversed: the Emperor

acknowledged himself a dependent of the temporal Papal power. When he

returned to Germany, the same year, Lothar succeeded in subduing the

resistance of the Hohenstaufens, and then bound the reigning princes of

Germany, by oath, to keep peace for the term of twelve years.

[Sidenote: 1137.]

This truce enabled him to return to Italy for the purpose of assisting

Pope Innocent, who had been expelled from Rome. The rival of the latter,

Anaclete II., was supported by the Norman king, Roger II. of Sicily,

who, in the summer of 1137, was driven out of Southern Italy by Lothar's

army. But quarrels broke out with the Pisans, who were his allies, and

with Pope Innocent, for whose cause he was fighting, and he finally set

out for Germany, without even visiting Rome. At Trient, in the Tyrol, he

was seized with a mortal sickness, and died on the Brenner pass of the

Alps, in a shepherd's hut. His body was taken to Saxony and buried in

the chapel of a monastery which he had founded there.

A National Diet was called to meet in May, 1138, and elect a successor.

Lothar's son-in-law, Henry the Proud, Duke of Bavaria, Saxony and

Tuscany (which latter the Emperor had transferred also to him), seemed

to have the greatest right to the throne; but he was already so

important that the jealousy of the other reigning princes was excited

against him. Their policy was, to choose a weak rather than a strong

ruler,--one who would not interfere with their authority in their own

lands. Konrad of Hohenstaufen took advantage of this jealousy; he

courted the favor of the princes and the bishops, and was chosen and

crowned by the latter, three months before the time fixed for the

meeting of the Diet. The movement, though in violation of all law,

succeeded perfectly: a new Diet was called, for form's sake, and all the

German princes, except Henry the Proud, acquiesced in Konrad's election.

In order to maintain his place, the new king was compelled to break the

power of his rival. He therefore declared that Henry the Proud should

not be allowed to govern two lands at the same time, and gave all Saxony

to Albert the Bear. When Henry rose in resistance, Konrad proclaimed

that he had forfeited Bavaria, which he gave to Leopold of Austria. In

this emergency, Henry the Proud called upon the Saxons to help him, and

had raised a considerable force when he suddenly died, towards the end

of the year 1139. His brother, Welf, continued the struggle in Bavaria,

in the interest of his young son, Henry, afterwards called "the Lion."

He attempted to raise the siege of the town of Weinsberg, which was

beleaguered by Konrad's army, but failed. The tradition relates that

when the town was forced to surrender, the women sent a deputation to

Konrad, begging to be allowed to leave with such goods as they could

carry on their backs. When this was granted and the gates were opened,

they came out, carrying their husbands, sons or brothers as their

dearest possessions. The fame of this deed of the women of Weinsberg has

gone all over the world.

[Sidenote: 1140. GUELPH AND GHIBELLINE.]

In this struggle, for the first time, the names of Welf and

Waiblinger (from the little town of Waiblingen, in Wuertemberg, which

belonged to the Hohenstaufens) were first used as party cries in battle.

In the Italian language they became "Guelph" and "Ghibelline," and for

hundreds of years they retained a far more intense and powerful

significance than the names "Whig" and "Tory" in England. The term

Welf (Guelph) very soon came to mean the party of the Pope, and

Waiblinger (Ghibelline) that of the German Emperor. The end of this

first conflict was, that in 1142, young Henry the Lion (great-grandson

of Duke Welf of Bavaria) was allowed to be Duke of Saxony. From him

descended the later Dukes of Brunswick and Hannover, who retained the

family name of Welf, or Guelph, which, through George I., is also that

of the royal family of England at this day. Albert the Bear was obliged

to be satisfied with the North-mark, which was extended to the eastward

of the Elbe and made an independent principality. He called himself

Markgraf (Border Count) of Brandenburg, and thus laid the basis of a new

State, which, in the course of centuries developed into Prussia.

About this time the Christian monarchy in Jerusalem began to be

threatened with overthrow by the Saracens, and the Pope, Eugene III.,

responded to the appeals for help from the Holy Land, by calling for a

Second Crusade. He not only promised forgiveness of all sins, but

released the volunteers from payment of their debts and whatever

obligations they might have contracted under oath. France was the first

to answer the call: then Bernard of Clairvaux (St. Bernard, in the Roman

Church) visited Germany and made passionate appeals to the people. The

first effect of his speeches was the plunder and murder of the Jews in

the cities along the Rhine; then the slow German blood was roused to

enthusiasm for the rescue of the Holy Land, and the impulse became so

great that king Konrad was compelled to join in the movement. His

nephew, the red-bearded Frederick of Suabia, also put the cross on his

mantle: nearly all the German princes and people, except the Saxons,

followed the example.

[Sidenote: 1147.]

In May, 1147, the Crusaders assembled at Ratisbon. There were present

70,000 horsemen in armor, without counting the foot-soldiers and

followers. All the robber-bands and notorious criminals of Germany

joined the army for the sake of the full and free pardon offered by the

Pope. Konrad led the march down the Danube, through Austria and Thrace,

to Constantinople. Louis VII., king of France, followed him, with a

nearly equal force, leaving the German States through which he passed in

a famished condition. The two armies, united at Constantinople, advanced

through Asia Minor, but were so reduced by battles, disease and

hardships on the way, that the few who reached Palestine were too weak

to reconquer the ground lost by the king of Jerusalem. Only a band of

Flemish and English Crusaders, who set out by sea, succeeded in taking

Lisbon from the Saracens.

During the year 1149 the German princes returned from the East with

their few surviving followers. The loss of so many robbers and

robber-knights was, nevertheless, a great gain to the country: the

people enjoyed more peace and security than they had known for a long

time. Duke Welf of Bavaria (brother of Henry the Proud) was the first to

reach Germany: Konrad, fearing that he would make trouble, sent after

him the young Duke of Suabia, Frederick Red-Beard (Barbarossa) of

Hohenstaufen. It was not long, in fact, before the war-cries of

"Guelph!" and "Ghibelline!" were again heard; but Welf, as well as his

nephew, Henry the Lion, of Saxony, was defeated. During the Crusade, the

latter had carried on a war against the Wends and other Slavonic tribes

in Prussia, the chief result of which was the foundation of the city of


[Sidenote: 1152. KONRAD'S DEATH.]

King Konrad now determined to pay his delayed visit to Rome, and be

crowned Emperor. Immediately after his return from the East, he had

received a pressing invitation from the Roman Senate to come, to

recognize the new order of things in the ancient city, and make it the

permanent capital of the united German and Italian Empire. Arnold of

Brescia, who for years had been advocating the separation of the Papacy

from all temporal power, and the re-establishment of the Roman Church

upon the democratic basis of the early Christian Church, had compelled

the Pope, Eugene III., to accept his doctrine. Rome was practically a

Republic, and Arnold's reform, although fiercely opposed by the Bishops,

abbots and all priests holding civil power, made more and more headway

among the people. At a National Diet, held at Wuerzburg in 1151, it was

decided that Konrad should go to Rome, and the Pope was officially

informed of his intention. But before the preparations for the journey

were completed, Konrad died, in February, 1152, at Bamberg. He was

buried there in the Cathedral built by Henry II.