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GERMANY, 1125-1152.



The Saxon wars, the imperial struggle with the Papacy, had brought to the front a new nobility. The Hohenstaufen, the Wittelsbachs, the Wettins emerge to replace the families which, in consequence of the wars, had become extinct. In like case Lothar, the son of a petty count, one Gebhard of Supplinburg, rose to the first rank among German princes. By his marriage he acquired a pre-eminent position in Saxony; for his wife Richenza was the heiress of Henry of Nordheim and Ekbert of Meissen. In 1106, on the death of Magnus, Duke of Saxony, the last of the Billungs, he succeeded to the duchy and to the power which that family had sedulously built up since the time of Otto the Great. During the reign of the Emperor Henry V, Lothar as Duke of Saxony had been conspicuous for his activity in extending his influence in the Wendish districts and for his constant opposition to the Salian house. In 1125 he was raised to the throne.

His election marks a change in the German kingship. Though always elective in theory, owing to the strength of the Saxon and Salian rulers it had been rendered in practice hereditary. At the diet of Forchheim in 1077 the German princes passed a resolution, accepted by the Pope, in favor of spontaneous election. Effect was given to this resolution in 1125. Henry V died childless, his nephew, Frederick of Swabia, was passed over, and Lothar without a shadow of hereditary claim—his pedigree is lost beyond one generation—won the throne by right of election. During the twelfth century the elective principle becomes firmly established. Lothar is succeeded by his rival Conrad, and Conrad's son is passed over in favor of his nephew. The attempt of the Hohenstaufen Emperors to restore the principle of hereditary succession meets with very limited success. The Electoral College of princes is gradually forming itself and establishing its control.

It is fortunate that of an election so important in the history of the German kingship a detailed and contemporary account has come down to us. Immediately after the completion of the obsequies of the late Emperor, writs of summons were issued to the princes to attend an electoral council at Mainz on the feast of St Bartholomew (24 August). The gathering was a large one; it included, besides the German princes and their vassals, two papal legates and Suger, Abbot of St Denis, the famous minister of the French King Louis VI.

The natural choice would have been Frederick of Swabia. He was nearly related to the Salian house, he was executor of the late king, heir to his private estates, guardian of his widow Matilda, the daughter of Henry I of England, to whose care were entrusted the imperial insignia; he was well qualified by age—being then thirty-five years old—and by his personal character and attainments. The head of the house of Hohenstaufen, he was possessed of considerable private wealth; in addition to his own duchy of Swabia, he could command the interest of Eastern Franconia, over which his younger brother Conrad exercised ducal powers. But he was out of sympathy with the Church party: and the Church party was strong under the able leadership of Archbishop Adalbert of Mainz. Already before the meeting at Mainz Archbishop Frederick of Cologne had dispatched an embassy to Charles. Count of Flanders, inviting him to stand for election; the count however declined the offer. Archbishop Adalbert was more successful. His candidate Lothar commended him­self to the Church dignitaries on the ground of his enmity to the Salian house, to the lay princes because he was advanced in years, destitute of a male heir, and therefore unable to found a dynasty to deprive them of their power of election.

At Mainz the business of selection was delegated to a committee of forty, ten representatives from each tribe, Bavaria, Swabia, Franconia, and Saxony. Three names were submitted: Frederick, Leopold, Margrave of Austria, and Lothar. From this moment the skillful diplomacy of Archbishop Adalbert comes into play. He had already, by means not too reputable, if we are to believe Bishop Otto, succeeded in persuading the Empress to surrender the insignia; now, by addressing awkward questions to the candidates, he managed to place Frederick in a dilemma. Lothar and Leopold had first with unnecessary humility declined to come forward, and later agreed to abide by the decision of the electors. Frederick, on the other hand, “ready to be chosen but not to choose a king”, refused to give a direct answer to the question whether he would submit to the result of election; he must, he said, consult his followers; and he left the council. By this action he lost the confidence of the assembled princes; he appeared to deny the doctrine of free election and to set his reliance on hereditary right. The question was settled by the turbulent mob of Saxons, who broke up the deliberations of the council by their shoutings and acclamation of Lothar as king. He was raised on the shoulders of the enthusiastic crowd amidst a tumult only calmed by the intervention of the papal legate. The Bavarians refused to comply with this irregular ending of the proceedings in the absence of their duke. But their duke’s son was already the affianced husband of Lothar’s only child; there was no danger from that quarter. The Duke, Henry the Black, hurried to the scene, and Lothar III was duly elected on 30 August. A fortnight later, 13 September, he was solemnly crowned at Aix-la-Chapelle.

The opening years of the reign were marked by widespread unrest. In Bohemia, in Lorraine, even in his own dukedom of Saxony, the authority of the new king was disputed or openly disregarded. In Swabia and Franconia the party of the Hohenstaufen was in the ascendant. Duke Frederick had eventually done belated homage to Lothar, but almost immediately quarreled with him over the issue of the Salian inheritance. After his coronation the king proceeded to Ratisbon, where he held a diet in November. To the assembled princes he put the question whether estates that had been confiscated from outlaws or had been acquired by exchange with imperial lands should be regarded as imperial or private property. The problem was raised on general grounds, but its real application was obvious. The Salian Emperors had largely increased their territorial position by both these means, and the lands so acquired were included in the Hohenstaufen inheritance. The diet decided against Frederick; he refused to give up the fiefs in question, was found guilty of high treason at the Christmas court at Strasbourg, and at Goslar in January 1126 was placed under the ban of the Empire.

Lothar’s position, by no means strong, was sensibly weakened by the conspicuous failure of his first military enterprise. It arose over the question of the succession to the Bohemian dukedom, in which, with singular lack of judgment, he supported the weaker claims of Otto of Olmütz against those of the popular candidate, Sobeslav, a brother of the late King Vladislav I (ob. April 1125). Otto appealed, not in vain, for Lothar’s assistance at the diet of Ratisbon. In midwinter the king crossed the Erzgebirge into Bohemia with a small band of Saxons. Wearied by long inarches through the snow-covered mountains and exhausted by lack of provisions, they emerged into the valley of Kulm to find a large force of Bohemians under Sobeslav awaiting their coming (February 1126). The advanced troops were all but annihilated by the overwhelming numbers of the enemy; and Lothar had no choice but to make terms. The death of his protégé on the battlefield facilitated matters, and Lothar found in his conqueror a submissive and loyal ally. Sobeslav recognized Lothar’s election, did homage for his dukedom, and in after time proved his loyalty by signal services in the field.

The king could not press forward the punitive expedition against Frederick of Hohenstaufen which had been arranged for Whitsuntide 1126 until his own position in Germany was more secure. The uselessness of doing so had been proved by an abortive campaign in Swabia in the autumn of 1126. The prospect brightened a little with the death in December of Henry the Black, Duke of Bavaria, who shortly before had withdrawn from the world to spend his closing years in the monastery of Weingarten. His son and successor Henry, called the Proud, was young and energetic, the heir to enormous wealth, the chosen husband of Gertrude, Lothar’s only child. His inheritance comprised, in addition to the duchy of Bavaria, the greater part of the private property of his family in Bavaria and extensive possessions round Luneburg in Saxony which passed to him through his mother Wulfhild, daughter of Magnus Billung. The rest of the inheritance in Bavaria and Swabia fell to Henry's younger brother Welf VI. The projected marriage, which was in after years to upset the balance of ducal power in Germany by the union of Saxony and Bavaria in the hands of one man more powerful almost than the king himself, was carried out on the borders of Swabia and Bavaria near Augsburg on 29 May 1127. The immediate result was that Lothar could now in co-operation with Henry of Bavaria prosecute the war against the Hohenstaufen with vigor and with fair prospects of success. His position was further improved by his alliance in the same year with Conrad of Zahringen. In March William, Count of Burgundy (Franche Comté), was murdered. His inheritance fell naturally to his cousin Rainald, who immediately occupied the lands without waiting to be formally invested by the king. Lothar took advantage of this remissness and granted the rectorship of Burgundy to Conrad of Zäringen who was also connected with the late count, thereby not only gaining a new ally for himself but also detaching a strong supporter from the party of the Hohenstaufen.

Yet the tide of events still went against the king. Nuremberg successfully resisted his attack. For ten weeks the armies of Lothar, supported by the levies of Henry and Sobeslav from Bavaria and Bohemia, invested the town. The Bohemian allies ravaged the country, burnt the churches, and so incensed the population that they had to be sent home. At last Conrad of Hohenstaufen, lately returned from the Holy Land, advanced with fresh troops for its relief. Without risking a battle, Lothar withdrew first to Bamberg, then to Würzburg, whither he was pursued by Conrad, who however contented himself with celebrating a tournament at the very gates of the town as a mark of his disdain and returned, as he had come, to Nuremberg.

The efforts of the Hohenstaufen had met with such success that they now purposed to wrest the crown itself from Lothar. Frederick waived his claim of seniority in favor of his brother Conrad, who was duly elected king by his supporters on 18 December 1127. Spires declared for him and drove out its bishop; but this was the last triumph of his party. The election of Conrad was the turning-point in the conflict. By it not only the German kingship but also the German Church was assailed; the whole weight of the ecclesiastical power was thrown into the scale on the side of the legitimate king. Realizing that the odds against him in Germany were too heavy, Conrad, early in the year 1128, crossed the Septimer to try his fortunes in Italy.

The Rhenish town of Spires now became the centre of the Hohenstaufen resistance. After a siege of nearly three months the burghers asked for terms, agreed to give hostages, and made promises for their future loyalty (November 1128). Lothar was now free to attend to business in other parts of his kingdom. Lorraine was hostile to him; a rising of the citizens of Aix-la-Chapelle during his stay in the town in January 1127 was only pacified by liberal concessions; Godfrey the Bearded, Duke of Lower Lorraine, supported the pretensions of the Hohenstaufen. The duke was drawn into a dispute over the inheritance of Charles the Good, Count of Flanders, who in March 1127 had been murdered in the church of St Donatian at Bruges, on the side of William Clito the son of Duke Robert of Normandy. While he was thus engaged, Lothar seized his duchy and handed it over to Walram, Count of Limbourg, the son of Henry, Godfrey’s predecessor in the dukedom. Godfrey soon succeeded in recovering the greater part of his possessions, and the only result of Lothar’s intervention was the further dismemberment of the old Lotharingian duchy.

In the meanwhile Henry of Bavaria remained in the south to cope with Frederick of Swabia. The latter was keeping Lent at the monastery of Zwifalten on the banks of the Danube when Henry happened to be visiting his family estates in the same neighborhood. The opportunity of finding Frederick unaware of his presence and with but a few companions was too much for his sense of honor. Coming one night to the monastery with a body of armed followers, he set fire to the dwelling-rooms of the monks in which he rightly imagined Frederick to be. The latter escaped from the flames with the help of the monks and took refuge in the church tower. Henry surrounded the church, broke in the doors, even disturbed the brethren at their prayers with threats of death, but all to no effect. Frederick, safe in his tower, defied his sacrilegious assailant, who not only had to retire in disgust but had to pay for his scandalous behavior by forfeiting the advocacy of the monastery. The Hohenstaufen still had a strong position in Franconia and Swabia; there was yet hope in the Rhine country in spite of the submission of Spires. The insincerity of the promises made to Lothar on the occasion of its surrender was revealed when Frederick proceeded there with the view to making it again the centre of resistance. The townsmen readily threw over the king for the duke. The fortifications were strengthened, the garrison increased; Frederick himself after completing his arrangements departed for Swabia, leaving the conduct of affairs in the city to his wife Agnes of Saarbruck. In June 1129 Lothar appeared before the walls. Month after month the siege dragged on without either side showing signs of giving in. At last the king in despair sent an urgent appeal for help to his son-in-law, who was engaged in besieging a rebellious subject, Frederick of Bogen, in his castle of Falkenstein. Henry, leaving the siege in charge of his sister Sophia, responded immediately to the royal summons with a body of six hundred Bavarian knights. The joint strength of Bavaria and Saxony turned the scale. From midsummer till past Christmas the townsmen, under the gallant leadership of Agnes, held out in spite of every hardship and privation. Eventually deprived of all hope of relief, for a force brought to their aid by Frederick was driven off, they submitted and on the feast of Epiphany 1130 opened their gates to the king.

With the capture of Spires the opposition in the Upper Rhineland was crushed. Before long Nuremberg, the chief strong-point of resistance, fell before Lothar’s attack; and with it went all hopes of success for the party of the Hohenstaufen in Germany. In Italy too Conrad's initial success was not long maintained. Notwithstanding his excommunication by Honorius II he was welcomed at Milan, crowned by its archbishop at Monza and again in the cathedral of St Ambrose with the Iron Crown of Lombardy. But this was the limit of his achievement. An attempt to acquire the possessions of the late Countess Matilda ended in failure the towns of Lombardy which had at first received him declared against him; his supporters one by one abandoned his cause and left him almost alone. In despair he gave up trying to establish himself in Italy and recrossed the Alps (1130), only to find that in Germany also the family cause was as good as lost.

Yet years dragged on before the brothers admitted defeat. Their opponents were too busily occupied with other matters to press the issue to a conclusion. The petty quarrels and rivalries of ambitious princes kept Saxony in ceaseless turmoil. Albert of Ballenstädt and Henry of Groitsch, Conrad of Wettin and Herman of Winzenburg, each strove to increase his own power at the other's expense. The murder in one of these feuds of a trusted follower of the king, one Burchard of Loccum, by Herman of Winzenburg, Landgrave of Thuringia, called for Lothar’s intervention in the affairs of his old duchy. Herman was found guilty of high treason in December 1130, and sentenced to the confiscation of his fiefs. Before another year was out Albert the Bear for some similar offence was deprived of the East Mark. The rebellious town of Halle suffered the severest of punishments. It fell before Lothar's assault, its inhabitants were put to death, mutilated, or in some cases allowed their safety on payment of heavy fines. By such stringent methods as these Lothar restored the peace of Saxony.


Destruction of Augsburg and Ulm


The fate of Augsburg affords another example of the stern measures employed by the king to suppress local risings, but in this instance he had less justification for his action. On the journey to Italy in August 1132, a dispute arose in the market between the townsfolk and the soldiers and quickly spread through the whole city. The king, suspecting treason, ordered the troops to punish the burghers. From noon till night the town was in a tumult; men, women, and children were massacred in the streets and houses; churches and monasteries were broken into, plundered, and burnt. As on previous occasions the Bohemian troops in the royal army were conspicuous for their barbarity and excess. In a state of complete desolation Augsburg was left as a warning to other towns not to risk the king’s displeasure.

During Lothar’s absence in Italy (September 1132-August 1133) Henry of Bavaria remained in Germany to deal with the Hohenstaufen. But rebellions in his own duchy kept him too busily occupied to effect a decision. The appointment of Henry of Wolfratshausen in August 1132 to the see of Ratisbon against the wishes of the king and himself led to serious trouble. The bishop, aided by his advocate, the duke's old enemy Frederick of Bogen, made stubborn resistance. For some months fighting continued, the armies plundering and burning after the manner of medieval warfare round Ratisbon and Wolfratshausen, a castle near the site of the present town of Munich. At last the two armies, the bishop's strengthened by the adhesion of Leopold of Austria, faced each other on the banks of the Isar to bring matters to a final issue. At the critical moment Otto of Wittelsbach, the count palatine, intervened as mediator and reconciled the contending parties.

It was not till August 1134 that the Emperor and his son-in-law were free to deal decisively with the Hohenstaufen. The Swabian town of Ulm had now become the centre of resistance. After a short siege Henry captured the town, which was thereupon almost totally destroyed by the devastations practiced by the Bavarian soldiers. Lothar had in the meanwhile overrun Swabia without opposition. The brothers were in desperate straits: their castles were captured; their supporters deserted. Frederick was the first to realize the futility of further resistance; he approached the Empress Richenza and begged her to intercede on his behalf. At Fulda towards the end of October the reconciliation was effected. The terms of his submission, settled at the crowded diet of Bamberg (March 1135), were favorable in the extreme: he was freed from excommunication, and received back his dukedom and his possessions; for his own part he had only to promise to accompany the Emperor on the Italian campaign which had been planned for the next year—a condition imposed no doubt at the request of St Bernard who was present at the court in the papal interest. Conrad held back for some months longer, but finally made his peace with the Emperor at Mühlhausen in September under the same lenient conditions as those imposed upon his brother.


Ecclesiastical policy


Lothar owed his crown to the support given him by the leaders of the Church hierarchy. Did he reward their confidence by granting on that occasion definite concessions? The question is crucial and controversial. That some settlement was reached seems clear, but its precise nature cannot be determined. We have no reliable information. A famous passage formulates a position, but it is more likely the position at which the leaders of the party aimed than the one actually attained. More profitable results may be found from the evidence of Lothar’s actual relations with the Church during his reign. After his election we are told he neither received nor exacted homage from the spirituality, contenting himself merely with the oath of fealty; and even this he remitted in the case of Conrad, Archbishop of Salzburg, in deference to the latter’s scruples in the matter. The most important change was with regard to the royal presence at elections. Here again Lothar bent to the wishes of the Church party and refrained from exercising the right granted him by the Concordat of Worms. Two elections took place within a month of his accession—Eichstatt and Magdeburg—and in neither case was he present. Indeed there is scarcely an instance during the first five years of his reign of his disturbing episcopal elections by his presence. The ecclesiastical princes had no cause to complain of the conduct of the man they had set upon the throne. Lothar even if he wished it could not afford to quarrel with the Church: but to support the orthodox Church party was natural to him. As Duke of Saxony he had been bred up to the traditional policy of opposition to the anti-hierarchical Salians; and this policy he maintained as king.

When Honorius II died in February 1130 and the two factions in Rome each chose its own candidate to fill the papal throne, Lothar was faced with the necessity of making a momentous decision. Though not as yet crowned Emperor, the long attachment of the imperial title to the King of Germany gave Lothar the unquestioned position of temporal ruler of Christendom. The rival Popes Anacletus II and Innocent II, the one master of Rome, the other a refugee in France, each appealed anxiously to him for recognition. Each had his supporters in Germany. Anacletus found an advocate of his pretentions in Adalbero, Archbishop of Bremen, who happened to be in Rome at the critical moment; Innocent saw his claims upheld by the most advanced Churchmen, represented by Conrad of Salzburg, Norbert, and Otto of Bamberg. But Lothar hesitated. Perhaps he feared a split in the ranks of the Church party on whose support he relied so much. It was not till Louis VI of France at Étampes, under the influence of Bernard, had declared for Innocent that Lothar, urged also by Innocent's legate Walter of Ravenna, consented to take action. He summoned a meeting at Wurzburg in October to discuss the question. Only sixteen bishops presented themselves, but the sixteen were unanimous for Innocent. Lothar accepted the decision without hesitation, and immediately sent Conrad of Salzburg and Ekbert of Munster to carry Germany’s recognition to the Pope in France.

At Innocent’s suggestion a personal interview between Pope and king was arranged; Liege near the French frontier was chosen as a convenient meeting place for both parties. Thither on 22 March 1131 came Innocent accompanied by thirteen cardinals, a large number of French bishops, and the indispensable Bernard. Lothar received him with due humility; he performed the office of groom for the pontiff when he dismounted, signifying by his act that he claimed to be but the servant of the Bishop of Rome; he made promises to enter Italy to destroy the invaders of the Holy See. But these cordial relations were almost upset at the very meeting which had given them birth. Lothar, it seems, raised the vexed question of episcopal elections; he evidently wished to recede from the concessions he had made at the time of his accession, to revive the royal influence over elections, in short to claim those privileges which the Concordat had granted to the Crown. A quarrel was prevented by the eloquence of Bernard. It is impossible to say whether any understanding was reached. But a change of attitude is perceptible in Lothar’s dealings with the Church during the year following: he appears to have tried to exert some control over elections to bishoprics1; but the Church party resented his action so strongly that rather than quarrel he tacitly relinquished his pretensions.

The relations with the Pope continued to be friendly. In August 1132 Lothar carried out his promised campaign in Italy to end the schism, and on 4 June 1133 at the Lateran received as his reward the imperial crown. Again Lothar took occasion to raise the crucial subject of episcopal elections, and, in spite of loud protests from the Gregorian party in Germany, obtained concessions contained in a document dated 8 June 1133 which amounted to a confirmation to himself of the rights allowed to the Emperor in the Worms Concordat. We should expect to find a complete reversal of policy in consequence. Nothing of the sort is perceptible. Lothar too well realized the value of the Church support; he used his power with a refinement of tact; he was often present at elections but his presence was scarcely felt. The settlement at the Lateran, which came so near to disturbing the peaceful relations between Church and State, in practice made little or no change in Lothar’s attitude of conciliatory friendship towards the Church. The reign of Lothar from the point of view of Church politics marks the consummation of the victory of the hierarchy.

Throughout his reign we see Lothar, with an energy surprising in a man of his age, busily occupied in a succession of wars both at home and abroad: now he is campaigning against the Hohenstaufen, now settling contested claims to an inheritance, now fulfilling the supreme function of his imperial office by taking up arms against the enemies of the Church. But more enduring results matured from the work which alike as duke and king had always been nearest to his heart—the expansion of Germany eastwards, the revival of German influence, the re-establishment of the Christian religion and civilization in the Wendish regions. In this sense an annalist is justified in describing Lothar as “the imitator and heir of the first Otto”. Since the tenth century nothing had been done, and even the districts then brought under German influence had since lapsed once more into paganism and barbarism. Lothar was ready to promote with his support and encouragement every enterprise which led in this direction. So Otto of Bamberg was able to make his second journey to Pomerania in 1127, and to see his work established on a firm basis. So also the Premonstratensians were able to pursue their missionary labors in Brandenburg with the co-operation of Albert of Ballenstadt, who in 1134 was enfeoffed with the North Mark as a reward for his services in the Italian campaign, and on the death of Pribislav of Brandenburg without heirs received that district in addition. The priest Vicelin made progress in Holstein and the district about Lübeck.

It was the king’s activities in Nordalbingia which involved him in the tangled affairs of Denmark. In 1131 the land was plunged into civil war by the murder of Canute, the son of the late King Eric, at the hands of Magnus, the son of the reigning King Niel. Canute was ruling in Schleswig, and had also been enfeoffed with the county of Wagria and the land of the Obotrites by Lothar. His firm hand kept the turbulent Wendish population under control; the country prospered; Christianity and civilization began to revive. But the success of his rule and the uncertainty of the succession to the Danish throne brought upon him the jealousy of his cousin Magnus. His assassination was the result. Lothar could not allow the murderer of his vassal to go unpunished. In the summer of 1131 he advanced as far as the Eider, but being confronted there not only by the troops of Niel and Magnus but also by rebels “as innumerable as the sands of the sea”, he wisely contented himself with a fine of four thousand marks and the homage of Magnus. Canute's Nordalbingian possessions were divided between two Wendish princes, Pribislav and Niclot, the former receiving Wagria and Polabia, the latter the land of the Obotrites. Lothar led his army across the Elbe and received homage from these princes. But with two Wendish chieftains, who owed only a nominal recognition to the German king, ruling the country, the development of civilization which had been making rapid progress under Canute and his predecessor, Henry son of Gottschalk, received a set-back; every hindrance was placed in the way of Vicelin the German missionary, who brought his complaints and remedial proposal to the king. His suggestion was the erection of a strong fortress in a commanding position on a hill, Segeberg, near the banks of the Trave. To the disgust of Pribislav and Niclot, who saw in the plan the German yoke falling on them, the fortress was built and garrisoned with Saxons; with military protection behind him Vicelin was now able to proceed unhindered on his missionary enterprise.

The pacification of Denmark was likewise unsatisfactory. Niel and Magnus pursued Canute’s brother Eric with relentless hostility. Driven from Schleswig he took refuge in Zealand, where even his brother Harold turned against him. The German settlers at Roeskilde on the island were murdered, mutilated, or expelled. It was clearly time for Lothar to intervene once more in the affairs of the north. But no campaign took place. Magnus presented himself at the Easter court at Halberstadt, indemnified himself for his misdeeds with large sums of money, and became the vassal of the German king. Nevertheless, while Niel and Magnus lived and reigned there could be no peace in Denmark. Their deaths, the one assassinated by the burghers of Schleswig, the other slain in battle, cleared the field. Eric, left in undisturbed possession, sent ambassadors to the court at Magdeburg at Whitsuntide 1135 and received the Emperor’s recognition of his title.

At the same diet a quarrel, in which all the eastern neighbors of Germany—Hungary, Poland, and Bohemia—were involved, was also brought within sight of determination. It arose on the death of Stephen II of Hungary. His crown was disputed between his blind cousin Bela and his half-brother Boris; the former was supported by Sobeslav of Bohemia, the latter by Boleslav of Poland. All the three countries engaged sent embassies to Lothar at Magdeburg. But the Emperor required Boleslav’s personal attendance. He appeared at Merseburg in August, paid twelve years' arrears of tribute, and took the oath of allegiance: he was in some measure compensated by the acquisition of Pomerania and Rügen as fiefs of the German crown. An armistice was arranged between Bohemia and Poland pending a definite peace. Boris gave up the struggle, and Bela remained in secure possession of the Hungarian throne. To the Merseburg diet came also ambassadors from the Eastern Emperor John Comnenus and from the Doge of Venice offering help against their common enemy, Roger of Sicily. “So highly was the Emperor Lothar esteemed by kings and kingdoms”, writes the chronicler, “that he was visited with gifts and embassies from Hungarians, Ruthenians, Danes, French, and many other nations. The Empire enjoyed peace and plenty, religion in the monasteries flourished, justice reigned, iniquity was repressed”.

The year 1135 was indeed a year of reckonings. It witnessed the results of a decade of masterful rule. Since the days of Henry III German prestige had not risen so high. It is marked by the ending of quarrels, by reconciliations, by peace. At the diet of Bamberg in March, which brought to a close the long-contested fight with the Hohenstaufen, a peace to last for ten years was proclaimed throughout Germany. This state of peace and prosperity the Emperor was only destined to enjoy for one year more on German soil. Towards the end of the summer of 1136 he crossed the Alps to take the field against Roger of Sicily. On his return in the following autumn he fell sick at Trent, and barely had sufficient strength to reach his own country. He died in a peasant’s hut in the Tyrolese village of Breitenwang on 4 December 1137.


Election of Conrad III


Lothar, by an arrangement with the Pope in 1133 had secured under certain conditions the allodial estates of the Countess Matilda for his son-in-law Henry the Proud: he had also before his death granted him the duchy of Saxony and entrusted to him the imperial insignia, thereby designating him as his successor to the throne. With two dukedoms, with extensive possessions of his own in Germany and in Italy, with rich lands in Saxony by right of his wife, there was no man in Germany who could compete with Henry in power and wealth. Yet the Church faction which had raised Lothar to the throne disapproved of his appointed heir. On the Italian campaign he had neither shown deference to their wishes nor a bearing likely to command their confidence. Still less was he acceptable to the lay princes; they feared his over­whelming power; they were above all anxious to avoid the foundation of a dynasty and to prove their right of election by passing over the man designated by the dead Emperor. Neither the spiritual nor the secular princes wanted the Welf candidate.

The see of Mainz was vacant; the Archbishop of Cologne, but just elected, had as yet not received the pallium; it was only natural in these circumstances that the direction of affairs should fall to the third great ecclesiastical prince, Archbishop Adalbero of Treves, between whom and Henry a long-standing enmity subsisted. He summoned a meeting at Coblenz—a singularly unrepresentative gathering, for neither Saxons nor Bavarians were present—and at his proposal Conrad of Hohenstaufen, Lothar’s rival, was chosen on 3 March 1138. Ten days later he was crowned at Aix-la-Chapelle by the papal legate. “A mere mockery of right and custom”, yet however irregular the procedure may have been the result was popular. The princes of Germany flocked to the court at Bamberg on 22 May to do homage to the new king; Leopold of Austria, Conrad of Zahringen, Sobeslav of Bohemia, even the widowed Empress Richenza, put in an appearance.

Duke Henry was absent from the court at Bamberg; a diet was fixed to assemble at Ratisbon, and there Henry appeared ready to deliver up the royal insignia in his keeping in return for confirmation in the possession of his two dukedoms. But here lay the difficulty; apparently already at the diet of Bamberg Conrad had promised Saxony to Albert the Bear. The king disliked the notion of two dukedoms united in the hands of one man. He succeeded, nevertheless, by diplomacy, by vague promises no doubt, in extracting the insignia from Henry, and fixed a meeting at Augsburg for a final settlement. But here again no agreement was reached. Conrad, fearing Henry's threatening attitude, left for Wurzburg, where the duke was put under the ban (July 1138). Saxony was bestowed upon Albert; Bavaria, which was confiscated a little later at Goslar, after a short retention in the king's hands, was disposed of to Leopold of Austria.

Before the year 1138 was far advanced Saxony and Bavaria were ablaze with civil war; the old feud of Welf and Hohenstaufen, which had disturbed the peace during the greater part of the previous reign, broke out once more with renewed bitterness. The Empress Richenza by her vigorous energy in the cause of her son-in-law won the support of many of the Saxon princes, who looked upon Albert the Bear as an upstart. But Albert was too quick for them; he attacked before their preparations were completed, defeated them decisively, and occupied the Welfic possessions of Luneburg and Bardowiek. The king, however, deceived himself into thinking the opposition in Saxony crushed: the sudden appearance of the banished duke in his northern dukedom altered the situation. Town after town fell into his hands, even the lands of the usurping margrave were no longer secure, and by the spring of 1139 Albert with his chief supporters, Bernard of Plotzke and Herman of Winzenburg, was driven to seek shelter with the Archbishop of Mayence at Rusteburg in the Eichsfeld.

The royal army which assembled at Hersfeld in July for the recovery of Saxony was imposing enough; the Archbishops of Mainz and Treves, the Bishops of Worms and Spires, the Duke of Bohemia, the new Dukes of Saxony and Bavaria, Louis of Thuringia, Herman of Winzenburg, all appeared with their levies. But a strong army was required, for Henry had behind him the weight of Saxony, and the history of the past had shown that Saxony, when its heart was in the struggle, was all but invincible. The two armies confronted each other at Kreuzburg in Thuringia; the leaders of the royal army hesitated, a council of war voted for arbitration, finally a day was fixed to settle the issue at Worms at Candlemas. The conference was however a mere farce, and nothing was done; the two parties, laying aside the business for which they had come together, gave themselves over to amusement and feasting, the latter much embellished by the thirty tons of wine which, we are told, the Archbishop of Treves carried with him on the campaign and lavished upon the negotiators. He, it is scarcely necessary to add, was the only man to benefit by the affair; he was rewarded with the abbey of St Maximin at Treves, the richest in his diocese, a possession however not entirely advantageous, for it brought the new possessor into a feud with the monks and their advocatus which after a long and devastating struggle was only closed, like many similar feuds, by the Second Crusade. In other respects the existing state of things continued: Henry remained master of Saxony, Albert, deserted even by the few Saxon princes who had previously joined him, had to console himself with the empty and portionless title of duke.

In Bavaria Henry’s supplanter received a warmer welcome. Leopold, with the help of his brother Bishop Otto of Freising, the historian, had in a remarkably short time gained a firm hold over his new subjects. Henry, now secure in Saxony, prepared to recover Bavaria. His army was mustered in readiness at Quedlinburg when at the moment of starting he fell sick and died. His youth, the suddenness, the unaccountableness of his death, most of all the advantage it gave to his antagonists, gave rise to the suspicion, whether with justice it is impossible to say, of poison. His premature end was certainly a terrific blow to the Welf cause. Henry’s heir and namesake was but a boy often years old; the fortunes of his house depended on the resources of two women, the little Henry's guardians, Richenza and her daughter the duke’s widow Gertrude. Nevertheless the death of Henry the Proud did not have the expected result upon Conrad’s fortunes. Both in Saxony and Bavaria the war continued with undiminished vigor. The attempt of Albert the Bear to recover Saxony was a complete failure; he suddenly appeared at Bremen on All Saints’ Day, and put forward his claim at an assembly of princes and people, but met with the most hostile reception. Surrounded by enemies, he barely escaped with his life. The Saxon princes under the leadership of Frederick, the count-palatine, and Conrad, Archbishop of Magdeburg, firm in their loyalty to the boy-duke, were even strong enough to take the offensive, and to make plundering raids into Albert's country, capturing many of his castles. In vain Conrad tried to put an end to the quarrel, but the Saxon chiefs refused to obey the imperial summons to diets held at Worms in February and at Frankfort in April 1140. The king's attitude moreover was not conciliatory; he demanded unconditional surrender and refused a safe conduct to the Saxons for the negotiations. So the war was pursued with energy; and Albert, driven from his March, fled to the king for help.

But Conrad’s attention was directed to a rebellion in the south which threatened to be even more dangerous. There Welf, Henry’s uncle, had taken up the family cause, perhaps with the idea of acquiring for himself the Bavarian dukedom: no friction however appears to have existed between the two branches of the house at this time, though doubtless Welf hoped to obtain a share of the family inheritance in the event of success. In the summer of 1140 he attacked Leopold, who was besieging a castle on the river Mangfall, and inflicted upon him a defeat which seemed likely to undermine his authority in the duchy. Conrad, at the duke’s urgent appeal, hastened into Swabia, accompanied by his brother Frederick, against the Welfic fortress of Weinsberg. In vain he battered at its strong walls; the stout resistance of the loyal inhabitants parried every attempt, till he was obliged to turn from the town to face Welf himself who was hurrying to its relief. The battle that ensued unexpectedly redeemed his fortunes: the defeat was crushing; Welf only with difficulty effected his escape; Weinsberg despairing of relief opened its gates on 21 December. Two legends make the siege of Weinsberg famous in history and romance. In the heat of the fierce fight on the banks of the Neekar the rival leaders, it is said, urged on their followers with the battle cries of “Hi Welf!” “Hi Weibling!”—the first time, if there be truth in it, that these names, so famous in after years, were used to designate the opposing factions in German politics. Jacob Grimm has included among his Märchen the story of the capitulation of the Weinsbergers. The tale, though seemingly unhistorical, has a basis in an early authority. The women alone were spared with what they could carry away with them. The sturdy Swabians, it is said, came down from the town bearing their condemned husbands upon their shoulders.


Settlement of Frankfort, 1142 


The effects of Conrad’s victory were far reaching. It not only crushed, for the moment at least, the rebellion in the south, but it also changed the aspect of affairs in the north. It is significant that many Saxon princes presented themselves at the Whitsun feast at Wurzburg in 1141, though no solution to the questions at issue was then reached. The Welfic cause suffered another severe blow by the death on 10 June of the Empress Richenza, by whose energy and enterprise the struggle had been maintained and the diverse elements of the opposition to the Hohenstaufen had been kept together. Her daughter Gertrude, who had shared with her the guardianship of the young Henry, was a woman of a different stamp; incited by no inveterate hatred, like Richenza, to the Hohenstaufen, actuated rather by personal animosities than by the interests of her family, she was in no way qualified to act as the leader of a great party. The number of her supporters dwindled; the war was pursued but half-heartedly. However with Richenza’s death the greatest obstacle to a compromise was removed. The moment was favorable. In the south after a period of intermittent warfare Duke Leopold had died in October. Conrad granted the margravate of Austria to Leopold's brother Henry Jasomirgott, but kept the duchy in his own hands, pending a decisive settlement. Marculf, a skilful diplomat who had recently been raised to the primacy of Mainz, was entrusted with the negotiations. Preliminaries were drawn up, and a diet was summoned at Frankfort in May 1142 to give effect to them. Henry received Saxony, Henry Jasomirgott Bavaria, while Albert the Bear, who had, since the end of the previous year, renounced the title of duke, was re-established in the North Mark. A general pardon was granted to all who had taken part in the rebellion, and finally a seal was set upon the general pacification by a marriage, which immediately followed at Frankfort amid great festivities, between Gertrude and the new Duke of Bavaria.

The settlement appeared more complete than in fact it was. Otto of Freising gives the truer interpretation of the results when he concludes his account of these events with the remark: “it was the seed of the greatest discord in our land”. It failed to satisfy any of those concerned; Welf refused to accept the alienation of Bavaria from his family, and soon reopened the struggle against the new duke. Frederick of Swabia was dissatisfied; he grudged the favor shown to Henry Jasomirgott and threw in his lot with the Welfs. Although soon reconciled, he was never again a trusted friend to Conrad; later he even appeared together with Welf in alliance with Conrad's dangerous enemy Roger of Sicily. Further, it remained to be seen whether the young Duke of Saxony, when old enough to manage his own affairs, would be content with the portion of his father’ s possessions allotted to him. Finally, the peaceful designs of Conrad received a fatal blow by the death of Gertrude. She died in childbed, when journeying to Bavaria to join her husband on 18 April 1143.

The struggle of the two great families of Welf and Hohenstaufen was not the only source of trouble which disturbed the peace of Germany. Since the king’s accession Lorraine was the scene of a civil and an ecclesiastical dispute. The deaths of Walram in 1138 and of Godfrey a few months later gave rise to a conflict between their successors, Henry and Godfrey the younger; the former, who had held the ducal title during his father's lifetime, was naturally dissatisfied with the king’s action in granting the duchy of Lower Lorraine to the latter. War was the result, and Henry of Limburg was compelled to renounce his claim to the title. Godfrey, however, only enjoyed his dukedom for a short while; he died in 1142 and was succeeded by his one-year-old son.

The ecclesiastical difficulties were less easily ended. The gift of the abbey of St Maximin to the Archbishop of Troves, already mentioned, was bitterly resented by the monks themselves, who found a keen champion of their rights in their advocatus, Henry, Count of Namur and Luxemburg. The election of an abbot without the knowledge of the archbishop brought the matter to Rome. Innocent II took up the cause of the monks, and in May 1140 issued a bull in which he declared the monastery to be subject only to Rome and the Empire; at the same time he wrote to Adalbero bidding him remove the sentence of excommunication which he had imposed upon the newly appointed abbot. The truculent archbishop treated the Pope’s missives with open defiance, refused even to obey a summons to Rome, and was in consequence suspended from his office. Luckily for him, however, his cause was taken up by St Bernard, whose influence with Innocent was predominant. The suspension was removed, and a bull, dated 20 December 1140, was issued cancelling the previous one and granting the possession of the abbey of St Maximin to the archbishop and his successors in perpetuity. It was a solution, but not one which was acceptable to the monks or their advocate. For seven years the rich lands round the Moselle were laid waste by incessant war, until at the great diet held at Spires in December 1146 for the proclamation of the Crusade the two antagonists, at the instance of St Bernard, agreed to lay aside their quarrels and allow peace to be restored to their impoverished country.

Conrad’s difficulties may in large measure be attributed to his family connections. His mother Agnes had married, after the death of Frederick of Swabia, Leopold III of Austria; by the two marriages she was the mother of twenty-three children. The elevation of his family seems to have been a guiding motive with the king; we have already noticed how the grant of the duchy of Lower Lorraine to his brother-in-law Godfrey led to a feud in that country. The situation, in Bavaria was complicated by the establishment of the Austrian Babenbergers, half-brothers of the king, as Bavarian dukes. The marriages of two half-sisters, the one to a claimant of the dukedom of Poland, the other to a claimant of the dukedom of Bohemia, involved Conrad in wars with these countries.

The death of a ruler in the half-civilized lands which bordered the German kingdom to the east was almost inevitably followed by a war of succession. Boleslav of Poland died in October 1139, leaving a disposition whereby the country was to be partitioned among his four sons, the eldest of whom, Vladislav, was to have a certain pre-eminence with the title of grand-duke. This prince at once attempted to use his exalted position to develop his own power at the expense of his brothel’s, an enterprise in which he confidently relied on the support of Conrad, his brother-in-law. Early in the year 1146 he appeared at the German court and was enfeoffed with the whole of Poland. A strenuous and not unsuccessful resistance was made by his brothers, Boleslav and Mesco; Posen withstood his attack, the Archbishop of Gnesen excommunicated him, his own town of Cracow was taken and destroyed; finally, he himself was driven into exile. Conrad made a campaign into Poland on behalf of his vassal, but, unable to make any headway, entered into negotiations and withdrew to Germany with Vladislav, who continued to live in exile while his victorious brothers established their authority securely in Poland. The only result which emanated from Conrad's intervention was the diminution of German influence in that region.

The king’s dealings with Bohemia had a more successful end. When Sobeslav appeared at the diet of Bamberg in 1138, Conrad guaranteed the succession of the dukedom to his son Vladislav. On Sobeslav’s death in 1140 Conrad, despite his former promise, disposed of the dukedom to a nephew of the late duke also named Vladislav who had married his half-sister Gertrude. Dissatisfaction at his rule led to a rebellion in the interests of the other Vladislav instigated by Otto of Olmutz, the son of that Otto who fell in Lothar ‘s army at Kulm. Vladislav the son defeated Vladislav the nephew of Sobeslav at Wysoka to the west of Kuttenberg on 25 April 1142. The latter fled to Germany to seek help from Conrad; the king took up his cause and accompanied him back to Bohemia. The rebellion collapsed without a fight; on 7 June the royal army entered Prague and restored Vladislav II securely in his duchy.


Relations with Hungary


Boris, the unsuccessful aspirant to the Hungarian throne whose pretensions Lothar had set aside, again came forward, backed by the support of Duke Vladislav II of Bohemia and the influential Babenbergers. By a lavish distribution of money he had built up a strong position for himself; he was regarded with favor by Conrad, with whom he had an interview at Aix-la-Chapelle early in the year 1146. A band of his followers, among them a number of ministeriales of Henry Jasomirgott returning to Hungary, made a sudden night attack upon the frontier fortress of Pressburg. The garrison was killed, captured, or dispersed. Geza, the Hungarian King, collected an army, moved on Pressburg, and recaptured it. He imputed, not without good grounds, the blame for this outrage to Conrad and the Duke of Bavaria, and only awaited an opportunity to take vengeance upon them. The moment came in September 1146. With an army reckoned at the incredible figure of seventy thousand men the King of Hungary crossed the frontier, fell upon the duke's army near the banks of the Leitha, and after a fierce battle threw the German soldiers into confusion; the victory was complete; the Duke of Bavaria himself only with difficulty reached the shelter of Vienna.

The Babenbergers, who had thus been largely responsible for Conrad's implication in the affairs of Poland, Bohemia, and Hungary, had in their own duchy of Bavaria disturbed the peace by a bitter feud, the origin of which is unknown, with the Bishop of Ratisbon. The city of Ratisbon was besieged by Duke Henry; the country was burnt and plundered. The duke and his supporters, among them his brother-in-law the Duke of Bohemia, Frederick of Bogen, the cathedral advocatus, and Otto of Wittelsbach, the count-palatine, were placed under the ban of the Church by the bishop and his metropolitan Conrad of Salzburg. Conrad at last intervened, held a diet at Ratisbon, and reconciled the contending parties.

To add to the misery of war and devastation from which the country suffered, a famine of unheard-of severity broke out and spread through the whole of Germany. Every chronicler fills his narrative of the year 1146 with lamentations over the afflictions and misfortunes which heavily oppressed their unhappy land. Prices rose to unprecedented heights; in one place thirty-four shillings had to be paid for a measure of wheat; many sustained life merely on a diet of roots and herbs; many succumbed to a death from starvation.


The Wendish Crusade


But the troubles which beset Germany lost significance in the minds of men when the news of great disasters in the East reached Europe. Edessa fell in 1144; Jerusalem itself was threatened. Pope Eugenius III entrusted to Bernard of Clairvaux the preaching of a Crusade. In France the project was taken up with enthusiasm, and Louis VII himself took the cross at Easter 1146. The crusading spirit spread across the Rhine, but there St Bernard’s emissary, Ralph, a monk of Clairvaux, damaged the cause by raising the cry against the Jews instead of against the Turkish infidel. Persecution of the unhappy Israelites was the first sign of crusading ardor among the German people. St Bernard himself had to hasten into the country to counteract the misplaced zeal of his fellow-worker; but he had another end in view in this visit—it was to win Conrad for the enterprise. Early in November he reached Mainz, and proceeded almost at once to Frankfort, to meet the king. But Conrad hesitated; the condition of his kingdom hardly, he thought, justified his absence. At home and abroad he was faced with determined enemies; the Welfic party, still unsubdued, were in the pay of Roger of Sicily, who hoped that by subsidizing Conrad’s opponents at home he might prevent him from coming to Italy. However at the Christmas festival he was won over by the eloquence of the great preacher in the cathedral of Spires. The danger of leaving Germany at such a critical time was much lessened by the fact that many of the chief princes of the Empire, among them Welf and Henry, Duke of Bavaria, had either already taken the cross or now prepared to follow their king’s example. A great diet was held at Frankfort in the following spring (19 March 1147) to make the necessary arrangements for the expedition and for the government of Germany in the king's absence. Conrad’s son Henry, a boy of ten years old, was elected king and crowned a week later at Aix-la-Chapelle; he was entrusted to the care of the Archbishop of Mayence, while the direction of the affairs of the kingdom was placed in the capable hands of Abbot Wibald of Stablo. To lighten the burdens of government a general peace was proclaimed throughout Germany. The large concourse of crusaders came together at Ratisbon in May 1147. Conrad himself by boat, the army along the bank, set out down the Danube, pursuing the overland route to Constantinople and Palestine. Some few days later another vast army—the French crusaders— assembled at Metz and followed in the footsteps of the German host on its way eastward.

In Saxony also the crusading spirit penetrated; but the princes obtained leave from the Pope to direct their energies not against the Turk but against the heathen Slav. On the death of Lothar development in these regions had received a sharp set-back. The civil war which followed Conrad's accession was the signal for a Wendish rebellion. The strong fortress of Segeberg was taken, the German settlements destroyed; the town of Lübeck was burnt, the surrounding country devastated. The danger spread to Holstein, where the quick action of Henry of Bad wide alone saved the situation: he took the field in mid-winter (1138-9) and drove the Wends back across the Trave. But further progress was impossible while Saxony was in the throes of civil war. Only when peace was restored in 1142 was the work of German expansion again undertaken. The revival was due to the energy and enterprise of the Count of Holstein, Adolf of Schauenburg. In 1143, once more in possession of his county, he threw himself into the work of Germanizing the Slavonic country with renewed vigor. Immigrants poured in from the over-populated districts of Westphalia, Frisia, and Holland, and received lands under the most favorable conditions of tenure. Lübeck was rebuilt and, owing to its excellent harbor, soon became the station through which all the trade between Scandinavia and Southern Europe passed; Adolf formed an alliance with Niclot, prince of the neighboring Wendish tribe, the Obotrites, to secure the protection of his town. Over and above its commercial advantages it became one of the centers for the work of conversion of the heathen, to which the priest Vicelin for many years past had devoted his life, and for which on 29 June 1147 the Saxon princes assembled at Magdeburg in fulfillment of their crusading vows. The news of the intended campaign roused the Wends to rebellion. Niclot, notwithstanding his alliance with Adolf, sailed up the Trave against Layback. The citizens, engaged in celebrating the feast of SS. John and Paul (26 June) and too drunken to offer effective resistance, were brutally massacred; the Slavs followed up their success, overran the whole province of Wagria to the very walls of Segeberg, its chief stronghold, burning and plundering as they went, killing those who resisted, and carrying the women and children into slavery. Their course was not however entirely unchecked; the colonists of Eutin and Süssel effectively withstood the invaders who, hearing that Count Adolf was about to take the field against them, wisely retired with their booty to the fortress of Dobin on the Lake of Schwerin.

In the meanwhile the preparations for launching the Crusade were nearing completion. All the foremost men in Saxony, among them the young Duke Henry and his rival Albert the Bear, and from the south Conrad of Zäringen, gathered with their levies on the feast of SS. Peter and Paul at Magdeburg. But there were yet more to come in; without waiting for the loiterers, one part of the army, numbering some 40,000 men, under the leadership of Duke Henry, Conrad of Zäringen, and Archbishop Adalbero of Bremen, set off against the rebellious Niclot in the fastness of Dobin. The Saxon host was reinforced by an army from Denmark, which had suffered severely from the inroads of the Slavs; and, though the country had been lacerated by civil war since the death of Eric III in 1146, the two claimants to the throne, Svein and Canute, had put aside their internal controversies in order to crush their common enemy. But the Crusade was doomed to failure. Private interests interposed, and the aim that they set out to accomplish was neglected; disputes arose over territory not yet won, while the Saxon and Danish chiefs failed hopelessly to maintain any unity of action. On 31 July the Danes met with a serious defeat, and it was said the Germans received bribes to leave their Danish allies to their fate. When at last they succeeded in bringing Dobin to submission they granted very easy terms to the garrison; it was in the interest of the princes to keep a tributary population, and therefore they abstained from anything in the nature of annihilation; hence to accept Christianity, to free the Danish prisoners, to cease from making devastating attacks across the border, were the only conditions imposed on the conquered Slavs. Even these moreover were not strictly enforced. They received Christianity only to renounce it as soon as they secured their liberty; of the Danish prisoners, only the old and infirm gained their freedom, while the more vigorous were retained as slaves.

Hardly more successful were the achievements of the second army. Sixty thousand men under the command of Albert the Bear and a number of North German bishops, supplemented by large contingents from Poland and Bohemia, crossed the Elbe and advanced northward through the Havel country, while the Wends retreated into the inaccessible swamps and forests of the interior. The crusaders besieged the town of Demmin, and pushing on into Pomerania would have attacked Stettin had it not been for the Pomeranian Bishop Adalbert, the pupil of Otto of Bamberg, who realized that it would mean the undoing of the life-work of his master. They turned back from the Oder and early in September recrossed the Elbe, having accomplished nothing. The whole enterprise had entirely failed in its avowed purpose. The princes had made the crusading badge the pretext for a war of personal profit; the work of Adolf and Vicelin was retarded rather than promoted by these campaigns. The German colonists had to bear the brunt of the widespread devastation and its resultant, severe famine. It was with the greatest difficulty that they were persuaded not to abandon their new homes, where they found it, in the circumstances, far from easy to maintain a livelihood.

The years following the Wendish Crusade witness the rapid development of the power of Henry the Lion. The main obstacle in his path of progress was Hartwig, first provost, then, in 1148, Archbishop of Bremen, a man of worldly ideas, greedy of material wealth, ambitious for hierarchical power, whose aim was to restore the old supremacy of his see in northern Germany. As early as 1144, when Henry was but fourteen years old, the two had come to blows over a disputed inheritance, consequent upon the childless death of Count Rudolf of Stade. Conrad intervened and ultimately decided against the young duke, who had in the course of the quarrel given offence by capturing and imprisoning not only his rival Hartwig but the Archbishop Adalbero of Bremen himself. The result was a lifelong enmity between Henry and Hartwig and strained relations between Henry and the king. Hartwig, on his accession to the see in August 1148, first attempted to recover the suffragan bishoprics of Scandinavia which had been lost by the creation of the metropolitan diocese of Lund in 1104; but as the Pope refused to consider his request he turned his attention to the east, to the three bishoprics of Slavonia: Oldenburg, Mecklenburg, and Ratzburg. Oldenburg was given to Vicelin as a reward for his thirty years of missionary work, and Mecklenburg to a fellow-worker named Emmehard; good as the appointments were, they were made without reference either to Duke Henry or to Count Adolf; the former, who claimed the right of investiture, refused to give the lay support necessary for the progress of Vicelin’s work, the latter cut off the tithes on which the church depended for its maintenance. Proselytism among the Wends remained at a deadlock until Vicelin, realizing that only submission to the duke could enable him to continue his labors, despite the wishes of his metropolitan, received investiture from Henry’s hands at Luneburg (1151).

In the summer of 1149 Conrad, after the disastrous failure of his Crusade, was again in Germany. His intention was now to make his long wished-for campaign to Italy with the twofold purpose of receiving the imperial crown and of subduing his enemy, Roger of Sicily. For the latter project he had, while staying at Constantinople on his return from Palestine, definitely clinched the alliance with the Eastern Emperor, Manuel, which had for some time past been the subject of negotiations and which had been strengthened by Manuel’s marriage with Conrad's sister-in-law Bertha of Sulzbach in 1146. At the meeting of the two Emperors a joint expedition against Roger was arranged. This move was parried by a counterstroke from Roger; he had an interview with Welf, who returned from the East by way of Sicily, and agreed to pay him the yearly sum of a thousand marks for keeping the German king busy in his own kingdom. Conrad's schemes for a visit to Italy were again frustrated; he found on his return to Germany that the work on his hands would keep him engaged north of the Alps for some time to come.

At the great diet of Frankfort, when the plans for the Crusade had been arranged, Henry the Lion had raised his claim upon the dukedom of Bavaria; he had denied the finality of the settlement reached and accepted by his guardians in his name at Frankfort five years earlier. Without giving a decisive answer Conrad postponed the question till his return; it now required an answer, and it became daily more certain that if the answer should be unfavorable to Henry there would again be recourse to arms. For war Conrad was but poorly equipped. Whereas Henry's position during the last two years had been steadily growing stronger, Conrad's had grown perceptibly weaker. He had, for instance, by his injudicious interference in the affairs of the Burgundian kingdom estranged the powerful Swabian family of Zahringen; Conrad with his son Berthold definitely declared for the Welfs, and sealed the alliance by a marriage between his daughter Clementia and the Duke of Saxony. On the other hand, in Saxony itself the king could rely on some support. Henry’s strong rule had made him enemies, his increasing power in the country beyond the Elbe was not entirely popular with the Saxon princes, and, most important of all, his rival Albert the Bear had recently strengthened his hand by the acquisition of the district which about this time came to be known under the name of its principal town, Brandenburg. Immediately on Conrad's return, Henry renewed his claim upon the duchy of Bavaria, and, as the king took no steps to deal with the matter, quietly assumed the title of Duke of Bavaria and Saxony.

Tedious negotiations, frequent diets, underhand diplomacy, characterize the development of the dispute during the remainder of Conrad’s lifetime. The impetuous and premature campaign of Welf in Swabia in February 1150, his siege of the Hohenstaufen castle of Flochberg, and his utter defeat at the hands of the young King Henry, made little difference to the situation. An equally ineffective and brief campaign by Duke Henry himself in Bavaria, the details of which are unknown, resulted only in a truce and more negotiations. Conrad's feverish anxiety to make his journey to Rome (he was urged on by embassies from Venice and Constantinople, and 8 September 1152 had been fixed for the setting-out of the expedition) is the only justification for the means he now employed during time of truce to crush his rival. With the object of undermining Henry’s authority in Saxony itself, he sent his chaplain, Herbert, to sow dissension among the Saxon princes, and he himself soon followed to Goslar with the intention of besieging the duke’s capital, Brunswick. The strictest secrecy was observed with regard to his plans and movements, while a close watch was kept upon Henry, who was then in Swabia, to prevent him returning to his duchy where his personal influence would be the undoing of the king’s plans. Henry, however, eluded his watchers, escaped in disguise from Swabia (December 1151), and after five days hard riding appeared unexpectedly at Brunswick. Conrad’s schemes completely collapsed; and having no heart to continue the struggle he withdrew hastily to Goslar and soon abandoned Saxony altogether. This unlucky and degrading enterprise was the last event in a far from brilliant career; Conrad fell ill at Bamberg, and died on 15 February 1152.

Failure was the keynote of the reign of the first king of the house of Hohenstaufen. Failure dogged his steps in every enterprise. In spite of long fighting and interminable diplomacy, the Welfs remained unsubdued; a brilliantly equipped expedition to Syria had ended in a dismal catastrophe; the king's intervention in the quarrels of his neighbors achieved nothing; for the first time since the revival of the Empire by Otto the Great the German king had not been crowned at Rome. The early promise of Conrad as the young, energetic, popular anti-king to Lothar remained sadly unfulfilled when he came to rule as a lawful sovereign. Yet it is difficult to see the cause of this almost uninterrupted misadventure. The bulk of his subjects, jealous of the over-great power of the Welfs, were ready to give him their support and accept him as their champion. Nor had his difficulties their origin in the fatal quarrel with the Church which had been the undoing of the Salian Emperors. On the contrary he was in harmony with Rome, he interfered not at all in ecclesiastical elections, his zeal for the protection of the Church and its property against lay aggression was worthy of all praise; he was a devoted son of the Church. “Never”, says Giesebrecht, “had the concord between Church and State been greater”. His character and attainments would justify the highest hopes for the success of his rule. The poet-chronicler Godfrey of Viterbo compares him to the ancient personifications of the virtues: “a Seneca in council, a Paris in appearance, a Hector in battle”. Abbot Wibald of Stablo, a man of shrewd judgment and great sincerity and candor, cannot speak too highly of his Emperor's character; piety, clemency, moderation, generosity, intellectual ability, sense of humor are all the subject of his praise; bravery and tireless energy were his to a remarkable degree. Such in the eyes of contemporaries was the man who beyond a doubt lowered the prestige of Germany. The difficulties with which he was confronted were certainly great; to the political troubles were added those arising from bad harvests and consequent famine and discontent. In spite of his many fine qualities he seems to have lacked foresight and statesmanship; his policy was often undecided or injudicious. Disappointment at his initial lack of success brought out the weaker sides of his character, and the chaotic state of things which prevailed during his last years was the result. It is curious to notice that but one contemporary writer connects the disorders of the kingdom in any way with its ruler. The royal chronicle of Cologne, after eulogizing the king's merits, remarks: “under him the country began to be ruined by misfortune”. Indeed it required all the powers of statesmanship with which his nephew Frederick Barbarossa was so richly endowed to extricate Germany from the disruptive condition in which Conrad left it.



ITALY, 1125-1152.