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Henry the Fowler


The princes, with the exception of Burkhard and of Arnulf, assembled at Fritztlar, elected the absent Henry king, and dispatched an embassy to inform him of their decision. It is said that the young duke was at the time among the Harz Mountains, and that the ambassadors found him in the homely attire of a sportsman in the fowling floor. He obeyed the call of the nation without delay, and without manifesting surprise. The error he had committed in rebelling against the state, it was his firm purpose to atone for by his conduct as emperor. Of a lofty and majestic stature, although slight and youthful in form, powerful and active in person, with a commanding and penetrating glance, his very appearance attracted popular favor; besides these personal advantages, he was prudent and learned, and possessed a mind replete with intelligence. The influence of such a monarch on the progressive development of society in Germany could not fail of producing results fully equaling the improvements introduced by Charlemagne.

The youthful Henry, the first of the Saxon line, was proclaimed king of Germany at Fritzlar, A.D. 919, by the majority of votes, and, according to ancient custom, raised upon the shield. The archbishop of Mayence offered to anoint him according to the usual ceremony, but Henry refused, alleging that he was content to owe his election to the grace of God and to the piety of the German princes, and that he left the ceremony of anointment to those who wished to be still more pious.

Before Henry could pursue his more elevated projects, the assent of the southern Germans, who had not acknowledged the choice of their northern compatriots, had to be gained. Burkhard of Swabia, who had asserted his independence, and who was at that time carrying on a bitter feud with Rudolf, king of Burgundy, whom he had defeated, AD 919, in a bloody engagement near Winterthur, was the first against whom he directed the united forces of the empire, in whose name he, at the same time, offered him peace and pardon. Burkhard, seeing himself constrained to yield, took the oath of fealty to the newly-elected king at Worms, but continued to act with almost his former unlimited authority in Swabia, and even undertook an expedition into Italy in favor of Rudolf, with whom he had become reconciled. The Italians, enraged at the wantonness with which he mocked them, assassinated him. Henry bestowed the dukedom of Swabia on Hermann, one of his relations, to whom he gave Burkhard’s widow in marriage. He also bestowed a portion of the south of Alemannia on King Rudolf, in order to win him over, and in return received from him the holy lance, with which the side of the Saviour had been pierced as he hung on the cross. Finding it no longer possible to dissolve the dukedoms and great fiefs, Henry, in order to strengthen the unity of the empire, introduced the novel policy of bestowing the dukedoms, as they fell vacant, on his relations and personal adherents, and of allying the rest of the dukes with himself by intermarriage, thus limiting the different powerful houses in the state into one family.

Bavaria still remained in an unsettled state. Arnulf the Bad, leagued with the Hungarians, against whom Henry had great designs, had still much in his power, and Henry, resolved at any price to dissolve this dangerous alliance, not only concluded peace with this traitor on that condition, but also married his son Henry to Judith, Arnulf’s daughter, AD 921. Arnulf deprived the rich churches of great part of their treasures, and was consequently abhorred by the clergy, the chroniclers of those times, who, chiefly on that account, depicted his character in such unfavorable colors.

In France, Charles the Simple was still the tool and jest of the vassals. His most dangerous enemy was Robert, Count of Paris, brother to Odo, the late king. Both solicited aid from Henry, but in a battle that shortly ensued near Soissons, Count Robert losing his life and Charles being defeated, Rudolf of Burgundy, one of Boso’s nephews, set himself up as king of France, and imprisoned Charles the Simple, who craved assistance from the German monarch, to whom he promised to perform homage as his liege lord.

Henry, meanwhile, contented himself with expelling Rudolf from Lotharingia, and after taking possession of Metz, bestowed that dukedom upon Gisilbrecht, the son of Regingar, and reincorporated it with the empire. These successes now roused the apprehensions of the Hungarians, who again poured their invading hordes across the frontier. In 926, they plundered St. Gall, but were routed near Seckingen by the peasantry, headed by the country people of Hirminger, who had been roused by alarm-fires; and again in Alsace, by Count Liutfried: another horde wag cut to pieces near Bleiburg, in Carinthia, by Eberhard and the Count of Meran. The Hungarian king, probably Zoldan, was, by chance, taken prisoner during an incursion by the Germans, a circumstance turned by Henry to a very judicious use. He restored the captured prince to liberty, and also agreed to pay him a yearly tribute, on condition of his entering into a solemn truce for nine years. The experience of earlier times had taught Henry that a completely new organization was necessary in the management of military affairs in Germany, before this dangerous enemy could be rendered innoxious, and as an undertaking of this nature required time, he prudently resolved to incur a seeming disgrace, by means of which he in fact secured the honor of the state. During this interval of nine years he aimed at bringing the other enemies of the empire, more particularly the Slavi, into subjection, and making preparations for an expedition against Hungary by which her power should receive a fatal blow.

In the meantime, Gisilbrecht, the youthful duke of Lotharingia, again rebelled, but was besieged and taken prisoner in Zulpich by Henry, who, struck by his noble appearance, restored to him his dukedom, and bestowed upon him his daughter, Gerberga, in marriage. Rudolf of France also sued for peace, being hard pressed by his powerful rival, Hugo the Great or Wise, the son of Robert. Charles the Simple was, on Henry’s demand, restored to liberty, but quickly fell anew into the power of his faithless vassals.

Peace was now established throughout the empire, and  afforded Henry an opportunity for turning his attention to the introduction of measures, in the interior economy of the state, calculated to obviate for the future the dangers that had hitherto threatened it from without. The best expedient against the irruptions of the Hungarians appeared to him to be the circumvallation of the most important districts, the erection of forts and of fortified cities. The most important point, however, was to place the garrisons immediately under him, as citizens of the state, commanded by his immediate officers, instead of their being indirectly governed by the feudal aristocracy, and by the clergy. As these garrisons were intended, not only for the protection of the walls, but also for open warfare, he had them trained to fight in rank and file, and formed them into a body of infantry, whose solid masses were calculated to withstand the furious onset of the Hungarian horse. These garrisons were solely composed of the ancient freemen, and the whole measure was, in fact, merely a reform of the ancient arrier-ban, which no longer sufficed for the protection of the state, and whose deficiency had long been supplied by the addition of vassals under the command of their temporal or spiritual lieges, and by the mercenaries or body-guards of the emperors. The ancient class of freemen, who originally composed the arrier-ban, had been gradually converted into feudal vassals; but they were at that time still so numerous as to enable Henry to give them a completely new military organization, which at once secured to them their freedom, hitherto endangered by the preponderating power of the feudal aristocracy, and rendered them a powerful support to the throne. By collecting them into the cities, he afforded them a secure retreat against the attempts of the Grafs, dukes, abbots, and bishops, and created for himself a body of trusty friends, of whom it would naturally be expected that they would ever side with, the emperor against the nobility.

This new regulation appears to have been founded on the ancient mode of division. At first, out of every nine freemen (which recalls the decania) one only was placed within the new fortress, and the remaining eight were bound (perhaps on account of their ancient association into corporations or guilds) to nourish and support him; but the remaining freemen, in the neighborhood of the new cities, appear to have been also gradually collected within their walls, and to have committed the cultivation of their lands in the vicinity to their bondsmen. However that may be, the ancient class of freemen completely disappeared, as the cities increased in importance, and it was only among the wild mountains, where no cities sprang up, that the centen or cantons and whole districts or gauen of free peasantry were to be met with.

Henry’s original intention in the introduction of this new system was, it is evident, solely to provide a military force answering to the exigencies of the state; still there is no reason to suppose him blind to the great political advantage to be derived from the formation of an independent class of citizens, and that he had in reality premeditated a civil as well as a military reformation may be concluded from the fact of his having established fairs, markets, and public assemblies, which, of themselves, would be closely connected with civil industry, within the walls of the cities; and, even if these trading warriors were at first merely feudatories of the emperor, they must naturally in the end have formed a class of free citizens, the more so, as, attracted within the cities by the advantages offered to them, their number rapidly and annually increased.

The same military reasons which induced the emperor Henry to enroll the ancient freemen into a regular corps of infantry, and to form them into a civil corporation, caused him also to metamorphose the feudal aristocracy into a regular troop of cavalry and a knightly institution. The wild disorder with which the mounted vassals of the empire, the dukes, grafs, bishops, and abbots, each distinguished by his own banner, rushed to the attack, or vied with each other in the fury of the assault, was now changed by Henry, who was well versed in every knightly art, to the disciplined maneuvers of the line, and to that of fighting in close ranks, so well calculated to withstand the furious onset of their Hungarian foe. The discipline necessary for carrying these new military tactics into practice among a nobility habituated to license could alone be enforced by motives of honor, and Henry accordingly formed a chivalric institution, which gave rise to new manners, and to an enthusiasm that imparted a new character to the age. The tournament, from the ancient verb turnen, to wrestle or fight, a public contest in every species of warfare, carried on by the knights in the presence of noble dames and maidens, whose favor they sought to gain by their prowess, and which chiefly consisted of tilting and jousting either singly or in troops, the day concluding with a banquet and a dance, was then instituted. In these tournaments the ancient heroism of the Germans revived; they were in reality founded upon the ancient pagan legends of the heroes who carried on an eternal contest in their Walhalla, in order to win the smiles of the Walkyren, now represented by earth’s well-born dames.

The ancient spirit of brotherhood in arms, which had been almost quenched by that of self-interest, by the desire of acquiring feudal possessions, by the slavish subjection of the vassals under their lieges, and by the intrigues of the bishops, who intermeddled with all feudal matters, also reappeared. A great universal society of Christian knights, bound to the observance of peculiar laws, whose highest aim was to fight only for God (before long also for the ladies), and who swore never to make use of dishonorable means for success, but solely to live and to die for honor, was formed; an innovation which, although merely military in its origin, speedily became of political importance, for, by means of his knightly honor, the little vassal of a minor lord was no longer viewed as a mere underling, but as a confederate in the great universal chivalric fraternity. There were also many freemen who sometimes gained their livelihood by offering their services to different courts, or by robbing on the highways, and who were too proud to serve on foot; Henry offered them free pardon, and formed them into a body of light cavalry. In the cities, the free citizens, who were originally intended only to serve as foot soldiery, appear ere long to have formed themselves into mounted troops, and to have created a fresh body of infantry out of their artificers and apprentices. It is certain that every freeman could pretend to knighthood.

Although the chivalric regulations ascribed to the emperor Henry, and to his most distinguished vassals, may not be genuine, they offer nevertheless infallible proofs of the most ancient spirit of knighthood. Henry ordained that no one should be created a knight who either by word or by deed injured the holy church; the Pfalzgraf Conrad added, “no one who either by word or by deed injured the holy German empire”; Hermann of Swabia, “no one who injured a woman or a maiden”; Berthold, the brother of Arnulf of Bavaria, “no one who had ever deceived another or had broken his word”; Conrad of Franconia, “no one who had ever run away from the field of battle”. These appear to have been, in fact, the first chivalric laws, for they spring from the spirit of the times, while all the regulations concerning nobility of birth, the number of ancestors, the exclusion of all those who were engaged in trade, etc., are, it is evident from their very nature, of a much later origin.


Conquests in the Slavian Northeast—Defeat of the Hungarians


The systematic reduction of the Slavs north of Germany beneath his rule was one of the great projects of the emperor; and, when the recollection of the unfortunate Slavs nations, thinned by bloody defeats, deprived of their ancient privileges, forcibly converted to Christianity, and obliged to adopt the German language, strange and unfamiliar to them, recurs, the barbarity of these measures would naturally rouse indignation; still, the inquiry whether they were not induced by necessity or for safety is but just. The Slavs had long made common cause with the Hungarians, whom they assisted in their predatory excursions against the Germans, whom they attacked in the rear, while engaged in defending themselves against their dreaded foe, and the consequent peril in which the empire stood, together with the alternative of destroying or of being destroyed, rendered victory necessary at whatever price. The whole of the empire, as far as Lotharingia and Bremen, was laid waste by the repeated invasions of the lawless Hungarians and their Slavs allies. The whole of Austria, as far as the Enns, had been severed from the state by the conquering Hungarians, while the Slavs attempted to spread themselves northward as far as the Weser. Had the emperor spared the Slavs, and neglected to disarm them during his truce with the Hungarians, they would certainly have assisted them in their first irruption, and might possibly have brought the empire to the brink of destruction. The subjection of heathen nations was, moreover, regarded in those times as a meritorious work, inasmuch as they were, by that means, forced to embrace Christianity.

The ancient Obotrites maintained themselves in Mecklenburg, protected by their forests and lakes, and by their oft-tried valor, while the disunited Serbian tribes, the Hevelli on the Havel, the Daleminzii on the Middle Elbe, and the Redarii on the Priegnitz, whose territory chiefly consisted of open country, and who, in the moment of danger, were abandoned by their fellow tribes, could offer but a feeble resistance. It was, therefore, upon them that Henry first turned his arms. In 926, he marched against the Hevelli, seized their capital, Brannibor (Brandenburg), converted their country into a frontier of the empire, placed it under the jurisdiction of a Saxon Markgraf, colonized it with Christian Germans, and left no means untried in order to Germanize the inhabitants.

In the following year, AD 927, he entered Bohemia, and took possession of Prague, where, after the fall of the Moravian kingdom of the Christian Borziwoi, his son, Spignitew, who had relapsed into paganism, maintained himself with the aid of the Hungarians, whom he assisted on every occasion against the Germans. He was succeeded by his brother Wratislaw, who wedded Drahomira, a pagan Hevellian princess. Drahomira, inspired by her hereditary enmity against the Germans, caused all the Christians, among others her mother-in-law, St. Ludmilla, to be assassinated, and Henry entered the country under pretext of avenging their martyrdom. Drahomira sought safety in flight. Her son, Wenzel, afterward surnamed the Holy, took the oath of allegiance to the emperor, and was enabled, by the successes of the Germans, to make use of peaceable means for the conversion of his terror-stricken subjects.

The subjection of the Hevelli and of the Bohemians now placed the Daleminzii at the mercy of the conqueror. Henry invaded their country, AD 928, took Grona, their metropolis, and built the fortress of Meissen on the Elbe. It appears that the Slavs Parathani (inhabitants of Baireuth), who are mentioned in the history of St. Emmeram, had, at an earlier period, been converted by the monks of Ratisbon and Nuremberg. The fortresses of Saalfeld, Orlamund, Rudolstadt, Leuchtenburg, Lobeda, Domburg, Naumburg, were erected on the Saal, now become the line of demarcation between the Germans and the Slavs. Weimar also received its name from Wenden Mark, or the Wendian frontier.

The Redarii had driven away their chief, Bernhard, who, there is no doubt, had embraced Christianity. This brave warrior was sent by Henry against his countrymen, who, well aware of the fate that awaited them, made such a desperate resistance at Lunkin (Lenzen) that their whole army, with the exception of eight hundred, who were made prisoners, fell on the field of battle, AD 930. Numbers flung themselves in despair into a lake. This terrible defeat filled the neighboring Slavs tribes with consternation.

The truce had now, AD 933, expired, and ambassadors were sent from Hungary to demand the payment of the ancient tribute. According to the legendary account, Henry caused a mutilated mangy dog to be thrown before them, and declared a deadly war with their nation. The Hungarians instantly crossed the frontier in two enormous hordes, the lesser of which, 50,000 strong, was encountered by the arrier-ban of Saxony and Thuringia near Sondershausen and entirely routed. The other and more numerous body advanced along the Saal in the vicinity of Merseburg against the emperor, and laid siege to the fortress of a certain Wido, who, according to Wittekind’s account, had married a natural daughter of the emperor, and possessed immense treasures. Henry, meanwhile, entrenched himself on a mountain, since known as the Keuschberg, or mountain of chastity, owing to the circumstance of no woman being permitted to enter the camp of the Christians, who strengthened themselves for the coming conflict by devotional exercises. The news of the defeat of their countrymen at Sondershausen soon reached the Hungarians, who instantly kindled enormous fires along the banks of the river, as signals of recall to those of their number who were engaged in plundering the country, and the battle commenced with the coming morn. Henry addressed his troops, who unanimously swore to die on the field or to annihilate their foes. The picture of St. Michael, the defender of heaven, was borne in the van, as the banner of the empire. A murderous struggle commenced, the Hungarians shouting, “Hui! Hui!”—the Germans, “Kyrieleison”. Victory long wavered, but was at length decided by the discipline and enthusiastic valor of the Germans. Thirty thousand Hungarians remained on the field of battle; the remainder fled. An immense number of Christian slaves were restored to liberty. After the victory, Henry knelt, at the head of his troops, on the field, and returned thanks to their patron saint. The Hungarians appear to have been everywhere cut down as soon as they were overtaken. Only seven of their most distinguished chieftains were sent back alive to  their country, deprived of their hands, noses, and ears, with the injunction for the future to remain peaceably at home. The terror of the Hungarians now equaled that with which they had formerly inspired the Germans. In the belief that the angel Michael, whose gigantic picture they ever beheld borne in the van of the German army, was the god of victory, they made golden wings similar to those with which he was represented for their own idols. Germany remained undisturbed in this quarter during the rest of this reign. An annual festival, held in the village of Keuschberg, still celebrates the memory of this great victory.

Henry now turned his victorious arms against the Danes, who had secretly invaded the empire. He pursued them as far as the Slie, on whose banks he erected the fortress of Schleswig, in which he placed a German garrison, and forced, AD 934, Gorm the Old to abolish the horrid national sacrifice, in which ninety-nine men were offered on the altars of the pagan deities.

The following year, AD 935, a friendly meeting took place between him and the kings of France and Burgundy on the Char, a tributary of the Maas. Henry afterward planned a visit to Rome, but died without accomplishing that project, AD 936, when at the height of his splendor and renown. He was buried at Quedlinburg, his favorite residence.


Otto the First


Otto, the son of Henry, was unanimously elected as successor to the throne. The feeling of respect which the newly-acquired greatness of the state instilled into the minds of his subjects, conspired with his own love of magnificence and display to render the coronation of this youthful prince a scene of more than ordinary solemnity. The choice of Aix-la-Chapelle as the theater on this grand occasion demonstrated the high expectations universally inspired by this new sovereign, on whom the spirit of Charlemagne seemed to rest. The entire nation, the clergy, and the nobility, vied with each other in surrounding their monarch with a splendor equaling that with which the first emperor had been environed. The gigantic crown of Charlemagne, the scepter, the sword, the cross, the sacred lance, and the golden mantle, now became objects of still deeper devotion. The archbishop of Mayence held precedence, by the ancient respect attached to his dignity, in the ceremony of anointing; the temporal lords performed their various offices in person; Gisilbrecht of Lotharingia filled that of chamberlain, Eberhard of Franconia that of carver, Hermann of Swabia,that of cup-bearer, Arnulf of Bavaria that of master of the horse. These new and honorable offices were henceforward retained by the dukes. Editha, Otto’s wife, the daughter of Edmund, king of England, was also crowned. Although Otto worthily maintained the dignity he inherited from his father, he scarcely merits the title of Great. He was not endowed with the winning frankness with which his more simple-minded father had gained every heart. His manner was cold and haughty; he surrounded himself with etiquette, and, although by no means wanting in personal bravery, owed his success more to his craftiness and good fortune than to his generosity and magnanimity.

The death of Henry was the signal for a general insurrection among the Slavs and Hungarians. The Redarii revolted, AD 936, but were again reduced to submission by a Saxon army sent against them by the emperor, under the command of Hermann Billung, a brave and skillful leader. In the following year the Hungarians made an inroad into Saxony, but were defeated by Otto in an unknown spot, and pursued as far as Metz; the rapidity of their movements during their predatory incursion having led them across the Rhine almost to the French frontier.

These events were followed by disturbances in the interior of the empire, and by family disputes. Henry had, by his first marriage with the princess of Hatburg, a son named Thankmar (or Tammo), to whom the succession rightfully belonged, but, becoming enamored of the beautiful Matilda, he divorced his wife, under pretext of her having been destined for the cloister. He had three sons by Matilda, Otto, Henry, and Bruno, the first of whom he named as his successor on the throne, which Matilda coveted for her handsome and favorite son, Henry. Great family dissensions arose from these circumstances, not dissimilar to, and as odious, although more fortunate in their result to the emperor, as those that disturbed the reign of Louis the Pious.

The fate of the luckless Thankmar excited a feeling of commiseration equaling that with which Bernhard, the grandson of Louis the Pious, had formerly been viewed. Not content with having deprived him of the imperial throne, Otto also seized his large maternal inheritance in Saxony, and bestowed it upon the Markgraf Gero, who, together with Billung, guarded the Slav frontier. Thankmar rebelled, and was upheld by the Saxons. He was also joined by Eberhard, duke of Franconia, the same who, at the desire of his brother, the Emperor Conrad, transferred the crown to the Saxon Henry. On the death of that emperor, he attempted to assert his claim to the imperial dignity, being partly influenced by the hatred he bore to Otto, by whom he had been injured. The rebels also attempted to gain over Henry, Otto’s younger brother, whom Thankmar contrived to carry off from his castle of Badliki on the Ruhr. The emperor marched against the insurgents; Thankmar was besieged in the Eresburg, and slain at the foot of the altar, whither he had fled for safety; Eberhard, abandoned by the greater part of his followers, fell at the feet of the imprisoned Henry, whom he besought to intercede in his behalf with the emperor. To his surprise, Henry replied that he was willing to join with him in his designs against Otto, in order to deprive him of the crown, which he coveted for himself. For the present the two confederates dissembled their projects, and Eberhard made his submission to Otto with expressions of the deepest contrition for his guilt.

Henry, meanwhile, strengthened the conspiracy by gaining over to his party the sons of Arnulf of Bavaria, who had died not long before, Eberhard, Arnulf, Hermann, and Louis, the archbishop Frederick of Mayence, who aimed at the attainment of a preeminence in the state similar to that formerly enjoyed by Hatto and Gisilbrecht of Lothringia. Louis, sumamed “Over the Sea”—a son of Charles the Simple, who, in his early youth, had taken refuge in England, whence, after the decease of Rudolf of Burgundy, AD 936, he had been recalled by Hugo, Count of Paris, surnamed the Great, or the Wise, and placed on the throne of France— was also invited to join the rebels, but refused, and sought to strengthen himself by an alliance with Otto. The conspirators now contrived to draw the emperor to the Rhine, while Gisilbrecht gave the first signal for revolt, by rising in open rebellion, and at the moment when a division of Otto’s Saxon army had crossed the Rhine at Zante, Henry, who, under color of aiding his brother, had marched thither at the head of his vassals, suddenly declared in favor of Gisilbrecht, and fell upon them sword in hand. In this extremity, Otto fell upon his knees before the sacred lance, and invoked the aid of heaven. A Saxon, meanwhile, shouted in Italian, “Run, run”; and the Italian mercenaries in the Lotharingia army, being seized with a sudden panic at the cry, instantly ran away. A terrible slaughter ensued. Eberhard and the archbishop of Mayence, terrified by this unexpected disaster, did not venture to declare themselves, and Henry, who had been wounded in the melée, fled to Merseburg, whither the emperor was enticed in order to relieve Gisilbrecht in his quarters on the Rhine. At the same time, the Slavs were secretly instigated to revolt. The plot was, however, betrayed to the Markgraf Gero, who invited thirty of the Slavs princes to a banquet, at which he caused them to be assassinated when in a state of intoxication, AD 938, and the Slavs attempting to revenge this act of treachery, Otto was forced to raise the siege at Merseburg, and to march to Gero’s assistance. He, at the same time, pardoned Henry, in the hope of separating him, by gentle and conciliatory measures, from Eberhard and Gisilbrecht.

The Hungarians, who, at this time, made a fresh irruption into the empire, suffered two bloody defeats in the Harz Mountains, near Stetternburg and in the Drömling, a marshy forest, whence their horses, weary with the heavy rain and the nature of the ground, were unable to extricate them.

While Otto was engaged in opposing the Slavs, who had entirely cut to pieces a Saxon army under Haika, and again succeeded, after several severe engagements, the details of which have not been recorded, in reducing them to submission, Gisilbrecht won over the French monarch. This intelligence no sooner reached the ears of Otto than he hastened to besiege Gisilbrecht in the castle of Chevremont. Gisilbrecht secretly escaped, and Otto, being forced by the state of affairs in Saxony to return to that country, intrusted the defense of the western frontier to Immo, the Lothringian Graf, and to the duke of Swabia, who had remained firm in his allegiance. Louis crossed the frontier at the head of a numerous army, invaded and wasted Alsace, which was bravely defended by Hermann, who finally compelled him to retreat. Eberhard, meanwhile, seized Breisach. Immo was closely besieged. Eberhard was on the point of being proclaimed and anointed king at Metz. These events quickly recalled Otto from Saxony, in order to lay siege to Breisach, upon which the archbishop of Mayence, who, until now, had pretended to favor his party, and who was in his camp, suddenly threw off the mask, and went over with his numerous adherents to the enemy, whose principal force was assembled near Andernach, and was merely opposed by a small body of troops commanded by the Graf Conrad Kurzbold, and by Udo, brother to Hermann of Swabia, the former of whom, perceiving that his opponents were spread carelessly feasting on the banks of the Rhine, suddenly fell upon them. A fearful slaughter ensued; Eberhard fell after a desperate struggle;'Gisilbrecht was drowned in the Rhine; Otto’s party triumphed; Breisach surrendered; the archbishop of Mayence was taken prisoner; and Henry, who had infringed the treaty and again joined the rebels; fled into France. The rebellion was no sooner crushed than Otto carried his plans into effect. Louis of France had found means, before the emperor was able to succor Lotharingia, to seduce Gerberga, the widow of Gisilbrecht, whom he married, in order to insure the possession of the country. The emperor, however, set up Graf Otto, who, in his quality of guardian to Henry, the young son of Gisilbrecht, governed Lothringia, in opposition to him. Although Eberhard’s nearest of kin, and consequently his heir in Franconia, was his nephew, Conrad the Red, Otto divided the dukedom, and bestowed a part of the land upon his vassal, Graf Udo of Swabia. Berthold, the brother of Arnulf, was also created duke of Bavaria, to the exclusion of his three nephews.

Gero, meanwhile, continued to oppose the Slavs, and again took firm footing in Brandenburg after the assassination of the last prince of the Hevelli by the traitor Tugumin, who had been bribed to commit the deed by Gero, AD 940. Otto invaded France in person, drove Louis as far as the Seine, and made a treaty with Burgundy. After the death of Rudolf II, king of that country, his son Conrad, who was still in his minority, was placed in his hands. Henry and the archbishop of Mayence sought and received pardon; nevertheless, when, in 941, Otto again took the field against the Slavs, and his troops mutinied on account of the difficulty of their position, Henry and his coadjutor, the archbishop, placed themselves at the head of a fresh conspiracy against the emperor, whom they intended to assassinate during the celebration of Easter at Quedlinburg. The plot was discovered; Henry fled, but threw himself in penitential garb shortly afterward at the feet of his injured brother, who once more pardoned him.

A short peace ensued. A personal meeting took place, A.D. 943, at Vouzières between Otto and Louis of France, and peace was concluded. In 944, the emperor bestowed Lotharingia, on the death of Henry, the son of Gisilbrecht, and that of his guardian, Otto, on Conrad the Red, together  with the hand of his daughter Luitgarde; an alliance which united the Franconian party to his family and Lotharingia to the empire. The old duke, Hermam of Swabia, expired in the course of the same year, and Ludolf, the emperor’s eldest son, who had married Ida, the duke’s only child, became duke in his stead. In the following year the death of Berthold of Bavaria also took place, and Henry, who had already wedded Judith, Arnulf’s beauteous widow, was named as his successor, to the exclusion of the sons of both Arnulf and Berthold. The emperor was, by these means, himself duke of Saxony; his son, duke of Swabia; his brother, duke of Bavaria; his son-in-taw, duke of Franconia and Lotharingia; and Conrad, the young king of Burgundy, remained a hostage at his court.

In 944, war again broke out; the Hungarians invaded the empire, but were defeated in Carinthia by Duke Berthold, who died shortly afterward. France was also disturbed by the struggle between the unfortunate Louis and the great Count Hugo of Paris, who was aided by the Normans, for the possession of the crown. Hugo had, up to this period, been on friendly terms with Otto, whose sister Hedwig he had received in marriage. Otto, under pretext of rescuing Louis from the imprisonment in which he was held by Hugo, to whom he had been delivered by the Normans, invaded France, AD 947, but was unsuccessful in his attacks against Paris or Rouen, the capital of Normandy. Peace was at length established between the contending parties by Conrad of Franconia. Hugo voluntarily submitted, and Lothar, the son of Louis, succeeded to the throne on the death of his father, AD 954. Both of the emperor’s sisters had married a competitor for the throne of France; Gerberga, Louis; and Hedwig, Hugo. The son of the latter, Otto’s nephew, the celebrated Hugh Capet, was raised to the throne on the extinction of the Carolingian dynasty.

The war with the French Normans was scarcely concluded than a fresh one arose between Otto and their brethren, the Danes, whose king, Harald Blaatand, or Blue Tooth, conquered Schleswig, and restored the Danewirk. A sanguinary battle took place, in which Otto was victorious. He afterward marched in triumph through Jutland as far as the Ottensund, which received its name from him. Harald was forced to submit to the rite of baptism, and to take the oath of allegiance to the emperor, who restored the frontier, and erected Schleswig, Biepen and Aarhus into bishoprics, under the jurisdiction of the archbishopric of Hamburg, AD 948. A victory was, during the same year, gained over the Hungarians by Henry of Bavaria, who, AD 950, for the first time, invaded their territory, whence he returned laden with immense booty, and with the wives and children of the chiefs. It was about this time that Otto founded new bishoprics as a means of increasing his power in the conquered territory of the Slavs, Havelberg in 946, and Brandenburg in 948, within the march of Gero; in 946, he also founded Oldenburg in Wagria, which country had just been reduced to submission by Hermann Billung, who had taken advantage of the feud that had broken out between Selibur, prince of the Wagrians, and Mistevoi, prince of the Obotrites. The latter was persuaded to embrace Christianity, and wedded the sister of Wago, bishop of Oldenburg. His son, Wislau, relapsed into paganism. After having thus succeeded in extending and securing the frontiers of the empire, Otto turned his attention upon Italy.


The Reincorporation of Italy with the Empire


Berengar II had seized the government of Italy. Adelheid, the widow of Lothar, fell into his hands. The pretensions of this princess to the crown, which were upheld by a strong, although, at that period, suppressed party, and her extraordinary wit and beauty, induced Berengar to offer to her the hand of his son, Adalber, who, being refused, Berengar imprisoned her in a fortress on the lake of Como, whence she contrived to escape to the castle of Canossa, where she concealed herself. Otto had, at this time, not long become a widower; he sought, moreover, to place the imperial power on a firmer basis, by the addition of great feudal possessions, and by family alliances. In pursuance of this policy, he had only set governors, who were chosen from among his trustiest vassals, over Saxony, over which he reigned as hereditary sovereign, and insured the allegiance of Franconia, Swabia, and Bavaria, by the strict connection that subsisted between his family and those of their dukes. An extensive and hereditary feudal tenure in Italy has long been an object of his ambition. The earnest solicitations of Adelheid for assistance met, therefore, with a favorable reception, and, AD 951, he hastened across the Alps to the relief of Canossa, at that time closely besieged, and was rewarded with the hand of the lovely Adelheid at Pavia. His son, Ludolf, fearing to share a fate similar to that of the unfortunate Thankmar, quarreled with his unwished-for stepmother, and suddenly quitted his father, accompanied by the archbishop of Mayence, who again plotted treason. Otto, suspecting their designs, and anxious to prevent mischief, returned upon this to Germany, and entrusted the conduct of the war with Berengar to Conrad of Lotharingia, who, fully aware of the immense sacrifice necessary for the maintenance of the emperor’s prerogative in Italy, offered terms of peace, and promised a full pardon and the possession of his lands to Berengar. These terms offended the pride of the emperor, who refused his compliance, and threatened again to invade Italy in person; but his indignation was speedily mollified by the submissive behavior of Berengar, who repaired to Germany, took the oath of allegiance at Augsburg, and was permitted to retain undisturbed possession of his lands. A fresh and alarming conspiracy was, meanwhile, secretly ripening; Ludolf, whose pride had already been deeply mortified, was now still more aggrieved by the conduct of his uncle, Henry of Bavaria, who had entered into a close connection with Adelheid, through whom he governed the emperor. A dispute that arose between the uncle and nephew concerning the boundaries of their lands was decided in favor of the former, by the emperor, who, in addition to the extensive dukedom of Bavaria, which already comprehended Carinthia, bestowed upon him the meres of Verona and Aquileia.

Ludolf’s sister, the wife of Conrad the Red, to whom Adelheid was greatly obnoxious, espoused the cause of her brother, who also found an ally in her husband, whom the emperor had irremediably offended by his invalidation of the promise made by Conrad to Berengar. The scheme of the conspirators, neither of whom, at first, dreamed of open revolt, merely extended to the exclusion of Henry, to whom, as the tool of Adelheid, they ascribed every evil design, from the imperial council. This they openly declared to the emperor at Ingelheim, and threatened to imprison Henry if he came thither. Otto, unable to oppose them on the Rhine, where Conrad and Ludolf ruled in their right as dukes, made no reply, but, on his return to Saxony, gave full vent to his rage, and deposed the ungrateful nobles, AD 953. The Lotharingians instantly rebelled, and attempted to throw off the German yoke, but were defeated by Conrad on the Maas: the battle lasted a whole day. Flushed by this victory, Conrad turned against the emperor, who had advanced as far as the Rhine, and who, aided by Henry of Bavaria, laid siege to Mayence, whose archbishop favored the rebels, and which was for some time defended by Ludolf and Conrad against the united imperial forces. Terms of reconciliation were at length proposed; the two princes came forth, and threw themselves at the feet of their indignant parent, but refusing to deliver up their adherents, whom Otto wished to bring to execution, not so much from revenge as from political motives, in order to weaken their party, they returned to the city without anything being concluded. Immediately after this, the Bavarians, incited by Arnulf, the son of the late duke, rose tumultuously in the camp against Henry, and declared in favor of Ludolf and Conrad, who again quitted Mayence, and took the field with this new addition to their force, which received a fresh accession of strength by the desertion of a part of the Saxons under the command of Ekbert, a nephew of Hermann Billung. A fresh body of troops, dispatched from Saxony by Hermann Billung, to the assistance of the emperor, was waylaid and defeated by Ludolf and Conrad. Their commander, Wichmann, another of Hermann’s nephews, also joined the rebels. Otto, with characteristic prudence, sought to weaken his opponents by separating their forces, and, with that intent, created his brother Bruno, the archbishop of Cologne, duke of Lotharingia. Conrad took the bait, and instantly withdrew across the Rhine, in order to dispute the possession of that country. Hermann, meanwhile, drew Ekbert and Wichmann toward Saxony, in order still more to weaken Ludolf and Arnulf, who suffered a defeat before Augsburg, which city was valiantly defended by Bishop Ulrich and his vassals, AD 954. The conspirators now invited the Hungarians— who, headed by their king, Pulzko (Bulgio), spoliated both friend and foe—into the country, under pretext of aiding Conrad, who seized and plundered Metz. He was violently opposed by Bruno’s adherents, and at length became so obnoxious to the people, for having caused this new inroad of the Hungarians, and so terrified at the cruelties practiced by them, that he voluntarily quitted his unnatural allies, who, after vainly besieging Kammarich, returned to their native country through France and Italy, burning and plundering as they advanced.

The Germans, alarmed by these disasters, and fearful of the event, now abandoned the leaders of the rebellion, and crowded around the emperor, who held a diet at Cinna (Zeun), where Conrad and Frederick, archbishop of Mayence, made their submission. Ludolf and Amulf, nevertheless, obstinately continued to defend Ratisbon, where, after a desperate resistance, Arnulf was killed when heading a sally against the enemy, and Ludolf, finding it useless to resist, took refuge in Swabia. Ulrich, bishop of Augsburg, attempted to bring about a reconciliation between the emperor and his now penitent son, who, one day, when the former was hunting, suddenly fell at his feet and begged for pardon. He met with a favorable reception, but was deprived of the government of Swabia. He was afterward sent into Italy and entrusted with the command of an army against Berenger, who had again revolted. He there met with an early death. The dukedom of Swabia was bestowed upon Burkhard, the son of the elder Burkhard, and a relative of Bishop Ulrich. The new duke, who had just attained his majority, wedded Hedwig, the daughter of Henry, who was reinstated in the dukedom of Bavaria. Conrad was deprived of Lotharingia, which was partitioned between the Grafs Gottfried and Frederick, the former of whom governed the upper, the latter the lower country, but were subordinate to Bruno, the archbishop of Cologne, the first noble who bore the title of archduke. He was also the first church­man who exercised such great temporal authority, so adverse to the spirit by which the first preachers of the gospel were guided; but Bruno was the emperor’s brother, and Otto had learned from experience the importance of entrusting the ducal power solely to his nearest relatives and best-tried friends. In 954, Bruno crowned his nephew Lothar, the son of Louis Over-the-Sea, who had just expired, king of France.

A powerful party in Bavaria, headed by the Count Werner, brother to the fallen Arnulf, were induced by the hatred they bore to Henry to have recourse to the Hungarians, whom they invited into the country. Confident of success on account of their enormous, numerical strength, the arrogant barbarians boasted that their horses should drain every river in Germany. Augsburg, whose supposed treasures attracted their cupidity, was besieged by them, but made a brave defense under the command of Burkhard of Swabia. Their king, Bulzko, was encamped at Gunsburg. Otto instantly assembled the arrier-ban of the entire empire; the Bohemians united their forces with his; the Saxons, at that time engaged in opposing the Slavs, alone failed. The two armies came within sight of each other on the Lech, near Augsburg. Before the battle commenced, Otto addressed his troops, as his father had done on a similar occasion, and vowed, when referring to the victory won by Henry, to found a bishopric at Merseburg, if God granted him success. It was the 10th of August, 955. The sun poured with intense heat upon the plain. The Hungarians rapidly crossed the Lech, fell upon the rear of the German army, dispersed the Bohemians, and were pressing hard upon the Swabians, when the fortune of the day was again turned by Conrad, who, anxious to retrieve his fault and to regain the confidence of his master, performed miracles of valor at the head of the Franconians. The emperor struggled sword in hand in the thickest of the fight. A vast number of the enemy were drowned in attempting to escape across the river. Conrad was mortally wounded in the neck by an arrow aimed at him by one of the fugitives, when in the act of raising his helmet in order to breathe more freely. A hundred thousand Hungarians are said to have fallen on this occasion. Two of their princes, Lehel and Bulcs, were, by the emperor’s command, hanged on the gates of Augsburg. According to some writers, King Bulzko and four of the war-chiefs were hanged before the gates of Ratisbon. Werner was killed by the enraged Hungarians, but few of whom escaped to their country, almost the whole of the fugitives being slain or hunted down like wild beasts by the Bavarian peasants. The adherents of the adverse party were mercilessly punished by Henry of Bavaria, who caused them to be buried alive or burned in beds of quicklime. Herold, bishop of Salzburg, was, by his orders, deprived of sight, and the patriarch Lopus of Aquileia met with a still more wretched fate. This was the last inroad attempted by the Hungarians, who, for the future, remained within their frontier, on their side equally undisturbed by the Germans. The booty was so enormous that a peasant is said to have had a silver plow made out of his share. The innumerable Hungarian horses taken on this occasion also gave rise to the establishment of the Keferloher horse fair.

Henry of Bavaria, Otto’s brother, died in 955, and was succeeded in the government of Bavaria and Carinthia by his son Henry, surnamed the Wrangler. Burkhard, who had succeeded Ludolf in the command of the Italian army, also expired shortly after, and was succeeded in the dukedom of Swabia by his widow, Hedwig, Otto’s niece, who was celebrated for her beauty and learning. This is the first example of an office relating to the empire being filled by a woman. At Hohentwiel, her residence during her widowhood, she passed her days in study, and read Virgil with her chancellor Eckhard, who afterward became chaplain and counsellor to the emperor Otto II, and also served the empress Adelheid. Franconia remained partitioned between Otto, the son of Conrad, and his cousin Henry, Markgraf of Sweinfurt, who was also grandson to the emperor Conrad I, through his father Count Bardo, a son of Burkhard of Thuringia, who had wedded one of that emperor’s daughters.

The Slavs were again humbled. Ekbert and Wiehmann, Hermann Billung’s nephews, had after Ludolf’s defeat taken refuge among these people and incited them to open rebellion. In 954, the Uchri were reduced to submission by Graf Gero, but in the following year almost every Slav tribe in the country revolted under Nakko and Stoinef, descendants of the ancient royal Hevellian dynasty. Hermann Billung was surrounded and besieged at Gartz, and although promised an unmolested retreat, the garrison was cut to pieces, AD 955. This event called the emperor from the Lech, and the Slavs were quickly repelled. Stoinef was assassinated while attempting to flee. His head was, by the emperor’s order, placed upon a stake, and seventy Wends were beheaded in a circle around it. Nakko w; s also taken prisoner and beheaded. Gero, meanwhile, zealously labored to confirm Germanic rule and Christianity simultaneously in the Slav territory, where, besides the tithes, the Grafs exacted the Wogewotinza, the bishops, the Biscowotinza, two oppressive taxes; to which was added socage, the cruel right of the conqueror over the conquered, so contrary to the doctrine of Christian love and equality: hence the hatred with which the clergy were beheld by the Wends. The manner in which these wretched people were treated is best described by Ditmar of Merseburg, who remarks in his Chronicle, “The submissive slave must eat hay like an ox, and be beaten like an ass”. In 957, Wiehmann again incited the Rhedarii to revolt, but without success.

While these events were taking place in Germany, Berengar remained unmolested in Italy, more particularly since the death of Ludolf, by whom he had been narrowly watched. Berengar aimed at the independent sovereignty of Italy, in which he was upheld by the majority of the people, whose national pride ill-brooked the despotic rule of either the clergy or the Germans. The Lombard bishops, enraged at the restriction imposed upon them by Berengar, sought the protection of the pope, who applied for aid to the emperor. The family disputes that had so lately troubled Otto’s domestic peace, the struggle with the Hungarians and the Slavs, had at this juncture been brought to a favorable termination, and the reincorporation of Italy with the empire again became the object of his ambition; accordingly, after causing his son, Otto II, to be crowned king of Germany at Aix-la- Chapelle, and entrusting the government of the empire to his brother, Bruno, archbishop of Cologne, and to his illegitimate son, William, who had succeeded Frederick in the archbishopric of Mayence, he crossed the Alps, AD 961, expelled Berengar, and for the first time entered Rome, where the pope, John XII (a son of Alberich), was compelled to crown him emperor, and an oath was imposed upon the Romans rendering it illegal for them to elect a pope without the consent of the emperor, who no sooner quitted the city than the pope declared the oath null and void, and retracted his former professions. Otto upon this returned, convoked a Concilium, and deposed the pope, who was convicted of the most disgraceful vices. A popular commotion was the immediate result, and Otto was alone saved by the intrepidity of his troops. The pope was taken in adultery and struck dead on the spot by the injured husband. The Romans, without referring to the emperor, elected a new pope, Benedict V, whom Otto cited to appear before him, with his own hand broke his crosier, banished him to Hamburg, and raised Leo VIII in his stead to the papal chair. About the same time, Berengar, after long and valiantly defending the mountain fort of St. Leo, was compelled to surrender. He was exiled to Bamberg, where he died. His son, Adalbert, fled to Corsica.

In 965 Otto returned to Germany, and held Whitsuntide at Cologne, where he was attended by all the German princes, among whom appeared Lothar of France. Peace and security reigned throughout the empire. Graf Wichmann, to whom the emperor had extended the pardon granted to his brother Ekbert, alone sought to disturb the general tranquility, and again joined the pagan Danes, who were attempting to gain a settlement in Pomerania, where, in the time of Harald Blaatand, the infamous pirates’ nest, the Jomsburg, near Wollin, had been built. He may possibly have inspired the Wendi with fresh courage. The Lusicri and Selpuli in Lusatia commenced a sanguinary war against Gero, by whom they were reduced to submission. The deep affliction of this Graf, occasioned by the death of his nephew and of his youthful son, both of whom fell in battle, induced him on the termination of this war to resign his office, and to make a pilgrimage to Rome, where he laid his sword, whose notches bore witness to many a fight, at the foot of St. Peter’s shrine, and ended his days within the cloister, AD 965. He was the founder of the convent of Gernrode.

The emperor pursued his ancient policy in his treatment of this new conquest. The Lausitz was converted into a new frontier, Eastern Saxony, and placed under the jurisdiction of Hermann Billung. The bishoprics of Merseburg and Zeiz were also founded, and, in common with all the other bishoprics, rendered dependent on the great archbishopric of Magdeburg, a city greatly beautified by the emperor, with whom it was a favorite residence. Bishop Bucco (Burkhard) of Halberstadt, imagining himself injured by the erection of this new archbishopric, AD 968, rebelled; he was taken prisoner; but seizing the opportunity of pronouncing a sentence of excommunication against the emperor, who chanced to pass his prison window, the latter ordered him to be set at liberty.

Otto preserved amicable relations with Bohemia, where, AD 936, St. Wenzel was assassinated by his pagan brother, Boleslaw I, at a baptismal festival, to which he had been insidiously invited. Boleslaw declared war against Germany, and began to build, fortified cities, for instance, Bautzen. He was defeated, and compelled to embrace Christianity, by Hermann Billung. Poland, at that time oppressed by the Danes and by Wichmann, also entered into alliance with Germany. Miseko, king of Poland, wedded Dobrowa, AD 966, the daughter of Boleslaw of Bohemia, who introduced Christianity among the Poles. Wichmann joined Selibur, the pagan prince of the Obotrites, who was defeated, and Kethel, a great Slav sanctuary, demolished, with all the heathen deities contained in it, by Hermann Billung. Wichmann was also defeated by the Poles, into whose hands he fell during his flight, completely worn out with fatigue and hunger; he expired amid their insults, after slaying several of his pursuers. His death confirmed the alliance between Poland and Germany, and Miseko founded the bishopric of Posen, which was subordinate to the archbishopric of Magdeburg.

Otto revisited Italy, AD 966, where Adalbert, the son of Berengar, had raised an insurrection in Lombardy; he was defeated on the Po by Burkhard of Swabia. Pope Leo VIII was dead; the new pope, John XIII, the emperor’s creature, who had been expelled from Rome by an adverse party, had been reinstated by Pandolf, the valiant prince of Benevento, the last Lombard who preserved his ancestral bravery and fidelity amid the vices of Italy. Otto’s first act, on his arrival in Rome, was the infliction of a severe chastisement on the refractory Romans; thirteen of the most distinguished citizens were hanged. A fresh and closer treaty was concluded between the emperor and the pope, to whose dominions the territory of Ravenna, which had been severed from them, was restored, in return for which he solemnly placed the imperial diadem on the head of Otto II, an incident of rare occurrence during the lifetime and in the presence of the father. All opposition to the irresistible power of the  emperor had now ceased—the whole of Upper and Central Italy lay in silent submission at his feet. His first step was the imposition of a new form of government upon Lombardy. He replaced the great dukes, with the exception of his ally Pandolf, by numerous petty Markgrafs, the majority of whom were Germans by birth. He also settled a considerable number of Germans in the different cities, and thus created a party favorable to the imperial cause that counter­poised the rebellious spirit of the Lombards and Romans. Pandolf of Benevento, surnamed Ironhead, and the petty duke, Gisulf of Salerno, whose imbecility rendered him ever inconstant to his allies, defended the frontiers of Upper and Central Italy, against the Greeks, who still retained possession of Lower Italy, and the Saracens, who had already settled in Sicily. Otto and his empress, Adelheid, visited Pandolf, AD 968, who entertained them with great magnificence. During his residence at Benevento, Otto undertook the conquest of Lower Italy. Bari, the strongly-fortified Grecian metropolis, offering a valiant and successful resistance, he had recourse to his favorite policy, and dispatched his confidant, Luitprand, the celebrated historian, to the court of Nicephorus, the Grecian emperor, in order to demand the hand of the beautiful princess, Theuphano, daughter to Romanus the late emperor, for his son Otto II, probably in the hope of receiving Italy as her dowry. His suit being contemptuously refused, Otto undertook a second campaign, during the following year, and chose with great judgment his line of march along the Alps that separate Lower Italy into two parts, and that command Apulia to the east and Calabria to the west. Having thus opened a path, he returned the same way, leaving the conquest of the low country to Pandolf, who having the misfortune to be taken prisoner before Bovino, and to be sent to Constantinople, the Greeks, under the patrician Eugenius, crossed the frontier, laid waste the country in the neighborhood of Capua and Benevento, and treated the inhabitants with great cruelty. Otto, who was at that juncture in Upper Italy, sent the Grafs Gunther and Siegfried to oppose them; a splendid victory was gained, and the victors, animated by a spirit of revenge, deprived the Greek prisoners of their right hands, noses, and ears. In 970, the Sicilian Saracens invaded the country, but were defeated at Chiaramonte by Graf Gunther. At this time, the emperor Johannes, who, after the assassination of Nicephorus, had ascended the throne of Greece, restored Pandolf Ironhead to liberty, concluded peace with Otto, and consented to the alliance of Otto II with the beautiful Theuphano, who was escorted from Constantinople by the archbishop Gero of Cologne, Bruno’s successor, at the head of a numerous body of retainers. She was received in the palace of Pandolf at Benevento by the emperor and the youthful bridegroom. Her extraordinary beauty attracted universal admiration. The marriage ceremony was celebrated with great magnificence at Rome, AD 973. This princess created an important change in the manners of Germany by the introduction of Grecian customs, which gradually spreading downward from the court, where her influence was first felt, affected the general habits of the people by the alterations introduced in the monastic academies. The German court adopted much of the pomp and etiquette of that of Greece. The number of retainers increased with increasing luxury, and the plain manners of the true-hearted German were exchanged for the finesse and adulation of the courtier. The emperor also adopted the Grecian title of Sacred Majesty (Sacra Majestas). Lower Italy remained in the hands of the Greeks.

The emperor returned to Germany, AD 973, and besides his lovely daughter-in-law, brought with him a vast quantity of relics, with which he adorned the churches, most particularly that at Magdeburg, for which he had a peculiar predilection, and which he intended to honor with his own remains. He held a great court at Quedlinburg, where he received the homage of the different nations over whom he ruled, and, after beholding in peace the fruits of his long and busy reign, expired, AD 973, at Menleben. He was buried, according to his desire, at Magdeburg. He left the affairs of the empire, whose frontiers he had considerably extended, in a most prosperous condition. Christianity was zealously disseminated amid the Scandinavians to the north by the archbishopric of Hamburg, and amid the Slavs to the east by that of Magdeburg. Bohemia was transformed into a German dukedom. Poland and Denmark owed allegiance to the empire. The sovereignty of Lower Italy was in reversion. In the interior of the state, the power of the sovereign was firmly based. The government of the most important provinces, the dukedoms and Margraviates, was entrusted to the trustiest adherents of the reigning house; and by the appointment of Pfalzgrafs, who managed the imperial allods, royal dues and revenues, in every part of the empire, the dukes could, in case of necessity, be watched and kept in awe. The office of Pfalzgraf dates from an earlier period, it merely received additional importance during this reign. The cities had also increased in number and wealth. The discovery of the rich silver mines of the Harz greatly promoted commerce. A nobleman, when riding through the forest, perceived a piece of silver ore that had been uncovered by his horse’s hoof: the spot was investigated, and, AD 938, the first mine was opened in the interior of Germany,


Otto the Second and Otto the Third


Otto II was short of stature, but strong and muscular, and of an extremely ruddy complexion; his temperament was fiery, but modified by the refined and learned education he had received, and for which he was indebted to the care of his mother, Adelheid; his wife, Theuphano, also sympathized in his love of learning. Still, the Italian blood that flowed in his veins estranged him too much from Germany, and excited in him so strong an inclination for the south that it became as impossible for his mind to be completely absorbed by care for the empire, as it was for his rough, but honest German subjects to adopt the pomp and refinement of his court.

Swabia, on the death of the pious Hedwig, was inherited by Otto, the son of Ludolf, between whom and Henry the Wrangler, of Bavaria, the ancient feud that had arisen on account of the extent of their frontiers between their fathers was still carried on. The emperor decided the question in Otto’s favor, and the quarrelsome Henry instantly attempted to rouse the ancient national hatred of the Bavarians, and to stir them up to open revolt. He also entered into alliance with Boleslaw of Bohemia, but was anticipated in his designs by Otto, who threw him into prison, bestowed Bavaria on Otto of Swabia, and Carinthia on a Graf, Henry Minor, the son of Berthold, probably a Babenberger; this Graf sided with Henry of Bavaria, revolted, and was deposed, AD 974. Carinthia was, consequently, also bestowed upon Otto. In the following year, Harald, king of Denmark, suddenly invaded Saxony, whence he was successfully repulsed. Shortly after this event, Henry escaped from prison, again raised the standard of rebellion, and was joined by the Bohemians, but again suffered defeat, and was retaken prisoner, AD 977.

In 978, war again broke out in the west, where Charles, the brother of Lothar, king of France, attempted to gain possession of Lotharingia, but was repulsed by Otto, who advanced as far as Paris, and burned the suburbs. The city, nevertheless, withstood his attack; and on his return homeward, being surprised by the treacherous Count of Hennegau, he was compelled to come to terms with his opponents; Charles was permitted to hold Lower Lotharingia in fee of the empire, and Upper Lotharingia was granted to Frederick, Count of Bar.

Otto, whose natural inclinations led him to Italy, was speedily called there by the affairs of that country. Crescentius had usurped the government in Rome, and attempted to revive the memory of ancient times by causing himself to be created consul. The pope, Benedict VII, was assassinated by his orders, and replaced by a creature of his own, Bonifacius VII, in opposition to whom the Tuscan imperialists raised Benedict VIII to the papal chair. Otto’s presence in Rome, AD 980, quickly restored order. Crescentius was pardoned. Otto was visited during his stay in Rome by Hugh Capet, Lothar’s secret competitor for the throne of France, whose claim was countenanced by the emperor, on account of the ingratitude displayed by the French monarch for the services formerly rendered to his ancestors by the imperial house of Saxony.

Lower Italy next engaged the attention of the emperor, who attempted to take forcible possession of his wife’s portion. The Greeks, until now unceasingly at war with the Arabs, instantly united with them against their common enemy. Naples and Tarentum were taken by Otto, and the allies were defeated near Cotrona, AD 981; Abn al Casem, the terror of Lower Italy, and numbers of the Arabs, were left on the field of battle. The following campaign proved disastrous to the emperor, who, while engaged in a conflict with the Greeks on the seashore near Basantello, not far from Tarentum, was suddenly attacked in the rear by the Arabs, and so completely routed that he was compelled to fly for his life, and owed his escape entirely to the rapidity of his horse. When wandering along the shore in momentary expectation of being captured by the enemy, he caught sight of a Grecian vessel, toward which he swam on horseback, in the hope of not being recognized by those on board. He was taken up. A slave recognized him, but instead of betraying him, passed him off as one of the emperors chamberlains. The Greeks made for Rossano with the intention of taking on board the treasures of the pretended chamberlain, who, the instant the vessel approached the shore, suddenly leaped into the sea and escaped. Lower Italy remained in the hands of the Greeks, and was governed by an exarch. The Arabians also retained possession of Sicily. Otto, duke of Swabia and Bavaria, dying during the campaign in Italy, the emperor bestowed the ducal crown of Swabia on Conrad, the son of Udo, who was the brother of Hermann of Swabia, and to whom Otto I had given the Rhinegau and the Wetterau to hold in fee. Bavaria was restored to Henry Minor, and Carinthia was given to Otto of Franconia, the son of Conrad the Red, who had fallen valiantly fighting against the Hungarians. Henry the Wrangler remained a prisoner.

Hermann Billung had been succeeded in Saxony by his son, Bernhard. The Slav frontiers were, however, divided into several petty Margraviates, that of Zeiz or Northern Thuringia being governed by Gunther, that of Northern Saxony or Brandenburg by Dietrich, that of the Lausitz by Ditmar, and that of Misnia by Riddag. Violence and pillage had become so frequent as to be considered legitimate in this country. A certain Graf Dedo assembled a force in Bohemia, surprised and plundered Zeiz, and carried off Oda, the daughter of Dietrich of Brandenburg, the affianced bride of Miseko, king of Poland. Dietrich emulated Gero in the cruelty with which he treated the conquered Slavs.

Mistevoi, the valiant prince of the Obotrites, favored the Christian religion, followed the banner of Otto II, and served under him in Italy; on his return to his native country, he sued for the hand of Mechtildis, the sister of Bernhard of Saxony, and on being insulted by the jealous Dietrich, who called him a dog and unworthy of a Christian or of a German bride, replied, “If we Slavs be dogs, we will prove to you that we can bite”. The pagan Slavs, who were ever ripe for revolt, obeyed his call the more readily, on account of the death of Ditmar, who, with many others of their tyrannical rulers, had fallen in the Italian war. An oath of eternal enmity against the Germans and the priests was taken before their idol, Radegast, and suddenly rising in open rebellion, they assassinated all who fell into their hands, AD 983, razed all the churches to the ground, and completely destroyed the cities of Hamburg and Oldenburg, besides those of Brandenburg and Havelburg. The lands of Dietrich became one scene of desolation. Sixty priests were flayed alive. The rebels were, nevertheless, completely beaten by Dietrich and Riddag in a pitched battle near Tangermunde. The emperor, however, more just than his father had been, deprived the cruel Dietrich of his government, and bestowed it on Hodo. Riddag and his cousin, the above-mentioned Graf Dedo, remained in Meiesen, whence Riddag was afterward expelled by the Bohemians. It was regained by his cousin and successor, the brave Eckhart, whose exploits were equaled by those of Bernhard Billung, who had returned from Italy in order to oppose the Obotrites on the western frontier. The obstinacy with which the Slavs, notwithstanding their terrible defeats still held out, is proved by the fact of Brandenburg having been first retaken in 994.

The peaceable conversion of the Bohemians and Poles chiefly contributed to the gradual but complete subjection of the Slavs on the frontiers. The independence of Bohemia and Poland was only possible so long as the powerful Slav pagan states existed to their rear. This support was now lost. Poland was already Christianized, and the bishop of Prague, Adalbert, was a celebrated Bohemian saint. It was also about this period that Christianity took firm footing in Denmark, although not without fierce struggles. Harald Blaatand, whom Otto I had compelled to receive baptism, was, when past his eightieth year, expelled by his son, Swein Gabelbart, who favored paganism. He died of his wounds, AD. 986. Swein conquered the mere of Schleswig, and caused the Graf Siegfried of Oldenburg, and several other knights whom he had taken prisoners, to be deprived of their hands and feet. Saxony and Poland, aided by the Christians of Scandinavia, under the guidance of St. Poppo, a zealous preacher, rose in arms against him. Erich, king of Sweden, one of Poppo’s disciples, greatly aided them, in the hope of gaining possession of Denmark by means of the Christian party: this project was realized, and Poppo baptized countless numbers of the Danes in the Hilligbek (heiligen Bach), sacred fount, between Schleswig and Flensburg. After the death of Erich, his son, Olaf Schooskonig, who completed the peaceable conversion of Sweden, deemed it more politic to treat amicably with Swein, and not only bestowed on him the hand of his mother, Sigrida, but also restored him to the Danish throne, and united with him against the great northern hero, Olaf Tryggvason of Norway, whose successes, AD 995, over Hakon Jarl and the pagan party had roused the jealousy of his neighbors. His bitterest enemies were the pirates of Jomsburg and their other northern brethren, the Ascomanni (so named from their great boats, or Aschen), with whom the kings of Denmark and Sweden entered into alliance, and defeated Olaf Tryggvason in a naval engagement.

Great changes took place also, at this period, in France. Lothar died, AD 986, and, in the following year, his only son, Louis V Charles of Lotharingia, Lothar’s brother, aspired to the throne, but was excluded by the Capetian party. The disesteem in which he was held on account of his licentious habits, and the refusal of assistance from Germany, where the emperor, dissatisfied with the conduct of Lothar, no longer favored the Carolingians, rendered him defenseless; he fell into the hands of his rival, Hugh Capet, and died in prison, AD 993. His son, Otto, the last of the Carolingian race, died, neglected and despised, AD. 1004.

The death of Otto II, which was occasioned by the hardships he had undergone at Basantello, took place in Italy, AD 983. His son. Otto III, a child three years of age, was named as his successor, under the joint guardianship of Theuphano and Adelheid, who gave him such a learned education that he received the appellation of the “Wunder-kind” on account of the precocity of his intellect.

Henry the Wrangler, who aspired to the throne, and seized the person of the young monarch, had already, by his conduct, estranged from himself his countrymen the Saxons; the memory of the cruelties practiced by his father also rendered him unpopular in Bavaria, and he was speedily reduced to submission by the Franconian party, at whose head stood Willigis, the learned archbishop of Mayence. He was the son of a wheelwright, and adopted a wheel for the arms of the archbishopric, with these words, “Willigis, Willigis, remember thy origin”. Next in rank to this spiritual head of the empire stood Conrad, duke of Franconia and Swabia, and Henry, duke of Bavaria. Henry the Wrangler was compelled to deliver up the emperor, and to take the oath of allegiance to him, in consideration of which he was restored to the dukedom of Bavaria, on the death of Henry Minor, which was shortly afterward followed by that of Conrad, who was succeeded in Franconia by his son Conrad, and in Swabia by his nephew Hermann. The mere of Austria was granted to Leopold I, grandson to Adalbert of Babenberg, whom Hatto had betrayed. This brave Markgraf displayed so much activity that in 983 he had driven the Hungarians from the Enns, taken their royal castle of Molk, and compelled them to keep within the limits of modern Hungary. Their king, Geisa, followed the example of the sovereigns of Bohemia and Poland, and received baptism from the hands of Pilgerin, bishop of Passau; he also sought to preserve peaceful relations with the Germanic empire; Christianity, nevertheless, first became the national religion during the reign of his son, St. Stephen, who ascended the throne AD 997, and died AD 1038. This monarch married Gisela, the daughter of Henry the Wrangler, a union that strengthened his alliance with Germany.

Leopold planted numerous German colonists in Lower Austria, the country regained by him from the Hungarians, which was visited by fresh missionaries, who there left imperishable records of their zeal. In the mountains, St. Wolfgang performed his miracles on the shores of the lake that still bears his name; and a monastery, in which the relics of St. Colomannus, a Scotch missionary, who was murdered by the pagans, were preserved, was raised over the ruins of the royal castle of Molk.

The scepter of Germany was no sooner again held by a child than the clergy and the great vassals of the empire sought to regain the power of which they had been deprived during the preceding reigns. The youthful emperor, guided by his mother and grandmother, who greatly favored the clergy, bestowed upon them rich lands and benefices. Peace was, certainly, maintained throughout the empire, the dukes contenting themselves with confirming their power in the interior of the state, unopposed by the emperor. War was, however, still carried on on the Slav frontier, where Otto was occasionally allowed to appear in person, in order to gain his first spurs. Graf Arnold of Holland, at that period, AD 993, also attempted the subjugation of the Western Frisii, by whom he was defeated and slain.

Theuphano and Adelheid, whose thoughts were ever directed toward Italy, their native land, had not been idle in their endeavors to rouse the ambition of the youthful Otto, who, on attaining his majority, aspired to the sovereignty of that country, where, after the death of Otto II, the Italian party again rose in opposition to that of the emperor. Crescentius, who had usurped unlimited power in Rome, caused the pope, John XIV, to be assassinated, and expelled his successor, John XV, who convoked an extraordinary council at Rheims, AD 995. Hugh Capet, the new French monarch, who planned the foundation of a Gallican church, independent of that of Rome, had deposed Arnulf, archbishop of Rheims, a nephew of Charles of Lotharingia, for his zealous exertions in favor of his unfortunate Carolingian relatives. The German bishops and the pope, enraged at this conduct, unanimously condemned him at the council at Rheims, and he was compelled to yield. The pope expired during the following year, and the emperor marched into Italy for the purpose of regulating the affairs of the church. Crescentius was speedily overcome and pardoned. Otto, fired by youthful enthusiasm, imagined that the future happiness of the world was to be secured by a closer union of the imperial with the papal power, and with his own hand, although himself scarcely out of his boyhood, placed the tiara on the head of Bruno, the son of Otto of Carinthia, who was then in his four-and-twentieth year, and who received the name of Gregory V. Bruno was grandson to Conrad of Franconia, the hero of the Lech, who had married Luitgarde, daughter to Otto I. St. Adalbert, who had come from Prague, AD 996, in order to witness the ceremony, was enraptured at the sight of these two noble youths. By his side stood Gerbert, Otto’s preceptor, one of the most profound reasoners of the age, and the energetic Bishop Notker of Liege, both of whom earnestly sought to re-establish the fallen power of the church, while the youthful pope, strong in his native purity, caused even the Italians, in despite of their moral depravity, to foresee the height to which the church might attain if governed by German virtue. His first step was to lay France under an interdict until the reinstallment of Arnulf into his archbishopric, which had been purposely delayed by Hugh Capet, whose son Robert, his successor, evinced greater submission to Rome. St. Adalbert visited Prussia, in order to preach the gospel to the heathen inhabitants, by whom he was murdered, AD 999. His death was a bad omen, for scarcely had the emperor quitted Rome than Crescentius again raised the banner of insurrection, inflamed all the dark and fiend­like passions of the Roman populace, already indignant at the assumption of the tiara by a stranger, and elected another Italian wretch, John XVI, pope. The emperor instantly returned, and re-entering Rome, where his presence alone sufficed to calm the uproar, caused the pretender to the popedom to be deprived of sight, and to be led through the city mounted on an ass. Crescentius, who had vainly thrown himself into the Castle of St. Angelo, was executed, AD 998. The well-founded hopes of the German party were, however, doomed to be frustrated by Italian wiles, and it is only left for us to imagine what Europe might have become, had these two noble-minded youths been entrusted, for a longer period, with her temporal and spiritual welfare. Gregory V expired suddenly, AD 999. His death was, with great justice, ascribed to poison. Gerbert became his successor, under the name of Sylvester II. His deep science and learning caused him to be generally regarded as a wizard. The death of Gregory, the friend of his youth, caused a deep dejection to prey upon the mind of the emperor, which was still more worked upon by the approach of the year 1000, the period popularly fixed for the end of the world, and by the exhortations of two Italian enthusiasts, the saints Romuald and Nilus, who gained great power over him, and who, being the fellow-countrymen of Crescentius, reproved him most particularly for the severity with which he had treated that traitor, which they denounced as a crime, and he was at length induced to do penance for fourteen days in a cavern, sacred to the archangel Michael, on the Monte Gargano, in Apulia, and to perform a pilgrimage to the bones of St. Adalbert at Gnesen, in Poland. He, nevertheless, reappeared here in his character as emperor, by more strongly cementing the amicable relations that already subsisted between Germany and Poland. Besides consecrating there a church to St. Adalbert, and founding the archbishopric of Gnesen, on which the bishoprics of Breslau, Cracau and Colberg (at a later period, Kamin) were rendered dependent, he bestowed the title of king on Boleslaw Chrobry, the son of Miseko and of the Bohemian Dobrowa, and gave his niece, Bixa, to his son Mieslaus, in marriage. He also, during the same year, -isited Aix-la-Chapelle, where he caused the tomb of Charlemagne to be opened. That monarch was discovered seated on his throne. On his return to Rome, he announced his intention of making her the capital of the modern, as she had been that of the ancient world, but the Romans were incapable of either comprehending his grand projects, or of perceiving the advantage that must have accrued to them had their city once more become an imperial residence. The senseless and brutal populace again rose in open insurrection. On one occasion, Otto, addressing them from a tower, upbraided them for their folly, and induced them to disperse. His death, which took place in 1002, was ascribed to poison, but was more probably caused by small­pox. (Several chronicles relate that Stephania, the beautiful widow of Crescentius, whom Otto had taken for his mistress, caused his death by means of poisoned gloves. But her name was Theodora, and she was, moreover, at that time a grandmother. It is related of this emperor that his wife, Mary of Aragon, was faithless to him, and having vainly attempted to win the affections of a handsome Italian count, falsely accused him to the emperor, who condemned him to death. The widow of the injured count appeared before his throne, and offered to prove the innocence of her husband by undergoing the ordeal. She passed through it unharmed, and the emperor, convinced of his injustice, sentenced his wife to be publicly burned, AD 996.)

In the following year. Pope Sylvester also expired, and with him every hope that had been raised for the reformation of the church, which again fell under Italian influence, and the weak-minded successor to the throne of Germany became her slave instead of her protector.


Henry the Second, the Holy


Otto dying childless, the succession to the throne was again disputed. Henry of Bavaria, the son of Henry the Wrangler, claimed it as the nearest of kin, and was supported by the clergy on account of his piety, and his munificence toward the church. The next competitor was Hermann of Swabia, who, although of Franconian descent, was nearly allied to the imperial house. He was, moreover, the wealthiest and most considerable of the German dukes, and enjoyed far more popularity among the laity than his rival, Henry. The third claimant was Eckhart of Meissen, who, for the first time, made use of the unlimited power he enjoyed as governor of the Slav marches, where the population was reduced to complete servitude, while the dukes or governors of the German provinces were ever circumscribed in their authority by the free spirit of the people.

Henry’s party was considerably strengthened by the adherence of Willigis, the pious archbishop of Mayence. Eckhart, his most dangerous opponent, lost his life before he could carry his projects into execution. His indecorous treatment of Sophia and Adelheid (the sisters of Otto III, who actively forwarded the interests of his rival, Henry), into whose dining apartment he forced his way, and destroyed their meal, was avenged by the Saxon Grafs of Nordheim, who attacked him during the night at Pölde, AD 1003, and succeeded in depriving him of life after a valiant defense. Henry thereupon repaired to Aix-la-Chapelle, where he was crowned. Hermann resigned his pretensions and submitted to the new emperor. He died shortly afterward, leaving Swabia to his son Hermann, who did not long survive him. He was succeeded by Ernst, the son of Leopold of Austria, and husband to Gisela, his sister, the daughter of Gerberga, and granddaughter of Rudolf III of Burgundy. Ernst was killed when hunting, and left the dukedom to his son Ernst, whose mother, Gisela, married Conrad, Graf of Franconia, who afterward ascended the imperial throne. His cousin, the Markgraf Henry of Schweinfurt, demanded, immediately after the coronation of the emperor, the dukedom of Bavaria, which had become vacant by Henry's accession to the throne, and which was also aspired to by Bruno, the emperor's brother. Both competitors met with a refusal from Henry, who bestowed Bavaria upon his brother-in-law, Henry, Count of Luxemburg, upon which the two rivals entered into a conspiracy against him with Boleslaw II of Bohemia, who had not inherited the peaceable disposition of his father. They, were defeated by the emperor near Creusen, AD 1003, and pardoned. Lotharingia, on the extinction of the Carolingian race, fell to Gottfried of Verdun, the nephew of Gisilbrecht, and Brabant to Lambert of Louvain, the husband of Gerberga, the sister of Otto, the last of the Carolingians.

Affairs also wore a different aspect in the East; Boleslaw Chrobry of Poland, a great conqueror, reduced Kiev in Russia beneath his rule. In Bohemia, Boleslaw had broken his oath of allegiance to the empire. The ancient race of Crocus had degenerated. A rival race, that of the Wrssowez, was at the head of the democratic and pagan party, but could merely offer a weak opposition, by dint of petty stratagems, to the more powerful Christian party. At length the assassination of one of the Wrssowez, by the order of Boleslaw, occasioned the formation of a conspiracy against him; Boleslaw was enticed into Poland, where he fell into the hands of the enraged Wrssowez, who deprived him of sight, and placed Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia in the hands of Boleslaw of Poland. A great reaction ensued. Boleslaw, at the head of the united Poles and Bohemians, invaded the Lausitz and Meissen. After several severe campaigns, the emperor at length succeeded in separating Bohemia from Poland, and in placing Othelrich or TJlrich, the brother of the blind Boles­law, on the throne of that dukedom. Othelrich was faithless and tyrannical. In order the more firmly to secure the possession of the crown, he deprived his second brother, Jaromir, of sight. Boleslaw of Poland attempted to win him over, and sent his son, Miseko, to negotiate with him. Othelrich delivered him up to the emperor, who instantly restored him to liberty. The war, nevertheless, was still carried on. The emperor suffered a defeat, AD 1015, probably on the Bober, the half of his army that had crossed the stream being suddenly attacked by the enemy. Miseko, inspirited by this success, attacked Meissen: the castle was set on fire, but the conflagration was extinguished by the women, who poured mead on the spreading flames. The emperor afterward; undertook a. fresh expedition into Silesia, where le laid siege to the city of Nimptsch,'but witliout success. Peace was finally concluded with Poland at Bautzen, AD 1018. In Meissen, the house of Wettin was raised to the Margravial dignity, in the person of Dedi I, the brave opponent of the Slavs. A war of extermination was also waged against the Obotrites and the Wilzi by Bemhard II of Saxony, and Bernhard, Markgraf of Brandenburg, the son of the deposed Dietrich. Mistevoi, prince of the Obotrites, whose sway-extended over the whole of the Slav north, weary at length of the havoc of war, and anxious to secure peace for his people, embraced Christianity. He was, in consequence, expelled by his subjects. He died at Bardewik. In order to strengthen himself against the Slavs, the emperor courted the friendship of the Danes, to whom he gave permission to found, for the first time, an independent archbishopric of Lund. Up to this period, AD 1004, Denmark had been dependent on the archbishopric of Hamburg, whose prelate, Liemar, had excommunicated King Erich, on account of his cruelty.

The Italians, unwearied in their struggle for independence, had, upon the death of Otto, again raised a king of their own, Harduin, Markgraf of Ivrea, to the throne of Italy. The bishops, who favored the claims of Henry, from the same motive which caused them to be upheld by their brethren in Germany, alone opposed him. Henry marched into Italy, where he overcame every opponent, and was crowned, AD 1005, at Pavia. This powerful city rebelled against the foreign invader, and the citizens so closely besieged the imperial palace, that Henry was compelled to spring from a window, and lamed himself for life. A dreadful revenge was taken by his German troops. The emperor, who now beheld Italy with feelings of disgust, was shortly after recalled into Germany by the outbreak of the Slav war, and Harduin again caused himself to be proclaimed king. The audacity of the pretender once more drew Henry into Italy; the rebels were this time completely reduced to submission, and he visited Rome, AD 1013, where the pope confirmed his claim to the empire, and placed the crown on his head, and on that of his wife, the pious Cunigunda. It was on this occasion that the pope bestowed upon the emperor the golden ball, the emblem of the globe, over which he was destined to rule. It was also at this period that Henry created Berthold, Graf of Walbek (who was supposed to be a descendant of the ancient race of Wittekind), Graf of Savoy. Henry revisited Italy, AD 1021, for the purpose of reducing the Greeks in Lower Italy to subjection. Melo of Lombardy, who had resisted their tyranny at Bari, was constrained to flee. At the same time, the Arabs attacked Salerno, whose duke, Waimar, was unexpectedly saved by a ship manned by forty Normans, who were returning from the Holy Land. They were sent away laden with costly gifts, and invited to return. Many of their countrymen afterward emigrated to Lower Italy, under the command of Prengot and his four brethren, who joined Melo against the Greeks and Arabs. Drengot fell in battle. His brother, Rainulf, settled at Aversa, between Capua and Naples. Pandulf, duke of Capua, however, leagued with the Greeks, but was taken prisoner by Henry, whose presence alone seemed to insure victory. An epidemic, at length, which broke out in his camp, compelled him to return to Germany, AD 1022.

Disturbances had, meanwhile, arisen in the Netherlands. A robbery, committed upon some merchants by the Frisii, had occasioned a feud between Dietrich, Graf of Holland, and Gottfried of Lotharingia, the latter of whom suffered a heavy defeat at Merwe, AD 1018. Adalbero, a descendant of the house of Luxemburg, which was highly favored by the emperor through the influence of the empress, had, moreover, seized the archbishopric of Treves; he was deposed by the emperor, who, on the other hand, created Henry, the brother of Cunigunda, duke of Bavaria. Another Adalbero, Graf of the Mürzthal, was nominated to the government of Carinthia. Otto, the son of Conrad of Franconia, had inherited both Franconia and Carinthia, which were divided between his sons, Henry and Conrad, each of whom had a son named Conrad, who, displeased with the emperor’s verdict, opposed Adalbero and beat him at Ulm out of the field, but found themselves unable to drive him out of his mountain fastnesses. Conrad, the son of Conrad, retained the dukedom of Franconia. Conrad, the son of Henry, who merely enjoyed the title of Graf, wedded Gisela, through whom he had a claim upon Burgundy, whose king, Rudolf, had solemnly sworn that his dominions should be incorporated, on his demise, with the empire, AD 1018.

Henry was extremely devout, and was consequently idolized by the clergy. He held five councils in Germany, improved and corrected ecclesiastical discipline, rebuilt the churches that had been destroyed by the Slavs, and raised a magnificent monument to his own memory by the foundation of the bishopric of Bamberg, which he enriched at the expense of the neighboring landowners, among whom was the bishop of Wurzburg, who obstinately resisted his innovations until appeased by numerous gifts.

(It is supposed that he sought to expiate the criminal action of his ancestors against Adalbert of Babenberg by the consecration of the lands unjustly seized by them to the service of God. An idea in which he was upheld by Cunigunda. It was on this account that the privileges granted to Bamberg were called Cunigunda’s silken threads, by which, it was said, the city was defended better than by towers and walls).

The pope, Benedict VIII, visited Bamberg, AD 1030, for the purpose of consecrating the new establishment. The empress, Cunigunda, was equally pious. The imperial pair had mutually taken the vow of chastity, and remained childless. Cunigunda’s virtue, however, did not escape slander, and she voluntarily underwent the ordeal by fire, and walked unharmed over glowing iron. Henry, when on his death-bed, named as his successor Graf Conrad, the husband of Gisela, on account of his being the ablest descendant of the most powerful race that remained in Germany after the extinction of that of the Ottos, thus repaying, with equal magnanimity, the generous conduct of Conrad I, when dying, toward the house of Saxony. He expired AD 1024, and was interred at Bamberg.  (On his tombstone stands a figure of Justice with a pair of scales, the index of which inclines a little to one side. As soon as the poise shall become equal the world will be at an end.)


Immunities—Increasing Importance of the Churches and Cities, and Consequent Decrease of the Ducal Power


Charters and franchises had been lavishly distributed by the Saxon emperors, for the purpose of creating a multitude of minor nobles and corporations, independent of the dukes, against whose power they served as a counterpoise. This political motive had induced Charlemagne to favor the bishops: their power was still more increased by the Ottos, who did not yet foresee the danger to which it might, at some future period, expose the state. The popes were, moreover, too busily engaged with Italy and too powerless to excite the jealousy of the emperors, in whose hands the church was a mere tool. The numerous armed vassals subservient to the bishops and abbots necessarily diminished the number of those who owed allegiance to the dukes and Markgrafs; and the greater the extent of the lands beneath the sway of the crosier, so much the less could, consequently, be under the control of the temporal lords. To these motives may be ascribed the enormous donations to the church, the endowment of churchmen with temporal rights and power, the union of the imperial office of Graf with the ecclesiastical dignity of bishop, and the immunity or enfranchisement from the supreme authority of the dukes.

The Sendgrafs, or commissioned officers at the crown, created by Charlemagne, had, under the Ottos, been converted into Pfalzgrafs, or administrators of the crown lands, revenues, etc., in the different dukedoms, who, at the same time, in some measure controlled the dukes. Besides them, Markgrafs, who acted independently of the dukes, were placed in the newly-conquered frontier provinces, and the elevation within the dukedoms of powerful Grafs, who, although nominally subservient to the dukes, equaled them in wealth and influence, and could even compete with them in political power, was also encouraged by the Saxon emperors, who thus blindly laid a mine destined to shake the imperial throne. The dukes, whose power merely arose from the office they held under the crown, and the independent spirit of the nations to which they belonged, far less endangered the power of the emperor than did the great families of later date, who were hereditarily possessed of immensely extensive lands. And while the emperors were thus endeavoring to hasten the decay of the ancient dukedoms, and to consign the very names of the ancient nations to oblivion, they were far from foreseeing that the time might arrive when new names, that owed their origin to some unnoted fort, would lay the whole empire at their feet.

The ancient division of the empire into dukedoms and provinces (gaue) gradually gave place to one more complex, caused either by the formation of ecclesiastical and temporal feudal territories within the provinces and dukedoms, or by the encroachment of one enormous feudal territory on several of the provinces and even of the dukedoms, while the ancient uniformity of condition was everywhere destroyed by charters and franchises or immunities.

The last remnants of the ancient freemen, who had not been gathered into the cities, had formed themselves into communities of free peasantry, who, although recognizing a duke or Graf in his judicial capacity as a delegate of the crown, or a bishop as their spiritual guide, retained their ancient privileges in all other respects. The repeated attempts of the nobles to reduce them to a state of vassalage, were, nevertheless, generally successful, and liberty at length sought refuge amid the peasantry of Lower Saxony and Switzerland. In AD 922, the western Frisii had already been reduced to vassalage by Dietrich of Holland, who also made a similar attempt upon the liberties of the free eastern Frisii, but met with armed resistance, and was repulsed in several campaigns.

The eastern Frisii consisted of seven petty republics, called the Seelands, united in the ancient German manner; they held their general assemblies at the Upstalesbome (Obergerichts baum, tree of justice), and were governed by their own laws, merely recognizing the archbishop of Bremen as their patron, the only bond that united them to the empire. Saxony also still preserved much of her ancient freedom. The Saxon Grafs, who still, as in times of yore, held their provincial courts of justice in the open air, with the elected aldermen or Schoppen, in the presence of all the freemen of the province, were distinguished by the epithet of Freegrafs, their courts of justice were also called free courts, the aldermen, free aldermen or Freischoppen, and the seat of justice, the Freistuhl or free seat. There were also numerous free peasantry in Switzerland and in Swabia, and, under Otto III, a bloody feud arose in the Thurgau, owing to the attempts of the nobility and clergy to reduce the people to a state of vassalage. The peasants, headed by one of their class, Heinz von Stein, rose in open insurrection, and, AD 992, a battle was fought near Dies- senhofen, which, although the nobles were victorious, taught the Alpine shepherds caution, and was merely a prelude to the great struggle for freedom that arose at a later period. Radbot, the founder of the Habsburg, may be said to have inoculated, his race with hatred to freedom by the violent reduction of his free peasantry to a state of vassalage, AD 1018. (Aided by his brother, the influential Bishop Werner of Strasburg, who built the monastery of Muri with the wealth gained by the subjection of the peasantry. Their grandfather Guntram the Rich, had already collected vast treasures.)

While territorial wealth and influence were thus usurped by the clergy and the nobility, the ancient freemen, collected within the cities, strained every nerve, not so much, however, in order to protect as in order to extend their privileges, and to manifest their importance as the third power in the state. The emperors, perceiving that the most efficient remedy against the ascendency of the dukes lay in the flourishing state of the cities, greatly aided their endeavors by the grants and charters freely lavished upon them, and a number of new cities consequently sprang up, into which all the freemen, harassed by the feudal lords, quickly thronged. These cities were liberally chartered by the Ottos. For instance, they granted to townships, that had gradually grown into cities, and were situated on the territory and within the jurisdiction of either spiritual or temporal lords, the rights belonging to free imperial towns, and placed them beneath the imperial jurisdiction; they also granted privileges to the larger cities, such as the right of coinage, and that of exacting customs, which were formerly alone conceded to the bishops and the dukes.

The internal government and legislation of the cities were equally favored by the charters granted to them by the Ottos. The governor, nominated by the crown, only nominally held the supreme direction of affairs, and seldom even resided in the town, but was generally one of the neighboring Grafs, who, contenting himself with receiving the gifts of the citizens, and with being entertained by them, left them completely at liberty. Whenever the emperor chanced to visit a town, the citizens vied with each other in paying him honor, in return for which he conferred additional privileges upon them. The imperial governor or Reichsvogt (Walthot, Gewalthote, messenger of power, in Latin, potestas, in Italian, podesta—missus regius, Sendgraf, royal messenger, Sendschalk or seneschal), generally called the Burggraf ov Burgvogt, commanded the city troops in war time, and exercised the judicial office in the name of the emperor: these offices were sometimes separate, but usually devolved upon one person. The twelve aldermen or Schoppen, elected by the citizens, were next in rank. Their president, the mayor or Schultheiss, at first merely took cognizance of petty civil matters, but finally either filled the office of the governor, when absent, or was empowered to replace him by means of an imperial charter. The mayor and aldermen also formed the town council, to which was committed the management of the public affairs. In the great cities each parish had its separate aldermen, who met in a general town council. All the cities that had originally been governed by an imperial officer remained immediately under the crown, and were distinguished as free imperial towns. Other cities, which had sprung up around the imperial palaces, as, for instance, Ulm, finally became imperial towns, although their citizens were originally merely royal bondmen. Ducal and episcopal cities arose by means of vassals who had settled in the vicinity of a bishop’s cathedral, or around the castle of a duke. These also became gradually free towns, without being immediately under the crown, and were therefore merely distinguished as free towns.

The citizens everywhere consisted of the proprietors of houses or of land, part of whom were the oldest Burgenses, or burgesses, who had divided the ground on which the town or city was to be raised among themselves, and had built their houses on it; or the proprietors of land in the vicinity of the city; or else the free landowners who withdrew into the cities at a later period, and who still retained their landed property. The ancient Burgenses, now cives or free citizens of the empire, possessed all the power, and formed a class superior to, and distinct from, that of the bondsmen, who either, acted as personal servants under the patronage of the different burgher families, or were people who had placed themselves under the protection of the community, such as artificers, journeymen, porters, sailors, etc. The tyranny of the petty landowners drove multitudes into the cities; hence it necessarily happened that the bondsmen were ten or twenty times superior in number to the ancient burghers, who, being the sole proprietors of the privileges and wealth of the city, treated the second class with all the pride attached to free and noble birth, carefully avoided any connection with them, denominated themselves, by way of distinction, houses or people of gentle blood, formed themselves into an aristocratical association united by intermarriage and general commercial undertakings, and also reserved to themselves the right of holding public meetings or Richerzeche (corporations of the rich, Reichen, or of the free citizens of the empire, Reichsbuürger?), while they strictly forbade the formation of any kind of association among the lower classes. The earlier the period, the more distinctly are two different classes of city families to be distinguished, in which the ancient distinction that existed between the Edelings and the Frilings is still clearly recognizable. There was also a third class of knights, probably settlers of a later date, whose knighthood conferred upon them nobility and freedom, but who had not as yet intermixed with the old families. The artificers, however, as they increased in numerical strength, and distinguished themselves in the feuds that arose between the different cities, gradually obtained greater privileges. They divided themselves into guilds, and the assembly of the heads of the different guilds, under the presidency of a burgomaster, ere long threatened the burghers and their mayor with civil broils, which, at a later period, actually broke out between them.

The ancient burghers, before taking the entire management of the city affairs into their hands under the direction of their mayor, had formed themselves into a mercantile corporation or guild, endowed with peculiar privileges (under Henry II). Even in later times the city government retained its mercantile spirit, and the civil and commercial polity generally remained inseparably united. Even in cases where the burghers appear as landowners distinguished from the merchants, whose wealth merely consisted in their floating capital, their interests were ever united, and the merchants seem to have been the younger sons of the landowners, who sought a respectable employment, or immigrants who settled in the towns, from whom the inhabitants acquired their knowledge of commerce. The emperor and the princes appear often to have been induced to favor the civil liberty of the towns merely on account of commercial advantage. Commerce made a rapid progress in Germany. It is said that the city of Cologne, in the eleventh century, numbered upward of five hundred mercantile men within her walls. Cologne, Hamburg, Schleswig, and Bremen were staple-towns, and as soon as the piracy of the Norsemen, after their conversion to Christianity, ceased, their ships and those of the Frieslanders visited the northern seas. The ships of Friesland touched at Greenland. The cities traded with all the northern countries, most particularly with England. The intermarriage by which the imperial house of Germany was allied with that of Greece had rendered the emperors doubly solicitous to open a line of commerce from the south. In 996, Otto III gave the Jews, Lombards and French permission to traverse Germany with their wares: the most remarkable among these traders were those of Cahors in Guyenne, the Caorsini or Italian peddlers.

The age in which the Saxon emperors reigned is remarkably devoid of men of science and learning. The schools of Alcuin and of Rhabanus Maurus had disappeared, while the refinement borrowed from Italy and Greece had been only partially adopted. The higher ecclesiastical dignities were always held by the brothers and relatives of the highest and most influential families, so that the elevation of Willigis, a man of low birth, to the archbishopric of Mayence, naturally gave rise to much surprise and discontent. These dignitaries, moreover, merely interested themselves in increasing their possessions, and preferred war and the chase to study and learning. The people were, naturally, still more ignorant than the clergy, and rendered wild and uncivilized by the covetousness of the nobility, who sought to reduce them to a state of vassalage, similar to that imposed upon the conquered Slavs. The natural inclinations of each individual are necessarily stronger whenever the intellect is neglected; the warlike Gero, who laid down his sword and became a monk, is but one example of the manners of the times, when men, the greater portion of whose lives had been one continued scene of violence and bloodshed, were driven by remorse to expiate their crimes in seclusion and by prayer.

The celebrated Gerbert, Pope Sylvester II, exercised but little influence on his times; that of the Grecian princess, Theuphano, was equally limited, although ancient authors were studied in some of the monasteries, and it is probable that, at that time, several manuscripts were brought from the south into Germany. For instance, the nun, Roswitha, of Gandersheim, AD 980, discovered a manuscript copy of the comedies of Terence, in which she took such great delight as to translate them elegantly into Latin. She also composed a song in praise of the Ottos. The monk Eckehard of St. Gall sang in Latin verse the adventures of Walther of Aquitania, the first example of heroic poesy. Rather, the Dutchman, who became bishop of Verona, distinguished himself by some writings, in which he decried the ignorance, lewdness, and vice of the monks, for which he was grievously persecuted. Besides these writers, the tenth century could only boast of three great chroniclers: Luitprand, bishop of Cremona, AD 946, who, being attached to the embassy sent by Otto I to Constantinople, recorded its fate, and described the manners of the Grecian court; he also wrote a chronicle and biography of the popes. Wittekind of Corvey, AD 973, wrote an excellent history of Saxony. Ditmar, bishop of Merseburg, a descendant of the Salic race, wrote, AD 1015, an equally famous account of the Saxon emperors, and particularly mentions the Slavs, among whom he dwelt. The alliance of the Ottos with Italy and Greece was more favorable to the development of art than to the progression of science. By their erection of numerous magnificent churches in the Byzantine and Roman style of architecture, they gave an impulse to art which, in the following century, produced the true German or Gothic style, the transition to which is exemplified in the celebrated cathedral at Strasburg, founded in 1015 by Bishop Werner, and afterward finished on more extensive plans. Nor does painting appear to have been unpatronized. Luitprand asserts that the victory won by Henry I in the vicinity of Merseburg was represented with such truth that the beholder imagined himself present on the field of battle. Kugler, in his History of Art, says that sculpture progressed more rapidly in Saxony than in Italy. Music also was cultivated by Notker and other ecclesiastics.