Germany Under the Sovereigns of The House of Franconia (1024-1125)

By | February 3, 2022

The circumstances in which the election of Henry II’s successor took place (diet of Kamba, on the right of the Rhine between Worms and Mainz, 4 September 1024) brought to light the political tendencies and forces that had formed in Germany. The elective-hereditary principle in the succession to the throne: the fluctuations of the electors before the vote were restricted to people related, albeit in a female way, with the house of Saxony (the great-grandmother of the elect, Corrado II of the ancient ducal family of Franconia, was Liutgarda daughter of Otto I). The influence of the high clergy: the vote in favor of Conrad II, who was known to be unwilling to the reform movement of Cluny, was decided by the attitude of the archbishop of Mainz, Aribone, who was against that movement. Regional particularities: the Lorenese did not take part in the vote, and later reluctant to recognize it; and the lords of Saxony, where the descendants of the Margrave Ermanno Billung had founded a new ducal dynasty, conditioned theirs to the recognition by the king of the special autonomy of the country.

But with regard to precisely these forces, the history of Germany entered, through the work of Conrad II, a phase of great interest. On the one hand, it was a reaction to the policy of the Saxon emperors in comparison with the high clergy, and on the other hand, a revival, but with a further development, of family politics, in which Otto I had sought the solution of the problem of the great duchies; and it also marked a completely new address. The ecclesiastical policy followed until then had led abbots and bishops to rapidly become territorial lords themselves, no less dangerous than the others at the crown. Conrad II transferred his favors to the numerous class of minor lords, facilitating (as he did in Italy with the famous edictum debeneis regni Italici, May 28, 1037) to settle in the small feuds of inheritance, while for the little lords and for the knights it established the obligation to respond directly to his calls to arms, even if they were not his immediate vassals. Thus one of its main foundations was removed from the power of the great lords. The results were seen in the Swabian nobles, who were loyal to the king and not to their duke in the repeated rebellions (1025-1026, 1030) of the stepson of Conrad II, Ernest Duke of Swabia, who saw the way out of the Burgundian policy of his stepfather. to succession in that kingdom. And the same was true of Carinthia, when Adalberone of Eppenstein, from whom the king had taken that duchy (1035), tried to provoke a revolt. The problem of ducal power remained; and here the solution was sought in making the different ducal families take over, gradually the male line, the future king, was extinguished: thus in the hands of Henry, son of Conrad II, Bavaria (1027), the Swabia (1038) and, shortly after his succession to the throne, Carinthia (1039). The duchy of Saxony remained in the Billunghi dynasty; and Lorraine, in order to be more valid antemural to France, was reconstituted in a single duchy (1033).

According to USPRIVATESCHOOLSFINDER, the situation in Germany also improved externally. Even after the death (1026) of Boleslao the Intrepid, who, as soon as Henry II had taken the title of king, had continued their pressure on the Elban border, so much so that the bishopric of Zeitz had been transferred by necessity to Naumburg on the Saale (1028). But the weakening caused between them by the internal struggles, allowed Conrad II, after some more or less fortunate campaigns, to recover the lands lost with the treaty of Bautzen, while his Bohemian allies regained Moravia, and to obtain that Miecislao II recognized his vassal (1028-1033). Further north, a revolt by Liutizi was put down (1035-1036). Territorial losses occurred instead towards Denmark, to which the Danish or Schleswig brand was sold (1035), necessary sacrifice to put an end to the age-old enmity and to obtain the friendship of that people, which could have been too dangerous if it had made common cause with the Slavs; and to Hungary, which was given a stripe on the Leitha, after an unfortunate war (1030-1031). These losses were offset by the purchase, in the West, of Burgundy, where Rudolph III (died in 1032) left the kingdom to Conrad II, who succeeded in making himself recognized (1034), beating the count of Blois and Champagne, Eude, who he tried to oppose him with weapons. The dominion of Burgundy meant the dominion of the Aare, Rhône and Saône valleys, and of the Alpine passes that led to Italy, between which and France it was now possible to think of erecting a valid barrier. But gl ‘ The interests of these regions were too far removed from German interests for the emperors to have any way of acquiring a solid foundation there. On the other hand, the events of the two descents of Conrad II in Italy (1026-1027, 1036-1037) were a clear indication that the German emperors were returning to alienate themselves from the real needs of Germany.

However, on the death of Conrad II (June 4, 1039) the general conditions of Germany were good. A period of notable economic prosperity had begun, for the care aimed at maintaining public order and peace, for encouraging the first hints of municipal activity. Furthermore, the foundations could be said to make the monarchy hereditary. Conrad II’s designation of his son Henry as his successor as early as 1026 had been accepted as a matter of course, and the subsequent election and coronation at Aachen on Easter 1028 had taken on almost the appearance of a formality; while in this way the wise paternal administration of personal and state-owned assets, like the meeting of two, to which a third would soon be added, out of five ducats in his hands.

For the first time in centuries, Germany experienced a succession without immediate uprisings, and its various parts paid homage to the new ruler. The “day of forgiveness” (1043) was solemnly banned in Constance, Trier and Utrecht, which, somewhat similarly to the “truces of God” in neighboring Burgundy and France, aimed to prevent violence and wars. private. But it was an expedient, which also revealed the weakness of the royal authority in the face of local forces, only dormant on the surface. They boiled up when in Lorraine the death of Duke Gozelone (1044) induced Henry III to return to the division of that too large duchy into two minor duchies, of Upper and Lower Lorraine. The eldest son of the dead duke, Godfrey, when he saw himself assigned only the Upper Lorraine, rose up, and his natural allies were France, the counts of Flanders, the Count of Holland and the Burgundian lords of the anti-German party. The struggle lasted in Lorraine, with various resumptions, until the end of the reign of Henry III, who never managed to completely dominate the situation. More than on his own, the king tried to exploit, and therefore put in value, other local forces, which could have conflicting interests with those by which he was fought. Thus Baldwin VI, son of the homonymous count of Flanders, had (1045) the marque of Antwerp from Henry III, which increased his influence in Lower Lorraine, without deterring him from reuniting again with the king’s enemies. On the other hand, the fiefs in the diocese of Cologne were returned to Godfrey himself, after he had been stripped from Upper Lorraine, in the hope of using it as a counterweight to the new increase in power that came to Count Baldwin VI from his marriage to the heir of Hainault (1051). This did not prevent Goffredo from summing up his rebellious attitude when his marriage to Beatrice, heir to the Marquis of Tuscany (1054), provided him with the means. Auxiliaries of Henry III, in his own interest, threatened by the territorial ambitions of the rebels, were the bishops of Utrecht, Liège, Metz, Verdun: the first three routed the count of Holland, Tierrico, who fell in the struggle (1048- 1049). Lorraine ended up remaining with Frederick of Luxembourg, who had had the lower part (1046), and with Gerard of Châtenois or of Alsace, a relative of the Luxemburgs, who had the upper part (1048). The backlash of the revolt was also felt in Swabia, where Henry III, in order to have local forces here too to counter Goffredo, he passed the duchy to Ottone, Count Palatine of Lower Lorraine, and son of a sister of Otto III (1045), who, in 1048, was succeeded by Otto of Schweinfurt, Margrave of Nordgau of Bavaria, who was a Babenberg. The needs of the war against Hungary led to a similar measure also for the duchies of Bavaria and Carinthia. Bavaria passed from the king’s hands first to his cousin Henry of Luxembourg (1042), then, when Henry died (1049), to Conrad of Zütphen, nephew of a trusted friend of the emperor, Ermanno archbishop of Cologne. In Carinthia, the Swabian Count Guelph, another relative of the Luxemburgs, became duke (1047). Conrad II’s work was thus destroyed, and the ducal dynasties were resurrected, in contrast with the interests of the crown. Bavaria and Carinthia were soon in revolt; Conrad did not hesitate to seek help from the Hungarians who were enemies of his homeland, and only his death and that of Guelfo restored some peace to those duchies (1052-1054). With a return to the politics of Conrad II, Henry III transferred Bavaria to his son Henry, under the effective regiment of Ghebardo bishop of Eichstätt, while Adalbert Margrave of Austria, of the Babenberg family, provided for the defense. Meanwhile, in northern Germany, the Duke of Saxony, Bernardo II Billung, looked with keen concern at the interest that the sovereign showed for his country, where he was building castles, and where he loved to stay in Goslar, which was about to develop as a city.. The appointment of a confidant of Henry III, Adalbert of Eppenstein, as archbishop of Bremen (1045).

On the eastern borders, a decade of wars against Hungary (1040-1044, 1051-1054) made it possible to firmly fix the border (which was then preserved until 1919) at the Leitha and the Morava (1043), but not to keep on that throne, against the pagan national reaction, King Peter, who had recognized himself as a vassal of the German sovereign. Better successes were achieved with Bohemia, which was prevented from subduing the weakened Poland, leaving it, of its conquests, only Silesia, while Poland declared itself, for its part, vassal of Henry III (1040-1041). But in the north-east Germanism suffered a serious setback under the blows of the Liutizi rebels, who in Prizlava, at the confluence of the Havel with the Elbe, routed an army of the king: among the fallen was William, Margrave of the Northern March (1056). Basically, when Henry III died (5 October 1056), the precarious conditions of Germany and the kingdom were hidden under the appearances of an external power. On the other hand, his Italian and religious policy, which was inspired by the Cluniac reform, whose action in Germany had increased due to the increased contacts with Burgundy, if it seemed to mark the triumph of German influence even on this side of the Alpi prepared the anti-imperial and anti-German reaction, which would shake the kingdom of the successors.

Germany Under the Sovereigns of The House of Franconia (1024-1125)