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Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 11, Slice 8 "Germany" to "Gibson, William"

Frederick and Philip of Heinsberg


Frederick and Henry the Lion.

In the later years of his reign the emperor's chief enemy was Henry the Lion. Rendered arrogant by success and confident that his interests were in northern, and not in southern Europe, the Saxon duke refused to assist Frederick in the campaign which ended so disastrously at Legnano. Ascribing his defeat to Henry's defection, Frederick returned to Germany full of anger against the Saxon duke and firmly resolved to punish him. The immediate cause of Henry's downfall, however, was not his failure to appear in Italy, but his refusal to restore some lands to the bishop of Halberstadt, and it was on this charge that he was summoned before the diet. Three times he refused to appear, and early in 1180 sentence was pronounced against him; he was condemned to lose all his lands and to go into banishment. For some time he resisted, but at length the emperor in person marched against him and he was forced to submit; the only favour he could secure when peace was made at Erfurt in November 1181 was permission to retain Brunswick and Luneburg, which have remained in the possession of his descendants until our own day. Bavaria was granted to Otto of Wittelsbach, but it lost some of its importance because Styria was taken from it and made into a separate duchy. The extensive duchy of Saxony was completely dismembered. The name was taken by the small portion of the former duchy which was given to Bernard, son of Albert the Bear,

the founder of a new Saxon line, and the extensive western part was added to the archbishopric of Cologne. The chief prelates of Saxony and many of the late duke's most important feudatories were made virtually independent of all control save that of the crown. Frederick's object in thus breaking up the two greatest duchies in his kingdom was doubtless to strengthen the imperial authority. But in reality he made it certain that the princes would one day shake off the imperial power altogether; for it was perhaps more difficult for the sovereign to contend with scores of petty nobles than with two or three great princes.

Frederick and Philip of Heinsberg.

Less serious than the struggle with Henry the Lion was Frederick's struggle with Philip of Heinsberg, archbishop of Cologne (d. 1191), on whom he had just conferred a great part of Saxony. When the emperor went to Italy in 1184 he left the government of Germany to his son Henry, afterwards the emperor Henry VI., who had been crowned German king in 1169. On all sides, but especially in the north-west, Henry was faced with incipient revolution, and while he was combating this the quarrel between Frederick and the Papacy broke out again in Italy. At this juncture Philip of Cologne united the German and the Italian oppositions. Several princes rallied to his standard and foreign powers promised aid, but although very formidable in appearance the combination had no vestige of popular support. The greater part of the German clergy again proved their loyalty to Frederick, who hurried to Germany only to see the opposition vanish before him. In March 1188 Philip of Cologne submitted at Mainz.

Frederick's death.

Germany was now at peace. With the accession of Gregory VIII. pope and emperor were reconciled, and by the marriage of his son Henry with Constance, daughter of Roger I., king of Sicily, the emperor had reason to hope that the Empire would soon include Naples and Sicily. Resolving that the sunset of his life should be even more splendid than its dawn he decided to go on crusade, and in 1189 he started with a great army for the Holy Land. When the news reached Germany that he had been drowned, an event which took place in Cilicia in June 1190, men felt that evil days were coming upon the country, for the elements of discord would no longer be controlled by the strong hand of the great emperor.


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