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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

He gave a grand tournament and festival at Mayence


His

military strength was now so broken that he was compelled to seek a reconciliation with Pope Alexander III. Envoys went back and forth between the two, the Lombard cities and the king of Sicily; conferences were held at various places, but months passed and no agreement was reached. Then the Pope, having received Frederick's submission to all his demands, proposed an armistice, which was solemnly concluded in Venice, in August, 1177. There the Emperor was released from the Papal excommunication; he sank at Alexander's feet, but the latter caught and lifted him in his arms, and there was once more peace between the two rival powers. The other Pope, whose claims Frederick had supported up to that time, was left to shift for himself. Before the armistice ceased, in 1183, a treaty was concluded at Constance, by which the Italian cities recognized the Emperor as chief ruler, but secured for themselves the right of independent government. Thus twenty years had been wasted, the best blood of Germany squandered, the worst barbarities of war renewed, and Frederick, after enduring shame and humiliation, had not attained one of his haughty personal aims. Yet he was as proud in his bearing as ever; his court lost none of its splendor, and his influence over the German princes and people was undiminished.

He reached Germany again in 1178, full of wrath against Henry the Lion. It was easy to find a pretext for proceeding against him, for the Archbishop of

Cologne, the Bishop of Halberstadt, and many nobles had already made complaints. Henry, in fact, was much like Frederick in his nature, but his despotic sternness and pride were more directly exercised upon the people. He raised an army and boldly resisted the Imperial power: again Westphalia, Thuringia and Saxony were wasted by civil war, and the struggle was prolonged until 1181, when Henry was forced to surrender unconditionally. He was banished to England for three years: his Duchy of Bavaria was given to Otto of Wittelsbach; and the greater part of Saxony, from the Rhine to the Baltic, was cut up and divided among the reigning Bishops and smaller princes. Only the province of Brunswick was left to Henry the Lion, of all his possessions. This was Frederick's policy for diminishing the power of the separate States: the more they were increased in number, the greater would be the dependence of each on the Emperor.

[Sidenote: 1184. TOURNAMENT AT MAYENCE.]

The ruin of Henry the Lion fully restored Frederick's authority over all Germany. In May, 1184, he gave a grand tournament and festival at Mayence, which surpassed in pomp everything that had before been seen by the people. The flower of knighthood, foreign as well as German, was present: princes, bishops and lords, scholars and minstrels, 70,000 knights, and probably hundreds of thousands of the soldiers and common people were gathered together. The Emperor, still handsome and towering in manly strength, in spite of his sixty-three years, rode in the lists with his five blooming sons, the eldest of whom, Henry, was already crowned King of Germany, as his successor. For many years afterwards, the wandering minstrels sang the glories of this festival, which they compared to those given by the half-fabulous king Arthur.


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