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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Duke of Bavaria grandson of Duke Welf



Pope Calixtus II. took no notice of the ban of excommunication, but treated with Henry V. as if it had never been pronounced. The troubles in Northern Germany, however, were not subdued by this final peace with Rome,--a clear evidence that the humiliation of Henry IV. was due to political and not to religious causes. Henry V. died at Utrecht, in Holland, in May, 1125, leaving no children, which the people believed to be a punishment for his unnatural treatment of his father. There was no one to mourn his death, for even his efforts to increase the Imperial authority, and thereby to create a national sentiment among the Germans, were neutralized by his coldness, haughtiness and want of principle, as a man. The people were forced, by the necessities of their situation, to support their own reigning princes, in the hope of regaining from the latter some of their lost political rights.

Another circumstance tended to prevent the German Emperors from acquiring any fixed power. They had no capital city, as France already possessed in Paris: after the coronation, the monarch immediately commenced his "royal ride," visiting all portions of the country, and receiving, personally, the allegiance of the whole people. Then, during his reign, he was constantly migrating from one castle to another, either to settle local difficulties, to collect the income of his scattered estates, or for his own pleasure. There was

thus no central point to which the Germans could look as the seat of the Imperial rule: the Emperor was a Frank, a Saxon, a Bavarian or Suabian, by turns, but never permanently a _German_, with a national capital grander than any of the petty courts.

The period of Henry V.'s death marks, also, the independence of the Papal power. The "Concordat of Worms" indirectly took away from the Roman (German) Emperor the claim of appointing the Pope, which had been exercised, from time to time, during nearly five hundred years. The celibacy of the priesthood was partially enforced by this time, and the Roman Church thereby gained a new power. It was now able to set up an authority (with the help of France) nearly equal to that of the Empire. These facts must be borne in mind as we advance; for the secret rivalry which now began underlies all the subsequent history of Germany, until it came to a climax in the Reformation of Luther.


Henry V. left all his estates and treasures to his nephew, Frederick of Hohenstaufen, but not the crown jewels and insignia, which were to be bestowed by the National Diet upon his successor. Frederick, and his brother Konrad, Duke of Franconia, were the natural heirs to the crown; but, as the Hohenstaufen family had stood faithfully by Henry IV. and V. in their conflicts with the Pope, it was unpopular with the priests and reigning princes. At the Diet, the Archbishop of Mayence nominated Lothar of Saxony, who was chosen after a very stormy session. His first acts were to beg the Pope to confirm his election, and then to give up his right to have the Bishops and abbots appointed in his presence. He next demanded of Frederick of Hohenstaufen the royal estates which the latter had inherited from Henry V. Being defeated in the war which followed, he strengthened his party by marrying his only daughter, Gertrude, to Henry the Proud, Duke of Bavaria (grandson of Duke Welf, Henry IV.'s friend, whence this family was called the _Welfs_--Guelphs). By this marriage Henry the Proud became also Duke of Saxony; but a part of the Dukedom, called the North-mark, was separated and given to a Saxon noble, a friend of Lothar, named Albert the Bear.

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