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The German Empire and the Papacy (843-1122); The Moors and Christians in Spain; the Byzantine Empire; the Rize of the Italian Re

Medieval history. From end of western empire to the discovery of America (a.d. 476-1492). Treaty of Verdun to Crusade Period (a.d. 843-1096).
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A time of trouble and confusion, both in Germany and Italy, followed the breaking-up, in 888, of the restored monarchy of Karl the Great. In both regions there was warfare with Norsemen and with the fierce Hungarian bands from the Caspian steppes, while Italy had also to contend with Saracen assailants of her coasts, and Germany with wild Wends (Slavs) and the Czechs, also of Slav race, in Bohemia. Each German provincial ruler - count, margraf, abbot, bishop - became semi-independent, secure in his own castle, a personal instead of a territorial authority, and the evil of private war among these nobles arose and was long a curse to the land. Italy was desolated by the feuds of its petty princes, fighting for territory in north and south, and the Papacy, early in the 10th century, sank to its lowest point in a succession of wicked Popes, raised to power as the lovers and sons of two infamous women, Theodora and Marozia. At last, in Henry I., called "the Fowler" from his love of falconry, the first ruler of the Saxon line, we have the real founder of the German monarchy, reigning from 919 to 936. He was a strong wise king, such as was needed in evil lawless times, and forced peace and order on all around him. Hungarian incursions were victoriously repelled; Swabia and Bavaria were made subservient, Lotharingia (Lorraine) was annexed, and the Wends were forced firmly back beyond the middle Elbe. The nobles and their vassals were trained by Henry to fight on horseback, the better to repel Hungarian invaders. This monarch has also just fame as the founder of the burgher class, dwelling in the new strong towns which he built, and in the old cities which were protected by new stout walls. He made provision for the due administration of justice in these places, and for the holding of all public meetings and festivities in towns and cities. The new class of traders which was thus created became afterwards a strong support of the kings against rebellious nobles.

His son Otto I., elected king by the nobles, and crowned at Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) in 936, is a man of great importance in German and Italian history. He was 24 years old when he came to a much-strengthened monarchy, and by his wise firm government, and especially through his revival of the "Holy Roman Empire," he well earned his title of "the Great" in a reign of 37 years' duration. The Hungarians were severely defeated, and compelled at last to settle down as a nation. Rebellious dukes, and the Danes and Wends, were forced to submission. The circumstances of Otto's marriage give us a pleasant picture of his knightly prowess and virtue in a fierce and turbulent age. A young and beautiful widow, Adelheid, had been imprisoned in a loathsome dungeon by a ruffianly Italian noble of the north, named Berengar, who became a shadowy "king of Italy." Her crime was that of declining marriage with his son. She made her escape, and her appeal to the German king was answered by his armed descent into Lombardy, his espousal of the injured lady, and the reduction of Berengar to the position of a vassal. These events occurred in 951, and ten years later Otto, who had been waging a bold and successful struggle against the magnates of his German kingdom, planting German colonies in lands taken from the Slavs, founding new bishoprics, and using every means to promote the cause of religion and civilisation, conceived the plan of renewing the imperial office in the West. The anarchy of northern Italy gave him an opening, and in 962 he crossed the Alps in great force, and was crowned king of Lombardy and then "Roman Emperor" by the Pope. Henceforth the German kings claimed both the Lombard and the imperial crowns, attaching by far the greater importance to the imperial title, as giving them a stronger hold over the subjects of their mere feudal kingship in Germany. The new emperor did not delay the exercise of his power. The Pope turned against him, and was deposed, being replaced by a Pope, Leo VIII., of Otto's choice. This connection of Germany with the empire had important effects in creating amongst Germans a proud sense of unity and nationality. For the emperors themselves the result was the reverse of beneficial. They lost most of their real power as German kings through interference, as emperors, in foreign struggles in which Germany had no interests at stake, and during their absence the great feudal nobles became almost independent of their suzerain. It was thus the lot of Germany to consist for centuries of many small independent states, instead of their being welded into strong compact monarchies like those of England and France. Such were some of the chief political issues of the re-establishment of this "Holy Roman Empire."

The feelings and notions of the age embraced the two great ideas of a universal religion and a universal monarchy, representing at once the Church and the empire of the Caesars. The Papal chair was imperial as regarded the souls of men; the Emperor's throne, filled by the vicar of God in temporal matters, represented the authority needed to maintain peace in the world, and to compel, from the laity, obedience to the priesthood. The Church and the Empire were thus regarded as one and the same thing, in two aspects. As divine and eternal, its head was the Pope; as human and temporal, its chief was the Emperor. There could be no opposition between two earthly servants of the same heavenly Master, and thus had arisen, it was fondly hoped, a perfect union of Church and State. On this subject we may here take a swift forward glance through over eight centuries of mediaeval and modern time. The scheme of the "Holy Roman Empire" was indeed noble, altogether stately and symmetrical in its proportions. It had, however, like many other schemes, political and religious, one serious defect - it would not work. The Pope, as ecclesiastical partner, encroached on the secular domain, and claimed a right of interference which emperors would not brook. The emperor insisted on the right of approving elections to the Papacy, and of investing bishops and abbots with their temporal possessions. The emperor's claim to supremacy over other European sovereigns was disallowed by the rulers of rising states and his authority within the limits of his German kingship was rudely shaken by recalcitrant nobles who, as Dukes and Counts and Margraves, had acquired large territories and resources. The rise of towns into wealth and importance through handicrafts and commerce produced a race of burghers who resisted the tyranny of both emperor and nobles. The Reformation split up the peoples of Germany into adherents of the Pope and sturdy opponents and disclaimers of his spiritual authority. In the 17th century French power, directed by the genius of Richelieu, greatly lowered the position of Germany in Europe. In the 18th century the rise of Prussia to greatness made a Protestant sovereign, who cared nothing for either Emperor or Pope, a foremost personage in Continental for either Emperor or Pope, a foremost personage m Continental affairs, and the growth of Russia under Peter the Great brought to the front a people who were adherents of the Eastern Church the foe of the Papacy. Voltaire, with a bitter mockery which had no small show of justice, could describe the "Holy Roman Empire as well named save in three points, that it was " not Holy, not Roman, not an Empire." The thing was at last, early in the 19th century, blown away from the world of fact into the limbo of effete organisms by the conquering cannon of Napoleon.

Under Henry II. of Germany (1002-1024) and his predecessors since Otto the Great, the Church had there made a great advance in temporal power, being possessed of about half the land in the country, while the chief prelates - archbishops of Mainz (Mayence), Koln or Cologne, Trier (Treves), Bremen, Magdeburg, and Salzburg - held rank as Princes of the Empire. The towns, many of which grew up around cathedrals, monasteries, the castles of great nobles, and fortresses, increased in importance, and the tradespeople formed Guilds which afterwards had great weight in political affairs. Conrad II., first of the line of Franconian emperors, elected by all the princes of Germany, was energetic and successful during his reign of 15 years (1024-1039), in lessening the power of the nobles and checking the Slavs and Hungarians on the eastern borders. Under his son Henry III. the imperial power reached a point higher than at any time since the days of the great Karl. He was a ruler of good moral and mental qualities, and during his 17 years of power (1039-1056) he maintained his father's policy towards the great nobles, suppressed "private war," encouraged learning, and reformed abuses in the Church. In Italy he made a great display of imperial authority by deposing and setting up Popes, to whose office he appointed four Germans in succession. His death, in the prime of his years, was a great misfortune for the empire. His son and successor (by election), Henry IV. (1056-1106), was but six years old, and during a long minority the princes regained much of their former influence. The passionate young king, of weak character, assumed power in 1065, and had at first much trouble with Saxon rebels whom he stirred up by his tyranny. It was then his lot to come into conflict with one of the greatest of all the Popes, a man who is the symbol of spiritual, combined with temporal, claims at their highest.

The court of Rome had long been under the control of Archdeacon Hildebrand, of Italian birth and French education, austere in life, of great eloquence, and the firmest will. He has been well described as the possessor of "that rarest and grandest of gifts, an intellectual courage and power of imaginative belief which, when it has convinced itself of aught, accepts it fully with all its consequences, and shrinks not from acting at once upon it." That of which Hildebrand had convinced himself was that to the Pope, as God's vicar, all mankind are subject and all rulers responsible, and that he, the giver of the crown, may also excommunicate and depose. Much had been done, through Hildebrand's influence, under Pope Nicholas II. (1058-1061), to advance ecclesiastical power. A change was made in the mode of electing the supreme pontiff, and the choice rested with the cardinals alone, instead of depending in a measure on the votes of the clergy and people of Rome. Cardinal Hildebrand, as he had become, was elected to the Papal chair in 1073 as Gregory VII., and he at once undertook to carry out his theocratic ideas of vesting all the ecclesiastical power in the Pope, and making the Church quite independent of the temporal power. He sought at once the welfare of the Church and the reform of society in remedying what he viewed as the great evil of the day - the close connection of ecclesiastics with secular affairs, especially in Germany and northern Italy. The higher clergy had become great feudal proprietors, dependent upon the sovereign for investiture, or the act of giving possession of a manor, office, or benefice. In the case of bishops, abbots, and other dignitaries of the Church, the form of investiture consisted in the delivery of a pastoral staff - the crosier - and the placing of a ring upon the finger It was regarded as an indignity for the Church that, a layman, the suzerain, should thus commit to an ecclesiastic the spiritual care of souls, and as involving or inducing the crime of simony, or the presentation of a person to a benefice m return for money.

In 1075 Gregory VII. therefore, by a "bull," condemned the practice of lay-investiture, under penalty of excommunication. He also insisted upon celibacy for all ecclesiastics, a measure which was strongly resisted by the secular or non-monastic clergy, who had hitherto had much freedom in this respect. As regards his hostility to lay-investiture, it is clear that government in Germany would have become impossible if the bishops and abbots, who held half the land and wealth of the empire, were removed from the control of the monarch to that of the Pope. Henry IV. promptly defied Gregory, and in 1076 he was not only excommunicated, but, in accordance with German law, suspended by the Diet of "Princes of the Empire" from his kingly office. A sentence of deposition was before him, and the attitude of many of his subjects, especially the Saxons, was such that he was forced to submit. Then came the famous and proverbial visit to Canossa, a castle of northern Italy, in the hills south of Parma. The mightiest prince of Europe, titular lord of the world, crossed the Alps in the depth of winter, accompanied by his wife Bertha, his infant son, and one attendant, and, in the garb of a penitent, bare-headed, bare-footed in the snow, he waited three whole days (January 25-28, 1077) in the castle-court, before he was admitted to the Pontiffs presence to receive absolution. The imperial authority never recovered from this blow. The cities of Lombardy, in later days, sought Papal sanction for their league against imperial aggression, and the German princes had always a weapon at hand against their chief. Henry IV., however, soon made a good show of rallying from his humiliation, which was, on his part, only a pretended submission to serve a momentary purpose. In 1080 a rival king in Germany, elected by the malcontents, was defeated and mortally wounded in battle, and Henry, again excommunicated, declared the deposition of the Pope, marched into Italy, and captured Rome in 1084, after a three-years' siege. Gregory, shut up in the Castle of St. Angelo, was just saved from being made prisoner by the arrival of Robert Guiscard, Norman duke of Apulia, who compelled Henry to retreat. The Pope then left Rome, which was reduced to a miserable state, and died at Salerno in 1085, with words on his lips that showed his unbending firmness - "I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die an exile." In his later years, Henry had much trouble with rebellious sons. The quarrel concerning lay-investiture survived both the opponents, and Henry V., younger son and successor of the Canossa penitent, went to Rome and forced the Pope (Paschal II.) as his prisoner, to crown him as emperor, and to admit the disputed right. Then the Lateran Council declared this concession to be invalid, as due to force, and another council excommunicated Henry, who thus found himself at war with revolted subjects, including the archbishops of Mainz and Cologne. After further contest, the matter was settled in 1122 by a compromise called the Concordat of Worms. Investiture by the emperor was henceforth to precede consecration of a bishop or abbot, and was to be conferred with the sceptre, the sign of temporal rule only, and not with the ring and pastoral staff, and all ecclesiastics who held secular benefices were to perform the usual feudal duties.

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