History of Germany and Austria

Henry V, though indebted to the Pope for support in his parricidal rebellion, was no sooner established on the Imperial throne, than, reviving the claim of investiture for which his father had contended, he invited the Pope to Germany, that they might settle the dispute. But Pascal having appealed to the King of France, and a fruitless conference having been held at Chalons, Henry entered Italy with eighty thousand men, and after a tedious interview in the church of St. Peter, ordered his guards to take Pascal into custody. The populace of Rome rushed to the Pope's rescue; a battle was fought under the walls; and the carnage was so terrible that the waters of the Tiber were stained with blood. Pascal, taken prisoner, crowned the Emperor, and confirmed the right of investiture; but hardly had Henry departed when the Pope changed his tune, and pronounced a sentence of excommunication. The Emperor once more entered Rome, chased the Pope to the territories of the Norman princes, and marched to take possession of Tuscany, which Matilda, during Hildebrand's visit to Canossa, had bequeathed to the Church. Meanwhile Pascal died, and the States of the Empire having implored Henry to make peace with the new Pope, a Diet was held at Worms, and the matter accommodated. In 1125 a pestilential disease carried Henry to the grave; and the Imperial dignity, after being enjoyed till 1138 by Lothario II, was bestowed upon Henry's nephew, Conrad, duke of Franconia. A rival appeared in the person of the haughty Duke of Bavaria, whose followers called themselves Guelphs, from his family name; while the adherents of the Emperor adopted the appellation of Ghibelines, from Hihghibelin, the village of which Frederick, the brother of Conrad, was a native. Both parties took up arms, and during the contest a romantic incident occurred at the siege of Weinsberg. The Guelphs in the castle, after being long besieged, yielded on condition that the Duke of Bavaria and his officers should be allowed to retire unmolested: but the noble Duchess, apprehending a breach of faith, stipulated that she and the other women in the castle should be allowed to come forth and be conducted to a place of safety, with as much as each of them could carry. Conrad, who expected to see the ladies loaded with jewels, gold, and silver, was in no small degree surprised when the Duchess and her fair comrades appeared carrying their gallant husbands; and he was so touched at this display of conjugal affection, that he granted most favorable terms to the Guelphs.

The preaching of St. Bernard, though in French, and therefore unintelligible to the Germans, had nevertheless a powerful effect on the latter; and Conrad, resolving to take part in the second Crusade, embarked with a mighty army: but being betrayed by Greek guides in Asia Minor, his forces were surprised and defeated amidst the defiles of Laodicea. The defeated Emperor, returning to Europe, died in 1151, and was succeeded by his nephew, Frederick Barbarossa, who was soon involved in a struggle with Henry the Lion duke of Saxony, with the Italian cities, and with another enemy infinitely more formidable than either.

Early in the twelfth century, Nicolas Breakspear, an English mendicant, was strolling about from place to place, when chance directed his vagrant steps to the convent of St. Rufus, in Provence, where the canons received him as a servant. Being afterward admitted as a monk, Nicolas rose to the rank of Abbot. In 1154, by personal merit and good fortune, the Anglo-Saxon beggar was placed in the papal chair as Adrian IV, and before crowning Frederick he insisted that the Emperor should on bonded knee kiss his foot, hold his stirrup, and lead his white mule by the bridle for nine paces. Frederick reluctantly consented to perform the ceremony at Venice; but purposely mistaking the stirrup, he remarked with a sneer, 'I have yet to learn the business of a groom.'

The Emperor proved himself an able politician and a stout soldier. To abridge the power of the martial nobles, he followed the example of Louis VI, of France, and conferred charters of community, which enfranchised the people and formed them into corporations.

Going to the third Crusade, this great ruler was drowned in crossing the river Seneff, and was succeeded on the Imperial throne by his son, Henry VI, who was speedily involved in Italian wars.

A few years earlier the throne of Sicily had been filled by William, a king of the Guiscard line, who had espoused Joan, a sister of Richard of England, without being blessed with heirs. William, however, had an aunt, named Constance, whose chance of being queen appeared so certain, that Henry, who was at once poor and avaricious, wedded, with great pomp, the princess, though she was thirty-two - an advanced age for a royal Italian bride. But when William died, so strong was the prejudice against a female sovereign, that his illegitimate son Tancred was proclaim ed King. Henry prepared to assert his claim, but the lion-hearted King of England, on his way to Palestine, arrived at Sicily, and indignant to find his sister deprived at once of her dower and her freedom, commenced aggressions. Subsequently, however, Richard concluded with Tancred a league, offensive and defensive, and the Emperor, however he might have dealt with the Sicilian King, had no fancy for playing at the game of carnage with RichardCoeur de Lion. He therefore waited till the English King's departure, and entering Italy, laid siege to Naples in the summer of 1091; but when a fever, which carried off a large portion of his army, prostrated himself, the Emperor, in alarm, raised the siege, and executed an inglorious retreat. But he treasured up his malice, and his day of triumph came.