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WITH the death of Henry II the Saxon dynasty in the male line became extinct; nevertheless under the Ottos the hereditary principle had become so firmly rooted, the Teutonic theory of election so nearly forgotten, that the descendants of Otto the Great in the female branch were alone regarded as suitable successors to the Emperor Henry II. The choice of the princes was practically limited to the two Conrads, the great-grandsons of the first Otto’s daughter Liutgard and Conrad of Lorraine. Both were grandsons of Otto, Duke of Carinthia; the future emperor through the eldest son Henry who died young, the other, known as Conrad the Younger, through the third son, also named Conrad, who had succeeded his father in the duchy of Carinthia. This younger Conrad did not inherit the dukedom, which was granted on his father's death in 1011 to Adalbero of Eppenstein, but he acquired nevertheless the greater part of the family estates in Franconia. In wealth and territorial position he was stronger than his elder cousin; moreover, since he had adopted the attitude of Henry II in matters of ecclesiastical politics, he could safely rely on the support of the reforming party in the Church, which, particularly in Lorraine, carried considerable weight under the guidance of Archbishop Pilgrim of Cologne. An orphan with a meager inheritance, brought up by the famous canonist, Burchard of Worms, Conrad the Elder had little to recommend him beyond seniority and personal character. On late and unreliable authority it is asserted that the late Emperor designated him as his successor; and though it is reasonable to suppose that Henry II should make some recommendation with regard to the succession, it is at least remarkable that he should select a man whose views both in ecclesiastical and secular politics were diametrically opposed to his own. Yet this very fact of his antagonism to the reforming movement induced Aribo, Archbishop of Mainz, and the bulk of the episcopate, jealous and suspicious of the progress of Cluniac ideas in Germany, to throw the whole weight of their influence in support of his candidature. The election took place on the Rhine between Mayence and Worms on 4 September 1024. Before it took place the elder Conrad had a meeting with his cousin and apparently induced him to withdraw from the contest.

Conrad the Elder, left in undisputed possession of the field (for the party of his late rival, the Lorrainers, rather than give him their votes, had retired from the assembly), was elected unanimously, and received from the hands of the widowed Empress Kunigunda, the royal insignia, committed by her husband to her care. The election was a popular one. Princes and people, spiritual and secular, thronged to Mainz to attend the coronation festival. “If Charles the Great himself had been alive and present”, writes Conrad’s enthusiastic biographer, “the rejoicing could not have been exceeded”. The ceremony of coronation was performed on 8 September by Aribo in the cathedral of Mainz and was followed by the customary state banquet and by the taking of the oath of fealty by the bishops, nobles, and even, we are told, by other freemen of distinction. One incident marred the general serenity of the proceedings; Conrad’s marriage in 1017 with Gisela, the widow successively of Bruno of Brunswick and of Ernest II of Swabia, being within the prohibited degrees, was not sanctioned by the Church. Aribo denied her the crown; and it was only after an interval of some days that Archbishop Pilgrim of Cologne, desirous of making his peace with the king he had opposed, offered to perform the ceremony in his cathedral at Cologne.

The princes of Lorraine, among them Gozelo and Dietrich, the Dukes of the lower and upper provinces, Reginar V, the powerful Count of Hainault, and the greater number of the bishops, had, as we have seen, resisted Conrad’s election, and after the event had denied him recognition. The bishops adopted this attitude on account of Conrad’s lack of sympathy with the movement of reform in the Church; when, however, their leader, the Archbishop of Cologne, made his peace with the king, and when Odilo of Cluny, who had, it seems, been present at the election, and had been the recipient of Conrad’s first charter (a confirmation of certain lands in Alsace to the Cluniac monastery of Payerne), exerted his influence in Conrad’s interest, the bishops were prevailed upon to make their submission. Conrad was therefore able to make his royal progress through Lorraine unhindered.

It was customary for a newly elected king to travel through his kingdom, dispensing justice, settling disputes, ordering peace. Within a year of his coronation (he was back in Mainz at the end of August 1025) Conrad had visited the more important towns of the five great duchies of his kingdom. On his journey through Saxony two significant events occurred; he received the recognition of the Saxon princes and gave a decision against Aribo of Mainz, showing thereby that he was not to be swayed from the path of justice even in the interests of the foremost prelate of Germany. Before Conrad’s election the Saxon princes under their Duke Bernard had assembled at Werla, and there decided on a course of action similar to that which they had pursued on the occasion of the election of Henry II in 1002. They had, it seems, absented themselves from the electoral council, with the object of making their acceptance of the result dependent upon conditions. They required the king to acknowledge the peculiarly independent position, the ancient and barbaric law, of the Saxons. They met him at Minden, where he was keeping his Christmas court. Their condition was proposed and accepted, and their homage, hitherto deferred, was duly performed to their now recognized sovereign.

Since the time of Otto III, the jurisdiction over the rich nunnery of Gandersheim had been the cause of a fierce dispute between the bishops of Hildesheim and the archbishops of Mainz. It had been one of the reasons for the breach between Aribo and the late Emperor, who had in 1022 decided in favor of the Hildesheim claim. While Conrad remained in Saxony the matter was brought up before him. The outlook was ominous for Bishop Godehard; Conrad was not likely to give cause for a quarrel with the powerful archbishop to whom he owed his crown, and whom he had already favored by conferring on him the arch-chancellorship of Italy, in addition to the arch-chancellorship of Germany which he had previously held. Moreover, the influential Abbess Sophia, the daughter of the Emperor Otto II, was known to favor the claims of Aribo. On the other hand, Conrad could not lightly reverse a decision made by his predecessor only two years before, and he may also have felt some resentment towards Aribo for the latter's refusal to crown his queen. Postponements and compromises were tried in vain. At last, in March 1025, at a sparsely attended synod held at Gröna, a provisional judgment was given in favor of the Bishop of Hildesheim; the decision was confirmed two years later at a more representative gathering at Frankfort, but it was not until 1030, a year before his death, that Aribo had a meeting with his opponent at Merseburg, and finally renounced his claims which, according to the biographer of Godehard, he confessed that he had raised “partly in ignorance, partly out of malice”.

The rebellion, which disturbed the opening years of the new reign, is closely connected with the question of the Burgundian succession and with the revolt in Lombardy. Rodolph III, the childless King of Burgundy, had in 1016 recognized his nephew the Emperor Henry II as the heir to his throne; he maintained however, and probably with justice, that with the Emperor's death the compact became void. Conrad, on the other hand, took a different view of the case; the cession, he argued, was made not to the Emperor but to the Empire, to which he had been duly elected. Against him stood a formidable row of descendants of Conrad the Peaceful in the female line, two of whom, Ernest, Duke of Swabia, whose mother, Queen Gisela, was the niece, and Odo, Count of Blois, whose mother, Bertha, was the sister of Rodolph, aspired to the inheritance. To make his intentions clear Conrad, in June 1025, occupied Basle which, though held by Henry II, actually lay within the confines of the Burgundian kingdom. As his presence was needed elsewhere, he left his wife Gisela, herself a niece of King Rodolph, to bring the Burgundian question to a satisfactory issue. The success of her efforts is to be seen in the Burgundian king’s refusal to assist Ernest of Swabia in his second revolt (1026), in his submissive attendance at the Emperor’s coronation at Rome (Easter 1027), and in his recognition, at Muttenz near Basle, later in the same year, of Conrad’s title to succeed to his kingdom. Ernest, whose hopes in Burgundy were shattered by the occupation of Basle, decided to oppose Conrad with arms. He allied himself with Count Welf, with the still disaffected dukes of Lorraine, and with Conrad the Younger who, having heard no more of the proffered rewards by which his cousin had secured his withdrawal from the electoral contest, had openly shown his resentment at Augsburg in the previous Apri12.

In France, Odo of Blois and Champagne was interested in the downfall of Conrad; in Italy, the trend of events moved in the same direction. There the Lombards, taking advantage of the death of Henry II, rose in revolt against the imperial domination. The men of Pavia, mindful of the recent destruction of their city at the hands of the late Emperor, burnt the royal palace; the north Italian princes, in defiance of Conrad, offered their crown first to King Robert of France, then, on his refusal, to William V, Duke of Aquitaine, who accepted it for his son. The duke’s only hope of success in the dangerous enterprise he had undertaken lay in keeping Conrad engaged in his own kingdom. With this object he set about organizing the opposition in Lorraine, France, and Burgundy; he met Robert of France and Odo of Champagne at Tours, and the French king agreed to carry a campaign into Germany. The combination, so formidable in appearance, dissolved into nothing. Robert was prevented by the affairs of his own kingdom from taking the field against Conrad; Odo, engaged in a fierce feud with Fulk of Anjou, was powerless; William of Aquitaine on visiting Italy found the situation there less favorable than he had been led to expect, and thereupon gave up the project; the dukes of Lorraine, no longer able to count on foreign aid, made their submission to the Emperor at Aix-la-Chapelle (Christmas 1025). After the collapse of the alliance, continued resistance on the part of Ernest was useless; at Augsburg early in the next year, through the mediation of the queen, his mother, he was reconciled with Conrad who, to keep him from further mischief, insisted on his accompanying him on the Italian campaign upon which he was about to embark.

It was a wise precaution, and Conrad would have been better advised had he retained his ambitious stepson in his camp; instead he dispatched him to Germany to suppress the disorders which had arisen there in his absence. Welf, obdurate in his disobedience, had attacked and plundered the lands and cities of Bruno, Bishop of Augsburg, the brother of the Emperor Henry II, the guardian of the young King Henry III, and the administrator of Germany during the king’s absence in Italy. Ernest, back among his old fellow-conspirators and acting, no doubt, on the advice of his evil genius, Count Werner of Kiburg, instead of suppressing the rebellious Welf, joined with him in rebellion. The second revolt of Ernest was however as abortive as the first; he invaded Alsace, penetrated into Burgundy, but finding to his discomfiture, in Rodolph, not an ally but an enemy, he was compelled to make a hasty retreat to Zurich, whence he occupied himself in making plundering raids upon the rich abbeys of Reichenau and St Gall. Conrad’s return soon ended the affair. Ernest and Welf answered the imperial summons to Ulm (July 1027), not however as suppliants for the Emperor’s mercy, but, supported by an armed following, with the intention either of dictating their own terms or, failing that, of fighting their way to safety. The duke had miscalculated his resources; at an interview with his vassals he discovered his mistake. They were prepared, they said, to follow him as their oath required against any man except the Emperor; but loyalty to the Emperor took precedence to loyalty to the duke. Ernest had no choice but to throw himself on Conrad’s mercy; he was deprived of his duchy and imprisoned in the castle of Gibichenstein near Halle. Welf was condemned to imprisonment, to make reparation to the Bishop of Augsburg, and to the loss of a countship in the neighbourhood of Brixen.

Ernest, after less than a year’s captivity, was forgiven and reinstated in his dukedom. But the course of events of 1026 was repeated in 1030. Ordered by the Emperor to execute the ban against Count Werner, who had persisted in rebellion, he disobeyed, and was, by the judgment of the princes, once more deprived of his dukedom and placed under the ban of the Empire (at Ingelheim, Easter 1030). After a vain attempt to persuade Odo of Champagne to join him, he and Werner withdrew into the Black Forest, where, making the strong castle of Falkenstein their headquarters, they lived for a time the life of bandits. At last, in August, the two rebels fell in a fierce encounter with the Emperor's troops under Count Manegold.

The rebellions of Ernest, dictated not by any dissatisfaction at Conrad’s rule but rather by personal motives and rival ambitions, never assumed dangerous proportions. The fact that even the nobility of Swabia, with few exceptions, refused to follow their duke is significant of the strength and popularity of Conrad’s government. The loyalty of Germany as a whole was never shaken. Duke Ernest, a little undeservedly perhaps, has become the hero of legend and romance; he has often been compared with Liudolf of Swabia, the popular and ambitious son of Otto the Great. The parallel is scarcely a fair one; Liudolf rebelled but once and with juster cause; and after his defeat, he lived loyally and died fighting his father’s battles in Italy. Ernest, though twice forgiven, lived and died a rebel.

In September 1032 Rodolph III ended a weak and inglorious reign. Conrad had been solemnly recognized as heir by the late king at Muttenz five years before and had been entrusted with the royal insignia, the crown and the lance of St Maurice. Some of the Burgundian nobles had even already taken the oath of allegiance to the German king; but the majority both of the ecclesiastical and secular lords, especially in the romance-speaking district of the south, stood opposed to him. His powerful rival, Odo, Count of Blois and Champagne, had at first the advantage, for Conrad at the critical moment was busily occupied with the affairs of Poland, and when, after the submission of the Polish Duke Mesco, he hastened to Strasbourg, he found a large part of Burgundy already in the hands of the enemy (Christmas 1032). In spite of the severity of the weather, which was sufficiently remarkable to supply the theme of a poem of a hundred stanzas from the pen of Wipo, the Emperor decided to make a winter campaign into Burgundy. He marched on Basle and proceeded to Payerne, where he was formally elected and crowned by his partisans; but the indescribable sufferings of his troops from the cold prevented his further progress, and he withdrew to Zurich.

In the spring, before resuming operations in Burgundy, he entered into negotiations with the French King Henry I, which resulted in a meeting of the two at Deville on the Meuse. What actually took place there is not recorded, but it seems clear that an alliance against Odo was formed between them. Again the affairs of Poland prevented Conrad from completing his task, and on his return thence he found that his adversary had penetrated the German frontier and plundered the districts of Lorraine in the neighborhood of Toul. Conrad retaliated with a raid into Count Odo’s territory and brought him to submission; the latter renounced his claims, agreed to evacuate the occupied districts, and to make reparation for the damage caused by his incursion into Lorraine. The matter was not however so easily settled; not only did Odo not evacuate the occupied parts of Burgundy nor make satisfaction for the harm he had perpetrated in Lorraine, but he even had the audacity to repeat his performance in that country. Conrad determined on a decisive effort; Burgundy was attacked on two sides. His Italian allies, Marquess Boniface of Tuscany and Archbishop Aribert of Milan, under the guidance of Count Humbert of Maurienne, led their troops across the Great St Bernard, and following the Rhone Valley, made their junction with the Emperor, operating from the north, at Geneva. Little resistance was encountered by either army. At Geneva Conrad was again solemnly recognized as king and received the submission of the greater number of Odo’s adherents. The town of Morat alone held out defiantly; attacked by the German and Italian forces in conjunction, it was taken by assault and demolished. With it were destroyed the last hopes of Conrad's adversaries; they submitted, and Burgundy, furnishing the Emperor with his fourth crown, became an undisputed and integral part of the imperial dominions. If Burgundy was never a source of much strength or financial profit to the Empire, its inclusion was by no means without its value. Its geographical position as a barrier between France and Italy, and as commanding the western passes of the Alps, made it an acquisition of the first importance. In the last year of his reign Conrad visited his new kingdom. A solemn and well-attended gathering of ecclesiastical and secular nobles assembled at Soleure, and for three days deliberated over the means of establishing peace and organized government in a land, which for many a year had known nothing but lawlessness and anarchy.


The Eastern Frontier.

During the years 1030-1035 Conrad was chiefly occupied with the restless state of the eastern frontier of his kingdom. It is a dreary story of rebellion, ineffective campaigns, fratricidal wars. Poland, Hungary, Bohemia, the Wendish lands to the north-east, demanded in turn the Emperor's attention. Boleslaw Chrobry had, during the previous reign, been assiduously building up a strong position for himself in Poland; in the peace of Bautzen (1018) he had been the chief gainer at the expense of the Empire; on the death of Henry II he had taken a further step and boldly assumed the title of king. Conrad was neither strong enough nor at liberty to deal at once with this presumptuous duke; but while at Merseburg in February 1025, he took the wise precaution of securing the loyalty of the neighboring Slavonic tribes of the Lyutitzi and the Obotrites.

In the summer Boleslav died; his younger son Mesco, having successfully driven his elder brother Otto Bezprim to Russia (or perhaps Hungary), assumed the kingship and the policy of his father. By 1028 his aggressions had become intolerable. The eastern parts of Saxony were raided and plundered; the bishopric of Zeitz suffered so severely that it had to be removed to the better fortified Naumberg, a town of Eckhard of Meissen, near the junction of the Unstrut and the Saale; the Lyutitzi, helplessly at the mercy of the tyrannical Mesco, pleaded for German assistance. Conrad assembled an army beyond the Elbe. But the campaign was a complete failure: the troops were scattered and worn out by long marches through forests and swamps; Bautzen was besieged, but not captured; and the Emperor, despairing of making any headway, withdrew to Saxony. The only success was achieved by Conrad’s ally, Bratislav, the son of the Duke of Bohemia, who managed to recover Moravia from the Poles. The death of Thietmar, Margrave of the East Mark (January 1030), was the occasion for another and more serious incursion on the part of the Polish prince, united this time with a band of disloyal Saxons. In the region between the Elbe and the Saale a hundred villages are said to have been destroyed by fire, more than 9000 men and women taken into captivity. The enemy were only beaten off by the courage and resource of Count Dietrich of Wettin.

Conrad was unable to take the matter in hand, for he was engaged in a war with Stephen of Hungary. The relations between the latter country and the Empire had been growing yearly more strained. Werner, Bishop of Strasbourg, Conrad’s ambassador to Constantinople in 1027, had been denied a passage through Hungary, and was compelled to take the more hazardous route by sea. The Bavarian nobles, no doubt, gave ample provocation for this hostile attitude by their attempts to extend their possessions across the Fischa, the boundary at that time between Germany and Hungary. According to one account the actual cause for quarrel arose through the Emperor's refusal to grant, at the request of King Stephen, the dukedom of Bavaria to his son Henry (he was the nephew of the Emperor Henry II, whose sister Gisela had married Stephen of Hungary). In 1030 Conrad took the field against him; this, like the Polish campaign, was a miserable disaster. Conrad did no more than ravage the border country as far as the Raab, and retired with an army imperiled by famine, while the Hungarians pursued the retreating Germans and captured Vienna, which celebrated city is now for the first time mentioned under this name. Bratislav, who had gained the only success in the Polish campaign of the previous year, was again conspicuous for his services to the Empire; he defeated the Hungarians and devastated their country as far as the town of Gran. The young King Henry, who as Duke of Bavaria was closely concerned with the affairs of Hungary, was entrusted with the settlement of the quarrel with King Stephen. By the cession of a small tract of country lying between the Fischa and the Leitha he secured, in the spring of 1031, peace and the restoration of Vienna.

Conrad, relieved of danger from Hungary, was at liberty to cope effectively with the troublesome Duke of Poland. Allied with Mesco’s banished brother Otto, Conrad organized a combined attack; while he advanced from the west, Otto Bezprim and his protector Yaroslav, Prince of Kiev, were to attack from the east. Mesco, thus threatened from two sides, soon gave way and agreed to the terms stipulated by the Emperor. He was required to surrender the border territory which his father had acquired by the treaty of Bautzen (1018), the prisoners and booty captured in the raids upon Saxony, and also the Upper and Lower Lausitz which were attached respectively to the Meissen and the East Marks. Poland was thus once more confined within the limits of the old duchy as it was before the ascendancy of Boleslav Chrobry. The attack of Bezprim had not synchronized with that of the German troops; it took place after this peace had been concluded. He too, however, was successful; he drove Mesco from the throne, of which he himself took possession, and, by recognizing the overlordship of the Emperor, was himself recognized as the lawful duke of Poland. His reign, characterized by the most brutal savagery, was cut short in the next year (1032) by assassination, engineered in part by the enemies he had made in his own circle, in part by the intrigues of the brother he had expelled. Mesco promptly returned from Bohemia, where he had taken refuge with Duke Udalrich. In spite of his apparent willingness to enter into friendly relations with the Emperor, we hear of a renewed outbreak of war before the end of the year. But Conrad was anxious to rid himself of the vexatious business and to be free to make good his claim to the Burgundian crown. He therefore received the duke’s submission at Merseburg (1033), and allowed him to retain his dukedom, subject to his feudal superiority and reduced in extent by a strip of territory on the western frontier, which was annexed to the East Mark. The power of Poland was crushed. On Mesco’s death in 1034 the country relapsed into an almost chronic state of civil war in which Conrad, wearied with Polish affairs, was careful not to involve himself.

In the meanwhile difficulties had been growing up in the neighbouring country of Bohemia. Udalrich, for some years past, had shown insubordination to his feudal lord: in 1031 he had refused his help for the Polish campaign; summoned to the diet of Merseburg (July 1033) to answer for his conduct, he had defiantly remained absent. Conrad was too busily engaged with Odo, his rival to the Burgundian throne, to deal himself with his disobedient vassal. He entrusted the task, therefore, to his son Henry, now a promising youth of sixteen years; his confidence was not misplaced, for a single campaign in the summer brought the duke to subjection. At a court held at Werben he was condemned, banished, and deprived of his lands. His brother, the old Duke Jaromir, was dragged from his prison at Utrecht, where he had languished for more than twenty years, to be set again over the duchy of Bohemia. The arrangement was, however, not a permanent one; Udalrich was pardoned at Ratisbon (April 1034), but not content with the partial restoration of his duchy, he seized and blinded his hapless brother. His misdeeds brought a speedy retribution; he died the same year, choked or perhaps poisoned while eating his dinner. Jaromir was disinclined a third time to undertake the title and duties which had brought him only misfortune; at his wish Bratislav, who had on the whole deserved well of Conrad, received the dukedom as a fief of the Empire.

Further north, a feud had broken out between the Saxons and the Wendish tribe, the Lyutitzi, which gave rise to mutual incursions and plundering. At the request of both parties, the Emperor permitted the issue to be determined by the judgment of God in the form of a duel. Unluckily, the Christian champion fell wounded to the sword of the pagan; the decision was accepted by the Emperor, and the Wends, so elated by their success, would have forthwith attacked their Saxon opponents, had not they been constrained by oath to keep the peace and been menaced by the establishment at Werben of a fortress strongly garrisoned by a body of Saxon knights. But the peace was soon broken, the fortress soon captured; and two expeditions across the Elbe (1035 and 1036) were necessary before the Lyutitzi were reduced to obedience. In the first Conrad was seldom able to bring the enemy to an open fight; they retreated before him into the impenetrable swamps and forests, while the Germans burnt their cities, devastated their lands. We have a picture from Wipo of the Emperor standing oftentimes thigh-deep in the morass, fighting himself and encouraging his men to battle. The punishment, meted out to the prisoners captured in this exploit, leaves an indelible stain on the otherwise upright character of the Emperor. In their heathen fanaticism they had sacrilegiously mutilated the figure of Christ on a crucifix; Conrad avenged the outrage in like fashion. Drawn up before the cross they had dishonored, their eyes put out, their hands and feet hacked off, they were left to die miserably. The second attack, of which the details are not recorded, appears to have been decisive; the Wends submitted, and had to pay the penalty for their revolt at the price of an increased tribute.

The wisdom of Conrad’s diplomacy is perhaps most evident in his relations with his powerful northern neighbor Knut, King of England, Denmark, and, in 1030, Norway. Had Conrad permitted the hostility which had existed under his predecessor to continue, he would have found in Knut a formidable opponent always ready to disturb the stability of the imperial authority on the north-eastern border of Germany. His policy towards Poland, Bohemia, and more especially the Wendish country across the Elbe, could scarcely have met with so large a measure of success. The rulers of Poland and Denmark were closely related; both countries were at enmity with Germany; an alliance between them seemed natural and inevitable. Thus Conrad lost no time in bringing about, through the mediation of Unwan, Archbishop of Bremen, friendly relations with Knut (1025). This alliance was drawn closer some ten years later by the marriage of their children, Henry and Gunnhild, and by the cession to the Danish king of the March and the town of Schleswig. Though the German frontier was thereby brought back to the Eider, the gain outweighed the loss. Knut was zealous for the advancement of the Christian religion; he kept in close touch with the metropolitans of Bremen, Unwan and his successors, and promoted their efforts towards the conversion of the heathen. From Germany he drew churchmen to fill high positions in his English kingdom, as for instance Duduco, Bishop of Wells, and Wichmann, Abbot of Ramsey. Unfortunately, this powerful and useful ally of the Empire survived the treaty of 1035 but a few months: he died in November of the same year, and the Danish ascendancy soon crumbled away under the rule of his successors.


Italy under Conrad II

We have already noticed how the death of the Emperor Henry II had been the signal in Italy for a general revolt against the imperial authority; for this movement, which found its expression in the burning of the royal palace at Pavia and in the offer of the Lombard crown to a French prince, the great noble families of north Italy, the Otbertines, the Aleramids, the Marquesses of Tuscany and of Turin, were mainly responsible. On the other hand the bishops under Aribert, the powerful Archbishop of Milan, stood by Conrad; indeed Aribert with several other bishops, presenting himself before the new king at Constance (June 1025), assured him of his loyalty, of his willingness to crown him king of Italy, and of the warm reception that awaited him when he should set foot across the Alps; other Italian lords appeared a little later at Zurich to perform their homage. Encouraged by these manifestations of loyalty and by the collapse of the attempt of the lay aristocracy to raise a French prince to the throne, Conrad made his plans for an Italian expedition in the ensuing spring. By the route through the Brenner and Verona, in March he reached Milan, where, since Pavia, the old Lombard capital and place of coronation, was still in revolt, he was crowned by Aribert in the cathedral of St Ambrose. The Pavese, fearful of the result of their boldness, had sought pardon from Conrad at Constance, but their refusal to rebuild the palace they had destroyed prevented a reconciliation. Conrad punished them by a wholesale devastation of the surrounding country, and leaving part of his army to complete the subjection of the rebellious city, he passed eastward through Piacenza and Cremona to Ravenna; here his stay was marked by a scene of the wildest uproar. The citizens rose against the German soldiers with the hope that by force of numbers they might succeed in driving them from the town. Their hope was vain; the imperial troops soon gained the upper hand, and Conrad descended from his bedchamber to stop the slaughter of the defeated and defenseless burghers. The incident, related by Wipo, of the German knight who lost his leg in the riot is characteristic of the king's generosity; he ordered the leather gaiters of the wounded warrior to be filled with coin by way of compensation for the loss of his limb.

The heat of the Italian summer drove Conrad northward, to pass some two months in the cooler and more healthy atmosphere of the Alpine valleys. The autumn and winter were spent in reducing to submission the powerful houses of the north-west and of Tuscany. This accomplished, Conrad could proceed unhindered to Rome. The coronation of Conrad and his wife Gisela at the hands of Pope John XIX took place on Easter Day (26 March 1027) at St Peter's in the presence of two kings, Knut and Rodolph, and a vast gathering of German and Italian princes and bishops. Seldom during the early middle ages was an imperial or papal election altogether free from riot and bloodshed. Conrad’s was no exception. A trivial dispute over an oxhide converted a brilliant and festive scene into a tumultuous street-fight between the Romans and the foreigners. A synod was held shortly after at the Lateran, in which two disputes were brought up for decision: the one, a question of precedence between the archbishops of Milan and Ravenna, was settled in favor of the former; in the other, the long-standing quarrel between the patriarchs of Aquileia and Grado, the former triumphed; the see of Grado was made subject to the Patriarch of Aquileia, and the Venetians were thereby deprived of their ecclesiastical independence.

In South Italy, Conrad accepted the existing state of things without involving himself further in the complexity of Greek and Lombard politics; he contented himself merely with the homage of the princes of Capua, Benevento, and Salerno. By the summer he was once again in Germany. In a little more than a year the Emperor had succeeded in winning the obedience of the north, the recognition of the south, of Italy, a position with which he might reasonably rest satisfied. An interval of ten years divides the two expeditions of Conrad across the Alps, and the second was made at the request of the Italians themselves. But he had motives of his own for intervention in the affairs of Italy in 1036; his policy had been to strengthen German influence in two ways: first by the appointment of German clergy to vacant Italian bishoprics, and secondly by encouraging the intermarriage of the German and Italian princely houses; so Gebhard of Eichstedt received the archbishopric of Ravenna, while the majority of the suffragan sees in the province of Aquileia and not a few in Tuscany were filled with Germans. The success of the latter policy is exemplified by the marriages of Azzo of the Otbertine family with the Welfic heiress Kunigunda, of Herman of Swabia with Adelaide of the house of Turin, of Boniface of Tuscany with Beatrix, the daughter of Duke Frederick of Upper Lorraine. Such a policy ran counter to the ambition of the Archbishop of Milan, who for his part strove to exercise an overlordship in Lombardy, and, it was said, “disposed of the whole kingdom at his nod”. Such a man must be suppressed if Conrad was to maintain his authority in Italy.

The immediate situation, however, which precipitated the Emperor's expedition was due to the feud which had arisen between the smaller and greater tenants, the vavassores and the capitanei; while the hereditary principle was in practice secured to the latter, it was denied by them to the former. It was customary for the Italian nobles to have houses and possessions in the neighboring town, where they lived for some part of the year; a dispute of this kind thus affected the towns no less than the country. In Milan one of the vavassors was deprived of his fief by the domineering archbishop. It was sufficient to kindle the sparks of revolution into a blaze; negotiations failed to pacify the incensed knights, who were thereupon driven from their city by the combined force of the capitanei and the burghers. The Milanese vavassors, joined by their social equals from the surrounding districts, after a hard fight and heavy losses, defeated their opponents in the Campo Malo between Milan and Lodi. It was at this stage that both parties sought the mediation of the Emperor.

Conrad had watched with interest the turn of events in Italy, and certainly as early as July 1036 decided to visit Italy for the second time. The appeal of the opposing parties, therefore, came very opportunely. “If Italy hungers for law, I will satisfy her”, he remarked on receiving the news. He crossed the Brenner in December, spent Christmas at Verona, and reached Milan early in the new year. On the day following his arrival a popular rising occurred which was imputed not without some reason to the instigation of Aribert. Lacking confidence in his strength to deal with the situation in the stronghold of his enemies, Conrad decided that all questions of difference should be determined at a diet to be held at Pavia in March. Here numerous complaints were brought against the arrogant archbishop, foremost amongst his accusers being Hugh, a member of the Otbertine family, who held the countship of Milan. The Emperor demanded redress; the archbishop defiantly refused to comply. Conrad, judging his conduct treasonable, took the high-handed measure of thrusting him into prison under the custody of Poppo, Patriarch of Aquileia, and Conrad, Duke of Carinthia. Poppo, however, was not sufficiently watchful of his important prisoner, and suffered for his negligence the displeasure of the Emperor. A certain monk, Albizo by name, had been allowed to share with his lord the hardships of prison; through his agency escape was effected. One night, while the faithful Albizo feigned sleep in the bed of the archbishop, the sheets drawn close over his head to prevent recognition, Aribert in the harmless guise of a monk passed safely through his gaolers, mounted a horse waiting in readiness, and rode in haste to Milan, where he was welcomed with enthusiasm by the patriotic burghers.

With reinforcements brought by his son from Germany Conrad besieged Milan, but without much success; it amounted only to some indecisive fighting, the storming of a few strongholds, the devastation of the surrounding country. But if the siege of Milan produced little military result, it drew forth the most important constitutional act of the reign, one of the most famous documents of feudal law, the edict of 28 May 1037. This celebrated decree solved the question at issue between the greater and the smaller vassals. As in Germany Conrad had shown himself in sympathy with the small tenants, so in Italy he now secured to them and to their successors the possession of their lands against unjust and arbitrary eviction by their lords. “No vassal of a bishop, abbot, abbess, marquess, count, or of anyone holding an imperial or ecclesiastical fief shall be deprived of it without certain and proved guilt, except according to the constitution of our ancestors and by the judgment of his peers”. The next two clauses deal with the rights of appeal against the verdict of the peers: in the case of the greater vassals the hearing may be brought before the Emperor himself, in the case of the smaller either before the overlords or before the Emperor’s missi for determination. Then, the succession of the fief is secured to the son, to the grandson by a son, or, these failing, to the brother. Alienation or exchange without the tenant's consent is prohibited; the Emperor's right to the fodrum “as it was taken by our ancestors” is affirmed. Finally, a penalty of a hundred pounds of gold, to be paid half to the imperial treasury, half to the injured party, is enjoined for disobedience. By these concessions the Emperor bound to his interests the strongest and most numerous military class in North Italy, and at the same time struck a blow at the dangerously powerful position of the Lombard episcopate.

The heat of the summer prevented any serious campaigning for some months. The siege of Milan was raised, the army dispersed. The Emperor, however, did not relinquish his efforts to overthrow the Archbishop of Milan; in spite of the remonstrances of his son and many others, he took the unprecedented step of deposing Aribert without reference to an ecclesiastical synod. The Papacy was weak and submissive; John XIX had allowed himself to be inscribed in a document among the fideles of the Emperor. He was now dead (1033), and his nephew, a bad man certainly, but not so bad as he is painted in the scurrilous party literature of the succeeding generation, young perhaps, but not the mere boy of twelve he is usually accounted, was raised to the pontificate under the name of Benedict IX. He, no doubt, cared little for the duties incumbent on his office; at all events, when he visited the Emperor at Cremona, he made no protest against the uncanonical action of Conrad. Aribert retaliated by organizing a conspiracy with Conrad’s enemy and late rival for the throne of Burgundy, Odo of Blois. But it soon collapsed; after two incursions into Lorraine, Odo was defeated and killed at Bar on 15 November 1037 by Duke Gozelo. The three Lombard bishops of Vercelli, Cremona, and Piacenza, who were implicated, were banished to Germany.

Towards the end of the year Conrad again took the field, this time with the object of ordering the affairs of the southern principalities. On his march southward the burghers of Parma revolted and were punished by the destruction of their city (Christmas). At Spello the Emperor had another interview with the Pope, who now imposed the sentence of excommunication on the Archbishop of Milan (Easter 1038). It was probably also on this occasion that a constant source of confusion and trouble in the Roman courts was removed; this was the indiscriminate use of Lombard and Roman law, which gave rise to endless disputes between Lombard and Roman judges. The Emperor’s edict now established that in Rome and Roman territory all cases should be determined according to Roman law.

Conrad made the initial mistake in 1024 of liberating, at the request of Guaimar, Prince of Salerno, Paldolf (Pandulf) IV of Capua, the wolf of the Abruzzi, as Aimé of Monte Cassino calls him, who had been captured in Henry II’s campaign of 1022 and since been held a close prisoner. This act led to the recrudescence of Byzantine power in South Italy, for Paldolf kept on friendly terms with the Greek government. The catapan Bojannes at once set to work to put his valuable ally in possession of his old principality; and in this he was assisted by Guaimar of Salerno, who with lavish grants bought the support of some Norman adventurers under Ranulf. This formidable combination made their first task the capture of Capua. The town fell after a siege of eighteen months; Paldolf V of Teano surrendered and Paldolf IV was restored. This was the situation that Conrad was forced to recognize on his first Italian expedition in April 1027. But Paldolf was not content with the mere recovery of his former possessions. On the death of Guaimar, the only effective rival to his power, he sought to extend his frontiers at the expense of his neighbors. He captured Naples by treachery and drove out its duke, Sergius IV. The latter was restored two years later by the aid of the Norman bands of Ranulf; in reward for this service Ranulf was invested with the territory of Aversa (1030), the nucleus of the Norman power in South Italy, which was to be in the succeeding centuries one of the most important factors in the history of Europe. Ranulf, a skilful but entirely unscrupulous ruler, soon deserted his benefactor and allied himself with Paldolf, who was now at the height of his power.

The latter’s rule, however, became daily more intolerable; and a body of malcontents, joined soon by the renegade Ranulf, taking advantage of a quarrel between Paldolf and Guaimar IV of Salerno, decided to appeal for the intervention of the Emperors of the East and the West.

No response came from Constantinople. Conrad however, already in Italy, accepted the invitation. Seemingly at Troia, the Emperor entered into negotiations with Paldolf, ordered him to restore the property of the Abbey of Monte Cassino which he had seized, and to release the prisoners he had captured. Paldolf on his part sent his wife and son to ask for peace, offering 300 pounds of gold in two payments, and his son and daughter as hostages. The terms were accepted, the first half of the indemnity paid; then the son escaped. Paldolf changed his attitude, refused to carry out the rest of his bargain, and withdrew to the castle of Sant Agata. Conrad in the meantime entered Capua without resistance and invested Guaimar with the principality. Capua and Salerno were thus once more united in one hand as they had been under Paldolf Ironhead in the days of Otto II. At the same time Conrad officially recognized the new Norman colony at Aversa as a fief of the Prince of Salerno. His work in the south completed, the Emperor returned northward. On the march the troops suffered severely from the heat; pestilence broke out in the camp, and many, among them Queen Gunnhild and Herman, Duke of Swabia, perished; Conrad himself was overcome with sickness. Under these circumstances it was impossible to renew the siege of Milan. Leaving, therefore, injunctions with the Italian princes to make an annual devastation of the Milanese territory, the Emperor made his way back to Germany.

Conrad never recovered his strength. At Nimeguen in February 1039 he was overcome by a more severe attack of the gout; in May he was well enough to be removed to Utrecht, where he celebrated the Whitsun festival. But he grew rapidly worse, and died the following day (4 June). His embalmed body was borne through Mainz and Worms to Spires, the favorite city of the Salian emperors, and was buried in the crypt of its cathedral church.

Conrad, once he had gained the mastery in his kingdom, was determined to secure the inheritance to his son; he was not only the first, but by a definite policy the founder, of the Salian dynasty. So at Augsburg in 1026 he designated his youthful son Henry, a boy of nine years old, as his successor; his choice was approved by the princes, and the child was duly crowned at Aix-la-Chapelle in 1028. The theory of hereditary succession seems to have been a guiding principle in the policy of Conrad II. He had suffered himself from the absence of it; for his uncle, the younger brother of his father, had acquired the Carinthian dukedom of his grandfather, and on his death it had passed out of the family altogether to the total disregard not only of his own claims, but also of those of his cousin, the younger Conrad, the son of the late duke. Adalbero of Eppenstein must in his eyes have been looked upon as an interloper. Personal wrongs doubtless biassed his judgment when the Duke of Carinthia was charged with treasonable designs at the Diet of Bamberg in 1035. Adalbero was deposed and sentenced to the loss of his fiefs. The court witnessed a strange scene before the verdict was obtained; the assent of the young King Henry, as Duke of Bavaria, was deemed necessary, and this the latter steadfastly refused to give; was bound, he afterwards explained, by an oath to Adalbero taken at the instance of his tutor, Bishop Egilbert of Freising. Entreaties and threats availed nothing; the son was obdurate, and the Emperor was so incensed with passion that he fell senseless to the floor. When he recovered consciousness he again approached his son, humbled himself at his feet, and finally, by this somewhat undignified act, gained his end. But the successor to the fallen duke was well chosen; it was the Emperor's cousin, Conrad, who thus at this late hour stepped into the dukedom of his father (1036).

It was not his aim, however, as sometimes has been suggested, to crush the ducal power. In one instance indeed he greatly strengthened it. A powerful lord was required in the vulnerable border-land of Lorraine; it was a wise step to reunite the two provinces on the death of Frederick (1033) in the hands of Gozelo. In the case of Swabia the hereditary principle prevailed. The rebellious Ernest who fell in the fight in the Black Forest had no direct heir; “snappish whelps seldom have puppies”, Conrad remarked on receiving the news of his death; but he had a brother, and that brother succeeded. When the hereditary line failed, Conrad followed the policy of Otto the Great of drawing the dukedoms into his own family; in this way his son Henry acquired Bavaria after the death of Henry of Luxemburg (1026)2 and Swabia on the death of Herman in Italy (1038).

In Italy, as we have seen, he definitely established by a legislative act the principle of hereditary fiefs for the smaller and greater vassals alike. There is no such decree for Germany; none at least has come down to us. Yet there are indications which suggest that the Emperor, perhaps by legal decision in the courts, perhaps by the acceptance of what was becoming a common usage, sanctioned, indeed encouraged, the growing tendency. Instances multiply of son succeeding father without question or dispute; families become so firmly established in their possessions that they frequently adopt the name of one of their castles. Wipo remarks that Conrad won the hearts of the vassals because he would not suffer their heirs to be deprived of the ancient fiefs of their forbears. Too much weight may not be placed on this statement, but it is certain that Conrad could rely in a marked degree upon the loyalty of the local nobles. In the revolt of Ernest the nobility of Swabia supported not their duke but their king; Adalbero after his deposition found himself unable to raise his late subjects to rebellion. Such loyalty was unusual in the earlier Middle Ages, and it seems a natural conclusion that these knights of Swabia and Carinthia had reason to stand by Conrad. From this rank of society the Emperor reinforced that body of officials, the ministeriales, who later came to play so important a part at the courts of the Salian emperors. Conrad's gallant and faithful friend and adviser, Werner, who lost his life in the riot at Rome which followed the imperial coronation, and who earned the honor of a grave beside the Emperor Otto II at St Peter's, is perhaps the first as he is a typical representative of this influential class.

Conrad II is usually depicted as the illiterate layman, the complete antithesis to the saintly Henry who preceded him. Undoubtedly, he sought from the outset of his reign to emancipate himself from the overweening power of the Church. He decided questions relating to the Church on his own authority, often without reference to a Church synod. He kept a firm hold on episcopal elections; he appointed his bishops and expected a handsome gratuity from the man of his choice. From Udalrich, elected to the see of Basle in 1025, we are frankly told that “the king and queen received an immense sum of money”. Wipo adds that the king was afterwards smitten with repentance, and swore an oath never again to take money for a bishopric or abbacy, “an oath which he almost succeeded in keeping”. In truth the oath weighed but lightly on his conscience and affected his practice not at all. If, however, he did nothing to promote, he did little to hinder, reform. More than one of his charters bestows lands on Cluniac houses, and by including the kingdom of Burgundy (a stronghold of the reforming movement) in the Empire, he insensibly advanced a cause with which he was out of sympathy. The leaders of the reforming party, Richard, Abbot of St Vannes at Verdun, and Poppo, Abbot of Stablo (Stavelot), made steady if slow progress in their work, which met with the sympathetic encouragement of the Empress Gisela. The ruins of the picturesque Benedictine abbey of Limburg and the magnificent cathedral of Spires remind us that the thoughts of Conrad, who once at least is described as “most pious”, sometimes rose above things merely temporal.

Conrad above all realized the importance of increasing the material resources on which the Empire depended. By careful administration he increased the revenue from the crown lands; he revoked gifts made to the Church by his too generous predecessors, and allocated to himself demesne lands which had fallen into the hands of the dukes. The reign of Conrad was a time of prosperity for Germany; he encouraged the small beginnings of municipal activity by grants of mint and market rights; the peace was better kept. To Conrad the cause of justice came first among the functions of royalty. A story is told of how the coronation procession was interrupted by the complaints of a peasant, a widow, and an orphan, and how Conrad, without hesitation and in spite of the remonstrances of his companions, delayed the ceremony in order to award justice to the plaintiffs. Stern, inexorable justice is a strong trait in his character. This strong, capable, efficient ruler did much for his country. The allurements of Italy, the mysteries of Empire, had led his predecessors to neglect the true interests of Germany. It is to his credit that he restored the strength of the German monarchy and increased enormously the personal influence and authority of the Crown. He prepared the way for his son, under whom the Holy Roman Empire reached the apogee of its greatness.