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THE death of the Emperor Lambert in October 898 dealt a blow to the royal power in North Italy, the Regnum Italicum of the tenth century. In place of the born ruler, who had mastered his own vassals and made himself protector of the Papacy, there succeeded Berengar, mild and cheatable. Berengar, too, was weak in resources. His own domains lay awkwardly in the extreme north-east, in Friuli and the modern Veneto, not like Lambert’s in the centre; and he had not like Lambert the support of a large group of the great nobles and bishops who formed the real source of power in Italy. Two magnates in especial were equally faithless and formidable, Adalbert the Rich, Marquess of Tuscany, in the centre, and Adalbert, Marquess of Ivrea, on the western frontier. In vain did Berengar marry his daughter Gisela to Adalbert of Ivrea and give the Tuscan his freedom from the prison to which Lambert had consigned him for revolt. A plot was hatching, when disaster befell king and kingdom.

Already in 898 the Hungarians, or Magyars, had raided the present Veneto from their newly-won settlements on the river Theiss. In 899 a larger swarm made its way from Aquileia to Pavia. Berengar, always a gallant warrior, strove to rise to the occasion. From the whole Regnum Italicum his vassals came to the number of 15,000 men-at-arms. Before them the outnumbered Magyars fled back, but were overtaken at the river Brenta. Their horses were worn out, they could not escape, and the tradition, perhaps influenced by a sense of tragedy, tells of their proffers refused by the haughty Christians. Yet on 24 September they surprised their heedless foes and scattered them with fearful slaughter. For nearly a year the Lombard plain lay at their mercy, though few fortified cities were taken and they did not cross the Apennines. Amid his faithless vassals, with his land desolated, Berengar submitted to pay blackmail, which at least kept the Magyars his friends if it did not save Lombardy from occasional incursions. The only mitigation of the calamity was the defeat of the Hungarians on the water when in 900 they assaulted Venice under her doge Pietro Tribuno.

Berengar had lost men, wealth and prestige, he was too clearly profitless for his subjects, and the death at Hungarian hands of many bishops and counts left the greatest magnates greater than ever. The plot against him, already begun, gathered strength. It was headed by Adalbert II the Rich of Tuscany, whose wife Bertha, the widow of a Provençal count, was daughter of Lothar II of Lorraine and thus grand-daughter of the Emperor Lothar I; and its object was to restore Lothar I’s line to Italy in the person of Louis of Provence, grandson of the Emperor Louis II. The Spoletan party, the Empress Ageltrude, and Pope John IX, the old partisan of Lambert, were, it seems, won to the plan, and the hand of the Byzantine princess Anna, daughter of Leo VI, was obtained for the pretender. When Louis came to Italy in September 900, Berengar, faced by a general defection, could only retreat beyond the Mincio, while his rival, surrounded by the magnates, proceeded to Rome to receive the imperial crown in February 901 from the new Pope Benedict IV. But Louis had no great capacity, and the magnates were fickle of set purpose, for, says the chronicler Liudprand in a classic passage, they preferred two kings to play off one against the other. In 902 a counter-change was brought about. Berengar advanced to Pavia, and Louis, who had been unable to get away quickly enough, was allowed to withdraw on taking an oath never to return. Within three years (905), however, Bertha once more tempted her kinsman to invade Italy. He was to be furnished, perhaps, with a Byzantine subsidy'. Once more Berengar fled east, this time to Bavaria, for Adalard, Bishop of Verona, his chief stronghold, called in his rival. Louis heedlessly thought himself secure and was surprised and captured (21 July) by Berengar to whom the Veronese citizens, though not their bishop, were always loyal. No risks were taken by the victor, and Louis was sent back to Provence blind and helpless. By an atrocity unlike his usual dealings Berengar at last secured an undisputed throne. Real control over great nobles and bishops he was never to obtain.

While the Regnum Italicum lay invertebrate in the hands of the magnates, South Italy was even more disordered and tormented. For sixty years the land had suffered from the intolerable scourge of Saracen ravages. While a robber colony, established almost impregnably on the river Garigliano, spread desolation in the heart of Italy over the Terra di Lavoro and the Roman Campagna, the true base of the Muslims lay in Sicily. There the mixed Berber and Arab population, who had swarmed in under the Aghlabid dynasty of Kairawän, were on the point of completing the conquest of the Christian and Greek eastern portion of the island, and the brief cessation of their direct raids on the mainland which began c. 889 did not last long.

Subdivision and intestine wars for independence and predominance paralyzed South Italy in its struggle against the Saracens. The greatest power there was the Byzantine Empire, after Basil I and his general Nicephorus Phocas had revived its power in the West. Two themes were set up in Italy, each under its strategos or general, that of Longobardia with its capital at Bari which included Apulia and Lucania from the river Trigno on the Adriatic to the Gulf of Taranto, and that of Calabria with its capital at Reggio which represented the vanished theme of Sicily. These detached and frontier provinces, usually scantily supplied with troops and money owing to the greater needs of the core of the Empire, were beset with difficulties occasioned by the hostility of the Italians to the corrupt and foreign Greek officials. The Lombard subjects in Apulia were actively or potentially disloyal; and a long strip of debatable land formed the western part of the Longobardic theme, which was always claimed by the Lombard principality of Benevento, its ancient possessor. Then there were the native Italian states, all considered as its vassals by Byzantium in spite of the competing pretensions of the Western Empire. Three of these, Gaeta, Naples and Amalfi, were coast towns, never conquered by the Lombards, and, like Venice, had long enjoyed a complete autonomy without formally denying their allegiance to East Rome. They were all now monarchies, all trading, and all inclined to ally with the Saracens, who were at once their customers and their principal dread. The three remaining states were Lombard, the principalities of Benevento and Salerno and the county of Capua. The prince of Salerno acknowledged Byzantine suzerainty. Benevento had been conquered by the Greeks in 891, only to be recovered by the native dynasty under the auspices of the Spoletan Emperors of the West, and then conquered by Atenolf I of Capua in 899. This union of Capua and Benevento was the beginning of some kind of order in a troubled land, hitherto torn by the struggle of furious competitors.

It was the Saracen plague, however, which at length brought the petty states to act together. If the invasion of Calabria by the half-mad Aghlabid Ibrahim who had conquered Taormina, the last Byzantine stronghold of Sicily, and threatened to destroy in his holy war Rome itself, “the city of the dotard Peter”, ended in his death before Cosenza in 902, and civil wars distracted Sicily till she submitted to the new Fatimite Caliphate at Kairawan; the Moslems of the Garigliano still ate like an ulcer into the land. The countryside was depopulated, the great abbeys, Monte Cassino, FarfaSubiaco and Volturno, were destroyed and deserted. At last the warring Christians were so dismayed as to be reconciled, and Atenolf of Capua turned to the one strong power which could intervene and professed himself a Byzantine vassal. Help was long in coming when a warrior Pope stepped in to consolidate and enlarge the Christian league.

Rome had undergone strange vicissitudes since the death of Emperor Lambert, but they had had a clear outcome, the victory of the land-owning barbarized aristocracy over the bureaucratic priestly elements of the Curia. After the death of Benedict IV (903) the revolutions of a year brought to the papal throne its old claimant, the fierce anti-Formosan Sergius III (904-11), over two imprisoned and perhaps murdered predecessors. Sergius owed his victory to Frankish help, possibly that of Adalbert the Rich of Tuscany, but he was also the ally of the strongest Roman faction. Theophylact, vesterarius of the Sacred Palace and Senator of the Romans, was the founder of a dynasty. He was chief of the Roman nobles; to his wife, the Senatrix Theodora, tradition attributed both the influence of an Empress Ageltrude and, without real ground, the vices of a Messalina; his daughter Marozia was only too probably the mistress of Pope Sergius and by him the mother of a future Pontiff, John XI, and finally married the new Marquess of Spoleto, the adventurer Alberic. The power of these and of other great ladies, which is a characteristic of the tenth century, and sometimes their vices, too, won for them the hatred of opposing factions whose virulent report of them has fixed the name of the “Pornocracy” on the debased papal government of that unhallowed day. Two inconspicuous successors of Sergius III were followed, doubtless through Theophylact’s and Theodora’s choice, by the elevation of the Archbishop of Ravenna to the papal see as John X (914-28). This much-hated pontiff, who like Formosus had been translated to the indignation of the strict canonists, was no mere instrument in his maker's hands. He at once took the lead in the war with the Saracens. The Byzantine regent Zoe was sending a new strategos, the patrician Nicholas Picingli, with reinforcements to Bari. From the south Picingli marched in 915 up to Campania, adding the troops of Atenolf’s successor at Capua, Landolf I, and of Guaimar of Salerno to his army. Even the rulers of the sea-ports, Gaeta and Naples, appeared in his camp decorated with Byzantine titles. From the north came Pope John and his Romans accompanied by the Spoletan levies under Marquess Alberic. A Byzantine fleet occupied the mouth of the Garigliano, and after a three months’ blockade the starving Saracens burst out to be hunted down by the victors among the mountains.

This decisive victory began an era of revival in Southern Italy. Though Calabria and even Apulia remained open to Saracen raids, which recommenced when the Fatimite Caliph Mahdi conquered Sicily in 917; though from c. 922 onwards Hungarian bands now and again worked their way south; a comparative security was restored. The deserted campaign could be slowly repopulated, the monasteries could claim once more their ravaged possessions and, as the century wore on, be rebuilt. Not a little of this wanly dawning prosperity was due to the stability which was at last acquired by the princely houses. The rulers of Capua-Benevento, Salerno and the rest reigned long and transmitted an assured, if not unharassed, dominion to their heirs. Their thriving was soon shown in hostility to their Byzantine suzerain. Picingli’s victory had not ameliorated the government of the Italian themes. Calabria, the Greek character of which was being accentuated by the inrush of refugees from Sicily, might only be restive at exactions due to blackmail paid to the Fatimite Caliph for respite from his subjects’ raids; but the Lombards, who were predominant in Apulia, hankered for autonomy, and in spite of bribes in cash and titles, were inclined to side with the aggressive prince of Capua. Landolf I took advantage of the Apulians’ discontent and the weakness of the strategoi, with their insufficient means and their coast harried by Saracen and Slav pirates. In concert with Guaimar II of Salerno and the Marquess Theobald I of Spoleto he overran c. 927 the greater part of Longobardia and held it some seven years. Not till the Eastern Empire could ally with a strong king of the Regnum Italicum was it possible to oust Landolf and his allies.

The strong king was long in coming. Berengar indeed received in December 915 the imperial crown from John X, in disregard of Louis the Blind’s rights, perhaps in reward for his concurrence in Alberic’s assistance at the Garigliano, perhaps to counterbalance the then dangerous might of the Eastern Emperor in the south. But Berengar was no whit more powerful thereby. Hungarian raids still occurred and a more persistent enemy began to trouble western Lombardy. At the close of the ninth century bands of Saracen pirates coming from Spain had established themselves in a fortified settlement on the coast of Provence, on the Golfe du St Tropez, called Fraxinetum, the name of which is preserved in Garde-Freinet. Thence, as their numbers grew, they conducted terrible raids on the surrounding territory. Provence was the worst sufferer, but, since the Saracens made the Alps their favorite plundering centre, Italy too was a victim. The Alpine valleys were desolated, the great roadside abbeys, such as Novalesa, were destroyed. Bands of pilgrims to the graves of the Apostles at Rome were robbed and massacred, till the intercourse of Italy with the north-west was in danger of ceasing. Here again the magnates fought in isolation when only a combined effort could root out the evil. Berengar seems to have done nothing, perhaps he could do nothing, but his discredit naturally increased.


Rodolph II and Hugh of Provence

The fickle magnates meanwhile were looking out for another rival king. Bertha of Tuscany, whose husband Adalbert II was dead, again worked for the restoration of the line of Lothar I and brought in her son by her first marriage, Hugh, Duke of Provence, who ruled his native country during Louis the Blind’s incapacity. This first attempt failed (c. 920) and then a group of northern magnates headed by Adalbert of Ivrea, now husband of Bertha's Tuscan daughter Ermingarde, invited Rodolph II, King of Jurane Burgundy. The accustomed tragicomedy followed. Rodolph came in 922 and was recognized north of the Apennines, while Berengar held out in Verona and won infamy by letting in his Hungarian allies who this time penetrated to Campania. Next year the rivals fought one of the rare pitched battles of the time at Fiorenzuola near Piacenza where Berengar had the worse and the death of 1500 men depleted the scanty ranks of the kingdom's military caste. Thenceforth Berengar vegetated, seemingly under truce, at Verona till his murder by one of his vassals on 7 April 924. He had watched, rather than caused, the anarchy of the realm, just as his lavish grants to the prelates registered rather than caused the cessation of a central government.

Rodolph was not more fortunate. He had two kingdoms, and while he was in Burgundy the Magyars laid Lombardy waste. They burnt Pavia itself in 924 and only left Italy to pass over the Alps and be exterminated by pestilence in Languedoc. The hopes of the house of Lothar revived. Adalbert of Ivrea was dead, and his widow Ermingarde joined with her brother Guido of Tuscany and Lampert, Archbishop of Milan, in calling in once more her half-brother Hugh of Provence. In 925 they revolted, twice repelled Rodolph’s efforts at reconquest, and on 6 July 926 elevated Hugh to the throne. In him a strong king had come. Hugh, wily and voluptuous, had his domains and vassals in Provence behind him and a group of magnates in his favor in Italy. He set himself to increase the latter by endowing his Provencal kindred. One nephew, Theobald I, was given the march of Spoleto, another, Manasse, Archbishop of Arles, was later put in charge of three sees in commendam. A Provençal immigration set in to the disgust of the Italian nobles. Hugh, who no more than his contemporaries ventured to reconstitute the ancient royal government or to recall the alienations of revenue and administrative functions, did succeed in making the great vassals, as well as the bishops, his nominees.

To be crowned Emperor was the natural goal of Hugh’s ambition. Without the protectorate over the Papacy an Italian king had but a maimed dominion in central Italy, and to a mere protection of the Papacy the functions of the Emperor had been reduced since the time of Lambert. Indeed it seems that Hugh came into Italy with the Pope’s approval and struck a bargain with him at Mantua in 926. John X was in a dangerous plight. Theophylact was dead, Marquess Alberic was dead, their daughter and widow, the sinister Marozia, led their Roman faction, and had become hostile to the self-willed Pope. If John X probably strengthened himself by obtaining the Spoletan march, which Alberic had held, for his own brother Peter, perhaps in return for Berengar I’s coronation, Marozia gained far more power by her marriage to Marquess Guido of Tuscany. In the faction-fighting Marquess Peter was driven from Rome c. 927, but a terrible Hungarian raid which lacerated Italy from Friuli to Campania enabled him to re-enter the city. Tradition charged on him an alliance with the raiders. In any case he was slaughtered by the Romans in 928 and his brother the Pope was thrust into prison to die or be murdered without much delay. Marozia now was supreme: “Rome was subdued by might under a woman’s hand”, says the wrathful local chronicler. Two Popes, so shadowy that they were forgotten in a few years, wore the tiara in turn till in 931 she raised her own son, probably by Sergius III, to the pontificate as John XI. But Marozia was weakened by the death of Guido and looked around her for a potent consort. She found one in Guido’s half-brother, Hugh of Italy, then a widower. King Hugh may have been baffled in his original scheme of becoming Emperor by the fall of John X; he had also been drawn off by the Hungarians and a revolt at Pavia. Now, however, he was so firm on his throne as to secure the election of his boy son Lothar II as co-regent. His contract with Marozia is the ugliest episode of the time. He feared his half-brother Marquess Lambert of Tuscany, himself a descendant of Lothar I and a possible rival; and he could not marry his half-brother Guido’s widow. Therefore he seized and blinded Lambert, and announced that his two half-brothers were not true sons of Bertha. With the way thus cleared he entered Rome in 932 and married Marozia. But the senatrix and her husband miscalculated and did no more than garrison the castle of Sant Angelo. Before Hugh was crowned the Romans rose against the hated Burgundian foreigner. Their leader was Marozia’s own son Alberic, whom she had borne to Alberic of Spoleto, a youth who knew Hugh's treatment of inconvenient relatives. Sant' Angelo was besieged and taken, and although Hugh made his escape Marozia and John XI were imprisoned. Of Marozia no more is said.

The rule of Alberic marks the open and complete triumph of the Roman landed aristocracy over the bureaucratic clerical government of the Papacy. His state resembled the city monarchies of Naples or Gaeta. On him as “prince and senator of all the Romans” was conferred, it seems by popular election, the exercise of the Pope’s secular power in Rome and its duchy. Though the act was revolutionary and ultra vires, no denial of the Pope’s sovereignty was made. It was enough that John XI and his four successors were docile instruments of the prince. Perhaps Alberic dreamed of further change, of reviving a miniature Western Empire, for he tried to win a Byzantine bride, and, even when baffled, surnamed his son Octavian. “His face was bright like his father’s and he had old-time worth. For he was exceedingly terrible, and his yoke was heavy on the Romans and on the holy Apostolic See”. His stern domination seems to have been a blessing to Rome and its duchy, which he secured, while King Hugh about 938 seized on Ravenna and the Pentapolis which had indeed been ruled by the Italian emperors since the days of Guy (Guido). The turbulent Roman nobles and his own treacherous kindred were kept in order, the submissive churchmen protected by a pious usurper who favored monastic reform and was the friend of St Odo of Cluny. It was all Alberic could do, however, to maintain himself against the persistent efforts of King Hugh to conquer Rome. A first siege of the city in 933 was a failure, a second in 936 ended in a treaty by which Alberic married Hugh’s legitimate daughter Alda. This pacification did not last, although negotiated by St Odo, and in 941 Hugh by bribes and warfare was so successful as just to enter Rome. Somehow he was expelled, “by the hidden judgment of God” according to our only narrator. Yet he would not give up the war until 946 when he had become a king under tutelage. Alberic thenceforth ruled unchallenged till his death in August 954.

Hugh and Alberic had been rival suitors for the alliance of the Eastern Emperor Romanus I Lecapenus, and in 935 Hugh had won the prize, partly through the pressure he could exercise in the south, partly no doubt through an eligibility to which the isolated prince of the Romans could lay no claim. Hugh, by calling off Theobald I of Spoleto, enabled the Byzantines to recover the lost districts of Apulia, and eventually the alliance was sealed by the marriage of Hugh’s illegitimate daughter to a Byzantine prince, the future Emperor Romanus II. The two powers suffered in common from the Hungarians and Saracens. Against the Magyars little was done save to pay blackmail, although in 938 some raiding bands as they retreated from Campania, were exterminated by the Abruzzans. Common action was, however, attempted against the Saracens of Fraxinetum, who, besides their formidable brigandage on the West Alpine passes, raided even as far as Swabia and by sea must have troubled the Byzantines. In 931 the Greeks attacked them and, landing at Fraxinetum, made a slaughter, while it may be that at the same time Hugh's vassals revenged the destruction of Acqui by cutting to pieces the Saracen raiders and occupying for a moment the passes. But no permanent result was obtained. Rather the ravage of the Fraxinetan Saracens grew worse, and in 935 the Fatimites sent a fleet from Africa which stormed Genoa. At last Hugh and Romanus I were roused to a joint campaign. In 942 a Byzantine fleet burnt the Saracens' ships with Greek fire, and blockaded Fraxinetum by sea, while Hugh with his army invested it by land. The Saracens could have been rooted out, when Hugh made a treaty with them: they were to hold the Swabian passes against any attempted invasion by Hugh’s exiled nephew Berengar of Ivrea. Perhaps Italy was somewhat spared in consequence, but the Alps continued the scene of their brigandage.

The fear of invasion had been with Hugh since the beginning of his reign, and in his western policy it was obscurely entangled with his desire to retain Provence. He evidently wished to consider the kingdom of Provence as annexed to his Italian crown after the death of the Emperor Louis the Blind in 928, but in spite of his wide lands and numerous relatives there he could not obtain recognition as sovereign. King Raoul of France also nourished ambitions to rule on the Rhone, and it may be that Hugh hoped to block his way, as well as to buy off an invasion threatened by Rodolph II of Jurane Burgundy, when c. 931 he made, on the evidence of Luitprand, a treaty with Rodolph II by which there was ceded to Rodolph II “all the territory Hugh had held in Gaul before he became king of Italy”. We may doubt whether this ineffective treaty referred to more than one or two districts; in any case Rodolph II lost them again, and his death in 937 opened out a new prospect. Hugh contrived to marry Rodolph II’s widow Bertha himself and to betroth Rodolph’s daughter Adelaide to his own son Lothar II. Though the rights of Rodolph’s young son Conrad were not disputed, Hugh probably hoped to be the real ruler of Jurane Burgundy, when a greater competitor appeared on the scene.

The German princes had by no means abandoned hopes of Italian conquest since the Emperor Arnulf’s death, although the internal troubles of Germany, seconded by Hugh’s gifts and embassies, precluded a royal campaign. Duke Burchard of Swabia had aided his son-in-law Rodolph II; in 934 Duke Arnulf of Bavaria suffered defeat in an invasion of the Veneto. But now the German king, Otto the Great, was strong; he was determined to secure his south-western frontier, and perhaps already dreamed of reasserting Arnulf's position and taking the imperial crown. In some way he gained possession of young Conrad, and controlled the government of Jurane Burgundy. All that Hugh seems to have kept was the Valley of Aosta, and his lands in Provence.

The perpetual danger of an invasion was increased by the readiness of the magnates to call in a foreign king at any discontent. Although national consciousness was present in Italy, and in a strongly localized form was marked in Rome, the great vassals were still as their ancestors of the ninth century had been, members of the mainly Frankish noble houses which were scattered and endowed throughout Charlemagne’s Empire. In Italy they were mostly new-comers, only Italian in their objection to fresh magnates from beyond the Alps. Hugh’s safety, on the other hand, lay in the introduction of new men from Provence, his kinsmen and allies, which he could the more readily effect as the magnates he found in possession had struck but short roots since the days of the Emperor Guy. Even so he could not much depend on his nominees; the instinct and the opportunity for feudal turbulence were too strong. Among the bishops the saintly Frank, Ratheri of Verona, had to be deposed for adherence to Duke Arnulf’s invasion. In central Italy he could root out the ancient dynasts, but could not implant loyalty to himself. On Lambert’s deposition he had given the march of Tuscany to his full brother Boso, once a count in Provence, who in turn vanished in his prisons in 936. Soon after Theobald I of Spoleto died and was replaced by Anscar, son of Adalbert of Ivrea and Hugh’s half-sister Ermingarde of Tuscany. This was such a risky appointment in view of the wrongs which Hugh had done to Ermingarde’s family that the chronicler Luitprand explains it as intended to remove Anscar from his powerful friends in the north. In any case rumor said that the king stirred up against the new Marquess of Spoleto a Provencal, Sarlio, Count of the Palace, who had married Theobald I’s widow. In 940 Anscar was slain in battle, and Hugh then turned on Sarlio whom he forced to take the cowl. The king by now seemed to be finding surer instruments in his own bastard children, of whom the eldest Hubert, Marquess of Tuscany in 936, Marquess of Spoleto and Count of the Palace c. 942, kept a firm hand on central Italy, while others were designed for ecclesiastical preferments.

Hugh’s astute perfidy alarmed the Italian nobles more and more and especially their greatest remaining chief, Anscar’s half-brother, Berengar, Marquess of Ivrea. Everything conspired to make Berengar dangerous and alarmed. He was heir through his mother of the Emperor Berengar I, his wife Willa was daughter of the fallen Boso of Tuscany, his march of Ivrea gave him command of the western gates of the kingdom, and its extent and Anscar’s fate pointed him out as Hugh’s next destined victim. The story goes that Hugh intended to seize and blind him, but that the Marquess was forewarned by the young co-regent Lothar II, and with his wife fled to Duke Herman of Swabia by whom they were conducted to the German king, Otto the Great.

Otto, while he did not actively assist the exile, would not give him up in spite of the redoubled presents of King Hugh, and Berengar was able to plot with the malcontents of Italy for a rebellion. In the meantime Hugh, feeling his throne shake under him, made feverish efforts to recover his vassals' loyalty. Berengar’s great domains were distributed among leading nobles; the counts Ardoin Glabrio of Turin, Otbert and Aleram are henceforward in the first rank of magnates; and an unusual number of royal diplomas were issued in 943.

But Saracen and Hungarian marauding did not increase Hugh’s hold on his subjects. It is clear that besides lay plotters the great prelates and his own kin were ready to revolt. When Berengar saw the time was come, in the mid-winter of 944-5, he made his venture over the Brenner towards Verona, the Count of which, Milo, an old adherent of Berengar I, was in his favor. The decisive moment came when Manasse of Arles, who was in charge of the frontier bishopric of Trent, deserted his uncle. A general defection was headed by Archbishop Arderic of Milan, and Hugh at Pavia could do nothing better than send in April the unhated Lothar II to Milan to appeal to the rebels. The assembly was moved and declared the youth sole king, but, when Hugh tried to escape to Provence with his treasure, Berengar in fear of a new invasion had him intercepted and reinstated in August as nominal joint king. In this humiliating position Hugh remained till April 947 when somehow he gained leave to abdicate and retire to Provence with the treasure with which he still hoped to engineer a fresh invasion. But he died on 10 April 948.


Berengar II

Meanwhile Berengar was ruling, in the name of Lothar II, as “chief councilor of the realm” He seems to have done his best to promote his clerical partisans, but his main reliance was on his fellow magnates. Although no doubt he recovered much of his own domains, he was evidently obliged to buy support by consenting to alienations like that of Turin to Ardoin Glabrio. Even Hubert was left unmolested in Tuscany, if a new Marquess was appointed to Spoleto. How little Berengar was master of the kingdom was shown when he nominated Manasse of Arles to the see of Milan. The Milanese townsmen elected a rival Adalman, Manasse obtained adherents in the countryside, and the two competitors fought for five years without decisive result. It was, however, in foreign affairs that Berengar’s weakness was most obvious. Hugh had been in relations with all his neighbors, Berengar shrank into isolation; Byzantium neglected him, Provence submitted to Conrad of Jurane Burgundy, the protégé of Otto the Great, Germany loomed ever more formidably in the north, the Hungarians under their chief Taxis proved in 947 by ravages which reached Apulia that Italy was no better defended than before.

Weakness and the greed of wealth which belonged to Berengar’s own character brought unpopularity which was exemplified in the accusations that he made a large profit out of the tax levied for blackmail to the Magyars, and that he was the deviser of the sudden death of Lothar II in November 950. Berengar still had sufficient following to secure the election of himself and his son Adalbert as joint kings on 15 December 950, but the disaffected were numerous. Lothar left no son, and his widow Adelaide of Jurane Burgundy with her rich dower was the centre of an opposition in which the bishops, who had suffered under Berenga’s exactions, took the leading part. Berengar II's expedient was to ride rough-shod over the ex-queen’s rights. Her dower was seized on, she was ill-used and imprisoned, if we may trust later tradition she was required to marry the young King Adalbert. She only gained safety by an adventurous escape to the protection of Bishop Adalard of Reggio, who according to a credible later story consigned her to the impregnable castle of his vassal Adalbert-Atto at Canossa.  

This was in August 951, but a champion was already near at hand, whose advent shows that Adelaide’s persecution at the hands of Berengar II was not unprovoked. Germany, the most powerful of the kingdoms which arose from the shattered Carolingian Empire, had prospered under the Saxon dynasty and neither her King Otto the Great nor the dukes of her southern duchies, Bavaria and Swabia, were inclined to let slip the opportunity of conquering their wealthy and weak neighbor of Italy. These princes were all near kinsmen, for Henry of Bavaria was Otto's brother and Liudolf of Swabia was Otto’s eldest son; but, while Henry and Liudolf who were bitter rivals were imitating the local ambitions of the dukes their predecessors, Otto probably had a greater model in his mind—he would revive the Empire as Arnulf had held it and be suzerain of western Christendom; that he would so win the hand of the beautiful queen he rescued would give an additional attraction to the enterprise. The two dukes, being near at hand, made hasty invasions for their own ends first of all, Henry with some success, Liudolf with failure. Then came Otto at the head of an imposing force, to which both dukes brought contingents. He crossed the Brenner Pass and reached Pavia at the end of September 951, without any resistance being offered him. The churchmen in fact were on his side, led by the versatile Archbishop Manasse, and Berengar II could only flee to one of his castles. But the adhesion of the bishops of the Lombard plain was not enough, and in his triumph Otto’s difficulties began.

Pope Agapetus, at Alberic’s instigation, refused his request to be crowned Emperor, for the Roman prince had no mind to nullify his life’s work by introducing a foreign Roman Emperor; and the king’s marriage to the rescued Adelaide roused against him a domestic enemy. His son Liudolf, in thorough discontent at the influence of his stepmother and her ally Henry of Bavaria, departed for Germany to scheme revolt. Otto himself followed in February 952, having after all acquired only some half of the kingdom of which he assumed the title. He left his son-in-law Duke Conrad of Lorraine with troops to hold Pavia and continue the war. The king had scarcely gone, however, before Conrad and Berengar II came to terms, both perhaps being well aware how little trust could be placed in the Lombard magnates. Together they came to Otto at Magdeburg in April, but Otto’s terms were not so lenient as Conrad imagined. Berengar was received with haughty discourtesy, and dismissed to attend a diet at Augsburg in August, whither he was accompanied by the chief Lombard prelates. There he and Adalbert became Otto’s vassals for the Regnum Italicum from which they were compelled to cede the marches of Verona, Friuli and Istria to Duke Henry of Bavaria. Thus Otto, although withdrawing from Italy, kept its eastern gateway in German hands.

Berengar II returned to Italy burning with wrath against the bishops and nobles who had caused his disasters and the mutilation of his kingdom. He and his queen Willa earned an evil name for greed and cruelty, since they needed wealth to enrich the enfeebled kingship and were hungry for revenge. Among their lay foes Adalbert-Atto underwent a long vain siege in his castle of Canossa, but the chief sufferers were the churchmen. The series of grants to them, which had continued so persistently under former kings, almost ceases under Berengar. At Milan, Manasse’s rival Adalman was induced to resign, and he himself was dispossessed in favor of a new Archbishop, Walpert. Exiles began to make their way to Otto’s court, among them our chief informant about these Italian kings, the chronicler Liudprand, who thereby became the bitter enemy of Berengar II with his house and wreaked his revenge in his historical writings. If there had survived another business-like Italian chronicle, like that of Flodoard for France, Liudprand would have earned more gratitude from posterity than he does for his vivid narrative, his pointed character-sketches, and the brush-like abundance of ‘local colour’ with which he overlays his scanty facts. As it is, in his Antapodosis (Retribution) we have a difficulty in obtaining a firm foothold for history amid the crumbling and quaking mass of rancorous, if often contemporary, gossip which Liudprand loves to heap up. Of noble birth, bred at King Hugh’s court, and once Berengar II’s secretary, he was in the best position to give accurate and full information, but he had a soul above documents. It is hardly his fault that he depended on oral tradition for all events before his own time, for there seems to have been no Italian chronicle for him to use, but he evidently made no record at the time and when he wrote rested wholly on a memory which rejected dates and political circumstances and was singularly retentive of amorous scandal however devoid of probability. He does not even tell in his unfinished work the cause and events of his persecution by Berengar to which he frequently alludes, while sketching with fine precision the diary of his reception at Constantinople whither he first went as Berenga’s envoy. For what interested him he could remember and tell to the life. To his credit be it said he was no liar, though he may be found suppressing an unpleasant fact; what he heard he told, and perhaps we may grant him that he gave a ready, and sometimes a determined, belief to the gossip of anterooms and the tradition of wrathful factions. It is unfortunate, for he was a practical statesman, and knew and sometimes reveals the motives of his times.

Berengar had had a free hand in Italy, and had even recovered Verona, because Otto was occupied in German revolts and frontier wars, but in 955 occurred the decisive victory of the Lechfeld in which Otto put an end once for all to Hungarian raids. He had succeeded where all the Italian kings had failed, he had rescued central Europe, and was therefrom with little doubt its destined ruler. His intervention in Italy, Henry of Bavaria being now dead, was renewed by the agency of his reconciled rebel son Liudolf. In 957 the duke made his invasion with the usual rapid success. Berengar II fled, Adalbert was defeated in battle, and all Lombardy had submitted when Liudolf died of fever at Pombia near Lake Maggiore, the first German victor to lose his gains owing to the alien climate of Italy.

The death of Liudolf was followed by the immediate recovery of his lost ground by Berengar. He came back with a new series of bitter feuds, to pursue. Walpert of Milan and other prelates fled to Otto, and Manasse became once more a pluralist by returning to Milan as Berengar’s partisan. Among the lay magnates Marquess Otbert went into exile; a general disaffection existed among those who retained their possessions. The king was still eager as Hugh had been before him to amass an imposing royal demesne and to create trusty great vassals. Hitherto central Italy had been faithful to him; now, however, Spoleto seems an enemy, perhaps owing to the new turn of affairs at Rome. On his deathbed in 954 prince Alberic had bound the Romans by oath to elect his son and heir by Alda, John-Octavian, Pope when Agapetus should die. In December 955 the promise was kept and the boy became Pope as John XII. Thus the Pope recovered control of Rome by uniting with the Papacy the chief ship of the strong faction of Alberic. Any design of a permanent principate must have been given up; it was perhaps too anomalous, and it is significant that John renewed the long forgotten habit of dating by the years of the Byzantine Emperors. But the Roman nobles remained in power to the continued subjection of the ecclesiastical bureaucracy. John XII himself was a dissolute boy whose pontificate was a glaring scandal. No gleam of competence redeemed his debauchery, though he was not without secular ambitions. About 959 he made war on the co-regent princes of Capua-Benevento, Paldolf I (PandulfIronhead and Landolf III, with the aid of Marquess Theobald II of Spoleto. He failed, and gave way, for prince Gisulf of Salerno assisted his neighbors; and then Berengar attacked Spoleto on an unknown pretext. Theobald was driven out, and Spoleto taken over by the king possibly to be conferred on his own son Guido. Did Berengar demand the imperial crown? In any case King Adalbert ravaged Roman territory, and John XII was in such straits as to appeal for German intervention, thus strangely showing how the ancient policy of the Popes could recur in the unclerical son of Alberic.

It was in the summer of 960 that the Pope's envoys, the Cardinal-deacon John and the scriniarius Azo, reached Otto the Great in Saxony. The Pope's prayer for help was seconded by the Lombard exiles and by the messages of numerous magnates. Otto was now unembarrassed in other directions, and could resume his old schemes with the knowledge that he would have at last allies and support south of the Apennines. He was not ready to move, however, till August 961, when he crossed the Brenner Pass in force. Adalbert may have attempted to gather troops to bar the defiles north of Verona, but the universal defection of counts and bishops made resistance impossible, and the German king entered Pavia, whence Berengar had fled after spitefully burning the royal palace. Otto and the infant son Otto II whom he had left in Germany were at once acknowledged as co-regent kings of Italy without further ceremony. All their deserted rivals could do was to hold out in strong castles on the spurs of the Alps and in the Apennines where one magnate at least, Marquess Hubert of Tuscany, remained true to them.

Otto was able to disregard his enemies while he proceeded through Ravenna, thus avoiding the Tuscan route, to receive the promised imperial crown. On 31 January 962 he encamped on Monte Mario outside Rome, and according to custom certain of his vassals took on his behalf an oath to respect the Pope’s rights. The custom was old, but the terms of the oath were new, for John XII wished for an ally, not a suzerain, and the German king promised not to hold placita or intervene in Rome without the Pope's assent, to restore such alienated papal lands as he should become master of, and to bind whomever he should appoint to rule the Regnum Italicum to be the Pope’s protector. The Romans disliked a foreigner, and Otto bought his way by elusive promises and fallacious expectations. On 2 February he entered the Leonine city and was crowned with Adelaide in St Peter's by the Pope. A Roman Emperor of the West, successor of Charlemagne, once more existed. It was of evil omen that Otto’s sword-bearer stood on guard against his assassination while the sacring was enacted.

On their side Pope John and the Romans swore fealty to the Emperor with an express promise not to aid or receive Berengar and Adalbert. They found that Otto considered the situation changed by his new dignity. It is true that the privilege he granted to the Papacy on 13 February was even more generous than the old Carolingian donations in the matter of territory—for it added a large strip of Spoletan land to Rome and its duchy, the Exarchate, the Pentapolis, the Tuscan territory, the Sabina and the southern patrimonies, not to mention the vaguer supposed donation of 774 which was now confirmed without any clear idea of its meaning. But the pact of 824 was also expressly revived, by which the election of the Pope was submitted to imperial confirmation, and the Emperor's suzerainty in the papal lands was reserved and exercised in Rome itself by his missus. The scheme of setting up a vassal king of Italy, if ever really entertained, was abandoned. Although the terms of Otto’s oath were not precisely infringed, the change in the spirit of the new treaty was manifest—Pope John had become a subject.

There was still Berengar II to conquer, and the Emperor returned to Pavia, driving Hubert of Tuscany into exile on the way. Berengar was holding out in the impregnable castle of S. Leo in the Apennines, queen Willa and her sons in strongholds near the lakes in the north. Willa was now compelled to surrender on terms which allowed her to rejoin her husband: their sons were pressed hard, and Adalbert made his escape to the Saracens of Fraxinetum and Corsica. There he entered into relations with Pope John who was heartily weary of his new subordination. Meantime Otto was secure in the north, his partisans were placed in power, Liudprand was Bishop of Cremona, Adalbert-Atto Count of Modena and Reggio, Otto’s nephew Henry of Bavaria in firm possession of the march of Verona. So the news of the Pope's dubious loyalty only urged the Emperor to finish with Berengar by blockading him in S. Leo in May 963, while he still negotiated with John. The Pope on his side had grounds of complaint, for the Exarchate had not been restored to the Apostolic See on the ground that Berengar must first be conquered. On the other hand Otto had documentary proof that John was trying to rouse the Hungarians against him, and when he heard that Adalbert had been welcomed by John at Civitavecchia he seems to have decided to take the extreme measure of deposing his quondam ally. It was a hazardous course, for in the general belief the Pope could be brought to no man’s judgment, and the Romans, even those not of Alberic's faction, resented any diminution of their autonomy.

But Otto knew that John XII’s scandalous life and government had made men inclined to admit even a Pope's deposition, and were driving his Roman opponents even to alliance with the foreign Emperor. Accordingly in October Otto left a blockading force at S. Leo and marched on Rome, where his partisans rose. John XII and Adalbert fled to Tivoli laden with much church-treasure, and the Romans surrendered. They gave hostages and swore never to elect a Pope save by the choice of Otto and his son. The engagement was novel, going far beyond the Carolingian right to confirm an election and receive the Pope's fealty, but Alberic had already exercised the same power and Otto's imperial crown was unsafe without it.

Canonical form was as nearly as possible observed in John’s deposition. A synod, in which the Pope’s central Italian suffragans predominated, was presided over by the Emperor and attended by the Roman clergy and nobles; John was accused of gross misconduct and was summoned by Emperor and synod to clear himself in person. A brief letter in reply merely threatened with excommunication and suspension any bishops who should elect a new Pope. The synod sent a second summons retorting the threat and criticizing the illiteracy of John whose Latin smacked of the vernacular, but John was not to be found by the messengers. It was clear that the three canonical summonses could not be delivered to the culprit, and Otto now came forward in his own person and denounced John for his breach of fealty to himself. Thereupon on 4 December Emperor and synod declared John deposed and elected the protoscriniarius, a layman, Pope as Leo VIII.

Otto was in the full tide of success. Just after Christmas S. Leo at last surrendered and Berengar II and his wife were sent captive to Bamberg where they both died in 966. So Otto confidently dismissed much of his army. But John XII was stronger than he seemed, for his uncanonical deposition and a layman’s uncanonical election had roused qualms among a section of the churchmen, and the Romans were fretting under their subjugation. A sudden rising failed before the swords of Otto’s tried warriors; yet, when Otto went eastwards to take possession of the Spoletan duchy, John XII had only to appear before Rome with troops for the gates to be opened. Pope Leo just escaped with his life, and John was reinstated. After mutilating his former envoys to Otto, John and Azo, presumably on a charge of forgery, a synod of the nearest bishops in February 964 annulled Otto’s synod in which most of them had participated and declared Leo an intruder. Otto, whose missus had been ill-treated, naturally refused to change his policy. While his army was collecting, however, John XII died on 14 May of paralysis, and the Romans made a bid for independence by electing a learned and virtuous Pope, Benedict V. It was a vain manoeuvre. Otto starved out the city, mutilating all who tried to pass his blockading lines. On 23 June the surrender was made, and Leo VIII reinstated. Benedict was deposed and sent to a saintly exile at Hamburg. By now at any rate it was agreed that Otto's grants to the Popes were only for show, for of all the lands bestowed by his charter the duchy of Rome and the Sabina alone were left to the Papacy.

In this way Otto the Great brought into existence the Romano-Germanic Empire of the West, or, to give it its later and convenient name, the Holy Roman Empire, compounded by a union of the German kingdom with the Regnum Italicum and with the dignity of Roman Emperor. It was intended and supposed to be a revival of the Empire of Charlemagne which had broken up on the deposition of Charles the Fat, although its title had remained until the fall of Berengar I to express a protectorate of the Papacy. It was also a reassertion of that claim to pre-eminence in Western Europe which had been made by Otto's predecessor Arnulf as chief of the Carolingian house. Arnulf's Empire, indeed, furnishes the transitional form between that of Otto and that of Charlemagne, for Otto’s title implied less than Charlemagne’s had. Otto was considered the lay chief of Western Christendom, its defender from heathen and barbarians, the supreme maintainer of justice and peace; but, whereas Charlemagne was ruler of church and state, Otto’s power over the church was protective in its character. The Pope was unquestioned spiritual chief of Christendom; Otto was at the same time his suzerain with regard to the papal lands, and his subject as a member of the Church. The arrangement was only workable because the Papacy was weak. In secular matters Otto’s Empire lacked the universality of Charlemagne’s. Not only were France and Christian Spain outside its frontiers, but within it the nascent force of nationality was beginning to make itself felt. The German monarch was a foreigner in subject Italy, disguised as the fact might be by the absence of national feeling among the Italian magnates. “He had with him peoples and tribes whose tongues the people did not know”. This meant constant disaffection, constant suppression. The popular hatred burnt most fiercely at Rome and found utterance in a Roman monk: “Woe to thee, Rome, that thou art crushed and trodden down by so many people; who hast been seized by a Saxon king, and thy folk slaughtered and thy strength reduced to naught!”

In the details of government, also, Otto had not the control which Charlemagne exercised. Although the decline of the royal power must not be overrated, especially in Germany, even there feudalism, seignorial independence and state disorganization, had made great strides. In Italy, where he was too often an absentee, the royal demesne was depleted and the lay vassals were out of hand. Otto met this difficulty by a clever balancing of the two groups by whom he had been called in, the great secular magnates and the bishops. Of these, the first were the Marquesses, a title given in Italy to the ruler of several counties. Towards them Otto was conciliatory; even Hubert in the end was restored to Tuscany, and the Lombards, some four or five in number, were the Emperor's faithful vassals. They were survivors in the struggle for existence among the counts which had raged in the dissolution of the Carolingian order. Under the pressure of civil war, of Hungarian and Saracen ravage, old dynasts had vanished, new had come and had either vanished too, or had remained weakened. In their place or by their side ruled the bishops in the Lombard plain. Since 876 they had been permanent royal missi in their dioceses, and thus had at least in name supervision over the counts. Like other magnates the bishops during the years of anarchy had increased their “immunity” inside their domains, by increase of exemptions and jurisdictions and by grants of the profitable royal rights of market and toll and the like, while those domains also grew through the piety or competitive bribery of the kings and nobles. Not least among the sources of the bishops’ power was their influence over their cities, inherited from Roman times. In anarchy and disaster they stepped into the breach at the head of their fellow-citizens, whatever civic feeling existed gathered round them, and fragment by fragment they were acquiring in their cathedral cities the “public functions” whether of count or king. In its completed form this piecemeal process resulted in the city and a radius of land round it being excised from its county and removed from the count's jurisdiction. Thus Bergamo, Parma, Cremona, Modena, Reggio and Trieste were at Otto’s accession under the rule of their bishops. Otto came as the ally of the bishops and deliverer of the Church. He exercised whether by pressure on the electors or by mere nomination the appointment to vacant sees and great abbeys, and thus gained non-hereditary vassals of his own choice who were the safest supporters of his monarchy. He favored of set policy these instruments of his power as counterweights to the feudal magnates. Fresh cities, Asti, Novara, and Penne in the Abruzzi, were wholly given over to their bishops, and the immunities on episcopal lands steadily grew, so that they too were in process of being excised from the counties in which they lay. The work was slowly done by Otto and his successors both in Italy and Germany, but there was no countering tendency. The functions granted were either those of the hereditary counts or those which the kings had been unable to perform. By transference of these to the churchmen Otto and his heirs recovered control of much local government by seeming to give it away, and secured faithful, powerful adherents selected for capacity. Their monarchy came to rest, especially in Italy, on their control of the Church; all the more essential to them therefore became the subjection or the firm alliance of the Papacy. 

Scarcely had Otto left Italy when the death of his nominee, Pope Leo VIII, early in 965 endangered his new Empire. The Romans with a show of duty sent an embassy to beg for the exile Benedict as Pope, and Adalbert appeared in Lombardy to raise a revolt. Duke Burchard of Swabia, indeed, defeated Adalbert, and the Romans elected the Bishop of Narni as Pope John XIII at the Emperor’s command, but, though John was of Alberic’s kindred, the mere fact that he represented German domination enabled rival nobles to raise the populace and drive him into exile. He was not restored till in 966 the news of Otto’s descent into Italy with an army provoked a reaction. Punishment was dealt out to the rebels, severer for the Roman enemies of the Pope than for the Lombard rebels against Otto. John XIII’s exile seems to have occasioned fresh schemes of the Emperor. Paldolf I Ironhead of Capua-Benevento, with whom the Pope had found an asylum, appeared in Rome in January 967 and was there invested by Otto with the march of Spoleto, at the same time becoming Otto’s vassal for his native principality. Otto thus created a central Italian vassal of the first rank and enlarged his Empire. One motive, no doubt, was the wish to give peace and security to the Spoletan march; but the main purpose was clearly to begin the annexation of South Italy to the Regnum Italicum. This design, which was in pursuance of old Carolingian claims, was bound to find resistance in the Eastern Empire. The Byzantines looked on Otto’s imperial title as a barbaric impertinence; they considered Capua-Benevento as part of the Longobardic theme; and they were determined to maintain their dominion in Italy.

The Eastern Roman Emperors were always handicapped in their dealings in Italy; their province there was too important to be let go, too remote to be the object of their chief energies. The fall of King Hugh had been followed by outbreaks in Apulia, and at the same time the Saracen raids became a grave danger when the Fatimite Caliph Mansur once again recovered the revolted colony of Sicily in 947. Calabria was overrun by his troops; even Naples was besieged; and, although in 956 the patrician Marianus Argyrus restored Byzantine authority over subjects and vassals, the peace which suspended, rather than closed, the Saracen war was no more conclusive than the fighting. When a celebrated general Nicephorus Phocas became Emperor in 963 his vigorous effort to succor the last semi-autonomous Greeks of Sicily ended in disaster, and an ignominious peace. Now he found himself on the defensive against the aggression of the new Romano-Germanic Empire and the Latin West. John XIII was trying to revive the decadent Latin Church in south Italy by carving out new archbishoprics for Capua and Benevento from his own Roman province; Otto the Great was acquiring Capua-Benevento as a vassal state. At first it seemed as if an arrangement were possible, for Otto asked for a Byzantine bride, Theophano, daughter of Romanus II, for his son Otto II, whom at Christmas 967 he had caused the Pope to crown co-regent Emperor; and his Venetian envoy promised that Otto would respect the Byzantine dominions in Italy. But in 968 the German monarch made a surprise attack on Apulia and, only after failing to take Bari, did he send Liudprand of Cremona to Constantinople to conclude the marriage-treaty. Otto must have thought it easier to fix the frontier with the territory he claimed already in his possession. The natural effect on the rude and soldierly Nicephorus was to make him badger Liudprand and prepare an expedition. The war was indecisive. The exiled King Adalbert, Nicephorus’s Italian ally, could do nothing and eventually fled to French Burgundy where in 975 he died, while his brother Conrad submitted to Otto and received the march of Ivrea. Otto on his side when he warred in person could take no Apulian town and Paldolf Ironhead was captured by the Greeks, who yet were soon defeated again. It was the murder of Nicephorus in December 969 which brought a solution. The new Byzantine Emperor, John Tzimisces, had his hands full in the East; Otto saw the design of conquering Greek Italy was hopeless. By the intervention of Paldolf, released for the purpose, they came to terms, and in April 972 Theophano was married at Rome to Otto II.

Events make it clear that Otto kept the suzerainty of Capua-Benevento and abandoned further schemes. Paldolf Ironhead’s wide central Italian dominion after all formed a convenient buffer-state for both Empires, no matter to which he was a vassal.

Otto the Great did not long survive the settlement with Eastern Rome, as he died in Thuringia on 7 May 973. His character belongs to German history, but his work affected all Europe. He had created the Holy Roman Empire and in so doing had revived the conception of Charlemagne which molded the thought and the development of Western Europe. The union of Germany and north Italy was his doing and the fate of both for centuries derives from the bias he gave their history. So, too, in immediate results he closes one era and begins another, for the times of anarchy and moral collapse following the wreck of Charlemagne’s Empire come to an end, and a period of revival in government, in commerce and in civilization is ushered in by the comparative peace he gave. The problem of defense against the barbarian invader, which had baffled the fleeting Italian kings and had contributed to their ruin, was solved. Otto himself crushed the Hungarian hordes for good and all: it was fitting that in his reign the Saracens of Fraxinetum also, who so long preyed on the routes between Italy and France, should be abolished. The impulse to this deliverance was given by a crowning outrage. St Maiolus, Abbot of Cluny, revered throughout the West, was captured in July 972 while crossing the Great St Bernard Pass with a numerous caravan of fellow travelers. The Cluniac monks at once raised the enormous ransom demanded by the Saracens, but the indignation roused by the event and perhaps a hope of so great a booty at length moved the great barons on either side of the Alps to act in concert. The Saracens who had seized St Maiolus were cut off and destroyed, and a federation of nobles led by the counts of Provence and Ardoin of Turin closed in on Fraxinetum itself. The Saracen colony was extirpated. Once more the Alpine passes were free to travelers, save for exactions by the nobles and occasional brigandage.

The Regnum Italicum could now rest under the shadow of the strong monarchy, untroubled save by the violence of the nobles and the unappeased strife of Roman factions. Otto the Great had nominated in 973 Benedict VI to succeed to the Papacy, but a relative of John XIII and of Alberic, Crescentius, son of a Theodora, thrust in a usurper, the deacon Franco, as Boniface VII in 974. Yet a reaction, perhaps provoked by the true Pope’s murder, soon came, and the imperial missus, Count Sico, was able to install the Bishop of Sutri as Benedict VII, although Franco contrived to escape to Constantinople with a quantity of church-treasure. The revolution had not even required a German army, much less an imperial campaign.

Not till December 980 did Otto II (the Red) find leisure or occasion to proceed to Italy. He came to be reconciled with his mother Adelaide, and perhaps to give her some voice in affairs. The young Emperor, then aged twenty-five, was not eminently gifted with a ruler's wisdom; but he was ambitious and energetic, and his ambitions now were directed to that conquest of the south which his father had abandoned. There was much that was tempting in the situation of Byzantine Italy, much that seemed to call for intervention. In answer to the proceedings of Otto the Great an attempt had been made by the Byzantines to unify the administration by transmuting the strategos of Longobardia into the catapan or viceroy of Italy with a superior authority over the strategos of Calabria. This new system was soon put to hard proof. In 969 the Fatimite caliphs conquered Egypt, and thus became hostile neighbors’ to the East Romans in Syria. War broke out and spread to the western provinces of both powers. Once more Calabria was ravaged by the Muslims under the Sicilian emir Abul-Kasim in 976 and Apulia suffered in the next year. The only relief given was due to the local payment of blackmail, for the Byzantines, who had begun the war in spirited fashion by the momentary capture of Messina, were paralyzed by the campaigns in Syria, by the civil wars which followed Tzimisces' death, and by the disaffection of the Apulians.

Otto the Red succumbed to the temptation. The Saracen danger under Abul-Kasim grew ever more menacing and might affect his own dominions. Civil war in the East and disaffection in Italy made the Byzantines weak. He might at one and the same time repel the Muslims and bring the Regnum Italicum to its natural limits. In September 981 he had reached Lucera on the Apulian frontier when he was recalled to secure his rear. Paldolf Ironhead had soon extended his central State. When Prince Gisulf of Salerno was dethroned in 973 by a complot of rebellious nobles and his jealous neighbors’ of Amalfi and Naples, it was Paldolf who overthrew the usurper Landolf, his own kinsman, and restored the old, childless prince as his client. In 977 he succeeded as prince in Salerno. On Ironhead’s death, however, in March 981 his great dominion dissolved. One son, Landolf IV, inherited Capua-Benevento, and another, Paldolf, ruled Salerno. Now revolutions broke out. The Beneventans were restive under Capuan rule, and declared Ironhead's nephew Paldolf II their prince while Landolf IV retained Capua: the Salernitans drove out their Paldolf, and introduced the Byzantine ally, Duke Manso III of Amalfi. Otto accepted the separation of Capua and Benevento, but he besieged Salerno, and obtained its submission at the price of recognizing Manso. He seemed to have secured a new vassal; he had lost the benefit of surprise and the halo of irresistible success. When with large reinforcements from Germany he marched through Apulia in 982, the towns did not join him, although Bari rebelled on its own account, and Taranto surrendered after a long siege. There he heard of the coming of the Saracen foe from whom he claimed to deliver his intended conquest.

Abul-Kasim had proclaimed a Holy War and crossed to Calabria. Otto advanced to meet him. At Rossano he left the Empress Theophano and, moving south, captured the Saracens’ advance guard in an unnamed town. He met the main body on the east coast, perhaps near Stilo. Headlong courage and no generalship marked his conduct of the battle, for he charged and broke the Saracen centre, without perceiving their reserves amid the hills on his flank. Abul-Kasim had been killed, but meanwhile the exhausted Germans were attacked by the fresh troops on their flank and overwhelmed. Some four thousand were slain including the flower of the German nobles; many were made prisoners; the Emperor himself only eluded capture by swimming to a Byzantine vessel, from which in turn he had to escape by leaping overboard when it brought him near Rossano.

With the remnants of his army Otto beat a retreat to Salerno and Rome. As the news spread over the Empire his prestige waned, and a mutinous spirit arose in Italy which was, however, kept in check by the steady adherence of Marquesses and Bishops to the German monarchy. Otto did his best to re-establish his position. In May 983 he held a German Diet at Verona, and there obtained the election as King of Germany of his infant son Otto, whom he thereupon sent north to be crowned. At the same time he made an effort to bring the independent sea-power of Venice to subjection.

Venice had prospered exceedingly during the century. Exempt from Hungarian ravage, she had contrived to hold the piracy of the distant Saracens and of the Slays of Dalmatia in check. She had shaken off Byzantine suzerainty and maintained a privileged intercourse with the Regnum Italicum. She had already become the chief intermediary between Constantinople and the West; her wealth, derived partly from her questionable exports of iron, wood and slaves to the Saracens, was growing rapidly. Even when she was obliged to surrender the extra-territoriality of her citizens within the Western Empire to Otto the Great, she obtained in return the perpetuity of her treaty with him. But she had her special dangers. One was the effort of the Doges to erect an hereditary monarchy, like that of Amalfi. The other, caused largely by this effort, was the rise of two embittered factions among the mercantile nobles who held the chief influence in the State. These troubles affected her relations with Otto II, for the aspiring Doge Pietro Candiano IV who had been murdered in 976 had married Gualdrada of Tuscany, niece of the Empress Adelaide. The efforts of Doge Tribuno Menio did indeed result in a hollow reconciliation at Verona in June 983. Otto II restored Venice her privileges with the airs of a suzerain, while Venice tacitly maintained her independence. Hardly was the bargain struck, however, before Otto broke it. The civil discord of Venice had ended in the bitter hatred of the rival families of Caloprini and Morosini. Now Stephen Caloprini fled to Verona and offered to be the Emperor’s genuine vassal if restored to Venice as Doge. Otto characteristically seized the chance of conquest. Venice was strictly blockaded by land, and might have been forced to yield had not the Emperor, enfeebled by a foreign climate, died of an overdose of medicine (four drachms of aloes) on 7 December 983.


The minority of Otto III

Otto had been preparing for new aggression towards the south, where Transemund, the new Marquess of Spoleto, and Aloara of Capua, Paldolf Ironhead’s widow, might be relied on. His impatient policy had just been shown in the promotion of a foreign Pope to succeed Benedict VII, for John XIV had been Peter, Bishop of Pavia and Arch-chancellor of Italy. The restive Romans, still mindful of the old prohibition of translations, rose against the Lombard Pope at Easter 984. Their leader was that Franco, now once more Boniface VII, who had been let loose with his treasure by the incensed Byzantines. He disgraced himself once more by causing the death of his imprisoned rival, and made himself so hated in his brief and tyrannous pontificate that on his death in 985 the mob outraged his corpse through the streets. He had really bought the Papacy from those who could sell it, the faction led by the house of the Crescentii. By them Alberic’s rule of Rome was revived in the person of the patrician Crescentius II, son of Crescentius de Theodora. There was, however, a difference; while preserving his autonomous power Crescentius II avoided a breach with the Empire.

He could take this anomalous position all the more easily because the Empire and the Regnum Italicum were in some sort vacant. The child Otto III of Germany was acknowledged as rightful heir, but not as sovereign, in Italy, where the interregnum was filled by admitting the claim of the two crowned Augustas, Theophano and Adelaide, to act for the future Emperor, this constitutional subtlety being made acceptable by the loyalty of Marquesses and Bishops to the German connection. Otto II’s aggressions against Venice and the Byzantines were promptly abandoned, and the peace of the Empire, tempered by the never wholly quiescent local broils, continued its beneficent work. Adelaide was soon thrust aside by Theophano who, Greek though she was, troubled with unruly German magnates and hampered by Slav revolt beyond the Elbe, yet contrived to rule. In 989 she came to Rome, partly to reaffirm the Empire, partly perhaps in rivalry with Adelaide. Crescentius II evidently came to terms, which preserved his patriciate, and she exercised without hindrance all the functions of sovereignty, even being styled Emperor by her puzzled chancery unused to a female reign. It was not, however, all by merit of the adroit and firm-willed lady, for, when a year after her return to Germany she died in June 991, and Adelaide took her place, the fabric of the Empire continued unshaken. The idea of the Ottonian monarchy had captivated men's imagination, the benefits it conferred on lands so recently wretched were indisputable, and the Italian magnates knew their own interests well enough to be persistently loyal.

At the head of the magnates stood Hugh of Tuscany, who for some years had ruled Spoleto as well, thus once more forming a mid-Italian buffer-fief, like that of his father Hubert, or of Paldolf Ironhead. It was Hugh who, when a revolution broke out at Capua on Aloara’s death, set up a second son of Paldolf Ironhead'sLaidulf, as prince, and maintained the suzerainty of the Western Empire. At Rome, however, Crescentius II exercised unchallenged sway. Pope John XV had not even the support of the stricter clergy against his lay oppressor, for he himself had a bad name for avarice and nepotism. But intervention by the German monarch became certain.

Otto III was now fifteen and of age; his advisers were anxious to put an end to the anomalous formal vacancy of the Empire; and in response to Pope John's invitation the king crossed the Brenner Pass with an army in February 996. No one resisted him, although the inevitable riot between Germans and Italians took place at Verona. At Pavia, where he received the fealty of the magnates, he heard of John XV’s death; at the next stage, Ravenna, he was met by a Roman embassy, which submissively requested him to name a new Pope. His choice was as bold as possible; Otto II had only promoted a Lombard; Otto III selected his own cousin Bruno of Carinthia, a youth of twenty-four, who styled himself Gregory V. Thus for the first time a German ascended the papal throne. It must have been gall and wormwood to the Romans, but they made no resistance. On 21 May Otto III was crowned Emperor by his nominee. Neither Pope nor Emperor was disposed to allow the patriciate to continue. Crescentius II was tried for his offences against John XV, condemned to exile, and then pardoned at the Pope’s request. The victory had been so easy that Otto speedily left Italy. Gregory, however, was already in difficulties. He was a rash young man, who was also open to bribes, and the Romans hated their German Pope. In September he escaped from their hands, and Crescentius resumed power. Gregory, safe in Pavia, might excommunicate the usurper and act as the admitted head of the Church. Crescentius did not hesitate to set up an Anti-Pope. His choice was cunning, if hopeless. Otto III, following the steps of his predecessors, had sent to Constantinople to demand the hand of a Greek princess. One envoy died on the mission; the other, John Philagathus, Archbishop of Piacenza, had recently returned with a Byzantine embassy to continue negotiations. This prelate was a Greek of Calabria, who had been the trusted adviser of Theophano and had obtained the independence of his see from Ravenna owing to her influence. Being the tutor and godfather of the Emperor, he might seem a persona grata to him. Perhaps he shared Theophano's policy of alliance with the Roman patrician. In any case he accepted Crescentius’s offer. But he was everywhere unpopular, a foreigner at Rome, an ingrate further north, and Otto III was resolved. Late in 997 the Emperor returned to Italy with imposing forces. By the usual route of Ravenna he reached Rome with Pope Gregory in February 998. There was no real resistance. John XVI fled to the Campagna to be captured, blinded and mutilated by his pursuers and then made a public spectacle by the revengeful Pope. Crescentius, who held out in the castle of Sant Angelo, the ancient tomb of Hadrian, soon was taken and executed. Otto and Gregory hoped thus to crush the indomitable independence of the Romans. They only added an injured hero to the traditions of medieval Rome, for Crescentius was widely believed, possibly with truth, to have surrendered upon assurances of safety.

Otto was still in Italy, alternately employed in affairs of Church and State, and in the pilgrimage and penance dear to his unbalanced character, when Pope Gregory died in February 999. True to his imperial policy, the Emperor selected another non-Roman, Gerbert of Aurillac, the first French, as Gregory had been the first German Pope. Gerbert, now Sylvester II, was the most learned man of his age, so learned that legend made him a magician. Bred in the Aquitanian abbey of Aurillac, he knew both Spain and Italy, but the best of his life had been spent at the metropolitan city of Reims. There he was renowned as a teacher and had taken eager part in the events which led to the substitution of Hugh Capet for the Carolingian dynasty of France. His reward had been his elevation to the see of Reims, but this being consequent on the deposition of his predecessor had brought him into collision with the Papacy, and in 997 he gave up the attempt to maintain himself. He had, however, a sure refuge. For long he had stood in close relations to the Saxon Emperors. Known to Otto the Great, he had been given the famous abbey of Bobbio in 982 by Otto II, although the indiscreet zeal he displayed led to his retreat to Reims again on his patron’s death. None the less he had worked in France in the interests of Otto III in the troublous times of the latter's infancy, and as his hold on Reims grew weaker he had attached himself in 995 to Otto’s court. There he speedily became the favored tutor of the boy Emperor, partly sharing, partly humoring and partly inspiring the visionary schemes of his pupil. In 998 he became again an archbishop, this time of Ravenna, whence he was called to fill the papal chair.

Sylvester II was far too practical a statesman to share in all the dreams of Otto, yet even he seems to have thought of a renovated Roman Empire, very different from the workaday creation of Otto the Great, of an Empire as wide as Charlemagne’s which should be truly ecumenical, and no longer an appendage to the German monarchy. Otto’s schemes were far stranger, the offspring of his wayward and perfervid nature. Half Greek, half Saxon in birth and training, bred by Theophano and Philagathus and under northern prelates and nobles as well, he not only blended the traditions of Charlemagne’s lay theocracy with those of the ancient Roman Empire seen through a long Byzantine perspective, but he also oscillated between the ambitious energy of an aspiring monarch and the ascetic renunciation of a fervent monk. The contradiction, not unexampled at the time, was glaring in an unripe boy, whose head was turned by his dignity and his power. He had his ascetic mentors who fired his enthusiasms, St Adalbert of Prague, St Romuald of Ravenna, St Nilus of Calabria. As the fit seized him he went on pilgrimage or withdrew for austerities to hermitage or monastery. This visionary ruler lacked neither ability nor a policy, however fantastic his aims might be. He believed most fully in his theocracy. He was the ruler of Church and State. The Popes were his lieutenants in ecclesiastical matters. As time went on he emphasized his position by strange titles; he was ‘servant of Jesus Christ’, ‘servant of the Apostles’, in rivalry with the servos servorum Dei of the Popes. Content with the practical support they received from him in ruling both the Church and Rome, Gregory V tolerated the beginnings of this and Sylvester II submitted at a price to its full development. In a strange, scolding, argumentative diploma Otto III denounced the Donation of Constantine and that of Charles the Bald, the one as a forgery, the other as invalid, and proceeded to grant the Pope eight counties of the Pentapolis hitherto ruled by Hugh of Tuscany. It was a considerable gift, somewhat modified by the fact that Otto intended to make Rome itself his chief capital, and treated the Pope as his vassal. He perhaps saw the revival of the Lombard nobles; he was carried away by the ancient splendors of the Empire, and, proud of his Greek extraction, he hoped to recall the past by a gaudy imitation of its outer forms. Those forms he saw in Byzantium, the continuously Roman. Titles and ceremonies were rudely borrowed. His dignitaries became logothetesprotospathars and the like: once and again their names were written in the Greek alphabet as an evidence of culture. To gain centralization and emphasize unity the German and Italian chanceries were fused together, to the muddling of their formal and perhaps of their practical business. Semi-barbarism had a puerile side in the court the German Augustus held at Rome in his palace on the Aventine, and well might the loyal German nobles look askance at the freaks of the Emperor. “He would not see delightful Germany, the land of his birth, so great a love possessed him of dwelling in Italy”.

In January 1000 Otto paid his last visit to Germany, whither the deaths of two great ladies, his aunt Abbess Matilda and the aged Empress Adelaide, who had guided the German Government, called him. In July he returned to Italy, for a storm which had long been brewing had bur.st. It had its principal origin in the prosperity which the Ottonian peace had brought to North Italy. The population had increased, waste and forest were brought under cultivation, trade thrived in the cities. True to Italian tradition the unrest appeared in two separate groups of persons, among the country-side nobles, and among the citizens, but, since the individuals who made up these two groups were largely identical, it was as yet seldom that the effects of their discontents were sharply separated. Under the great vassals of the countryside, the bishops, abbots, marquesses and counts, were ranked the now numerous greater and lesser vavassors, or capitanei and secundi milites, who were distinguished not so much by their position in the feudal chain as by the extent of their lands and privileges, but who in general were vassals of the magnates, not of the Emperor.

The continued predominance of city-life in Italy, and the terrors of the recent barbarian ravages, had turned large numbers of the capitanei and secundi milites into inhabitants, either partially or solely, of the cities, where they formed the most powerful class of citizens. Under them were the traders who led the non-noble city-population.

All three classes, capitaneisecundi milites and plebeians tended to be at odds with one another; there were also signs of a resentment at the bishops’ rule which had once been welcomed. Berengar II, at enmity with the bishops, had shown signs of courting the townsmen when he granted privileges to the men of Genoa collectively; the Milanese, in Otto III’s minority, had waged war on their archbishop Landulf II and the great family to which he belonged; the Cremonese obtained from Otto III a diploma which infringed their bishop’s fiscal rights and was soon quashed on that account. The movement was contrary to the imperial policy by which the bishops, sometimes of German extraction, were the Emperor's best agents and counter-weights to the restless nobles. Fresh towns, Lodi, Acqui, Piacenza, and Tortona, had been placed completely under episcopal rule; the whole province of Ravenna was made subject to its archbishop's authority by Otto III; lesser privileges in town and country had been continually given piecemeal to the prelates. Yet in the country-side the expedient was losing its value. Prelates in difficulties, prelates of the local noble families, were steadily granting church land by the leases known as libellariae to the nobles, thereby impoverishing their churches and strengthening the noble class, and the consequent feudal disorder was only increased by the growing divergence in interest between the magnates, the capitanei, and the secundi milites. The vast and increasing church estates were being consumed by nominal leases and over-enfeoffment.


Revolt of Ardoin of Ivrea

Disorder from this cause was already marked under Otto II; Pope Sylvester, as Abbot of Bobbio, had vainly striven to check the system in his abbey; it now led to civil war. Ardoin, Marquess of Ivrea, was probably a relative of Berengar II, but his sympathies lay with the lesser nobles. He and they had profited by spendthrift episcopal grants, and came to bitter feud with Bishop Peter of Vercelli, possibly because he endeavored to recall them. In 997 they murdered the bishop and burnt the cathedral. Peter’s fellow-bishops were up in arms against Ardoin, and Otto III took stringent action. In 998 he enacted that no church libellaria should outlast the grantor’s life. In 999, in concert with the Pope, he confiscated Ardoin’s lands and condemned him to a life of penitent wandering. At the same time he appointed a stout-hearted German, Leo, to the see of Vercelli, and granted him the counties of Vercelli and Santhia. It was the first grant of entire counties to a bishopric in Lombardy, although parallel to the powers conferred on the see of Ravenna. But Ardoin resisted in his castles, and next year, supported by his accomplices, seems even to have taken the title of king. Otto returned, but was content to drive Ardoin back and to entrust his uprooting to the local magnates. The embers of the revolt against the Romano-Germanic Empire were left to glow. Otto’s wishes at this time seem to have turned to the reassertion of the claims of the Holy Roman Empire in the south. Since Abul-Kasim’s death in his victory over Otto II, the Saracen raids, although they inflicted misery on Calabria and South Apulia, had not been in sufficient force to endanger the Byzantine rule. The catapan Calocyrus Delphinas in 983-4 had subdued the Apulian rebels; nor did Otto III show any disposition to intervene. But the petty frontier states were a different matter. In 983 the Salernitans had driven out Manso of Amalfi, and under their new prince John II, a Lombard from Spoleto, remained henceforth neutral and disregarded. Their neighbors, however, Capua, Benevento, Naples and Gaeta, were more important for Otto. After a romantic pilgrimage to the famous shrine of Monte Gargano, he sent in 999 the Capuan Ademar, new-made Marquess of Spoleto, to Capua, where Laidulf was deposed and Ademar made prince. At the same time Naples was seized, its Duke John taken captive, and the Duke of Gaeta was bribed into vassalage. These successes, which once more effectively enlarged the Empire, did not last, for in 1000 the Capuans drove out Ademar, substituting Landolf V of the old dynasty, and John of Naples recovered his state and independence. A short campaign of Otto himself next year against Benevento gained at most a formal submission from the Lombard princes. The fact was that the Emperors could never devote enough energy or men to the subjugation of the south, divergent as it was in soil, in organization, and in habits of life from the Frank-ruled, feudalized and more fertile north.

At the time, indeed, Otto’s throne was rocking under him. He had offended the Romans by sparing revolted Tivoli, for which too independent neighbor they nourished a passionate hatred; nor were their desires for their old autonomy and dislike of the Saxon stranger diminished by his imperial masquerade. In February 1001 they broke into revolt and blockaded Otto in his palace on the Aventine, at the same time closing the gates against his troops who were encamped outside the walls under his cousin, Duke Henry of Bavaria and Hugh of Tuscany. After three days Otto prepared a desperate sortie, but at the same time Hugh and Henry entered by treaty with the Romans. Once more they swore fealty, and listened to the Emperor's reproaches, the best proof of the strong illusion under which he labored: “Are you my Romans? For your sake I have left my country and my kindred. For love of you have I abandoned my Saxons and all the Germans, my own blood. I have led you to the most distant parts of the Empire, where your fathers, lords of the world, never set foot, so as to spread your name and fame to the ends of the earth”. And the crowd half believed in the dream. They dragged their leaders out and threw them before the Emperor. His nobles were cooler, and under their persuasions he left the Eternal City, where his escort still remained. It could not be concealed that he had really been driven out by the rebels.

His case was nearly desperate. The German magnates were ready to revolt against the dreamer. St Romuald counseled him to take the cowl. Yet Otto, though a visionary, was resourceful and resolute. He summoned fresh forces from Germany, where Henry of Bavaria kept the princes loyal. He asked once more, and with success, for a Byzantine bride. He vexed Rome whence his men were extracted, and prepared for a siege. But his strength was exhausted. On 23 January 1002 he died at Paterno on the Tiber just as his reinforcements reached him.

All Italy was in confusion. The Germans were obliged to fight their way northwards with the corpse. King Ardoin seized the Italian crown. John Crescentius, son of Crescentius II, ruled Rome as patrician, and Pope Sylvester, who had loyally followed his pupil, was content to return thither despoiled of secular power and soon to die. Hugh of Tuscany was already dead, to the joy of the ungrateful Otto. But the basis of the Holy Roman Empire was still firm. Bishops and Marquesses as a rule were faithful to the Saxon house. If Otto's dreams were over, German supremacy, the fact, remained.

It was not only in the Lombard troubles under Otto III that signs were apparent of the medieval evolution of Italy. His contemporary and friend, Doge Pietro Orseolo II of Venice, was making a city-state a first-rate power at sea. Within a few years Orseolo curbed and appeased the feuds of the nobles, he effected a reconciliation with Germany, he reinstated Venice in her favorable position in the Eastern Empire, and contrived to keep on fair terms with the Muslim world. In 1000 Venice made her first effort to dominate the upper Adriatic and it was successful for the time. The Doge led a fleet to Dalmatia, checking the Slav tribes and giving Venice a temporary protectorate over the Roman towns of the coast.  Byzantium was busied in war nearer home and glad to rely on a powerful friend. She soon had occasion for Venice’s active help, for the Saracen raids grew once again to dangerous dimensions. In 1002 the caid Safi came from Sicily and besieged Bari by land and sea. The catapan Gregory Trachaniotis was rescued by Venice. Orseolo II arrived with his fleet, revictualled the town, and fought a three days' battle with the Muslims. In the end, worsted on both elements, they retreated by night. They still wasted Calabria and the whole west coast of Italy, yet here too they received a severe check in a naval battle near Reggio in 1006, in which the fleet of the Tuscan trading town of Pisa played the decisive part. Thus, even before the Holy Roman Empire reached its apogee, the future city-states of North Italy had made their first entry into international politics.

In the security of the frontiers, in the rebirth of civic life, in the resettlement of the country-side, in the renewal of intercourse and commerce, the success of the Ottonian rule was manifest. Nor were the omens inauspicious in the Church. During the wretched times of anarchy a demoralization, analogous to that of which the career of King Hugh bears witness among the magnates, had invaded cathedral and cloister. The Papacy could be the bone of contention for lawless nobles; a great abbey, like Farfa, could be a nest of murder and luxury in the mid tenth century. Now at any rate, in the north under Alberic and the Ottos, in the Byzantine south, an improvement, slow and chequered as it might be, had set in. But in one aim the Ottos had failed, the extension of the Regnum Italicum over all Italy. Sardinia, which vegetated apart ruled by her native ‘judges’ under an all but forgotten Byzantine suzerainty, might be disregarded; but the separation of the south of the peninsula from the north left the Holy Roman Empire imperfect. It was a case where geographical and climatic influences interacted on historical events and made them, so to say, their accomplices in molding the future. South Italy as a whole was always a more barren land than the north, more sunburnt, less well-watered, a land of pasture rather than of agriculture or of intense cultivation, a land of great estates and sparse inhabitants. Long separated from the main Lombard kingdom by Roman territory, and protected by their mountain defiles, the Lombards of Benevento had fallen apart from their northern kinsmen. Charlemagne had not subdued them; Eastern Rome, by direct conquest and through her client sea-ports, had exercised a potent influence upon them; the Saracens held Sicily. Throughout the two centuries from 800 to 1000 the schism of the two halves of Italy, which Nature had half prescribed, steadily widened. Even what they had most in common, the tendency to autonomous city-states, took different embodiment and met a different destiny. The Norman Conquest only concluded and intensified a probable evolution.