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When the votes of the Electors called the young Duke of Swabia, Frederick of Hohenstaufen, to the throne, men's minds turned to him in anxiety yet in the fullness of hope. Germany had need of settled government in order to reunite her inherent forces and to raise the fallen dignity of the Empire to the high level once attained by Charles and Otto the Great. The character of the young monarch who now undertook to direct the destinies of the Empire was not unequal to the task, and the manly ambition which glowed within him found in the example of those great predecessors a spur and inspiration fraught with promise. His person seemed a symbol of domestic peace to the Germans who had raised him to his throne. His father had transmitted to him the Ghibelline blood of the Hohenstaufen with all the other imperial traditions of the Franconian house. On his mother’s side he was related to the Welfs, and thus seemed to form a reuniting link of friendship between the two great parties so long at variance. He was a voice calling upon the scattered forces of Germany to combine and work in harmony for common interests.

Gifted with a good memory and a keen intelligence, Frederick spoke his native language eloquently but was not at home in the Latin tongue, although he read Latin authors with pleasure and took a delight in those narratives of Roman history which brought before his mind, yearning for greatness and fame, memories of that bygone Roman Empire on the restoration of which his heart was set. Like all men of a higher cast of character, he opened his ears to the spirit of his age and yielded to the influences of the revived classical learning. His mind was full of the revived conceptions of the Roman imperial law, of which the Italian jurists saw in him the embodiment. They did not, however, understand that the Empire transplanted into German soil was not the Empire of old, and that in Frederick of Hohenstaufen they had before them the most authentic representation of the good and evil of Germanic power against which, as by an inevitable antithesis, the free Lombard communes were to rise. Frederick was the successor of Charles the Great rather than of Augustus, and his counterpart was the new Italy which had taken the place of the ancient Rome.

The crown was hardly on his brow when he sent to Italy ambassadors, who presented themselves to the Pope and were well received. Eugenius III, in May 1152, had at once written to Frederick from Segni congratulating him on his election and announcing the dispatch of a legate who would acquaint him with his intentions. The Pope, in expressing his confidence that the king would maintain the promises made by Conrad III to himself and the Roman Church, hinted at an early visit to Rome. With a bearing on this subject which lay so near his heart, Eugenius wrote on 20 September 1152 to Wibald, Abbot of Corvey (Stablo), informing him of the machinations set on foot in Rome by the popular faction at the instigation of the heretic, Arnold of Brescia, unknown to the nobles and leading personages of the city.

About two thousand of the common citizens had met secretly to arrange for the election of one hundred senators for life and two consuls, and to vest the supreme authority over them and over Rome in one man holding the rank of Emperor. The Pope enjoined Wibald to inform Frederick of this secretly in order that he might take steps to meet the occasion. Frederick stood in need of no incitement from the Pope to turn his thoughts to Italy, and in the very first days of his reign he had discussed the matter in council with the princes. His ecclesiastical advisers would have liked him to have given effect without further negotiations to the engagements made between Conrad III and the Holy See, and then to have proceeded to Rome to receive the crown and re-establish the impaired authority of the Pope. But the lay princes were opposed to this immediate absence from Germany, either because the position of the kingdom was still too unstable or because they thought it expedient to wait for a fresh invitation from the Pope. Frederick, although anxious to receive the crown and feeling that it was important to do so quickly, saw the necessity of first dealing with the affairs of Germany. In the case of the election of Wichmann to the archbishopric of Magdeburg the interpretation of the Concordat of Worms was involved, and this introduced a serious cause of disagreement with the Pope.

In spite of this incident, friendly relations were maintained between the Pope and the king. It was a matter of pressing importance for both that the coronation at Rome should not be long deferred. While settling the affairs of Germany, Frederick kept his attention steadily fixed on Italy, and in giving his decision in favor of the Saxon Henry the Lion, whom he liked and wished to reconcile to the Empire, in the dispute between that prince and the Duke of Bavaria, he aimed at securing powerful cooperation in his expedition into Italy. Invitations to enter upon this expedition were many and fervent. The rebel barons of Apulia pictured to him the easiness of an enterprise against the King of Sicily; many Italian cities asked his aid against other and more powerful cities, especially against the powerful and haughty Milanese whom they had not sufficient strength to oppose. Anastasius IV, who had succeeded Eugenius III in July 1153, confirmed the proposals of his predecessor, and went so far as to grant the pallium to Wichmann for the see of Magdeburg, while urging Frederick to come to Rome. The moment had come, and the young restorer of the Empire set out in October 1154 from the Tyrol for Italy. In November he encamped near Piacenza, on the plains of Roncaglia, in order to hold, according to custom, his first Italian diet. A few days afterwards, on 3 December 1154, Anastasius died at Rome, and with his successor a new era opened, in which the story of the House of Swabia up to its end was inextricably bound up with that of the Papacy.


Pope Hadrian IV


The new Pontiff was known as Hadrian IV. He was born in England, at Langley near St Albans, in poor circumstances, and his name was Nicholas Breakspear. He had left his native country in youth and wandered through various districts of France in search of instruction. After a stay of some duration at Arles, his studies being now complete, he was received into the monastery of Saint-Ruf in Provence, where his good looks, well-weighed speeches, and prompt obedience made him a favorite. There he was able to turn to account his intellectual gifts, and made such advance in his studies and in the esteem of his fellow-religious that he was raised to the rank of abbot. In this office, however, he did not obtain the same sympathies as before, either because the monks found the rule of a foreigner irksome, or that he had heaped up resentments against himself by his unflinching severity. Thus disputes arose between him and his monks which brought him to Rome to Eugenius III. In this way the Pontiff learned to estimate his true worth and, removing him from the abbacy, appointed him Cardinal-bishop of Albano and then placed him at the head of the Norwegian missions. By carrying the Gospel into these distant regions and there organizing the Church, he secured such a reputation at Rome and among the cardinals that they, on the day after the death of Anastasius (4 December 1154), soon after his return from his mission, elected him to the Papacy.

A strong man, called upon to face difficult times, he entered on his sacred office with a very lofty conception of the supreme mission for which this office had been instituted on earth by God. The zeal and piety which inspired him were combined with a capacity for public affairs bordering on astuteness, while the suavity of his manner was accompanied by a strength and tenacity of character which looked straight, forward, without swerving, to the end in view. He had scarcely become Pope when an occasion arose for displaying his firmness. The Romans, in the last days of the pontificate of Eugenius, had consented to a sort of truce which had enabled the Pope to re-enter Rome and establish himself in the Vatican within the precincts of the Leonine city. But it was a truce which both parties viewed with suspicion. Arnold of Brescia with his followers was still in Rome, and his presence encouraged the popular faction to contend for communal liberty against pontifical supremacy. This new Pope, a foreigner, confident of his authority and hostile to the teaching of Arnold, could not be acceptable to the Romans, whose discontent reached at last the pitch of violence.

One day when Cardinal Guido of Santa Pudenziana was returning from the Vatican, he was attacked and seriously wounded by Arnold’s followers. Hadrian in return for this grave outrage unhesitatingly launched an interdict against the city, declaring that it should not be removed until Arnold and his party were banished from Home.

Never before had this heavy sentence fallen upon the city, and the unforeseen event spread terror in men’s minds. Easter was close at hand, Holy Week had begun, and the churches were prayerless and shut against the faithful. Hadrian remained unmoved amidst the amazement of the panic-stricken people. Urged by the clergy and the populace, the senators sought the Pope’s presence and swore to banish Arnold and his followers. While wandering in the Campagna he was taken prisoner by members of the papal party, but being rescued by some friendly barons who revered him as an apostle he found refuge in one of their strongholds. His rebellious adversary having thus been got rid of, Hadrian was able at last to issue forth from the Leonine city and proceed with great pomp to the Lateran, where he presided at the Easter solemnities.

While things were thus happening in Rome, fresh causes of anxiety had arisen in the south, where the quarrel between the Curia and the King of Sicily, William I, was once more active. The new king, who had but recently succeeded Roger, began his reign under difficult circumstances. Harassed by rebellion within and by hostility on the part of the Eastern and Western Emperors without his dominions, he thought of reverting to the subtle traditional Norman policy by trying to renew friendly relations with the Pope and thus separating him from Frederick. On the election of Hadrian he had sent ambassadors to discuss terms of peace but without success. Later, towards March 1155, the Pope, alarmed perhaps by the arrival from Sicily of William at Salerno, sent to him, in return, Henry, Cardinal of SS. Nereus and Achilleus, with letters apostolic. In these letters, however, William was addressed ambiguously as Lord instead of King of Sicily. He therefore sent back the cardinal to Rome without even receiving him, a treatment which was greatly resented by the Curia and the Pope. All probability of agreement being thus upset, the king, notwithstanding his domestic troubles and the movements among the hostile barons who were hoping great things from Frederick's approach and were inclining towards him, sent out an expedition against the papal territory under his Chancellor, who set siege to Benevento, having waste many districts, and burning among other places Ceprano, Bauco, and Frosinone. On his return he pulled down the walls of Aquino and Pontecorvo, and expelled almost all the monks from Monte Cassino on the suspicion that they were partisans of the papal cause. Hadrian could do nothing in his own defense except put William under excommunication and place all his hope on Frederick.

The Pope had pursued steadily the negotiations relative to the visit of the future Emperor to Rome. The agreements arrived at under Eugenius III were confirmed, and the two potentates entered into a close alliance, the terms of which included the submission of the Roman Republic to the Pope, hostility towards the King of Sicily, and an embargo on the acquisition of any Italian territory by the Emperor of the East. Frederick, however, had scarcely set foot in Italy before he perceived that he was walking on a volcano. The lofty notions of domination of the Roman-Germanic Emperor were met by a burning sentiment of liberty, which was the breath of life to those prosperous cities wherein had originated a new phase of civic existence and commerce. It was clear that Frederick could never hope to have supremacy in Italy and to hold aloft the imperial authority, if he did not first subdue the strength of those self-reliant republics which in spite of their intestine feuds showed little willingness to submit. At Roncaglia the representatives of the republics had appeared and had shown a certain degree of respect for the imperial authority, but it was not difficult to see what fire was smoldering under the ashes. Pavia, Lodi, and some other towns favored Frederick out of hatred for Milan, to which they were subordinate, but Milan was the soul of Lombardy and could not endure the imperial yoke. During the diet Frederick had adjudicated and settled terms of peace in the disputes between the different cities, especially between Pavia and Milan, but the latter gave clear signs of disinclination to bend to his will. It was necessary for Frederick to use force and bring his heavy hand to bear. He very soon found an opportunity of showing his hostility to Milan. His temper had been aroused by the conduct of the Milanese in guiding his army through their territory along bad and inconvenient roads. He entered Rosate, a strong castello of the Milanese, and, driving oat the inhabitants, gave it over to fire and pillage. In the same way the castelli of Trecate and Galliate were entirely destroyed. The cause of the Empire in Italy was bound up with that of feudalism, which was waning every day before the growth and emancipation of the communes. The city of Asti and the castello of Chieri had rejected the authority of the Marquess of Montferrat, and Frederick, on an appeal from the marquess, put them to fire and sword. But these acts of destruction were not sufficient to prove his power and determination. The opportunity had not come for carrying his power against Milan. That city was too powerful and too well stocked with provisions and means of defense. A siege would have exposed the army of Frederick to too serious a test and would have delayed too long his coronation. It was better to attack some other places faithful to Milan and, by thus weakening the strength of her allies, to spread through Lombardy the terror of his arms and unbending purpose. Pavia, always a relentless enemy, pointed out to him Tortona which, when asked to separate from Milan, firmly refused. Frederick, supposing that her subjection, like that of other strongholds, would be easy, laid siege, supported by the forces of Pavia and of the Marquess of Montferrat, but met with a stubborn resistance which gave earnest of obstinate struggles to come. The fury of the assaults, the gallows on which Frederick had the prisoners hanged in order to strike terror into the besieged, the pangs of hunger, availed nothing during two months to shake their determination. It was only at the beginning of April that they were compelled to surrender through thirst. The inhabitants’ lives were spared but they were scattered abroad, and Tortona was razed to the ground and utterly destroyed. All Lombardy rang with the news of this event.


Execution of Arnold of Brescia


Frederick had spent so much time on this siege and had used up so much of his strength upon it that he had to renounce all thoughts of the entire subjugation of Lombardy. In the meantime he had taken steps to secure the friendly assistance of the great maritime cities, Venice, Genoa, and Pisa, in view of an expedition against the King of Sicily and, after keeping Easter with great magnificence at Pavia, he moved towards Rome. His route lay through Tuscany, where he intended to meet the Pope, who was then at Sutri. His journey was so rapid that the Curia felt some suspicions. Recollections of the violence used scarcely half a century before by Henry V to Paschal II in St Peters, in order to wring from him concessions in the matter of the investitures, may perhaps have occurred to Hadrian and the cardinals at this moment. After consultation with the latter, with Peter, prefect of the city, and Otto Frangipane, the Pope sent two cardinals to Frederick with special instructions to settle the conditions of their interview. The cardinals found Frederick at San Quirico near Siena and were received with marks of honor. They explained the object of their mission and among other requests asked that Arnold of Brescia should be handed over to the Pope, who felt anxiety at his being a fugitive at large. The request was a small one and was at once granted. Frederick caused one of the barons friendly to Arnold to be made prisoner and compelled him to surrender the unfor­tunate refugee. The hour of martyrdom had now come for the apostle of Brescia. He was condemned to death by the prefect of Rome and fell a victim to his consuming zeal for the purity of the Church. His death perhaps occurred at Civita Castellana, but the exact day and place are unknown. He encountered the stake without fear; he made no recantation; he murmured a silent prayer to God; and committed himself to the rope and the flames with such calmness and serenity that even his executioners gave way to tears. His ashes were cast into the Tiber lest the Romans should preserve them as relics for veneration and as incentives to revenge, but his words long re-echoed in the ears of the people. By the martyrdom of Arnold an ill-omened seal was set to the compact between Pope and Emperor which was only to bear fruit in bloodshed and was soon to be dissolved.

Frederick had not hesitated to comply with the first request of the papal ambassadors, but with regard to their other demands he replied that he had already sent to the Pope Archbishop Arnold of Cologne and Anselm, Archbishop-elect of Ravenna, to discuss these points, and therefore could give no answer until they returned. The dispatch of these ambassadors, when made known to the Pope, increased his suspicions. He feared some underhand dealing and, giving up his original intention of proceeding to Orvieto, withdrew to Civita Castellana, a strong and well-fortified place. There he received the imperial envoys, whom he informed, in his turn, that he could give no reply until the cardinals whom he had sent to Frederick should have returned. Thus both embassies turned back, leaving things where they were. Meeting however on the way, they resolved to return together to the king, who had reached Viterbo. There the negotiations were concluded, the king swearing to respect the life and liberty of the Pope and to observe the stipulations as agreed before. Among those present at the conferences was Cardinal Octavian of St Cecilia who, it would appear, was not in agreement with the other cardinal-legates of the Pope. Probably already at that time he represented in the Curia the leaning towards closer ties with Germany and greater compliance with the policy of the Emperor. It is certain that he was already on friendly terms with Frederick and an object of suspicion to the dominant and stricter party who, as we shall see later on, were not without reasons for suspicion. The conditions and place of meeting having been settled, the Pope and the king moved forward. Frederick with his court and army encamped at Campo Grasso in the territory of Sutri, and the Pope, now assured of his personal safety, left Civita Castellana and came down to Nepi, where on the following day he was met by a large company of German barons who accompanied him in solemn procession along with his bishops and cardinals to the tent of the king.

But here a new surprise awaited him, reviving all his doubts and suspicions. Frederick, on the Pope’s arrival, did not advance to offer his services as squire to hold Hadrian’s bridle and stirrup. The cardinals were thrown into great excitement. The Pope himself, disturbed and uncertain what to do, dismounted unwillingly and seated himself on the throne prepared for him. The king then knelt before him and kissed his feet and drew near to receive the kiss of peace. But the Pope firmly refused. “Thou hast denied me”, he said, “the service which, out of reverence for the Apostles Peter and Paul, thy predecessors have always paid to mine up to the present time, and until thou hast satisfied me I will not give thee the kiss of peace”. The king replied that he was not bound to this act of service. Through the whole of that day and of the next the dispute on this point of ceremonial went on. So obstinate was the contention that some of the cardinals, either from exasperation or fear left the camp and returned to Cività Castellana.

The question was more serious than it seemed to be, for Frederick by his refusal wished to shut out even the semblance of homage to the Pope, and by so doing implicitly denied that he was in any way indebted to the Pontiff for the imperial crown. But the unshakeable firmness of the Pope carried the day. The existence of ninth-century precedents for the papal claim was a notorious fact, and among the followers of the king the older men could remember having seen the Emperor Lothar pay this very service to Innocent II. Frederick besides had too many reasons for hastening on the coronation to put obstacles in his own way over a matter of form. The camp was moved a little farther away to the neighborhood of a lake in the district of Nepi, and here, according to arrangement, the king and Pope met, coming from different directions; Frederick, in the presence of the army, fulfilled the functions of squire, holding the Pope's bridle for about a stone’s throw and the stirrup as he dismounted. Agreement having thus been secured, Hadrian and the king advanced towards Rome together, journeying and halting in company and keeping up friendly conversations, in the course of which the Pope reiterated his grievances against the Romans and the King of Sicily, calling upon Frederick to give him his promised help in restoring the papal authority in Rome, and in providing him with security against his powerful and aggressive neighbor in the south. As they drew near to Rome, they were met by the ambassadors sent by the senate and people of Rome to greet Frederick. The Pope’s presence and his evident alliance with the king had not yet quelled the high spirit of the Romans. They still felt conscious of a strength real enough to contest the possession of Rome, and, with the glamour of ancient Roman greatness before them, they used the language of lords and dispensers of the Roman Empire, demanding a tribute and sworn guarantees for the safety and liberties of the city. Frederick, in agreement with and at the advice of the Pope and the cardinals, haughtily repulsed their audacious requests. The ambassadors withdrew to the Capitol in wrath, there to convey the news of the rejection, Wounded in their pride and determined not to surrender the liberty won after so many years of conflict with the Popes, the Romans made ready to avenge this outrage. The Pope, who understood the Roman temper, advised the king to act quickly and cautiously. The Leonine city was still the Pope’s. It was necessary to keep it in their hands, and therefore a strong band of men was at once sent to occupy it by night. In order to reassure Frederick, the Pope proposed that Cardinal Octavian, his faithful adherent, should act as their leader. Without waiting for the Sunday, on the following day (Saturday, 18 June 1155), preceded by Hadrian, who went to await him on the steps of St Peter's, Frederick came down from Monte Mario at the head of his army and, in great pomp, surrounded by his princes and barons, entered the church and went with the Pope to worship at the tomb of the Apostles.

Here, according to the accustomed rites, he received at the Pope’s hands the imperial crown amid such loud acclamations from the Germans that the roof of the church seemed to send back peals of thunder.

While Frederick re-entered his camp without the walls of the city, the unexpected news of the coronation reached the Capitol, where the Romans had assembled to discuss the best means of preventing the ceremony. Finding themselves thus over-reached, their indignation knew no bounds, and they seized their arms and rushed to the Leonine city in fury. Some German soldiers who had remained behind, and some followers of the Pope and of the cardinals, were killed by the populace. The tumult was great, and Hadrian and the cardinals were in personal danger. The report of the commotion reached the camp at the point nearest to the city, where Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony, was encamped. He rose in haste and entered by a breach in the walls, which had been left open since the days of Henry IV, to meet the Romans, followed quickly by the Emperor with all his forces. There followed a terrible struggle which lasted persistently throughout the day, accompanied by great slaughter. At last towards nightfall the disciplined soldiery of a regular army got the better of the stubborn fury of the populace. The Romans were driven back over the Tiber, with great loss in killed and wounded and leaving behind them some hundreds of prisoners.

Frederick was boastful of his victory, but, if by rapidity of movement he had been able to carry out his coronation undisturbed, the bloodshed which followed it did not give him possession of Rome and could not secure it for Hadrian. It was out of the question to make his way into the city by force, nor was it expedient, even if possible, to remain where he was. The infuriated Romans refused all intercourse with him and would not supply him with the means of victualling his army. The only course open was to strike his camp and, taking with him the Pope and the cardinals, to retire towards the Sabina and make for a crossing over the Tiber near Soracte, at some distance from Rome. After a brief rest at the monastery of Farfa, he led his army to an encampment in the valley of the Tiber on the banks of the Aniene near Ponte Lucano. Here the Pope and the Emperor celebrated the festival of SS. Peter and Paul (29 June 1155), and it is said that on this occasion the Pope absolved the soldiery from the guilt of the bloodshed in Rome, declaring that he was not guilty of murder who slew another in fighting for his own sovereign.

From Ponte Lucano they went on to the territory of Albano and Tusculum. Since it was impossible to make an immediate attack on Rome and obtain mastery over the city, the Pope urged Frederick to seize the favorable opportunity and move against the King of Sicily, now that his barons, emboldened by the Emperor’s presence in Italy, had risen in open rebellion. Frederick was inclined to listen to him and his ecclesiastical advisers were in favor of the design, but fever was already making inroads on his army, and the lay barons strongly opposed it and insisted on his return to Germany. The Emperor abandoned the expedition, and took leave of the Pope with promises of a speedy return with stronger forces to subjugate Rome and Sicily. They parted with all the forms of friendship, but the Pope felt his disappointment and isolation bitterly. On his way Frederick set fire to Spoleto, which had offered him resistance, and at Ancona he met with the Byzantine ambassadors of the Emperor Manuel Comnenus, who offered him money and help towards the Sicilian expedition, an aid which he was obliged to refuse on account of his homeward journey. He continued his march in speed to Verona, where he met with an unfriendly reception. At the defile of the Adige he encountered obstinate resistance which he overcame with courage and skill, leaving traces behind him of his stern severity as a warning to those who were inclined to oppose him. In this way he reached Germany with no other gain than the imperial crown, but he had learned to know the Italians and had taught the Italians to know him. He knew henceforward what kind of obstacles he had to expect and what amount of strength would be required to overcome them. The crown of Empire was his, but it behoved him to make it the symbol of real power and of intrinsic greatness, and to guard it not only from the claims of the Papacy as of old but from the rising popular forces of the free communes which seemed to have sprung as by enchantment from the soil. A conflict there was bound to be, and it was imperative that he should be prepared.

The departure of the Emperor rendered the condition of the cities favorable to the Empire more serious, for Milan and the communes in alliance with her became increasingly aggressive throughout the cruel and incessant warfare waged between the cities of Lombardy. Frederick had scarcely turned his back when Tortona, notwithstanding the opposition of Pavia, sprang again into life with the help of Milan in money and men, and her newly reconstructed walls once more raised a bulwark of defense for the citizens who had already shown such a heroic capacity of resistance. The hegemony of Milan established itself more firmly than ever, and thanks to her well-chosen alliances with other cities this predominance bore with increasing weight on the other communes. The cities thus held within her grasp looked to the Germanic Emperor as their only means of salvation.

The Emperor, in the meantime, strengthened by the prestige of the imperial crown and the renown of his military exploits in Italy, had turned energetically to the restoration in Germany of the imperial authority and the organization of the State. Having divorced his first wife, he had married Beatrix, the heiress of the County of Burgundy, thereby extending his influence towards Provence and bringing the frontiers of his effective rule nearer to Italy, never absent from his thoughts. After having received, along with the Empress, the homage of Burgundy at Besançon, he returned to Germany in January 1158. Scarcely two years had passed since his coronation in Rome; the whole of Germany regarded with pride and wonder the sovereign who had led her back to the position of the central power in Europe.

But this conception of universal influence had its roots in Italy, and it was in that country that the foundations of the Empire must be laid if they were to rest on a stable basis. In northern Italy it was necessary to have a firm foothold in order to confront the Papacy, from which the Empire could not sever itself but towards which it was yet indispensable to assert full independence. It was equally necessary if the imperial influence was to be efficacious in the political affairs of southern Italy and in the relations between Germany and the Empire of the East. Frederick never lost sight of the imperial idea amid all the preoccupations of his German kingdom. He knew henceforward what difficulties he would have to struggle against before reaching his goal, and made his preparations by keeping a watchful eye on his adversaries and combining the forces necessary for their overthrow. Difficulties had in fact increased since his return from Italy.

Milan and the communes friendly to her had renewed their strength and were haughtier and more aggressive than ever, while the papal policy was moving in a direction the reverse of favorable to the Empire. Hadrian IV, bitterly disappointed in the hopes which he had placed in Frederick, found himself in a very critical situation. Rome was closed against him and the King of Sicily threatened his borders, while he had no aid or defense except among the rebel Sicilian barons. The harassing uncertainty of his position was aggravated by divided opinions among his councilors. The rising divisions among the cardinals had now become sharply accentuated, and two parties had been formed in favor of opposite courses of action. One side held fast to the continuance of the alliance with the Emperor, the other, distrustful of Frederick and mindful of the ancient enmity between Papacy and Empire, stood for a renewal of the Hildebrandine policy of close relations with the Norman princes. Each of these two parties had a powerful leader. At the head of the first party was Octavian, Cardinal of Santa Cecilia, who had powerful family connections in Rome, and on account of his intimate personal relations with Frederick had been chosen to conduct his advanced guard into the Leonine city at the time of the coronation. The other party was led by Roland, Cardinal of St Mark and Chancellor of the Church, a learned expert in the canon law, a firm, sagacious man, a sharer in the councils and policy of Hadrian, convinced like him of the Church’s supremacy and resolved to maintain it. Amidst such conflicting views the Pope, in November 1155, yielding to the incitements of the rebel barons of Apulia, betook himself to Benevento and there became the chief pivot of the revolt against King William. The latter, seeing that the Pope was joining hands on the one side with the insurgents and on the other with the Eastern Emperor then preparing an expedition against him, was in such difficulties that he reopened negotiations, offering very favorable conditions of peace. The Pope was inclined to accept them, but the anti-Sicilian party prevailed, and the majority of the cardinals would not consent to listen to the advantageous terms proposed. The hour of regret came quickly. William made an energetic movement against the rebels and the Byzantines, and after defeating them turned back against the Pope and threatened Benevento. The Curia had no way of escape and was forced to yield. Hadrian sent Roland and two other cardinals to sue for the peace which he had just rejected, and obtained it under much less favorable conditions than those before offered.

With this peace began a political estrangement between the Pope and the Emperor. The new situation irritated Frederick, and was regarded with dislike also by the German clergy. The treaty between the Pope and King William seemed a treacherous infraction of the terms agreed upon at Constance in 1153, and there certainly seemed to be grounds for believing that the Pope had fallen short of that understanding. On the other hand Hadrian had as an excuse the Emperor’s abandonment of him and the calamitous situation in which he found himself at Benevento without hope of assistance. In every way the relations between the Pope and the Emperor had become clouded by suspicion and bitterness, when an incident occurred which led to the first open rupture. Eskil, Archbishop of Lund, on returning to his see from Italy, was made prisoner in Germany and detained until he paid a ransom. In spite of the Pope's entreaties Frederick had done nothing towards liberating him. Hadrian was deeply offended, and in October 1157, when the Emperor took formal possession of the Burgundian kingdom at Besançon, he sent two legates, the Chancellor Roland and Bernard, Cardinal of San Clemente, to obtain Eskil’s freedom and to treat of the political relations as modified by recent events. Frederick received the legates courteously, but their greeting struck him as a strange one. “The Pope and cardinals salute you, he as father, they as brethren”. Received in solemn audience the next day, they presented the Pope's letter. Its tone was severe and haughty. Hadrian rebuked Frederick for having allowed the Archbishop of Lund to be despoiled and im­prisoned with impunity in German territory, and for having consciously connived at this act of sacrilege. The Pope added that such dissimulation and negligence he could not understand, since he was quite unconscious of having given any cause of offence. The Emperor would do well to remember that the Church had received him joyfully and had conferred upon him the imperial crown. That step the Pope had never regretted, and would rejoice to be able to bestow upon him even greater benefits. He feared lest someone were sowing tares of discord between them, and ended by recommending to him the two cardinals who had full powers to treat with him.

On the Chancellor Rainald reading this letter aloud, the princes present rose in a storm of indignation. They were especially incensed at the allusion to the imperial dignity as conferred by the Pontiff and at the word benefits (beneficia) which the German chancellor had evidently translated by fiefs; the sense it bore in feudal law. They recalled the rash assertions of Rome that the Empire and the Italian kingdom were gifts of the Pontiffs, and remembered the picture in the Lateran representing Lothar at the feet of the Pope with the humiliating inscription which declared him to be the Pope's liegeman (homo papae), and how Hadrian renouncing such vain pretensions had promised to have the picture destroyed. The legates were not intimidated by this tumult; indeed it seems that one of them exclaimed: “And from whom does the Emperor hold the Empire if not from the Pope?”

The composure of the legates fanned anger into fury, and the Count-Palatine of Bavaria, Otto of Wittelsbach, advanced with drawn sword against one of the cardinals. Frederick’s authority, however, assuaged the tumult and saved the cardinals from danger. On the following morning they were both dismissed with stringent orders to return directly, without diverging to right or left into episcopal or abbatial territory. Frederick at once wrote to the German clergy to inform them of the incident before Rome had time to speak.

In a circular sent out through the whole kingdom, he explained the tenor of the papal manoeuvre and the indig­nation of the princes. He added that the legates had been immediately dismissed because blank letters were found in their possession with the papal seal to enable them to strip the altars and carry off the treasures of the German churches. The Empire was his by the choice of the princes, and he held it direct from God. To affirm that the imperial crown came to him as a beneficium from the Pope was a lie against an institution of God and a denial of the teaching of St Peter. He exhorted the clergy to rally to him against such pretensions, since he would without hesitation encounter death rather than submit to such contumely. At Rome the legates on relating their bad reception at Besançon were judged in accordance with the different opinions prevailing in the parties to which the cardinals belonged. The Pope on his part wrote to the German bishops in terms of grave complaint, calling upon them to intervene and obtain from the Emperor that Rainald of Dassel and Otto of Wittelsbach, who were the worst offenders against the persons of the cardinals, should make satisfaction to the Church. But the Pope’s words were not well received by the bishops. They replied respectfully but coldly, showing plainly that they took the part of the Emperor. It was evident that the answer had been written in agreement with the Emperor, whose claims were put forth more firmly than ever along with counter-allusions to the papal aggressiveness. The divine institution of the Empire was insisted on, and the treaty with the King of Sicily condemned. The bishops finally advised the Pope to issue new letters to soothe the angry feelings of the Emperor. The Welf Duke Henry the Lion made a similar recommendation.

Hadrian perceived that this was not the time for a stubborn obstinacy. Prudence was all the more necessary as the descent of Frederick with a formidable army behind him was becoming more imminent day by day. Already the Chancellor Rainald and Otto of Wittelsbach had preceded him into Italy to prepare for the expedition and to secure the fidelity and aid of the Italian cities. In June 1158 two other cardinals appeared before Frederick in Augsburg. In much more obsequious fashion they handed in the letters in which the Pope explained in satisfactory terms the expressions in the previous letters which had aroused such wrath. Frederick received the communication with apparent good-will and treated the cardinals with every courtesy; but in his heart his distrust still rankled, although he did not wish to give the Pope a pretext for joining his enemies while he was on the point of entering Italy.

The Emperor’s two envoys, Rainald of Dassel and Otto of Wittelsbach, had worked hard to smooth the way for the expedition. Having taken possession of Rivoli and secured the defile of the Adige, they received oaths of fealty from many Italian cities. Beginning at Verona they went down the Po to Ferrara, then visited Modena and Bologna, going on from thence to Ravenna and Ancona, which latter place they secured for Frederick, ousting the Byzantine emissaries who were there trying to obtain a footing. Turning back they wrested Piacenza from the league made with Milan. Thus so far as was possible all was made ready for the expedition, and the road to Italy lay open to the Emperor. In July 1158, accompanied by the King of Bohemia and the flower of the German nobility, Frederick crossed the Alps at the head of the greatest army seen in Italy for centuries, and turned towards Lombardy with the determination to subdue it and stamp out all forces of resistance to the Empire. The cities which sided with him rallied to him, but those which were hostile he found ready to oppose him in combination, with Milan as their centre of union. His faithful Lodi had been destroyed, and not only was Tortona rebuilt but many other fortresses were rendered capable of checking the advance of an enemy. Hostilities began at Brescia, which was quickly forced to submit by the Bohemians who formed the advanced guard. The rebuilding of Lodi was soon set on foot, and Frederick, after proclaiming the ban of the Empire against Milan, passed the Adda by a bold manoeuvre, took possession of the fortress of Trezzo, and laid siege to Milan. He was aided by all the cities unfriendly to their powerful rival, especially by Pavia and Como. In spite of the great force arrayed against her, Milan made a stiff resistance and gave occasion for remarkable displays of prowess on both sides. After a siege of a month, the Milanese were compelled to surrender, famine having made its ravages quickly felt in so populous a city. Frederick offered terms which were relatively lenient. Como and Lodi were to be rebuilt without hindrance, many hostages handed over, a large indemnity was to be paid, and, worst of all, there was to be a great curtailment of their liberties. The Milanese submitted perforce, but in their hearts they were resolved to shake off their yoke at the first possible opportunity.


The Diet of Roncaglia, 1158 


On receiving the homage of the Milanese, Frederick dismissed a large number of his German barons, and after a short expedition into Veronese territory he proceeded to Roncaglia, where he had convoked many Italian barons, representatives of the cities, and numerous bishops of upper and central Italy to a diet. The presence of the bishops and their assent was a matter of considerable importance, because in times gone by they had been the foremost representatives and ministers of the Empire in Italy. There, before a people who had just witnessed his great power, the triumphant monarch proposed to arrange the relations be­tween the Empire and the cities of the Italian kingdom. Never perhaps had the imperial rights been so proudly proclaimed, and at that moment the authority of the Empire appeared absolute in Italy and as if it were to last forever. The jurists, led by the celebrated doctors of the Bolognese school, carried away by the memories of ancient Rome and the reviving study of the Justinianean code, proclaimed in the monarch’s name his absolute supremacy, appealing as to a dogma to the famous axiom “quod principi placuit legis habet vigorem”.

To the principles extracted from Roman legislation were added others which derived from German notions of law and in reality formed the basis and the bulk of the constitutions of Roncaglia. All the regalia were the Emperor's, his all feudal rights, the mints, the customs, the mills, and all other rights, even that of appointing the city consuls, the podestà, and other civic magistrates. And he who had thus been declared lord over the whole world, and whose will was law, dictated in the diet other rules all tending to restrict the rights of the communes, and settled differences between various cities, not without a sense of justice, yet often diminishing the power of the allies of Milan, from which city he also took away the dominion over Monza and the counties of Seprio and Martesana.

Frederick had reached the summit of his ambition. The Lombard cities now had their wings clipped, and could venture no more on any dangerous flights. Frederick’s only possible opponent was the Pope, whose sole support was the King of Sicily, occupied at home with rebellion and abroad with the ambitious schemes of Byzantium. The glory of his power would soon rival that of Charlemagne and Otto. But Frederick did not realize that he was pursuing the phantom of an irrevocable past. Soon in Lombardy the rights claimed at Roncaglia began to appear excessive even to the cities which supported the Emperor. Their imperial tendencies had sprung principally from hatred of their neighboring enemies, and, when they perceived that their interests and municipal liberties were infringed, their zeal began to cool and symptoms of discontent to appear. Genoa was the first to show resistance to the interference of the Emperor in her domestic affairs and the government of the city. Safe on the side of the sea, the Genoese sought to gain time by negotiations, while at the same time at great expenditure of labor and money, men and women combining in the work, they strengthened the defenses on the land side and made them­selves safe against a sudden attack. Pavia and Cremona as partisans of Frederick accepted obediently the podestà appointed by him to each, and Piacenza, although secretly attached to Milan, had not the courage to resist. On the other hand the little city of Crema, in alliance with Milan, stoutly refused to dismantle her walls and fill up her trenches as Frederick demanded. The latter had been offered a large sum of money from the Cremonese to insist upon this demand. The Milanese, not one whit less stubborn, did not feel beaten after their siege. Their irritation was still great at the loss of Monza and the territories wrested from them by the decrees of Roncaglia, when Frederick sent them two legates, the Chancellor Rainald of Dassel and the Count-Palatine of Bavaria, Otto of Wittelsbach. The authority of these two personages did not intimidate the Milanese, who, knowing that they had come to establish officials of imperial appointment, rose against them with such fury that they had to make good their escape in secret. Frederick felt the insult bitterly, and realized the necessity of striking Milan a deadly blow if he were to be supreme in Lombardy. Meanwhile the Milanese declared open war, attacked and took possession of Trezzo, making prisoners of its German garrison, and tried several times, but in vain, to destroy the new city of Lodi which was being built under the auspices of the Emperor. Brescia also shook off the imperial authority and joined Milan, while Piacenza, which had yielded perforce, left Frederick under no delusion as to her aversion. The Emperor, then at Bologna, again proclaimed the ban of the Empire against Milan, and wrote to Germany demanding reinforcements, which were promptly granted, and which arrived led by Henry the Lion. With him came the Empress and Duke Welf VI, uncle of the Emperor, who had just been invested with the lands of the Countess Matilda, to which the Pope laid claim. Advancing into Lombardy, and aided chiefly by Pavia and Cremona, Frederick began to ravage the country, in order to weaken Milan and cut off the supply of provisions necessary for her defense. Afterwards, in July 1159, he laid siege to Crema with a great force. The heroic resistance of this small city for seven months against the great besieging army of Frederick has been handed down as an object of admiration to later ages. The siege, conducted with obstinacy and savage fury, was endured by the besieged with a firmness of mind which nothing could bend, not even the sight of their own kindred who had been taken prisoner being bound to the machines with which the enemy advanced to make their attacks upon the walls. Undaunted, the Cremaschi repelled their onsets, without compassion for their own flesh and blood, and with no other thought than to defend their native city to the last. It was only in January 1160, after a six months' struggle, when all their forces were exhausted and further resistance was impossible, that these valorous citizens surrendered. Their only conditions were that their own lives should be spared, and the lives of those Milanese and Brescians who had joined with them in the defense. Crema was destroyed, and her rival Cremona was able to exult with unseemly joy over her ruins.

Meanwhile the disputes between the Pope and the Emperor had broken out again more hotly than ever. An impassable abyss lay between them, for the irreconcilable principle of two supremacies rendered their two representatives irreconcilable also, and provided endless subjects of disagreement. Frederick, already disposed to take offence, had become hardened in his resentment because the Pope refused to confirm the nomination of Guido, son of the Count of Biandrate, to the arch­bishopric of Ravenna. Much greater was his indignation when a letter arrived from Hadrian carried by a messenger of mean appearance who disappeared immediately after consigning it. The letter was marked by a renewal of the bitter tone which for some time past had dropped out of their correspondence, and was full of complaints against the recent exactions made by the imperial officers on ecclesiastical possessions. Frederick, more incensed than before, ordered his Chancellor in answering it to place his name before the Pope’s and to address him in the second person singular tu instead of by the customary plural vos. In this way he thought to remind the Pope of the old imperial supremacy. But the Pope stiffened himself all the more, in spite of the great but unavailing efforts of Eberhard, Bishop of Bamberg, to soothe the two antagonists. The bishop writing of Frederick to a cardinal said: “You know what he is. He loves those who love him and turns away from others, not having yet thoroughly learned to love also his enemies”.

The exhortations of Eberhard bore no fruit. The Pope, it is true, sent four cardinals to the Emperor to discuss the points of disagreement between them, but with conditions which seemed too hard. All magistracies and regalia of Rome, the Pope affirmed, belonged to St Peter, and therefore the Emperor had no right to send his envoys direct to the Romans; the estates of the Pope were not to be subject to fodrum except at an imperial coronation; Italian bishops owed the Emperor no homage but only an oath of fealty, and were not obliged to entertain imperial envoys in their palaces.

Restitution was to be made to the Pope of the possessions of the Roman Church—Tivoli, Ferrara, Massa, Ficarolo, the lands of the Countess Matilda, the territory from Acquapendente to Rome, the duchy of Spoleto, and the islands of Sardinia and Corsica. Frederick was certainly not the man to submit to such exaggerated claims. He repelled them, not without expressions of irony, by saying that he would not require homage from the Italian bishops if they would give up those of their temporalities which were regalia, further, imperial envoys would have no right to be entertained in the bishops’ palaces if these happened not to be built on lands held from the Emperor; but normally they were so built, and were imperial palaces. Then the Pope’s affirmation that imperial envoys could not be sent direct to the Romans, since the magistracies at Rome and the regalia were papal, would imply that he, Roman Emperor by right divine, was a mere phantom sovereign, bearing an empty name.

Such was the situation when some ambassadors from the city of Rome came to Frederick with offers of recognition of the imperial rights in return for his recognition and protection of the Roman Senate. Frederick grasped the opportunity, received the Roman envoys with marks of honor, and dismissed them not without hope. He then proposed to the legates that a committee of arbitration should be formed consisting of six cardinals on the Pope’s side and six bishops on his own, and informed them that he would send ambassadors to Rome to treat with the Pope and the Roman citizens, thus inserting a threat amid the formalities of friendship.

Ambassadors were sent, but Hadrian absolutely refused arbitration, admitting no tribunal above his own, and the Romans themselves showed a suspicious temper, fearing that the Emperor, in restoring the banished prefect of the city, wished to introduce a magistrate of his own, and while retaining the semblance to destroy the reality of an independent senate. Here, as on other occasions, Frederick ran counter to the sentiment of municipal freedom widespread throughout Italy. Hadrian again, recognizing the power of this sentiment, turned his eyes towards Lombardy in the hope of securing the assistance of the communes. A first attempt at a league between the citizens of Milan, Brescia, and Piacenza agreed at Anagni with Hadrian to come to no terms with the Emperor without the consent of the Pontiff and that of his successors, and the people of Crema, still besieged within their walls, sent their oath to the same effect. The Pope made like promises to the leagued cities, and announced to them that he would within forty days place Frederick under excommunication. But before he could put into effect such a serious resolution, an attack of angina suddenly brought about his death at Anagni on 1 September 1159.

The election of his successor was bound to be a stormy one. The two divergent policies among the cardinals were inevitably brought into collision at a moment when the whole future direction of the Church depended upon the preponderance of one or other of the two parties. The majority of the cardinals favored the election of Cardinal Roland, a supporter of Hadrian's policy and of the alliance with Sicily, while a small minority gave a stubborn support to Cardinal Octavian, head of the party bent on agreement with the Emperor. After Hadrian had been laid to rest in the Vatican, the cardinals assembled in the church of St Peter, and on 7 September 1159 the majority succeeded, after a sharp struggle, in electing Roland, but the opposing party would not admit their defeat, and proclaimed Octavian as Pontiff. In the tumult of this double election, while the two Popes-designate were struggling for the possession of the papal mantle, the doors of St Peter’s were opened to the armed partisans of Octavian who was proclaimed by the name of Victor IV.


The papal schism


Roland and his cardinals, fearing personal violence, retired into the fortress annexed to the church and remained shut in there for several days, unable to move owing to the armed strength of the opposite faction. Afterwards Roland, who had managed to be conveyed to Trastevere, made a successful attempt at escape from his opponents. But, although on regaining his freedom he was triumphantly acclaimed by his own party, he did not feel himself sufficiently strong to remain in Rome, and had to betake himself elsewhere. At Ninfa he was consecrated Pope as Alexander III, and after a short stay at Terracina he went to Anagni.

Neither could Octavian hold out long at Rome. His consecration took place at the monastery of Farfa, whence he went to Segni. Thus the two rivals, in near touch with Rome and only a few miles distant from each other, began to hurl anathemas the one against the other.

A great schism rent the Church afresh, and rendered her path more difficult at a moment when dangers and pitfalls threatened on every side. The contending parties lost no time in presenting their cases to the tribunal of Christendom, and sent legates and letters to sovereigns and bishops relating the story of the election each in his own way.

In a situation so uncertain, the attitude of Frederick might have great weight, not only in Italy and Germany where he exercised direct influence, but also throughout the rest of Europe where his name was a force and his ideal position as the temporal leader of Christendom was recognized. He perceived his advantage. As soon as the news of Hadrian’s death reached him, while the siege of Crema was vet in progress, he wrote without delay to Eberhard of Salzburg a letter which clearly showed his intentions. In it he said that the successor of Hadrian must be one who would reform the condition of the Church in the direction of a pacific union, and treat the Empire and the loyal subjects of the Empire with greater consideration. He had heard with great regret that the election was already the cause of factions; he therefore warned him not to give his adhesion precipitately to the Pope-elect, whoever he might be, without first consulting him (the Emperor), and enjoined him to communicate the same advice to his suffragans. He also informed him that he was negotiating for a firm understanding between himself and the Kings of France and England, and had instructed his ambassadors to come to an agreement with them as to the most suitable candidate for the Papacy, so that no election should be accepted without the common consent of the three sovereigns. He added in conclusion that letters were being sent on this matter to Germany, Burgundy, and Aquitaine, in order that all his subjects might know that he would not on any consideration suffer so great a dignity to be filled by anyone who was not unanimously chosen by the faithful for the upholding of the honor of the Empire and the peace and unity of the Church.

It was not likely that Roland and his partisans would find favor with a prince thus disposed. Even if his grief at the schism were sincere, it was only natural that Frederick should have wished for the triumph of Octavian, of whom he felt secure. Either acting on secret instructions from the Emperor or more probably on their own initiative, the two imperial ambassadors who happened to be in Rome at the time showed themselves favorable to the election of the imperial cardinal, while the latter and his followers, in the letters sent by them to the bishops and princes of the Empire, dwelt strongly on the alliance of Roland with the King of Sicily and his antipathy to the Empire.

The letters of Alexander III, more elevated in tone and showing greater confidence in his claims, displayed in turn a suspicion of the imperial attitude, and the Alexandrine cardinals in writing to Frederick did not conceal this, but openly accused Otto of Wittelsbach of opposing their Pope and themselves and of having violently entered the Campagna with Octavian, trying to make the territory subject to him. Reminding the Emperor that it was a duty incumbent on his office to defend the Church against heretics and schismatics, they concluded by saying: “Our wish is to honor you as the special defender and patron of the Roman Church, and as far as in us lies we desire the increase of your glory. Therefore we supplicate you to love and honor the Holy Roman Church your mother; to watch over her peace as becomes your imperial excellence and not to favor in any way the great iniquity of the invading schismatic”. Their firm language and austere admonitions showed that the traditions of Hadrian IV were still in force, and that his successor, even in the anxious moments which ushered in his pontificate, was not one to bend in face of difficulties.

The memory of those of his predecessors who, like Otto the Great, had brought the imperial authority to bear in all its fullness on the Papacy, could not fail to recur to Frederick's mind and dispose him to try to become an arbitrator in the contest, thus resuming the ancient claims of the Empire from which the Church by slow degrees had become emancipated. He therefore decided to convene an assembly of prelates, while inviting the two contending parties to be present and submit their reasons to its judgment. Two bishops were charged to convey the letters in which Frederick ordered the two claimants to appear. Alexander was well aware that a refusal might be taken to mean that he was uncertain of his cause, but a refusal was inevitable. Not only had Alexander and his followers reason to fear the bias of a council convened in the Emperor's name and placed under the aegis of his power, but to acknowledge such an assembly and participate in it would be dealing a fatal blow at the great principle at stake, the superiority of the Church to every earthly authority. In agreement with his cardinals, Alexander rejected the proposal, and expressed his sorrowful surprise that the Emperor should have overstepped in this manner the limits of his dignity, and presumed, he the champion of the Church, to dictate terms to the Pontiff as though he were his sovereign. The imperial legates withdrew, ill-content with such an answer, and betook themselves to Octavian who, on the other hand, accepted the invitation without hesitation and set forth for Pavia.


The Synod of Pavia


Frederick at last had brought Crema to surrender, and had given orders for the demolition of the heroic city and the dispersal of the citizens. In February 1160 he opened the Synod of Pavia with an oration in which, notwithstanding the vagueness of the phraseology, his thoughts concerning the relations of the Empire and the Church were transparent enough. “Although”, he said, “in my office and dignity of Emperor I can convoke councils, especially in moments of peril for the Church, as did Constantine, Theodosius, Justinian, and in later times the Emperors Charlemagne and Otto, yet we leave it to your prudence and power to decide in this matter. God made you priests and gave you power to judge us also. And since it is not for us to judge you in things appertaining to God, we exhort you so to act in this matter as though we awaited from you the judgment of God”. Thus speaking he retired, leaving the Council to their deliberations. At this Council were assembled many abbots and lesser ecclesiastics, but only fifty of the rank of bishop and archbishop, the majority of whom were Germans or northern Italians. From other countries hardly any had come, and some foreign sovereigns had sent in adhesions couched in vague terms which were received and registered as if they had a positive value. Octavian had no difficulty establishing the validity of his cause, all the more so since Alexander was not present, owing to his refusal to recognize the synod, and thus did nothing to vindicate his case. Alexander besides had to reckon with the accusation of his hostility to the Empire and alliance with the Sicilians and the Lombards. Octavian was acknowledged to be Pope and honored as such by the Emperor. On the following day he launched a fresh, excommunication against Roland and severe admonitions to the King of Sicily and the Lombards.

The schism had now become incurable. Alexander did not stagger under the blow. He issued an excommunication against Frederick and renewed the ban already laid on Octavian and his party. Thus asserting his authority, he released Frederick’s subjects from their obedience, encouraged the Lombards to revolt, and fomented the internal discords of Germany. Meanwhile he maintained his cause throughout the rest of Europe, writing to the bishops at large, and exhorting them to support him among their flocks and before their sovereigns. The support of the episcopate was in fact of great use to him in the various courts of Europe, and especially in those of France and England, two centres of influence of the highest importance. Frederick made vain efforts to gain the kings of these countries; they maintained a prudent reserve, which after some hesitation settled down into an attitude decidedly favorable to Alexander.


Capture and destruction of Milan


The part taken by the Emperor in this struggle for the Papacy did not turn him from his fixed resolve to subdue Lombardy to obedience, and root out all possibility of resistance by bringing Milan to his feet. The calamities and destruction of Crema did not avail to break the spirit of the unyielding Lombard towns opposed to the Emperor, and they rose again in arms, reinvigorated by their alliance with the Pope. In order to assert his sway it was necessary for Frederick to strike a mortal blow at Milan and thus cut out the heart of the Lombard resistance. But it was not an easy undertaking, and all Barbarossa's power might have been shattered but for the assistance of the cities which stood by him faithfully. Their municipal hatred of the great sister city waxed ever stronger as the struggle went on, and caused a wretched denial in the face of the foreigner of those bonds of unselfishness and of blood which ought to have drawn them closely together. With such auxiliaries Frederick began operations against Milan, and for a whole year there was constant warfare in the surrounding territory, with alternating success and a cruel destruction of the great Lombard plain. In the spring of 1161 Germany and Hungary sent the reinforcements necessary for the campaign, and the Emperor was able to shut in the city more closely. A long siege followed, lasting yet another year. The defenders held out as long as was possible with unshaken tenacity, but in the end the forces of resistance failed. The flower of the garrison had fallen at their posts, disease and hunger were rapidly cutting off the remnant, munitions of defense had given out, all resources were exhausted. There was nothing to be done but to make terms, and all attempts were vain to secure some favorable agreement previous to surrender. In March 1162 the vanquished city had to stoop low and submit at the conqueror's discretion. The sight of the misery and fall of so great and noble a city aroused pity even in her enemies, who could not refrain from appealing to the clemency of Frederick. The stern ruler would not bend, but turned a heart of stone to their prayers. For him harshness in this case was justice. The imperial majesty must be vindicated by a signal example of rigor which should extirpate all hope of future conflict. Milan, given over to pillage and fire, seemed buried for ever beneath the mass of her own ruins.

To those Milanese who survived the siege were assigned four localities where they might settle, not very far from the ruined city. It was a grievous dispersion, yet a contemporary chronicler accused Frederick at a later date of a want of foresight in having allowed the Milanese to remain so near to the ashes of their fallen city. But how could it have been possible to imagine a speedy resurrection after such a fall, and that Milan might rise again, when Frederick’s power had reached such a height and was inspiring everywhere both reverence and terror? All opposition gave way before him. Piacenza and Brescia had to accept his stern conditions. Their walls were demolished; the imperial officials were received; tribute and hostages were rendered to the Emperor; the imperial Pope was recognized, while the Bishop of Piacenza, whose loyalty to Alexander was untainted, passed into exile. Other cities underwent the same ordeal. The imperial claims asserted at Roncaglia held the field. The dissensions of the Lombard cities had borne the bitter fruit of misery and servitude, but a fruit destined in its bitterness to be one of remedy and healing.

The victories in Lombardy now strengthened Frederick’s projects with regard to Sicily and the East, where the help of maritime forces was indispensable. He therefore first offered inducements to Pisa and then to Genoa to form an alliance with him. Both consented, although each was distrustful of the other, and Genoa in particular gave adhesion from motives of expediency rather than from any friendly intention. The position in northern Italy being thus secured and a powerful naval connection being established on the sea, Frederick might well feel assured that within his grasp lay the dominion of all Italy, and that he was on the verge of entering upon the lordship of a genuine and incontestable empire. But Alexander III, despite the grave anxieties of his position, was keeping a watchful eye on this policy with the intention of arresting its achievement. While the war in Lombardy lasted, the Pope, unable to keep a footing in Rome, had remained in the Campagna. In spite of Frederick, all Europe outside the Empire and the Latin East now acknowledged him, but his material resources were such that he was bound to quit Italy and throw himself upon the traditional hospitality of the French kingdom. He embarked at Capo Circello on a galley of the King of Sicily, and after a halt at Genoa entered France through Provence, where he was received everywhere with signs of deep devotion. Well aware of Frederick's commanding influence, he turned to Eberhard of Salzburg, the prelate most loyal to him in Germany, who had brought all his authority to bear on Frederick in order that he might relinquish the schism and make peace with the Church. But the Pope could only put slender trust in these pacific proposals, and within a short month, in May 1162, the struggle still continuing, he renewed his excommunications against Octavian and the Emperor in a solemn act of promulgation at Montpellier. In the meantime, Alexander was keeping up his relations with France and England with a view to gaining their decisive adherence to his cause. Nor did he neglect any means of attract­ing German sympathy and that of Italy, and by raising difficulties in the path of Octavian of dealing a blow at the policy of Frederick. Octavian, in his turn, in two synods held at Lodi and Cremona, had con­firmed the decisions of the Council of Pavia, but it was not difficult to see that Alexander's adherents were gaining in number and that Octavian's party was lukewarm and more of a make-believe than a reality. Alexander could only be overcome by shattering his foundations and depriving him of the asylum which was at once his refuge and his strength.

While he appeared to be preparing for an expedition in the South, Frederick turned back and, leaving his representatives in Lombardy charged to keep that province in subjection, he crossed the Alps. Taking advantage of the disputes between England and the French King Louis VII, he turned to the latter in the hope of making him an ally and separating him from the Pope. Louis hesitated; at the instigation of certain councilors who were strongly in favor of an alliance with the Emperor, he began to treat with Frederick and finally with Octavian, while at the same time he made no break in his relations with Alexander, who watched with anxious attention this turn in French policy. It was settled that the two sovereigns should meet on 29 August 1162 at St-Jean-de-Losnes on the frontiers of France and the County of Burgundy, now subject to Frederick. Henry of Champagne, brother-in-law of King Louis, was the soul of these negotiations, and it suited his interests to separate Louis from Henry II of England. The two sovereigns were to bring with them the two pretenders to the Papacy and to arrive together at a final recognition of the true Pope, but if one of the two rivals refused to appear then the other was to be recognized on the spot. Later the king asserted that Henry had gone beyond his instructions in accepting this condition; but meanwhile Alexander, perceiving the serious danger of such an interview, made every effort to prevent its taking place. He was in time to have a conversation with Louis, and if he did not succeed in dissuading him from the meeting he at least was able to convince him that he, the Vicar of Christ, could not bow to the decision of the proposed tribunal. Louis, shaken by the Pope's arguments, made his way to the banks of the Saone in an uncertain mood and anxious to find a means of extricating himself from the complications in which Henry of Champagne had involved him. He was also apprehensive of the show of force with which the Emperor came to meet him, and Frederick himself had his own suspicions. The latter arrived with his own Pope, Victor IV, at the place of meeting, but, not finding the king there, withdrew. Soon afterwards Louis arrived, and hearing of the Emperor's withdrawal took his departure without waiting to see if he would return. Thus the interview between the two sovereigns never took place.

Perhaps there was no real wish on either side for the meeting. But Henry of Champagne in his vexation threatened to transfer his allegiance to the Emperor, and so constrained Louis to promise to return in three weeks in readiness to accept, along with Frederick, the decisions of a congress. This was a mortal blow for Alexander, but he did not lose courage. He brought every kind of influence to bear on Louis, and showed great political shrewdness in turning to the King of England who was sus­picious of an alliance between France and the Emperor, even succeeding in bringing about an understanding between him and the King of France. Thus when Frederick felt most sure of his position he found himself threatened by an unexpected danger, and made up his mind to withdraw from the conference. The Emperor’s defection caused no regret to Louis. He returned to Dijon freed from the obligations into which he had entered almost against his will. Before leaving Burgundy, Frederick had held a diet in which Victor IV, while affirming his rights, had excommunicated Alexander III. The latter, in the meanwhile, had enjoyed a triumph at Coucy-sur-Loire. There the Kings of England and of France paid him reverence together and declared him to be the valid and legitimate Pope. In the presence of this triumphant success the anti-Pope's importance was diminished. The struggle between the Papacy and the Empire reverted to great principles and issues, and although the two chief litigants were then at a distance, both appealed to the name of Rome, and the name of Rome once more localized in Italy the arena of combat.

In Italy signs were not wanting that Frederick, notwithstanding the destruction of Milan and the dismantling of the cities in alliance with her, was far from having stamped out all resistance. The heart of the people was unconquerable, and beat in expectation of the hour when they could rise again for the struggle. The affairs of Germany held the Emperor there under weighty responsibilities, while his representatives in Lombardy were imposing cruel exactions on the subject populations. These called in vain for justice. Day by day their yoke became more galling, and if the terrible fate of Milan warned them to endure the burden, still the germs of revolt were ripening below the surface. The Chancellor Rainald of Dassel was indefatigable in checking disaffection and in preparing the naval expedition against Sicily, in the absence of the Emperor, but his adversaries were not idle. Alexander III, the Kings of Sicily and France, the Emperor of Constantinople, Venice, and the Lombard cities, had come to an agreement among themselves. The forces of resistance were quickened into life. When in October 1163 Frederick with a small army re-entered Lombardy, he was met on all sides by complaints of the rapacity of his agents and by appeals to mitigate the hardships of the oppressed populations. But Frederick gave little heed to such appeals, and the sufferers felt that succor must be sought amongst themselves. Venice gave them encouragement. While the Emperor was engaged in appointing one of his creatures as king in Sardinia without estranging Genoa and Pisa, who were disputing with each other the possession of this island, Verona, Padua, and Vicenza rose in joint rebellion to offer a common resistance and to maintain the rights which ancient custom had handed down. Frederick was suddenly faced by the fact that the league might embrace a wider compass and, being without sufficient force to quell the insurgent communes, he made efforts to pacify them. In this attempt he failed. He therefore sought aid from Pavia, Mantua, and Ferrara, whom he loaded with privileges, trying to move them to hostile action against the League. But the allies appeared in such strong force that he had temporarily to renounce the hazard of battle.


Beginnings of the Lombard League


In the meanwhile the anti-Pope Victor had died, in April 1164, at Lucca. The position of Alexander III being thenceforth secure, Frederick might not have been altogether indisposed to renew attempts at reconciliation, but the Archbishop of Cologne, Rainald of Dassel, the implacable enemy of Alexander, stood in his way and obtained the immediate election of another anti-Pope. This was Guido of Crema, who took the name of Paschal III. From the moment of his election the Emperor took him under his protection, and, on his return to Germany, tried to make the German and Italian bishops acknowledge him, but this scheme met with open opposition in the episcopate of both countries. Among the Germans, the Archbishop-elect of Mainz, Conrad of Wittelsbach, rather than yield went into exile in France, near Alexander. The Archbishops of Treves, Magdeburg, and Salzburg, and the Bishop of Brixen held out, refusing to accept an election so patently uncanonical; while many others of less courage submitted in appearance only to the imperial will.

This opposition, which augmented Frederick's difficulties in Germany, also encouraged the Lombards to shake off their yoke. Alexander III, now that hope of reconciliation with Barbarossa had proved fallacious, was doing all in his power to spur on the resistance of Lombardy, relying on the determination and love of liberty among the communes. Thus by stirring up the cities to rebellion and by devising means for drawing together more closely the adverse powers of Europe, the able policy of Alexander aimed at isolating Frederick and placing him in a position of marked inferiority in his struggle with the Church. The Emperor, wishing to break through the ring of hostile influences which encompassed him, turned to Henry II of England. This monarch was bound to the King of France by very fragile ties, and had deep causes of dissension with the Pope, owing to the struggle which had arisen with Thomas Becket. This dispute was undoubtedly the source of serious difficulties for Alexander III, difficulties which only came to an end on Becket’s tragic death. The Emperor and the King of England took advantage of this event to draw closer together, yet without essentially modifying the Pope's position towards Frederick. Alexander was now recognized as the uncontested head of Christendom. He felt strong enough to reoccupy his see and carry on the struggle, which threatened to be renewed with greater tenacity than ever. Through the aid of his vicar, the Cardinal of SS. John and Paul, the Pope had secured guarantees for his safe residence in Rome, and in October 1165 he left France where his reception had been so generous. He travelled to Messina by sea. From Palermo the King of Sicily sent him gifts and ordered an escort of galleys to convey him honorably to Rome, where the Pope made a solemn entry on 23 November. He at once took up his residence in the Lateran. From Germany, whither he had returned and which he was striving to pacify, the Emperor could not fail to perceive that the triumphs of his rival in Rome were a source of dangers which it would be necessary to dispel. He felt that the loyalty of the Lombard cities was no longer to be reckoned upon, and therefore began to recruit an army powerful enough to be confident of success and capable of crushing any resistance from one end of Italy to the other. In order to conjure back more and more the majesty of the Empire, he had Charlemagne canonized by the anti-Pope Paschal III on the Christmas festival of 1165. But times had changed and altered situations had arisen for the Papacy, the Empire, and the peoples now awakened to a new life. Frederick Barbarossa in his lofty aspirations had no conception that he was summoning from the tomb of his great predecessor in Aix-la-Chapelle the phantom of a past for which there was no longer a place amid the living.

The absence of Frederick made it more easy for the Lombards to come to agreements preliminary to common action. The signs of resistance arose quickly on all sides. In the cities tumults frequently broke out and in Bologna the imperial podestà was killed during an uprising of the populace. William I of Sicily had died and was succeeded in 1166 by the child William II, whose mother the Regent maintained friendly relations with the Pope and an antagonistic policy towards the Emperor. She was encouraged by Manuel Comnenus, who aimed at gaining a foothold in Italy and showered attentions on the youthful king, while he was trying to flatter the Pope by holding out to him the mirage of reunion of the two Churches, asking in return the Roman crown of Empire. Alexander placed no reliance on this project, but showed himself ready to negotiate in order to add to the dangers of Frederick’s position. Venice entered into alliance with Sicily and Constantinople, forming thus a joint domination over the Adriatic, while Pisa and Genoa, although in league with Frederick, were mutually so quarrelsome and jealous of each other that the warmth of their devotion could not be safely depended upon. Only one waylay open to Frederick, and that was the reconquest of Italy by force.


Frederick’s fourth expedition to Italy


He collected a considerable army, and in October 1166 set out accompanied by the Empress. By the middle of November he was in Lombardy and held a diet at Lodi, but he quickly saw that hostility was greater than ever, and that he aroused an atmosphere of hatred to the highest intensity. The cities which had at first favored him had turned lukewarm or unfriendly, and the two on which he most relied to give effect to the expedition against Sicily, Pisa and Genoa, came to Lodi only to dispute rival claims, thus emphasizing a discord which was of evil omen. Instead of moving directly upon Rome in order to dispatch the business of Alexander and scatter the forces of William of Sicily and the Byzantines, Frederick was obliged to tarry some time in Lombardy, making destructive raids on the territory of Brescia and Bergamo. Thence he advanced on Bologna and compelled that city to give hostages before betaking himself to Ancona by the Romagna. He sent a portion of his army towards Rome under the command of Rainald, Archbishop of Cologne, and another warrior-archbishop, Christian of Buch, whom he had substituted in the see of Mainz for Conrad of Wittelsbach, a partisan of Pope Alexander. The immediate descent on the south made it necessary that he should have a base on the Adriatic and that the approach to Abruzzo by the Marches should be free. He therefore determined to invest Ancona in person.

He met with a stubborn resistance. Lombardy in the meantime, determined to throw off his yoke, was emboldened by the League of Verona, and one city after another entered into a joint compact to prepare for an act of liberation. The confederates resolved, as a symbol of their union, to restore Milan from her ruins, construct her moats, and set up her walls anew as a bulwark. On 27 April 1167, the allied forces appeared before the fallen city bent on the work of reconstruction and of warding off any possible attacks, especially from Pavia, always the faithful ally of the Empire. Milan rose again as if by enchantment and the spirit of independence seemed to live again within her. The cities in their rekindled life built fortifications, and all through Lombardy ran the thrill of coming war.

Alexander III saw in this harmony his greatest hope of safety and hailed it with fervor. His position was a very serious one. He had succeeded in gaining to a certain extent the favor of the Romans, thanks to their hatred of the neighboring cities, who seemed to be biased towards the Empire, especially Tusculum. But the two German archbishops at the head of their forces were masters of the Campagna, and had reduced that district into obedience to the anti-Pope Paschal, who had made Viterbo his headquarters. The Roman militia were sufficiently numerous to place in danger Rainald of Dassel, who was occupying Tusculum with a slender force, but the Archbishop of Mainz advanced to the succor of Rainald. The Romans, in spite of the Pope's dissuasions, advanced against this combined array trusting in their own numbers, but, being hemmed in on both sides, suffered a terrible defeat on 29 May 1167 and were pursued to the very gates of Rome, leaving in their flight many dead and many prisoners behind them. The discouragement in Rome was great. Alexander rallied together as many soldiers as he could, and prepared to offer resistance to the imperial troops now before the city.


Siege of Rome 


Frederick, having made peace with Ancona, made a rapid march on Rome, and on 24 July 1167 appeared with his army on Monte Mario. The day after he made an unsuccessful attempt to storm the walls. Subsequent assaults were more fortunate, and opened to him the defenses of St Peter's. The neighboring church of Santa Maria in Turn was set fire to by the assailants, who amid blood and slaughter forced their way to the sacred basilica itself, compelling the papal soldiers to surrender. The anti-Pope being in possession of the church renewed the Emperor’s coronation with great solemnity and placed the crown on the imperial consort's head.

Frederick, however, was not yet master of the left bank of the Tiber. The Pope had taken refuge in a stronghold of the Frangipani near to the Coliseum, and was in constant deliberation with his cardinals and other adherents. The King of Sicily had sent him by the Tiber two galleys and a sum of money. The money was distributed amongst his defenders, while the galleys were sent away with two cardinals. The Pope himself remained in Rome. Grave as the situation appeared to be, Alexander did not despair, and thought perhaps that some means of understanding with Frederick was not impossible. Conrad of Wittelsbach, the dispossessed Archbishop of Mainz, who held to the Pope, went to visit the Emperor. The latter enjoined upon him the task of proposing to the Alexandrine cardinals and bishops that both Pope and anti-Pope should resign in order to make way for a fresh election. At the same time he acquainted the Romans with this proposal, promising them that, if it were carried out, he would return the prisoners and the booty captured on 29 May. The bishops with one voice rejected the imperial offer, but the Romans urged the Pope and cardinals with pressing insist­ence to yield and to set them free from their privations. Alexander’s position in Rome was no longer endurable, and he suddenly and stealthily disappeared. Three days afterwards he was seen near Monte Circello, then at Terracina and Gaeta, and thence he went to Benevento, where he was joined by the cardinals whose loyalty had remained unshaken in the hour of danger.

The appearance of eight Pisan galleys on the Tiber and the expected approach of a great fleet of ships ready to attack Rome and Sicily brought the Romans to make terms with the Emperor and to submit to him the nomination of the Senate. Frederick could now look upon himself as supreme master of Italy, Rome was his, and the army behind him with the Pisan fleet guaranteed to him a victory over the Sicilian king, whose strength was shaken by internal discords, and whose defeat would render certain the suppression of the revolt of Lombardy. The Empire of Charlemagne was on the point of revival in all its pristine majesty. But the decrees of history were otherwise written. The scorching August sun was oppressing the German forces in the Campagna when a slight rain came to refresh them, but on the following day sudden destruction fell upon their encampments. A deadly fever spread through the ranks and those attacked by the sudden malady died in crowds. The panic was great, heightened by religious terror, for this mysterious and violent destruction appeared to be an act of divine vengeance for the profanation of St Peter's. The imperial army, decimated, terrified, and demoralized, was routed by an unseen enemy, and Frederick was compelled to break up his camp. He led the remnants of his army across the Tuscan Apennines, his path of retreat strewn with dead and dying. The flower of his army, the pick of his captains, had fallen. In this conjuncture Frederick's magnanimous strength of will showed itself in full force. He was suddenly bereft of the most valuable and staunchest supporters of his throne; his best councilors, his most valiant warriors were wrested from his side. His nephew Frederick of Swabia, the Archbishop of Cologne, Rainald of Dassel, the Bishops of Liege, Spires, Ratisbon, Verden, and Duke Welf VII of Tuscany, were all struck down, and hundreds of other nobles and churchmen. He dragged behind him as best he could the surviving few, and being unable to follow the open roads from Tuscany, since the Lombards in arms held the passes, he took to the hill paths of Lunigiana and by a difficult circuit came down on loyal Pavia. Here he gathered together his available forces, and, aided by some cities still faithful, by the Count of Biandrate and the Marquess of Montferrat, he attempted some attacks on the Milanese territory, but the Lombards pressed him so closely that it was only with great effort that he could extricate himself in safety and get beyond the frontier of Italy. Under the protection of Humbert, Count of Maurienne, he reached Susa with a small following, but the city displayed such a menacing demeanor that he was forced to escape under cover of the darkness of night. The powerful monarch who had descended on Italy certain of victory returned to his own country alone, disarmed, a fugitive; but his mind was undaunted and his ambition was bent more than ever on the reaffirmation of his rights and the restoration of lustre to the waning star of Empire.

The Lombards, who had felt so heavily the weight of Barbarossa’s arms, knew that the struggle was not yet at an end and that there must be a fierce renewal of the contest if their liberties were to be rewon and maintained. They set to work. The League added to its numbers, and in a short time the greater part of the cities of Venetia, Lombardy, and Piedmont were confederated and ready to act on the defensive against the Emperor and those barons and cities, such as Pavia, which still stood by him. As a greater safeguard the League decided to build a strong city at the confluence of the Tanaro and the Bormida, in such a position as to command every point of entrance into the plains of Lombardy. The city rose rapidly, not rich indeed in fine buildings but fortified to its utmost capacity, and was soon able to reckon a population of 15,000 citizens to man and defend it. As a symbol of alliance with the Papacy the name given to the city was Alessandria, and the Pope, on his part, aided by the Lombard clergy, did all he could to encourage the League and to tighten the bonds between himself and his other allies. The Emperor's influence in Italy was steadily losing ground. Genoa, without actually joining the League, regarded it with favor, and, when Pisa entered into friendly relations with Sicily, did the same. The court of Sicily, at the same time, seeing what a safeguard the League might become, gave assistance in money, and so did Manuel Comnenus, ever mindful of his own interests and of his ambitious hopes regarding Italy.


Growing strength of Alexander III


While the struggle was thus in preparation, the shuttle of papal diplomacy was moving incessantly and working to keep France and England aloof from Frederick. Alexander III had been recognized by Denmark, and little by little this recognition had spread over the greater part of northern and eastern Europe. Towards the Byzantine Emperor, who adhered to his design of uniting the Eastern and Western Empires, the Pope showed great courtesy but maintained an attitude of non-committal friendliness. His strength had its foundation in the King of Sicily and the Lombards. The latter pre-eminently were his first bulwark against the attacks of Frederick. As had always been the case, his weakest point was Rome, where permanent habitation was difficult, so much so that he had for several years to be contented with Benevento or some town of the Campagna as a settled residence. The anti-Pope was always face to face with him, although devoid of an authority in Christendom adequate to challenge that of Alexander. On the death of Paschal III in September 1168, a successor had been found in Abbot John of Struma, called Calixtus III, whom Frederick hastened to acknowledge. Although the schism had spent its force, an anti-Pope could always be used as a handy instrument against Alexander by an able and determined adversary.

On his return to Germany in 1168, the Emperor bent all his energies to the restoration of order in the kingdom distracted by civil dissensions and to the establishment of peace between his most powerful vassals, the Saxon Henry the Lion and the Margrave Albert the Bear, two implacable enemies. While endeavoring to bring them into friendly accord, Frederick was inclined to favor Henry, to whom he was attached by old ties of friendship, and to whom he looked for support. But the power of these barons made him feel the need of making provision for the security of his own house, and in April 1169 he caused his son Henry to be elected King of the Romans and had him crowned at Aix-la-Chapelle by the new Archbishop, Philip of Cologne, the successor of Rainald of Dassel. From the old Duke Welf VI, who now had no heirs, he bought the right of succession to his estates in Swabia and Tuscany, but this acquisition, which certainly made a notable accession to his power in Germany and Italy, alienated from him the sympathy of Henry the Lion, who had himself aspired to the whole Welf inheritance.

The internal affairs of Germany did not exclusively occupy the mind of Frederick, and he was also giving his thoughts to the state of Italy and his relations with the Church. If the anti-Pope Calixtus III was an embarrassment and a difficulty to Pope Alexander, his force and authority were not to be compared with those which the Cardinal Octavian had wielded in the early days of the schism. Prudence also kept Frederick from putting difficulties in the way of the barons who were summoned to Bamberg to elect his son as King of the Romans. It seemed to him wise, at this juncture, to make an attempt at conciliation which, without admitting any compromise in regard to the existing dispute, might be a means of showing to Germany his good intentions regarding the close of the schism, and also of arousing suspicion against the Pope among the Lombards and in Sicily. Eberhard, Bishop of Bamberg, was chosen as the messenger of conciliation. His wisdom and moderation were acknowledged by all parties. He was under strict obligations to disclose his proposals to the Pope only. The latter was not without his misgivings. He foresaw that the negotiations might be regarded with suspicion by his Lombard allies, and arranged that certain faithful citizens should be deputed by the cities of the League to come immediately to Veroli and assist at the conference with the imperial envoy. Eberhard, however, insisted on a confidential explanation with the Pope of his mission. The Emperor made some concessions, but did not make an explicit avowal of his readiness to accept the validity of Alexander's election. At the bottom of his heart he probably clung to the often-expressed idea of a simultaneous renunciation on the part of the two pretenders, followed by the election of a third party to the Papacy. The negotiations fell to the ground completely. The Pope in the presence of the Lombard delegates rejected the imperial proposals, and all hope of conciliation vanished.

War was once more the arbiter. The alliance of the Lombards with the Pope and with Sicily could only be broken up by force. The League was dominant in upper Italy, and Pavia had at last to bow to its authority. A fresh expedition into Italy had become a vital necessity for the Emperor, though he was still hampered by the complicated affairs of Germany. He had to dispatch a first army corps under Christian of Buch, Archbishop of Mainz, whose political and military task was to consist in preparing the ground by consolidating friendships and in­spiring with fear the pride of the rebellious cities. Christian’s principal object was to bring Genoa into closer relationship with the Emperor, and to gain as much as possible the goodwill of Tuscany. His next endeavour was to secure for the imperial army a base on the Adriatic, and to carry out afresh the investment of Ancona. The city held out stoutly for six months until the succor of her allies compelled the army to raise the siege.


Frederick’s fifth expedition to Italy


Frederick, as soon as his hands were free in Germany, concentrated his army for the Italian expedition and again crossed the Alps at its head. He had a strong force at his disposition—a certain number of barons and bishops followed him—but it was much inferior to that which he had on the previous occasion. The most conspicuous gap was that caused by the absence of Henry the Lion, the comrade of his choice. Internal conditions in Germany and the disastrous end of the last expedition into Italy had chilled the enthusiasm of the Germans and their inclination to carry war beyond the Alps. He opened his campaign at the end of September 1174 by the destruction of Susa, an act of reprisal for the ignominy of having had to escape from it when he left Italy. He then came down through Piedmont and moved on the borders of Lombardy. Asti surrendered at once, and the Marquess of Montferrat, with the cities of Alba, Acqui, Pavia, and Como, finding themselves strengthened by his favor, deserted the League and turned to him. Frederick, emboldened by these adhesions, presented himself before Alessandria. This town, with its name taken from his enemy, appeared to him as the symbol and bulwark of rebellion which must disappear from the face of the earth.

But the determination of the Emperor to crush the Lombards was not greater than their determination to oppose him, and to defend their liberty to the last gasp. This stubborn opposition hardened into obstinacy Frederick’s resolve to obtain the mastery. The city was beleaguered on every side, but held out firmly. The winter, always severe around Alessandria, was in this year of exceptional rigor, and increased beyond measure the difficulties of the siege and the sufferings of the besiegers. The confederates meanwhile were combining their forces in order to fall upon the Emperor and destroy the army which was wearing itself out in the attacks on the city. Barbarossa, intent on dividing and thwarting the enemy, sent Christian of Buch into the Romagna and the Bolognese territory, thus succeeding in diverting and holding in check no inconsiderable portion of the allied armies. He redoubled his efforts to carry Alessandria by storm, but all his attempts were ineffectual, being repulsed with heavy losses. After six months of unsuccessful siege, in April 1175, knowing that the allies were close at hand, he tried to penetrate the city by means of mines and take it by surprise, but the soldiers employed in the mines were discovered and killed, and in a spirited sortie the defenders raided the Emperors camp and destroyed by fire his best siege machinery. With his quick resolution Frederick then raised the siege without delay, and advanced rapidly against the army of the League. The two armies met in the territory of Pavia, and pitched their camps between Casteggio and Voghera at three miles distance from one another. Just as a battle appeared imminent, negotiations for peace were suddenly begun between the Emperor and the League, although it is not clearly known from which side the initiative came. Perhaps the Lombards were not entirely confident of their strength, and certainly Frederick must have found the moment opportune for a truce, in order to reinvigorate his troops, exhausted by the unfortunate enterprise against Alessandria. For a moment peace appeared to have been concluded, but all at once the negotiations were broken off. Other negotiations were opened through three cardinals, in order to see if it were yet possible to come to some agreement with the Church, but this attempt also came to nothing, and hostilities began anew. For the remainder of the year 1175 the war dragged on without any important engagements. The Lombards seemed to keep a watchful attitude, looking for the opportune moment, and Frederick stood on the defensive waiting for reinforcements from Germany before striking a decisive blow. Germany showed no great willingness to reply to his appeals, and when at last in the spring of 1176 the reinforcements did arrive they were not accompanied by Henry the Lion. The Emperor had gone in person to Chiavenna in order to confer with him, and to impress upon him the supreme importance of his co-operation in the interests of the Empire. All was in vain. Henry’s proud spirit was deaf to the voice of an old friendship, and refused to recall the acts of kindness of his imperial relative spread over many years. Frederick gained nothing from this interview save a chilling refusal, and the painful impression that, where he had looked for friendship, he had only found the foreshadowing of rebellion.


The battle of Legnano, 1176


Frederick had advanced to meet his fresh supports with the determination of opening a vigorous campaign with a battle in the open field. Having collected a contingent from Como, he moved on Pavia in order to form a conjunction with the remainder of his army before delivering an attack on the Lombards. The latter, who had his movements under observation, came forward rapidly and cut off his approach. The hour on which the issue of the long contest depended had now struck. On 29 May 1176 the two armies engaged near Legnano in a battle which was keenly contested on both sides. At first the Germans seemed to have the upper hand. Their heavy cavalry broke through the front ranks of the Lombards and threw them into confusion. But round the Carroccio the German onset was checked, and was of no avail to shatter the desperate resistance of the handful of heroes who defended this central point. It became the centre of the battle now resumed with fierce determination. Frederick encouraged his troops in vain by plunging into the thick of the fight with his wonted courage. In the struggle he was unhorsed, and amid the confusion and the groups of combatants vanished from sight. The defeat of the Germans was complete and great their slaughter. The exultant Milanese wrote to their brethren of Bologna: “Glorious has been our triumph over our enemies. Their slain are innumerable as well as those drowned and taken prisoners. We have in our hands the shield, banner, cross, and lance of the Emperor, and have found in his coffers much gold and silver, while the booty taken from the enemy is of great value, but we do not consider these things ours, but the common property of the Pope and the Italians. In the fight Duke Berthold was taken, as also a nephew of the Empress and a brother of the Archbishop of Cologne; the other captives are innumerable and are all in custody in Milan”.

Frederick had no small difficulty in reaching Pavia in safety with the remnants of his army which had made good their escape from the hands of the victors. He had fought and lost. It would have been folly to suppose that Germany would have followed him in any scheme of reconquest. One of his highest qualities as a statesman was his ready and intuitive perception of changed situations. He accepted facts and determined to consider some other policy which would reconcile the order of things created by the Lombard victory of Legnano with the dignity and majesty of the Empire. The desire for peace which had gradually arisen in his own mind and that of his counselors now ripened, and inclined him to open negotiations which would lead finally to an honorable and lasting conclusion. Four times he had entered Italy with an armed force, and still the Italians met him undaunted face to face. The Pope, now enjoying an uncontested authority, by his excommunication was stripping the imperial crown of its halo of sanctity. He had failed to carry his arms against the King of Sicily, and Constantinople might still become a menace. It was time to make approaches to peace while the Empire was yet strong and formidable.

His first considerations were not in the direction of Lombardy. The primary object of reconciliation was the Church. By restoring friendly relations with his foremost adversary, he would be in a position at once to allay the scruples of Germans disturbed by the papal schism and to smooth the way for understandings with Lombardy and Sicily. In October 1176 Frederick sent to Anagni the Archbishops Wichmann of Magdeburg and Christian of Mainz, Conrad Bishop-elect of Worms, and the protonotary Wortwin, with full powers to conclude peace. The Pope received them honorably and expressed his fervent desire for peace, but declared that it must be extended to his allies the King of Sicily, the Lombards, and the Byzantine Emperor. To this the ambassadors agreed, but asked that the negotiations might be earned on in secret, since there were in both parties persons who were more disposed to enmity than to concord. They thus gained the advantage of holding the first deliberations privately and solely with the Pope.


Treaty of Anagni. End of the Schism


The long and detailed discussion lasted more than two weeks, involving the relations between the Empire and the Church, and a variety of questions affecting important personages connected with the schism. The terms of agreement were at last fixed. The Emperor recognized Alexander as Pope, restored to the Church her possessions and the right to appoint the prefect of Rome, and promised to all ecclesiastics the restitution of all that had been taken from them during the schism. The Empress and King Henry also recognized the Pope, and undertook the same obligations as the Emperor. The latter and King Henry bound themselves to enter into a fifteen years’ peace with the King of Sicily, and also to make peace with the Emperor of Constantinople and the other allies of the Pope. Christian of Mainz and Philip of Cologne were to be confirmed in their sees, notwithstanding the schismatic origin of their elections, while Conrad of Wittelsbach, the legitimate Archbishop of Mainz, was to be provided for with the first vacant archbishopric in Germany. The anti-Pope Calixtus was to be appointed to an abbacy, and for other ecclesiastics provision was made in various ways. The Pope recognized Beatrix as Empress and her son Henry as King of the Romans, and promised to crown them either in person or by deputy. He undertook to convene a council speedily, in order to promulgate the peace with penalty of excommunication against its violators, and to have it confirmed on oath by many nobles of Rome and the Campagna, while the Emperor and King Henry promised to keep the peace for fifteen years with the King of Sicily, and a truce of six years with the Lombards.

Such were the principal provisions of the Treaty of Anagni. In order to obtain a definite conclusion, the participation of the Sicilians and Lombards was necessary; it was therefore resolved that the Pope with his cardinals and the Emperor should meet in Lombard territory. Bologna was agreed upon as the place of meeting, and on 9 March 1177 Alexander and his cardinals betook themselves to the Adriatic coast, where they embarked at Vasto on Sicilian galleys waiting to escort them to Venice, along with Roger, Count of Andria, Grand Constable of the kingdom, and Romuald, Archbishop of Salerno, the historian of these events. They landed at Venice, where Alexander was received with great honors. The Emperor, who was then in the Romagna, sent messages to the Pope asking him to alter the place of meeting. In order to treat better with the Lombards it was important for Frederick to isolate them and separate them from the Pope. Bologna, loyal to the League, was suspect to the Emperor. The Pope answered that he could not give a decided assent until he had come to an agreement with the Lombards, and made his way to Ferrara, in order to discuss the matter with the representatives of the League.

On 17 April 1177, in the church of St George, the Pope addressed a solemn discourse to the Lombards, who had met him at Ferrara, magnifying the victory of the Papacy over the Empire, and declaring that it was not a work of man but a miracle of God that an aged and unarmed priest should have been able to resist the fury of the Germans, and without striking a blow subdue the power of the Emperor. But, he added, though the Emperor had offered peace to him and the King of Sicily, he had declined to conclude it without them, and on this account had engaged on a long and perilous journey.

The Lombards, to whom the Treaty of Anagni, concluded without their participation, had given offence and cause of suspicion, answered respectfully, but not without a touch of bitter irony. They thanked him for having come. The persecutions of the Emperor were known to them, not by hearsay only, but from hard experience. They had been the first to sustain in their own persons the fury of the imperial attack in order to avert the destruction of Italy and the Church, and for the honor of both they had exposed property and life to extreme danger. It was only just and reasonable that he should not have consented to terms of peace without their adhesion, seeing that they had often refused to listen to proposals which had not been referred to him. The fatigues and dangers of his journey were very different from those to which they had exposed themselves on behalf of the Church, offering up their substance, themselves, and the lives of their children. “Let your Holiness know”, they added, “and let it be known to the imperial power that we, so long as the honor of Italy is safeguarded, are willing to accept peace and favor from the Emperor provided our liberties remain intact. The tribute due to him of old from Italy shall be rendered and his ancient rights acknowledged, but the liberty inherited from our sires and forefathers can only be surrendered with life itself, and to us a glorious death would be preferable to an existence dragged out in wretched servitude”.

When the imperial delegates arrived and the various mediators had been chosen, the question as to where the discussion should take place broke out afresh. The Imperialists refused to hear of Bologna, while Venice was displeasing to the Lombards. In the end Venice was accepted, on the condition that the Emperor should not enter the city without the consent of the Pope. The disputes over the conditions of peace at Venice were long and often bitter. The imperialist claims were obstinately resisted by the Lombards. The latter were determined not to admit the privileges conceded to the Empire at Roncaglia, but to restrict them solely to the rights enjoyed by Lothar and Conrad III. Definite peace with the Lombards ceased to be thought of, and in its place was proposed a preliminary truce for six years. In order to expedite matters, Frederick was allowed to come to Chioggia, but, taking advantage of a rising of the popular party in Venice, he tried to force the doge to allow him to enter the city. The Lombards in anger left Venice and retired to Treviso. The Pope was in a great strait and peace seemed once more to be in danger. The Sicilian legates saved the situation. Seeing that the doge was wavering, they made ready their galleys with great ostentation and then, reproaching the doge with breach of faith, they threatened to leave Venice and trust to their king to take his revenge. This was tantamount to saying that the many Venetians in the kingdom of Sicily would be made prisoners and their goods confiscated. The popular party had to give way before the attitude of the rest of the community, and the doge was able to keep the Emperor at bay during the period of the negotiations, which now were resumed and went on more rapidly. On 23 July 1177 peace was concluded with the Pope, a truce of fifteen years with Sicily and of six with the Lombards.

At the request of the Pope, the Venetian galleys went to Chioggia to bring Frederick to San Niccolo del Lido, where a commission of cardinals absolved him from excommunication, while the imperialist prelates abjured the schism. On 24 July the doge, along with the Patriarch of Aquileia, went to the Lido and meeting the Emperor escorted him to Venice with great pomp. There in front of St Mark’s, amidst a reverent and deeply-moved assemblage, the two champions met after a struggle of eighteen years for the ideal supremacy which each deemed granted him by God. The moment was full of solemnity. The Emperor, overcome by sentiments of reverence for the aged man who received him, threw off his imperial mantle and prostrated himself before him. The Pope, in tears, raised and embraced him, and leading him into the church gave him his benediction. The next day the Pope said mass in St Mark’s, and on his quitting the church the Emperor held his stirrup and made ready to conduct the palfrey. The Pope, however, gave him his blessing, at the same time dispensing him from accompanying him to his barge.


The Treaty of Venice, 1177


On 1 August the peace between the Church and the Empire, and the truce with Sicily and the Lombards, were solemnly ratified. The Pope in a council held in St Mark's pronounced anathemas against any who should dare to disturb the peace now concluded. The Emperor in the meantime displayed particular friendliness to the ambassadors of the King of Sicily, and in the conversations with them laid special emphasis on the common interests, which bound together the two sovereigns and on the possibility of a future alliance. Probably Frederick's active mind was already turning over the new direction which might be given to his relations with southern Italy and was preparing the way for a new development of his aims.

After settling some minor points which were still pending, the Emperor and the Pope parted company towards the end of September. Frederick remained in Italy until the end of 1177, and Alexander returned first to Anagni and thence to Rome, where he met with an enthusiastic reception. This cordiality, however, was of short duration. The old motives of discord were still active, and the opposition between the temporal claims of the Pope and those put forward by the party of municipal liberty were quickly renewed. The Treaty of Anagni had again given to the Pope the right of investing the prefect of Rome, but the prefect in office refused to pay homage and withdrew to Viterbo, continuing his support of the anti-Pope. The Archbishop of Mayence, who represented the Emperor in Italy, tried ineffectually to recall him to obedience. Rut Alexander instead, by more diplomatic means, won him over, and thus compelled the anti-Pope to surrender and turn to him as a suppliant. The Pope received him and provided for him generously.


Third Lateran Council. The Peace of Constance, 1183


Another anti-Pope lasted for a few months, but having been taken prisoner was shut up in the abbey of Cava. The long travail of the Church was at an end, and it seemed a first necessity that in the face of the world the pacification of consciences should be ratified, the evils of the long schism healed, and the recurrence of fresh divisions in the Church of Christ checked once and for all. In March 1179 Alexander III summoned the Third Lateran Council, which was attended by a great concourse of bishops and prelates from all quarters. Many ordinances were proclaimed for regulating the lives of the clergy; the rights and privileges of the Church, independent of lay authority, were affirmed; abuses and customs contrary to the sanction of civilization and the feeling of Christianity were prohibited. All the ordinances of the anti-Popes were annulled, and in order to prevent the renewal of schismatical elections to the Papacy it was decreed that, in the case of a contested election, the candidate who obtained two-thirds of the votes should be declared elected. With this council the long and laborious work of the pontificate of Alexander III may be said to have come to an end. For two years longer he ruled the Church, not without difficulties arising from his various relationships with the Lombards, the Emperor, and the Romans, who were always jealous of papal authority and inclined to revolt. On 30 August 1181 he died at Civita Castellana. His pontificate was without doubt one of the most remarkable in the history of the Church. For twenty-two years he had guided her in times of singular difficulty with great prudence and firmness through a schism of the most serious nature. His enemies were numerous, and he was in open conflict with the Empire presided over by one who was among the greatest wearers of the imperial crown. The champion of the Emperor and the champion of the Papacy each represented in this strife contrasting ideals which hardly admitted of reconciliation, and the strife was waged on both sides with vigor because both the champions were animated by a profound faith in the ideals for which they fought.

Lucius III, who succeeded Alexander, found a question of debate with the Empire still undecided. This was the question of the inheritance of the Countess Matilda, which the Treaty of Venice had settled only provisionally and in terms lacking in precision. Nor was this his only difficulty. The Romans held up their heads more proudly than ever, bent on asserting their independence as opposed to the temporal pretensions of the Popes. Lucius was soon forced to leave Rome and shift from place to place in the Campagna until, his situation in the neighborhood becoming daily more precarious, he had to make up his mind to retire still farther, and in July 1184 he transferred himself to Verona. The principal reason for fixing on this place of residence was his desire to regain the friendship of the Lombards who, since the peace of Venice, had kept much aloof from the Church. He also wished to discuss with Frederick the questions which still remained over for settlement. The Emperor, after the peace of Venice, had set himself strenuously to restore order in Germany, and had quelled by force of arms the open rebellion of Henry the Lion who, in November 1181, was compelled to sue for peace at Erfurt and then to seek refuge in England as an exile for several years. Frederick, in the meanwhile, was not neglecting Italy. His long conflict with that country had brought him gradually to recognize both the powers of resistance that the republics possessed, and the advantages that might accrue to him from their friendship. He turned over in his mind a new scheme of policy. The negotiations for a definite peace with Lombardy were facilitated by the discontent of the Lombards with the Pope, while they saw that Frederick and the King of Sicily were at peace and that, by the death of Manuel Comnenus, they could no longer count on help from Constantinople.

On these grounds their minds were now occupied in securing in a friendly way the liberties so dearly fought for and not in meditating fresh hostilities. The peace was first negotiated at Piacenza and then concluded at Constance in June 1183. It was an honorable arrangement. The high sovereignty of the Empire was admitted without question and its ancient rights were recognized, but in such a way as not to interfere with the freedom of the republics or with their development. They were invested by the Emperor or by their bishop, according to their status, with the regalia. The cities were allowed to elect their own consuls or podestàs, who were to administer justice according to their laws. They could also raise taxes without the Emperors special consent, although an appeal to him was conceded. All the ancient customs were recognized. The allies were to fortify their towns and castles, and their League was to continue unimpaired with power of renewal. All offences were forgiven; the prisoners were exchanged; bans, confiscations, and all other penalties were annulled; the city of Alessandria was admitted to the imperial favor, under the condition, not of long duration, of taking the name of Cesarea. Thus the imperial claims put forth at Roncaglia were curtailed at Constance, and the proud but sagacious prince became reconciled to the noble people who had defended their liberty with such valor and such tenacity.

With Germany restored to order and Italy pacified, Frederick might well look backward over the thirty years of a glorious reign and feel pride in the achievements of his career. In order to celebrate the termination of so many vicissitudes, he commanded a great festival to be held at Mainz on Whitsunday in the year 1184, a festival which long survived in the lays of the Minnesingers and the legends of Germany.

During these festivities, in a tournament in which the Emperor himself took part, the young King Henry VI won his spurs. He was a young actor making his first entry on the stage of history. Frederick's chivalrous designs were henceforward to be turned in a new direction. While maturing in his mind the plan of a new and sacred enterprise, he was preparing his son to rule the State and testing his capacities in various ways so that the lofty Empire to be committed to his charge might be upheld in undiminished greatness. With this aim he proposed and concluded the contract of marriage between Henry and Constance, the heiress of Sicily, thus hoping to achieve his design of linking southern Italy with the Empire. In September 1184 he re-entered Italy as a friend, with a great suite of nobles but no army, and was received with a cordial welcome from the Lombards. He wished to come to a closer understand­ing with them, and to obtain from the Pope the imperial crown for his son Henry. Pope and Emperor met at Verona, both in a conciliatory mood, but it soon appeared how difficult would be the process of coming to agreement. The Emperor insisted that the Pope should confirm the orders conferred by the schismatic bishops, and the Pope, after some hesitation, declared that before this step could be taken it would be necessary to have conciliar authority, and proposed to summon a synod at Lyons. This procrastinating reply did not please Frederick and made more difficult than before the solution of the questions relating to the inheritance of the Countess Matilda, which Frederick in the meantime held and had no intention of giving up. Another source of discord was the archbishopric of Treves, where in 1183 a double election had occurred, the Pope favoring one candidate and the Emperor the other. But the most delicate point of all was the Emperor’s persistent demand of. the imperial crown for his son Henry. The Pope objected, adducing as his reason that, notwithstanding precedents, the contemporaneous existence of two Emperors was incompatible with the very nature of the Empire itself. The Pope’s refusal was perhaps not altogether without support from the German nobility, who may have seen in such a coronation a tendency to make the Empire hereditary. It is probable that the suspicions and fears raised in the Curia by the approaching marriage of Henry and Constance had a strong influence over the Pope. In spite of the strained situation, the personal relations between Lucius and Frederick remained cordial, and in their conversations at Verona they had opportunity for enquiring together into the imminent necessity of carrying succor to the Christians of the East, exposed to serious danger by the enterprises of Saladin. But on 24 November 1185 Lucius III died at Verona, and was succeeded by the Archbishop of Milan, who took the name of Urban III. He was an unbending and vigorous man, with little friendship for the Emperor and ill-disposed to concessions. With him was reopened the quarrel between Church and Empire, and the imperial policy was turned more decisively to the path on which it had first entered. Thus, as at the end of the struggle of the investitures, so now, after a long contest, neither party could claim the full victory or acknowledge entire defeat.