Unperturbed by Henry IV’s release from the ban the German princes elect Rudolph von Rheinfelden as the new king, change the constitution of the empire and start a civil war that is lost when a man loses not his head, but his hand
How King (future Emperor ) Henry IV (1056-1105) turned a disagreement over the archbishop of Milan into a major crisis
Henry had appointed a new archbishop of Milan in direct opposition to the Pope Gregory VII’s candidate (see previous post). As a consequence Gregory had sent a letter to Henry admonishing him and threatening excommunication. Henry then called a synod of 26 German bishops in Worms for the 24th of January. These mighty prelates were […]
Milan is not only Europe’s largest city in the 11th century but also a powder keg. The Pataria, movement of the urban poor, demands better behaved clergymen, resulting in competing archbishops, one supported by the empire, the other by the pope
Gregory VII is one of the great papal figures of the Middle Ages. He establishes the concept of the universal primacy of the papacy that has never erred and will never err. His clash with Emperor Henry IV, erroneously called the Investiture Controversy is about much more than that, it may even be one of the great turning points in European history on par with the French and Russian Revolutions
The rise of the papacy since 1046 is almost linear. Popes free themselves from the Roman aristocracy, take over leadership of the church reform movement and claim universal leadership of Christianity. Conflict with the other universal power, the emperor is inevitable..
Otto was born into a family of Saxon magnates with possessions in the Harz mountains. He was one of the most accomplished military and political leaders in Germany during the reign of Henry IV. The Empress Agnes made him duke of Bavaria in 1061 to lead a campaign into Hungary. A mere 12 months later […]
There are nearly 20,000 castles in Germany, some are famous for good reason like Trifels, Wartburg or the Hambacher Schloss. Some are historically irrelevant pastiches like Neuschwanstein or Schwerin. And very few are really important to the point of being almost protagonists by themselves. One of these few is the Harzburg.
The Harzburg symbolises the shift in imperial power under Henry IV from the previous model built around oaths of fealty and royal assemblies to the raw projection of territorial control. The Harzburg both provoked the uprising of the Saxons in 1073 and brings it to an end when the sacking by the Saxon peasant army goes to far.
Godfrey the Bearded is one of those figures of History who despite his significant influence over crucial events has fallen through the cracks because he did not fit into a national narrative in either Germany, France or Italy.
Emperor Henry III is dead. The realm is now in the hands of his widow, Agnes of Poitou who rules on behalf of the six-year-old king Henry IV. Agnes is no Theophanu and no Adelheid. Not that she is incompetent, she just isn’t absolutely brilliant, and absolutely brilliant is the baseline necessary to manage this fragile situation.
Hohentwiel, one of the oldest castles in Germany was in the 10th century the seat of Hadwig, duchess of Swabia by marriage. Hadwig played an important role in the rebellions of her brother, Henry the Quarrelsom. She held the impregnable fortress against imperial forces and remained in control of parts of Swabia long after the rebellions had been crushed. Hadwig is also famous for her relationship with the monk Eckehard recounted by Victor von Scheffel in his 1855 bestseller “Eckehard”.
#Onthisday, September 6th, 1879, Karl Joseph Wirth, the youngest German Chancellor to date, was born in Freiburg i.B. He was on the left wing of the Zentrum (=Catholic) party When he became chancellor in May 1921, he pursued a policy of compliance with the demands for the allied reparations after World War I.
On this day, September 5th, 1304 Rüdiger Manesse, Elderman of Zurich and collector of German medieval Minnelieder died at home. He is most famous for collecting the texts of medieval German Minnelieder (literally “songs of courtly love”), the romances sung in high German at the courts of the high Middle Ages. These formed the basis of the famous Codex MAnesse, the most beautiful German medieval book
On this day September 4th, 1024 a mere 6 weeks after the death of Emperor Henry II, the German magnates elect Konrad “the Elder” from the noble family of the Salian Franks to be king. His election was more than a surprise given his relative modest personal wealth and at best tangential relationship to the previous imperial family. However, Konrad II turned out to be a very effective ruler who managed to rapidly consolidate his reign. If you like to hear more about Konrad II and the time of the Salians, check out Season 2 of the History of the Germans Podcast, available on Spotify, Apple podcasts and wherever you get your Podcasts from.
On this day, September 3, 1736 Matthias “Hiasl” Klostermayr, a Bavarian poacher and highwayman was born in Kissing/Bavaria. He had to leave his hometown after an affair with a yeoman’s daughter and began a life as a poacher. His skill as a shot made him famous across the region. Though poaching was forbidden, the local farmers much appreciated the culling of the deer which caused damage to agriculture.Being an outlaw already, he diversified into robbing travellers on the roads between Augsburg, Munich and Ulm and raiding tax offices. He was known to (occasionally) share his gains with the poor, making him extremely popular. At the height of his fame his band of brothers comprised nearly 30 men.
This week we have a special treat – Episode 1 of Thugs and Miracles a podcast by Benjamin Bernier. We handed our feed over to Benjamin, a gifted storyteller who brings you the History of France from the Fall of the Roman Empire to the Fall of the Guillotine. He is doing it properly and […]
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I am a history geek with no academic qualification in the field but a love for books and stories. I do this for fun and my personal self-aggrandisement.
I have been born, raised and educated in Germany but live in the UK for now over 20 years with my wife and two children. My professional background is in law, management consulting and banking. History has always been a hobby as are sailing, travelling, art, skiing and exercise (go BMF!).
My view of history is best summarised by Gregory of Tours (539-594): “A great many things keep happening, some good, some bad”. History has no beginning and no end and more importantly, it has no logic, no pattern and no purpose . But that does not mean there isn’t progress and sometimes we humans realise that doing the same thing again and again hoping for a different outcome is indeed madness. The great moments in history are those where we realise that we cannot go on as we were and things need to change. German history – as you will hopefully see – is full of these turning points, some good, some bad!
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