#OTD, January 26th 1699 the Great Turkish war ended when the Sublime Porte, the Holy Roman Empire, the Republic of Venice, the Tsar of Russia and the Kingdom of Poland signed the peace of Karlowitz.

The peace of Karlowitz marks a turning point in European history, bringing over 200 years of Ottoman expansion into Europe to an end. In 1683 the Turkish army had besieged Vienna and without the help of the Poles led by King John III, Sobiesky, the city would have fallen. After the siege of Vienna had ended war raged mostly in Hungary.

In July 1697 after years and years of inconclusive fighting the emperor appointed Prince Eugene of Savoy to be the new commander in chief. Within a mere three months Eugene delivered the most comprehensive victory over a Turkish army seen to this date.

At Zenta the Turkish army was crossing the river Tisza thinking the enemy was still a long way away. Their artillery was on a pontoon bridge and hence useless, allowing Eugene’s troops to overrun the position on the shore. Imperial troops also managed to occupy sandbanks in the river allowing them to attack the Ottoman rear. 25,000 Turkish soldiers fell, the entire artillery was lost, as were the supplies.

As a consequence Sultan Mustafa II (1695-1703) had to sue for peace. In the negotiations at Karlowitz the Habsburgs gained Hungary, parts of Croatia and Transylvania, Poland received Ukraine and other areas back that had been occupied by the Turks and Venice gained the Peloponnese.

The Turkish army never really recovered from this defeat and was in constant retreat until World War I. Eugene of Savoy became the most famous military figure in Europe and built himself the marvellous Belvedere Palace in Vienna, where he lived alone as “Mars without Venus”.

And the Habsburgs began building their empire in South-Eastern Europe. The Bavarians and other German states who had sent troops received the emperors eternal gratitude and plunder, but no land or positions.

As always for more German history check out my podcast History of the Germans on most podcasting platforms or on my website

#OTD, January 25th, 1881 the “red countess” Sophie von Hatzfeld, mother of the German Social-Democratic movement died in Wiesbaden.

She was born into an aristocratic family, the counts of Hatzfeld-Trachtenberg. To smooth a long-running feud between another branch of the Hatzfeld family Sophie was married aged 17 to her cousin, Edmund von Hatzfeld-Wildenburg-Weisweiler. He was a wealthy but debauched man who maintained a harem of mistresses in his castle in Kalkum. The marriage hit the rocks almost immediately. Sophie claimed to have been mistreated and assaulted by her husband.

In 1833 Sophie left her husband and began a life of travel. She entered into new love affairs that rarely lasted. When her family insisted she should behave with more decorum, she answered that “what is suitable for her husband, the count, she should be allowed too”. By 1846 she demanded a divorce. Most unusually she demanded her husband to pay maintenance sufficient to maintain her standard of living.

Sophie hired the then 20-year old Ferdinand Lasalle as her lawyer. What followed was a 5-year epic trial fought in 36 different courtrooms. Lasalle was an early socialist who got prominently involved in the 1848 revolution. He would later found the Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein, the first socialist/social democratic party in Europe. The ADAV would later become the SPD, today one of Germany’s major political parties.

Sophie supported his efforts. She famously arrived to a revolutionary meeting in Dusseldorf in a carriage flying the red flag alongside the black-red-gold flag of liberal Germany.

Sophy was already 41 when she met Lasalle who was in his 20s. Whether they had an amorous relationship has been subject of gossip for a long time. When Lasalle died in a stupid duel in Geneva in 1864, Sophie inherited his archive and continued his legacy until her death aged 71.

She was a beautiful woman, who would appear in low cut dresses, smoking a cigar and saying – “why shouldn’t I, because I am woman?”

For more interesting German women, check out the History of the Germans Podcast on all major podcast platforms or on this website

In this week’s episode the last of the Salians will find that despite all his efforts, the tide of history cannot be stemmed, leaving him in exactly the same place his father ended up in 1076.

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Episode 41 – the Duke’s Rebuke

Hello and Welcome to the History of the Germans: Episode 41 – The Duke’s Rebuke

In this week’s episode the last of the Salians will find that despite all his efforts, the tide of history cannot be stemmed, almost leaving him in exactly the same place his father ended up in 1076.

Before we start a just a reminder. The History of the Germans Podcast is advertising free thanks to the generous support from patrons. And you can become a patron too and enjoy exclusive bonus episodes and other privileges from the price of a latte per month. All you have to do is sign up at patreon.com/historyofthegermans or on my website historyofthegermans.com. You find all the links in the show notes. And thanks a lot to Andrew, Martha and David who have already signed up.

Last episode we left Emperor Henry V in May 1111 returning from his journey to Rome in triumph. The pope had confirmed the full ancient rights of investiture of the emperors. Not just that but the pope also promised not to bother the emperor ever again about investiture and had renounced any possibility of ever excommunicating him again. And, to top it all off, Henry V had secured the unimaginably rich inheritance of Great Countess Matilda of Tuscany upon her soon to be expected demise.

With more than anything anyone could have hoped to achieve, why the long faces, even amongst Henry’s entourage?

Henry’s close supporters, many of them bishops and abbots were still reeling from the events in Rome that happened before the pope’s hand was dragged over the signature box of the agreement by a rough looking imperial retainer.

You see, before all this heavy handed ness The pope had made a deal with the Emperor whereby the church would hand back all the counties, estates, market rights, mills and mints they had been awarded by the crown in exchange for the emperor renouncing any involvement in the selection and investiture of prelates.

Even though the deal collapsed as soon as it had been made public, for the bishops it was the ultimate betrayal. Their king had been willing to strip them of all their ancient rights and privileges. After all these centuries of service to the king, he was happy to drop them.

It is not just that. If Henry V had indeed taken back all the church’s lands and rights into his direct ownership and control, he would have been able to establish an all-powerful central authority. Something his father, with much less resources had tried to do in Saxony. Imagine what the son could have done with more than a third of all the assets of the country. A tyranny is what the bishops, abbots and their cousins, the dukes, counts, lords and knights would have called it.

It did not happen, but from this moment onwards all these bishops, abbots, dukes, counts, lords and knights no longer believed the king was the guarantor of their rights and freedoms. They now had to protect these rights by joining up together, against the king. It is from now that the documents begin to call all of these potentates, be they secular lords or bishops and abbots as princes. And these princes began to see themselves as the mutual guarantors of each other’s status against royal overreach. The Imperial Church, if it ever was under orders of the king, no longer sees itself as the instrument of the crown. These men, and very few women were Princes now, focused on expanding their territorial power and supporting their brethren.

How sudden this shift happens becomes visible in the person of Adalbert, chancellor of Henry V. He was a member of the inner circle of Henry’s government. He was one of the handful of people involved in  the initial negotiations with Pope Paschalis II that had led to that infamous deal in February 1111. In recognition of his services, Adalbert was made archbishop of Mainz that same year.

When Adalbert arrived at Mainz, he decided that his archdiocese could not rely on the protection from the emperor. What was needed was a strong, coherent territorial power base that would allow him in extremis to give the “dos fingos” to the emperor.

Mainz being a mere 30 miles from the Salian heartlands around Worms the archbishop quickly found himself in a direct conflict with his former boss. The ultimate point of contention was the castle of Trifels, at this point still a modest fortification on a very promising location in the Palatinate. The two former friends came to blows and after alleging Adalbert was about to attack, Henry V had the archbishop arrested in 1112. That resulted in an outcry not just in Germany, but even in Rome where Pope Paschalis II intervened on behalf of his former adversary.

Henry took the Trifels and turned it into an imperial fortress, and probably one of the most famous ones. For a hundred years it will the place where the imperial regalia would be held for safekeeping, and it was also where King Richard Lionheart will be imprisoned.

The conflict with Adalbert was not the only indication that things weren’t right. Whilst Henry V maintained the outright façade of a ruler who acted always in concert with his magnates, backstage he was gradually building a royal territory in the Rhineland, sort of what his father had tried to do in Saxony. For that he relied on his Ministeriales who he supported across the whole of the realm. When he was called to adjudicate conflicts between nobles and Ministeriales, it seemed to the magnates that their Emperor would always side with the Ministeriales.

One of these disputes escalated and the Duke of Saxony with some of his magnates decided to abduct one of these litigious ministeriales who had appealed to the imperial court. That was a direct challenge to imperial authority. Henry V deposed the Duke of Soxony, who was, you may remember a certain Lothar of Supplinburg. Remember the name. He will be important. In this initial effort Henry V was very successful. He apprehended the duke as well as a number of Saxon Magnates. One of them had also been the Count Palatinate holding lands along the river adjacent to the Salian lands. Henry V removed the title and lands and granted them to one of his closest followers. This was again another move to create a coherent power base around his family lands.

In 1113 Henry V looks as if he is on top of the world. His adversaries in Germany have not been able to foil his plans and he calls a royal assembly in Mainz. It is a splendid occasion where Henry V formally marries Matilda of England, now 11 years old. The duke of Saxony, Lothar of Supplinburg submits and is received back into the imperial grace. Some of his co-conspirators are not so lucky and remain in jail.

All that leaves a bitter aftertaste in the mouth of many a mighty lord. The attempt to strip the church of its lands, the expansion of royal territory, the support of the Ministeriales and the incarceration of Adalbert and the conspirators makes Henry V look very much like his dad.

The rebellion starts in Cologne where the archbishop and the now very powerful city reject imperial rule. When Henry V’s attempt to besiege and subdue Cologne fails, the rebels are joined by various Lotharingian nobles, always willing to push back imperial control.

When Henry fights these combined forces and loses the whole of Northern Germany is encouraged to refute imperial authority.

Henry V changes tack and calls a royal assembly in Goslar to debate the issues and maybe find a compromise. When nobody who matters shows up, the severity of the situation is becoming clear.

A major military conflict is now inevitable.

On February 11th, 1115 in a place called Welfenholze the armies of Lothar of Supplinburg, mostly Saxons and people from the lower Rhine face up against the imperial army under Henry’s general, Count Hoyer von Mansfeld.

Not much detail is known about the battle. It seems that at some point the Saxons were under severe pressure and Hoyer von Mansfeld set out to bring the Duke Lothar of Supplinburg down himself. In that attack the imperial general was felled by a Saxon nobleman. After that the imperial army lost cohesion and the Saxons prevailed.

Lothar uses his advantage and  quickly consolidates his position in the North occupying the Harz mountains including the silver mines in Goslar as well as Westphalia. From this point onwards Henry V will no longer have any power in Northern Germany. The citizens of Mainz even force him to release Adalbert their archbishop, who immediately joins Lothar’s army.

The excommunications that had been raining down on henry since 1111 not from the pope himself but from various bishops and archbishops. He could initially ignore them but now the bans are  taking effect. Kicking a guy when he is down. Bishops are leaving the imperial camp as are many of the lay lords. The rebels hold an assembly in Cologne 1115 where they endorse the excommunication.

Henry’s saving grace were the southern lords, the Staufer, the Welfs and the Zaehringer who remained loyal. In that respect he was luckier than his dad who had to fight both the North and the South West. The lack of support in the south may have been the reason his opponents did not proceed to elect an anti-king as they had done in 1077..

From now on there is this odd situation that the country is split in half. The north is run by Lothar of Supplinburg, whilst the south is held by Henry V and his allies. The two sides kept fighting along the faultline, which was more or less along the Rhine and Main rivers. But neither side was able to mount an invasion of their enemy’s territory.

In this gridlock the news break that Matilda of Tuscany has died at the ripe old age of 69. Henry V sees this inheritance as crucial to tilt the overall balance in his favor. With the wealth of Northern Italy behind him he may be able to break his opponent’s stranglehold and establish true imperial control of the Reich. This logic will become the mainstay of imperial policy for the next century. Henry V’s ultimate successors, the Staufer will pursue a strategy of gaining resources in Italy as a means to defeat their enemies in the north.

In this, the first time the plan was implemented, it went surprisingly well. Even though Henry V had arrived without an army, he could take possession of most of Matilda’s assets and awarded her imperial fiefs to loyal men.

Whilst he was in Italy, opportunity came knocking. Pope Paschalis II had been expelled from the city of Rome. You may remember that old aristocracy of the Crescenti and the Tuscolani had become casualties of the Gregorian reform and the subsequent destruction of Rome by Robert Guiscard. By now a new set of families were taking control. The two leading clans now were the Pierleoni and the Frangipani. The Frangipani had risen within the old system of city government and one of their ancestors had been the prefect of the city. They converted the Colosseum into their private fortress. The Pierleoni were of a different sort. They were merchants and financiers who had most probably converted from Judaism in the late 11th century. They operated mainly as an urban family with their headquarters in the former Roman Theatre of Marcellus, that they had converted into their fortress.

At this time several of the ancient Roman monuments served as family strongholds. The Capitoline Hill was the seat of the  Corsi family and the Palatine was held by a other clan. The Mausoleum of Hadrian had been Rome’s most formidable fortification, the Castello Sant Angelo for centuries. As in many Italian cities the ruling families lived in heavily fortified compounds to protect themselves against their rivals.

It was one of these conflicts between the major aristocratic families that led to the expulsion of the Pope. Paschalis II had supported a Pierleoni to become City prefect. That annoyed the Frangipani who started rioting.  The rioters gained the upper hand and the pope, as well as their Pierleoni. Followers had to leave the city.

That meant the city was open for Henry V who entered in early 1117. There was not much for him to do in rome other than demonstrate to Paschalis that he should call back his excommunicating prelates if he wants his city back. But since he was there why not celebrate a coronation.

Maybe a quick word on coronations. There are generally two types. There is the “real coronation where an individual is elevated to a new status as king, queen, emperor or empress. And there are the festive coronations. These are sort of re-enactments of the actual coronation performed quite regularly at major gatherings like royal assemblies or on important church holidays. These were festivals meant to show off the magnificence and holiness of the monarch.

The coronation in Rome in 1117 was probably a bit of both. Henry was already emperor, so for him it was just a reenactment. But his new bride had not yet been crowned empress, so it may have been intended as an elevation of her to imperial status. Henry’s party planners quickly ran up against an obstacle. None of the cardinals still resident in Rome were willing to crown the young lady. Finally, a bishop, Maurice of Braga could be convinced to put a crown on the head of the wife of the emperor. This ceremony, even in the widest definition of the word coronation, could not be regarded as a valid elevation of Matilda to Empress. For that you need a pope actual or antipope, or at least someone authorised by a pope. Maurice of a Braga was neither on the day of Matilda’s coronation. Hence when English history talks about the Empress Matilda, she wasn’t really an empress.

The proceedings were still irritating enough for the actual pope Paschalis II to excommunicate the hapless bishop Maurice of Braga. This did not facilitate any further rapprochement between emperor and pope.

In the summer of 1117 Henry left Rome, as he had to if he wanted to avoid dying from malaria. As we all know, come the summer the Germans die in Rome.  That allowed Paschalis II to get back in, thinking he was made of sterner stuff. Paschalis and his team stayed until January, when Paschalis suddenly died.

The cardinals elected Paschalis chancellor as pope Gelasius II, a man widely seen to be willing to compromise. Henry came down to Rome again in March 1118, which frightened the brand-new pope no end. Gelasius disappeared down south to Gaeta when Henry entered the Holy City.

And then Henry V did something odd, so odd that I simply have no explanation. He made his pet bishop, Maurice of Braga pope who took the papal name Gregory VIII. Why Henry decided to create a schism, something that had so badly hampered his father’s room to maneuver is simply inexplicable. Gregory VIII had no material support in Rome or elsewhere in Europe. It might be that Henry V followed demands of his Roman allies, the Frangipani, but their loyalty should not be worth a full-blown schism. It seems Henry realized his mistake almost immediately. He made no efforts to push his new antipope even in Germany and by June the emperor left Rome to leave Gregory the not really VIII to his fate. That fate would be to be captured by the true pope 4 years later and made to ride through the streets of Rome sitting naked backwards on a donkey. This punishment was not unknown and had been meted out to Roman prefects and popes but in this case was particularly apt as Gregory VIII’s nickname was “Spanish Ass”.

The pointless creation of a schism did not just blight the life of a poor Spaniard, but also meant that the new pope Gelasius II finally came off the fence and publicly excommunicated Henry V. With that the temperature in Germany was rising and the opposition was preparing for a royal assembly in Wuerzburg where the emperor was invited to defend his track record. That sounds far too much like a rerun of the Assembly at Tribur where Henry IV had been threatened with deposition. And that led immediately to Henry IV kneeling in the snow outside the castle of Canossa.

Henry V had no desire for frostbite and returned to Germany in haste. When he arrived the idea of a royal assemby dissipated quickly since the Southern dukes stuck with the emperor.  On the face of it the situation looked almost unchanged from when he had left. The North was held by Lothar, whilst his governors, Duke Frederick of Hohenstaufen and the Count Palatinate Gottfried did a good job at preventing him moving south.

But underneath the surface things have changed. The princes no longer just fought for status, tributes or honor. They were beginning to build what we would later call principalities. They built castles to force their will upon those within their territory, constraining their respective rights and privileges. Lothar did a great job of it in Saxony, making himself the most powerful Saxon Duke since Hermann Billung. And the same goes for his counterpart, Frederick von Hohenstaufen. Frederick did indeed defend the position of his imperial overlord, but at the same time began acquiring lands and castles for his own private estate. The chronicler Otto von Freising will describe this period as the time when the Staufer began building their private power base, their Hausmacht as it will be known from now on. They said of him that he would always pull a castle along the tail of his horse. The princes are on the rise.

By 1119 the war between Henry and Lothar had been going on for 4 years and both sides began to get exhausted. All in the country had been in civil war for more than 40 years since the conflict first started with the Saxon uprising 1073. Occasional periods of peace notwithstanding, the constant devastation had badly hurt the economy and let Germany fall behind France and England in cultural and intellectual leadership.

Even amongst his supporters the pressure to bring this endless conflict to an end was rising. Another opportunity emerged after the Pope Gelasius II had died after less than 2 years in office. His successor was Calixtus II, a Burgundian lord and distantly related to the emperor. He had initially been a harsh opponent of Henry V, but once he had ascended to the papacy had mellowed a bit. Calixtus indicated a willingness to negotiate and invited the German bishops to a council at Reims, close to the Franco-Imperial border.

Discussions between Henry V and the papal negotiators focused on a solution not dissimilar to the solution found in France. Henry offered that the bishops and abbots would be freely elected but had to swear a full oath of fealty to the emperor. And most crucially, that the churchmen were obliged to provide financial and military support to the emperor. 

 This solution seemed to have met with positive noises from the other side and Pope Calixtus was prepared to meet the emperor in person at the border town of Mouzon.

The parties exchanged draft contracts as both the Papal court and the Imperial entourage travelled to the agreed meeting point. The German side specifically believed that all was agreed and all they would do in Mouzon was put pen to paper, crack open the champagne and peace would be upon them.

This may or may not have been the same on the Papal side. But just before the two sides were to meet, the clerks on both sides began to stumble over a formulation in the draft contract. The wording in the papal draft suggests that the obligation of the bishops to support the emperor had a voluntary element to it. That was not acceptable to Henry V. The emperor even though taken aback by what he believed was a last-minute change of terms, he offered to discuss it with the princes.  but in the end, there was no rescuing the negotiations.

Afraid of papal duplicity Henry returned home. Meanwhile the Pope’s negotiators made up a story that Henry had appeared with a large retinue of armored men intend on apprehending the pope. That was followed by a full excommunication and a re-iteration of the total ban on investiture. 

All back to square 1.

But three years later the two sides will finally agree what has become known as the Concordat of Worms. What it says is not earthshattering and certainly not worth 50 years of war and destruction. But then it was never really about investiture in the first place. What it really was about we should explore next week. I hope to see you then.

And in the meantime, should you feel like supporting the show and get hold of these bonus episodes, sign up on Patreon. The links are in the show notes or on my website at historyofthegermans.com.

It is hard to believe, but the last years of Henry IV’s tumultuous reign still held one final humiliation that capped the pain this man had already endured.

And that despite a period of relative stability which began after his return to Germany in 1097. Henry IV had accepted that his rule could not be one more than a First amongst Equals. He reconciled with his enemies in Swabia and Bavaria, largely by bribing them with valuable crown lands and settled into his new favourite residence in Mainz. The only one he did take issue with was the archbishop of Mainz for his involvement in the murder of the Jewish community under his protection.

He even attempted a lasting reconciliation with the Gregorian papacy admitting to having broken the unity of the holy mother church. But the new Pope, Paschalis II was not playing ball, leaving this issue as an open wound…long after the antipope Clement III had died.

The internal weakness of his regime became apparent when one of the guests at his imperial assembly in Regensburg ends up murdered by Ministeriales…..

In 1095 Pope Urban II launches the First Crusade. Emperor Henry IV and his allies would rather be strung up below a beehive covered in honey than join a scheme devised by the Gregorian Pope.

Does that mean no Germans take part? No, the lack of support by their high aristocrats did not stop the common people. While most of them perish before the crusade had even really begun, some turn their religious fervour into a very different endeavour, bringing untold pain to the Jewish communities of Worms, Mainz, Trier, Metz, Prague and elsewhere

Henry IV departs from Canossa having been released from the ban. But does that mean all his troubles are over? Far from it. His enemies in Germany gather to elect a new king and the war of words turns into a war of swords.

Listen on https//www.historyofthegermans.com/henryIV or https://history-of-the-germans.captivate.fm/listen

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When Henry IV was excommunicated by pope Gregory VII in 1076, he was initially confident that his bishops would stick with him and that he could bring an army down to Rome to depose the pope. I mean his father had deposed 3 popes and up until recently the appointment of popes was very much an imperial prerogative.

But within just 8 months the support from the bishops crumbled away. There are many solid political reasons such as the bishops being afraid of their urban populations and cathedral chapters siding with the pope. But one specific event turned the tide decisively.

Bishop William of Utrecht, Henry IV. greatest cheerleader had been hurling insults and accusations of lewd behaviour at pope Gregory VII from the chancel of his church. He declared the King’s excommunication null and void and excommunicated the pope in turn.

That same day the cathedral was struck by lightening and the episcopal palace burnt down. And a few days later William had to take to his bed. He had suddenly become terribly ill and succumbed so quickly he could not even make confession and receive the last rites. The abbot of Cluny reported later that bishop William had appeared to him in a dream and had said that he was now suffering in the deepest recesses of hell.

When the magnates met for a Reichstag in Trebur in October 1076, many of the bishops had gone over to the opposite side giving the king an ultimatum that he would be deposed unless he gets released from the anathema before early February 1077.

Henry had to cross the alps in the midst of the coldest winter in living memory and beg for mercy from Pope Gregory VII at Canossa, one of the most famous events of the European Middle Ages.

If you want to hear the whole story, check out the History of the Germans Podcast available on my website www.historyofthegermans.com or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts (link here:https://history-of-the-germans.captivate.fm/listen)

It is time – we are finally going to Canossa. Expect imperial power to go up in smoke, greedy mothers-in-laws, frozen passes, hoisted horses and tobogganing empresses.

All that ends with the enduring picture of a king first kneeling before a woman and then before a pope…..

That is the the episode you have to listen to!

Available here as well s on Apple Podcasts, Spotiy, Google Podcasts, Castbox, Overcast, Podbean and anywhere else (link: https://history-of-the-germans.captivate.fm/listen)

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 tired of being harassed and harangued by the fanatic on the papal throne. No more did they want to be summoned to Rome to atone for things they believed were perfectly acceptable, like letting their canons get married or accepting financial obligations to the king upon investiture. And even more so if the pope himself failed to adhere to his own standards.

And so, Henry IV in agreement with his bishops writes back to Gregory on January 24th, 1076 as follows:

“Henry, king not by force, but by the grace of God, to Hildebrand, at present not pope, but false monk. You deserve such greeting for the disorder you created. There is no rank in the Church which you have not made to partake in shame instead of honour, in curse instead of blessing. For, to mention only a few, most important instances out of so many; you have dared to lay hands on the leaders of the holy Church, the Lord’s anointed – the archbishops, the bishops and priests; you have trampled them underfoot like slaves who do not know what their master is doing.; by crushing them have you endeared yourself to the commonest of people; you have regarded them all as ignorant, but yourself as omniscient.

This knowledge, however, you have used not for edification but for destruction, so that we are justified in believing that St. Gregory, whose name you have arrogated to yourself, prophesied about you when he said, “The pride of him who has power becomes the greater the number of those who are subject to him, and he thinks that he himself can do more than all.”

And indeed we have endured all of this, being anxious to preserve the honour of the apostolic see; but you have understood our humility as fear, and therefore have not been afraid to rise up against the royal power given to us by God, daring to threaten to take it from us. As if we had received our kingdom from you! As if the kingdom and the dominion were in your hands and not in God’s!

And this, although our Lord Jesus Christ has called us to kingship, but has not called you to the priesthood. For you have ascended by the following steps. For by cunning, which the monastic profession abhors, have you obtained money; by money, favour; by the sword, the throne of peace. And from the throne of peace you have disturbed the peace by arming the subjects against those who rule over them; by teaching, that our bishops, called by God, are to be despised; by taken offices from priests and giving it laymen, by permitting them to depose or condemn those who had been ordained as teachers by the laying on of the bishops’ hands.

And you even laid hand on me, who, though unworthy to be among the anointed, yet have been anointed to the kingdom; on me, who, as the tradition of the holy fathers teaches, may not be deposed for any crime unless, God forbid, I have departed from the faith, on me who is subject to the judgment of God alone. The wisdom of the holy fathers even left Julian, the Apostate, not to be tried by themselves, but left it to God alone, to judge and depose him. For even the true pope, Peter, exclaims, “Fear God, honor the King.”

But you, who do not fear God, dishonour Him in me whom He has appointed. Therefore St. Paul, when he spared no angel of heaven if he had preached otherwise, did not exempt even you who teach otherwise on earth. For he says, “If anyone, neither I nor an angel from heaven, preaches any other gospel than that which was preached to you, he will be condemned.

You then, condemned by this curse and by the judgment of all our bishops and by our own, descend and renounce the apostolic chair which you have usurped. Let another ascend the throne of St. Peter, who shall not exercise violence under the guise of religion, but shall teach the sound doctrine of St. Peter.

I, Henry, king by the grace of God, say to you, together with all our bishops, descend, descend or be damned forever.”

Translation by Ernest F. Henderson, Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages, (London: George Bell and Sons, 1910), adjusted by author

That went down like a lead balloon in Rome. For the follow-up to this story, check out Episode 33 of the History of the Germans Podcast available here or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts from.