When Emperor Heinrich IV returned from Italy to Germany in 1097 he allowed Jews, who had been forcibly converted by misguided crusaders, to re-affirm their Judaic religion though Pope Urban condemned him for doing so. Heinrich initiated an inquiry into these murders and robberies of Jewish property. Archbishop Ruthard of Mainz had allowed more than six hundred Jews to be massacred, and his relatives had confiscated their property; so he fled and joined the Emperor’s enemies in Saxony and Thuringia. Heinrich’s reconciliation with Welf IV was confirmed by a diet at Worms the next year. Friedrich was confirmed as duke of Swabia, and Berthold was made duke of Zahringen. At Mainz the Emperor’s son Heinrich was elected king and successor by the princes, and his father had him anointed king at Aachen in 1099. The imperial conflict with the Church continued as Pope Paschal II (1099-1118) repeated Heinrich’s excommunication and deposition in 1102. At Mainz the next year Heinrich IV proclaimed amnesty and peace in the empire for four years but with harsh punishments of mutilation and death for both free and unfree violators.
Remembering the revolt of his son Conrad, Heinrich IV made his son Heinrich take an oath of loyalty that the young king took as a humiliation. When Bavarian count Sighard was murdered by vassals for infringing their rights in 1104, the Emperor did not punish the crime, causing such discontent that he left Bavaria and went to Lorraine. His son Heinrich took the side of the nobles and raised a revolt. He was absolved from his oath to his excommunicated father by the Pope and gained the Church party on his side. After the Emperor’s friend Duke Friedrich died, young Heinrich was able to restore Archbishop Ruthard at Mainz. The Emperor was supported by Margrave Leopold of Austria and Duke Borivoi of Bohemia; but his son Heinrich won them over by marrying his sister Agnes, Friedrich’s widow, to Leopold. Without these allies the Emperor retreated to Mainz and then Cologne. His son promised him safe conduct but then imprisoned him, taking him to the royal palace at Ingelheim. Heinrich IV begged for mercy but was forced to hand over the crown jewels and sign an abdication. Later he escaped and tried to organize a revolt in Lower Lorraine against the enthroned Heinrich V but failed in a siege of Cologne. Heinrich IV died of illness in 1106. His favorite proverb was, “Men have much and various knowledge, but no one is thoroughly acquainted with himself.”1
When Heinrich V refused to discontinue his prerogative of controlling the election of bishops and abbots, investing them as vassals, the imperial conflict with the papacy raged again. In 1110 Heinrich V secured an important political alliance by being betrothed to eight-year-old Matilda, daughter of England’s king Henry I. The German king received the enormous dowry of 10,000 silver marks, which enabled him to march his German army to Italy and establish his imperial power there. Although the Emperor technically renounced his right of investiture, a papal bull surrendered to him the regalia of the Church which meant all its temporal possessions. Romans reacted by storming St. Peter’s, and so Heinrich V seized Pope Paschal and demanded he restore investiture and crown him Emperor also. The religious people of this era could forgive Heinrich V for disloyalty to his own father because of the excommunication; but this abuse of the Pope offended many. Those in Burgundy and France were most upset, and in 1112 Heinrich V was denounced by synods at the Lateran and Vienne, where its archbishop Guy anathematized the Emperor while Heinrich was trying to arouse the nobles and bishops of Burgundy against him. Nonetheless Heinrich V had consolidated his power in Italy and Germany.
Heinrich V also alienated many by revoking previous grants, appropriating questionable inheritances, imposing taxes, threatening punishments, and depriving nobles of their dignities. His military campaigns against Poland and Hungary failed, though he gained some control over Bohemia. He had made Adalbert chancellor in 1106 and nominated him to succeed the late Archbishop Ruthard of Mainz in 1109, investing him after the trip to Italy in 1111. Adalbert now took the papal side and was made a cardinal and head of the German clergy; but Heinrich had Adalbert imprisoned the next year. The first revolt against Heinrich V was suppressed in 1113, and the Emperor celebrated his victory by marrying young Matilda. Duke Lothar submitted, but Adalbert refused and remained in prison. While campaigning against the Frisians, Cologne led by Archbishop Friedrich and the nobles of Lorraine revolted; they defeated Heinrich in Westphalia. This stimulated Duke Lothar to lead a more organized rebellion in East Saxony and Thuringia, which defeated Heinrich’s imperial army in 1115. An uprising at Mainz freed Adalbert, and Cardinal bishop Cuno excommunicated Heinrich at Cologne.
When Tuscany countess Matilda died, Heinrich V went to Italy to claim her fiefs even though she had willed her land to the Church; he left the government of Germany to young Duke Friedrich of Swabia and Count-Palatine Godfrey. Pope Paschal canceled his grant of lay investiture at the Easter synod of 1116; but he had to flee to the Normans as Heinrich and young Matilda were crowned in Rome by exiled Portuguese archbishop Maurice who was made (anti-) Pope Gregory VIII. Paschal died in 1118, and his moderate successor Gelasius II excommunicated Heinrich before dying the next year. Archbishop Guido of Vienne strongly opposed the Emperor, and he became Pope Calixtus II (1119-24). When Heinrich returned to Germany, he found half the people aroused against him by Archbishop Adalbert, who won over Mainz by granting them privileges though he executed some who revolted. However, Lower Lorraine sided with Heinrich as Cologne expelled its archbishop. When the Emperor entered Saxony, the princes wanting peace summoned a meeting at Wurzburg, and an armistice was arranged.
A year later in 1122 a diet at Worms made the famous concordat that settled the papal-imperial investiture controversy, and it was ratified the next year by the Pope’s Lateran Council. Heinrich’s excommunication was lifted, and he gave up investiture by ring and staff but retained bestowal of regalia and receiving homage from bishops. In Germany these ceremonies preceded consecration; but in Italy and Burgundy investiture with regalia took place six months later. The Emperor was allowed to attend elections and could decide disputed ones. The German nobles were increasing their property and their rights. The papacy had become independent of the German empire, and most towns in Italy soon secured possession of the regalia. Lothar remained the leader in Saxony and was able to defy an imperial summons in 1124, the year Heinrich tried to invade France in alliance with England but was stopped by a large French army. Heinrich V died of cancer at the age of 44 in 1125.
Heinrich V had no son and named his nephew, Hohenstaufen duke Friedrich of Swabia, as his heir. When Archbishop Adalbert asked the candidates if they would accept the results of the election, Friedrich hesitated; so the princes representing the tribes of the Saxons, Franks, Bavarians, and Swabians asserted their growing power by electing Lothar king. The Hohenstaufen party remained in control of Swabia and Franconia; but the dispute over the lands Friedrich thought he inherited was settled by a diet at Ratisbon in favor of King Lothar III. Friedrich refused to hand over the fiefs and was banned for treason the next year. Lothar with his army tried to help Otto of Olmutz become king of Bohemia but was defeated by the popular Sobeslav, who nonetheless became his ally and vassal. Lothar was also supported by Bavarian duke Heinrich the Black, but they were unable to take Friedrich’s Nuremberg. The Bohemian allies ravaged the country so badly that they were dismissed and went home. Friedrich’s brother Conrad returned from his crusade, relieved Nuremberg, and was elected king by the Hohenstaufen party in December 1127.
With the German Church against him Conrad soon took his forces into Italy. He was excommunicated by Pope Honorius II (1124-30) but was welcomed in Milan and crowned by its archbishop. Heinrich of Bavaria attacked Friedrich in a monastery during Lent, but the Swabian duke held out in its tower. Lothar captured Spires in 1130 after Friedrich’s wife Agnes held out for several months. Resistance in the upper Rhineland dwindled, and Nuremberg was also taken. In Italy the Lombard towns turned against Conrad, and he failed to acquire the territories of the late Countess Matilda. Two Popes were elected in 1130, and Lothar supported Innocent II. Lothar wanted to regain his right of investiture but had to accept the consecration of bishops of Trier and Regensburg before investing them. Lothar invaded Denmark in 1131 after his vassal Knut was assassinated; but faced with a large Danish army he accepted 4,000 marks and homage from Knut’s cousin Magnus. Two Wendish princes received some of Knut’s territory; but when German missionary Vicelin complained of ill treatment, Lothar built a fortification garrisoned with Saxons to protect him. Lothar went to Rome and was crowned Emperor by Innocent II in 1133 at the Lateran while the other Pope Anacletus held St. Peter’s.
The civil war in Germany dragged on as struggles continued in Saxony; Swabia, Franconia, and Alsace were devastated. When the town of Halle rebelled, Lothar had its inhabitants fined, mutilated, or put to death. In 1132 after a dispute in the market-place Lothar had the people of Augsburg massacred. Fighting and plundering even went on around his capital of Ratisbon. By 1134 Lothar’s army had conquered Swabia; Friedrich submitted and was allowed to keep his dukedom. The next year Conrad did homage to Emperor Lothar, and a land peace was declared. Lothar used diplomacy at his Magdeburg court in 1135 to settle disputes over the crowns of Denmark and Hungary. Duke Boleslav of Poland was summoned to a diet at Merseburg; he paid twelve years of back tribute, and an armistice was arranged between Poland and Bohemia. Pope Innocent II persuaded Lothar to take a united German army into Italy to attack the growing Norman power of Sicily’s Roger II. The Germans captured Bari and won several battles in southern Italy in 1137, but the soldiers soon insisted on returning home. Lothar died on the way in the Alps on December 4, 1137.
Lothar III had granted his son-in-law Heinrich the Proud the duchy of Saxony and designated him his successor; but Archbishop Adalbero of Treves summoned a meeting at Coblenz and nominated the Hohenstaufen Conrad, who was crowned in March 1138. Since Heinrich the Proud also was duke of Bavaria, Conrad III gave Saxony to Albert the Bear; the unreconciled Heinrich was banned, and civil war broke out in Saxony and Bavaria between the Welfs and the Hohenstaufens. In 1140 Heinrich the Proud died, and Conrad and his brother Friedrich attacked and defeated Heinrich’s uncle Welf VI at Weinsberg in Swabia. Conrad allowed the women to leave with what they could carry, and they came out bearing a husband, son, or father on their backs. Thus Welf escaped and continued to receive financial support from Norman king Roger II and Hungarian king Geza II (1141-62), but the rebellion in the south was crushed.
In a civil war for the succession in Lower Lorraine Godfrey defeated Heinrich of Limburg; yet when Godfrey died in 1142, he was succeeded by his one-year-old son. Civil war raged in the region around the Moselle for seven years until the second crusade was proclaimed in 1146. Conrad’s army intervened in a succession dispute between two Vladislavs in Bohemia. Hungarian king Geza invaded Bavaria with a large army and forced young Duke Heinrich the Lion to flee to Vienna in 1146. A feud against the Bishop of Ratisbon caused Duke Heinrich to besiege that city. To add to the miseries of these wars a major famine spread throughout Germany that year.
In the 1140s famines, epidemics, and civil wars, such as in the Moselle between Archbishop Adalbero of Trier and Count Heinrich of Namur-Luxemburg, were factors in the anti-Jewish pogroms that broke out with the onslaught of the second crusade in 1146. The Cistercian monk Rudolf had used crusading enthusiasm to exploit and attack Jews until Bernard of Clairvaux came to Germany to restrain such madness. However, Bernard was able to persuade King Conrad III to lead a German crusade to the holy land, and Conrad had his ten-year-old son Heinrich crowned king. In March 1147 at the Reichstag in Frankfurt Saxon nobles persuaded Bernard to recommend a crusade against the pagan Slavs on their eastern frontier, and a month later Pope Eugenius issued a bull authorizing it. Bernard urged the crusaders to fight the pagans until they were either converted or eliminated; but the Pomeranian bishop who saw the crusaders off at Stettin said that they could strengthen Christian faith better by preaching than by arms. That summer two Danish fleets converged with two Saxon armies led by Archbishop Adalbert of Bremen and Duke Heinrich the Lion of Saxony in an attack on Prince Nyklot’s Abotrites at Dobin; but Saxon knights objected to destroying the countryside, and Nyklot maintained pagan control east of Lübeck though he agreed to pay tribute.
Albert the Bear and several German bishops along with contingents from Poland and Bohemia crossed the Elbe; but these violent efforts were also motivated by personal profit, and they proved counter-productive to the efforts of the Christian missionaries, as the German colonists suffered a severe famine also. The missionary Vicelin finally accepted investiture from Heinrich at Luneburg in 1151. Trading of captives from the wars between Christians and pagan Slavs by Jews to the Mediterranean slave markets diminished by the middle of the 12th century.
King Conrad survived the disastrous crusade that left so many dead in Asia Minor and returned to Germany in 1149, having formed an alliance with Byzantine emperor Manuel against the Norman Roger of Sicily. Welf VI returned from the crusade by way of a visit to Roger in Italy; but the civil war was now confined to Swabia as Conrad no longer fought against Heinrich’s claim to Bavaria and Saxony. In 1151 Conrad made a treaty with Welf VI, but a new civil war between Heinrich the Lion and Albert the Bear began in Saxony. Conrad planned to go to Rome to be crowned by Pope Eugenius (1145-53) and fight the Normans; but he never made it to Italy and died at Bamberg in February 1152.
Conrad’s son Heinrich had died in 1150, and so his nephew Friedrich was elected and crowned king in March 1152. As a nephew of Heinrich the Proud also, Friedrich, though a Hohenstaufen, was thus half Welf and half Weibling (origin of the Italian term Ghibelline). Called Barbarossa by the Italians for his red beard, Friedrich I was born about 1125 and represented the knightly ideal of maze or self-control. He made justice under law his guiding principle rather than favoring persons. He immediately worked to restore order and stability by proclaiming a land-peace (Landfriede) that prohibited all private wars and feuds, promising stricter enforcement with universal and permanent application. Murder and major robbery were punished with death, and lesser offenses by fines, flogging, or mutilation. Grain prices were controlled annually by local committees to prevent holding back supplies.
Friedrich settled several disputes by granting titles to territories in Germany, and Duke Welf VI was won over with imperial fiefs in Italy. At Constance in 1153 Friedrich made an alliance with Pope Eugenius III by promising to protect the Church while securing his imperial rights. When bishops Hartwig of Bremen and Ulrich of Halberstadt refused to participate in this Italian military campaign in 1154, Friedrich deprived them of their regalia. However, Heinrich the Proud’s son Heinrich the Lion accompanied Friedrich to Italy and was rewarded for his bravery by being recognized as duke of Bavaria and Saxony, though in 1156 Heinrich Jasomirgott was placated with part of Bavaria that became the duchy of Austria.
In his 1157 letter to the historian, his uncle Otto of Freising, Emperor Friedrich described how after Milan refused to provide the market he demanded, they destroyed the fortress of Rosate and then besieged and conquered Tortona. In 1155 Friedrich was crowned by Pope Adrian IV (1154-59); when the Romans revolted, his imperial soldiers killed nearly a thousand of them. The Greek Paleologus promised him an enormous amount of money to join their attack on Apulia; but Friedrich declined because his army had been weakened by hardship and campaigns. Friedrich also wrote how Paleologus died after destroying Bari; then William of Sicily defeated the Greeks and carried off all their money.
Otto of Freising was the son of Leopold III of Austria and Agnes, daughter of Emperor Heinrich IV, and he was born about 1113. He studied at Paris and seems to have been influenced by Abelard, Gilbert de la Porrée, and Hugh of St. Victor. Otto joined a Cistercian monastery in 1133; but soon after being appointed abbot in 1137, he was elected bishop of Freising in Bavaria. Otto went on the second crusade in 1147, accompanying his half brother, Emperor Conrad III. In Asia Minor Otto separated from Conrad with 14,000 men; both groups suffered disastrous attacks, but Bishop Otto escaped by ship to Syria. When his nephew Friedrich became Emperor in 1152, Otto was given an influential position at court; his Deeds of Friedrich Barbarossa describes the recent history and the first five years of this reign before Otto died in 1158. Before he went on the crusade, Otto wrote The Two Cities: A Chronicle of Universal History to the Year 1146 A.D. In 1157 Otto wrote a letter of dedication to Friedrich I warning him that kings can sin with greater freedom than others.
Otto began his Two Cities with the premise of Augustine’s City of God that the heavenly city of eternity which is guided by Christ can be distinguished from the earthly city in time that is under the devil. Like Orosius, Otto combined Biblical stories of Israel’s ancient history with the classical history of Greece and Rome. He noted that learning was transferred from the ancient Egyptians to the Greeks, then to the Romans and finally to the Gauls and Spaniards as human power moved from the east to the west. In the age of iron the Romans created an empire, subduing the world by war. In the Christian era Otto believed that the two cities since the time of Theodosius became mixed in the Church. He wondered whether the exaltation of the Church in his time pleased God or not and concluded that the early Church was better though the later Church is more fortunate. Until he got to his own era Otto tried to sort out the truth from the chroniclers.
In the 8th and last book of Two Cities Otto moved from history to theology and prophesied the rise of the tyrannical anti-Christ with violent persecution, treachery, and hypocrisy. After destruction by fire the Lord will come before the resurrection of the dead, the final judgment, and the ultimate separation of the two cities as heaven and hell. On the day of judgment he argued that “it shall be measured with what measure you measured” will not be temporal but eternal punishment according to Catholic doctrine. Thus Otto presented the ideology of the medieval Church that considered alternate views heretical. Yet his universal history and especially the accounts of his own time provided this era with some historical understanding.
When Poland’s Boleslav IV refused to pay homage or tribute, Friedrich I crossed the Elbe in 1157 and forced him to pay him 2000 marks of gold and 1000 to the princes. Boleslav and Hungary’s Geza II promised to send forces with the Emperor to Italy; but only Bohemia’s Vladislav II actually did. To stop him feuding with the archbishop of Mainz Friedrich humiliated count palatine Hermann by making him carry a dog for a mile. To diminish the practice of knights robbing travelers from their castles, the Emperor had many of these strongholds dismantled. Pope Adrian IV wrote to a diet that year at Besancon, attended by envoys from Italy, France, England, and Spain, that he would confer the imperial crown and greater beneficia on Friedrich. When the new imperial chancellor Rainald translated this word as fiefs instead of benefits or favors, the Germans became indignant. Friedrich sent a letter that his imperial power came from God alone by election of the princes, causing the Pope to write that he meant good deeds. Friedrich continued to intervene in the elections of bishops by appointing men capable of administering the empire. He even removed Heinrich of Minden, Burchard of Eichstatt, and Bernard of Hildesheim for political reasons.
In 1158 Emperor Friedrich I captured Milan and promulgated his imperial rights at the diet of Roncaglia that included appointing officials to administer taxes, markets, mints, and law courts. In Italy as well as Germany the Emperor proclaimed the enforcement of strict feudal law. Every vassal must serve his lord in war, pay half a year’s income or lose his fief. Every oath of fealty must include ultimate obedience to the Emperor, and anyone breaking the peace shall be punished by law. Associations and sworn brotherhoods were prohibited as were unlawful exactions by cities, fortified towns, and especially by the Church. Influenced by law studies of Bologna, Friedrich also endowed universities with privileges. When Pope Adrian died in 1159, Friedrich’s envoy Otto of Wittelsbach got a minority to elect Victor IV, while a majority of bishops elected the anti-imperialist Roland, who became Alexander III (1159-81). The Emperor summoned a general council to Pavia in 1160; but Pope Alexander refused to attend and excommunicated Victor, Friedrich, and his advisors. Many Lombard cities resisted imperial rule. When Otto of Wittelsbach tried to tax the Milanese, they revolted and drove him from the city. Friedrich had Milan destroyed in 1162 after they were starved into surrendering. Friedrich tried to get French king Louis VII to support Victor but failed.
When Victor died in 1164, Rainald got imperialist cardinals to elect Paschal III and managed with marriages to get England’s Henry II to recognize him as Pope. The next year Friedrich made the German bishops swear an oath at Wurzburg never to recognize Alexander or one of his party as Pope by threatening them with punishments. Only resistance in Salzburg had to be suppressed; Archbishop Conrad fled, and Church fiefs were given to laymen. In 1166 a charter from Friedrich granted legal protection and exemption from tolls to annual fairs held at Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle). That year Emperor Friedrich took a large army on his fourth visit to Italy in order to quell the rebellious Lombard towns and occupy Rome, where he was crowned Emperor again with his Burgundian queen Beatrice while Alexander fled to Sicily. A heavy summer rain led to a malaria epidemic that killed 2,000 German knights, Rainald, Welf VII, and other prominent princes and bishops, causing Friedrich to withdraw to Germany. Friedrich tried to negotiate with Pope Alexander, but negotiations broke down in 1169 over the validity of schismatic ordinations.
While Friedrich was occupied with imperial control of Italy, Heinrich the Lion was ruling northeast Germany and conquering the Wends beyond the Elbe. In 1160 Heinrich was supported with a northern attack from the coast by Valdemar’s Danish army. The Slavs retreated, and the Obodrites were defeated. The next year Heinrich’s forces captured Vratislav, whose brother Pribislav in 1162 led a massacre of the garrison at Mecklenburg that enslaved the women and children and burned down the town. Vratislav was hanged for complicity in his brother’s crimes; but the Cistercian monk Bern persuaded Pribislav to support the Church in its war to convert the pagans, and another combined campaign by the Germans and Danes completed the conquest. Heinrich the Lion promoted Christianity and commercial development, making much profit and sponsoring trade in Bavaria. Heinrich’s heavy hand, however, met with resistance from the nobility in 1166 led by his East Saxon rival Albert the Bear, whose death in 1170 allowed Heinrich to leave his English wife Matilda in charge while he went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1172.
Emperor Friedrich acquired the Italian territories of Duke Welf VI for a cash payment and set out on his fifth campaign to Italy in 1174. The next year he made a treaty with the Lombards in which both sides agreed to binding judicial arbitration; this allowed Friedrich to dismiss the expensive mercenaries from his army, and the cities could disband their forces. The Emperor no longer insisted on imposing imperial officials as he had decreed at Roncaglia, and he recognized the Lombard League. However, the treaty soon broke down over Pope Alexander’s protection of Alessandria. After severe losses trying to take this Lombard town, the Emperor went to Heinrich the Lion for help in 1176. Heinrich had given Friedrich the silver mines of Goslar in 1168 and wanted them back; but they could not agree. Friedrich’s outnumbered German knights were defeated by the Milanese at Legnano, and the Emperor made more concessions and a treaty with Alexander. The Pope lifted Friedrich’s excommunication though they still could not agree on the validity of schismatic ordinations. Finally at Venice in 1177 a treaty was concluded as Emperor Friedrich kissed the feet of Pope Alexander while imperial authority over central Italy was established. A truce was agreed with the Lombard League for six years and with the Norman king for fifteen years.
A quarrel over the bishopric of Halberstadt came to a head in 1179 when Heinrich the Lion refused to answer an imperial summons. Friedrich and the German princes banned Heinrich, and his duchies of Saxony and then Bavaria were divided up and given to five dukes. Heinrich the Lion won a few battles, but then his supporters began surrendering their castles to the Emperor. Dane king Valdemar I (r. 1157-82) took Friedrich’s side, and Lübeck fell. Heinrich submitted and was banished for three years, staying with his royal father-in-law in Normandy and England. Friedrich met Pope Lucius III (1181-85) at Verona and agreed to prosecute heresy as a secular crime while being persuaded to let Heinrich the Lion return to Germany.
Friedrich’s son Heinrich was born in 1165 and was crowned king at the age of four. In 1184 the Emperor made him regent during his absence. Young Heinrich fined Archbishop Philip of Cologne for a feud with the burghers of Duisburg, and in a struggle over the archbishopric of Treves Heinrich invested Rudolph and attacked the supporters of Folmar as traitors. Milan was won over to the imperial cause with a comprehensive charter of privileges in 1185. Neither Pope Lucius III nor Urban III would crown Heinrich a second emperor; so at Heinrich’s wedding to Constance of Sicily at Milan in 1186 he was proclaimed king of Italy while Constance became queen of Germany, and Friedrich received the crown of Burgundy. Pope Urban wanted the occupied territories back and consecrated Folmar as archbishop of Treves. A revolt in Sienna was put down by Heinrich while his father Friedrich besieged Cremona into submission and had to deal with the growing rebellion led by Cologne archbishop Philip in Germany. By the close of 1186 Heinrich had most of northern and central Italy under his imperial control. After Urban III died in 1187, the Popes accepted the imperial rights. Clement III agreed to replace Folmar, and Heinrich promised to withdraw from the Papal States in a treaty made at Strasbourg in 1189.
Friedrich, who had gone on the second crusade as a young man, pledged himself to the third crusade in 1188 and required each soldier to have two years’ expenses in order to join. He left Ratisbon with about 20,000 knights in 1189; Heinrich the Lion soon broke his oath and returned to Germany from his second exile, and his revolt regained all of Holstein except Segeberg, where his siege met with resistance and turned the tide to his defeat the next year. Since Heinrich VI was eager to claim his wife’s lands in Sicily after the death of William II, he allowed Heinrich the Lion to retain half of Lübeck though his two sons were retained as hostages.
Heinrich VI was already ruling in Germany when his father Friedrich drowned or died of heart failure in a Cilician river in June 1190 on the crusade. The Roman Senate made sure that imperial forces left Tusculum before Pope Celestine III crowned Heinrich Emperor. William II’s illegitimate grandson Tancred had claimed the crown of Sicily, and Heinrich’s imperial forces attacked Naples for his wife Constance’s inheritance. Many died of disease, and Heinrich the Lion’s hostage son Heinrich escaped and spread rumors in Saxony that Heinrich VI was dead in order to arouse revolt. So the Emperor raised the siege and returned to Germany. Heinrich VI tried to settle a dispute over the bishopric of Liege between two Alberts by appointing Lothar of Hochstadt; but Albert of Brabant got the Pope to favor him, and he was consecrated at Rheims in 1192. The Emperor accused Albert of treason and confiscated property from his Liege supporters. When Albert was murdered at Rheims by German knights, people believed the Emperor was implicated as the perpetrators received only mild punishments.
When Duke Leopold of Austria turned over crusading King Richard of England as a prisoner to Heinrich VI, resentment against the Emperor increased. However, the calculating Heinrich turned this to his advantage by ransoming the famous Richard Coeur de Lion for 150,000 silver marks to finance another campaign for Sicily in 1194 after Tancred died. Since he was assisted by the navies of Genoa and Pisa, Naples now surrendered right away, and Salerno was stormed by imperial forces. Heinrich was crowned king of Sicily on Christmas Day in the Palermo cathedral. Heinrich VI ordered 1500 knights recruited for the fourth crusade. At a Wurzburg diet in 1196 Heinrich tried to gain acceptance for a decree establishing a hereditary monarchy. When the German princes insisted on their right of election, he went to Rome to get Pope Celestine’s approval. This too failed, and his son Friedrich was unanimously elected king at Frankfurt. Resentment against Heinrich’s harsh rule broke out in rebellion not only in Sicily and southern Italy but in Rome and Lombardy as well. Heinrich fled to Messina and cruelly suppressed the uprising with torture and executions; he was only 32 when he died there of dysentery in 1197.
After preaching the crusade in France, Pope Urban II resided at Rome for three years before he died in 1099. Exiled Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury was there also, and in 1198 he defended Western orthodoxy against the Greek theologians at the Council of Bari. Rainer was unanimously elected as Pope Paschal II (1099-1118), and the rival Pope Guibert died in 1100; but Roman partisans immediately elected two more rival popes, and even a third “anti-pope” was set up by the German Marquess Werner of Ancona in 1105. Germany’s Heinrich V invaded Italy in 1110 and made an agreement with Paschal the next year. When Pope Paschal announced his renunciation over the power of regalia, suggesting that the Church renounce all endowed lands to the empire and bishops give up their temporal authority, ecclesiastical lords were furious. Yet the Germans imprisoned Paschal and the cardinals for two months until the Pope yielded on investiture too, and Heinrich was crowned Emperor. The next year Paschal retracted his concession on investiture; but riots often occurred in Rome.
The earliest commune in Italy had formed in Pisa by 1085, and consulates are mentioned in Milan by 1097 and in Genoa by 1099. Pisa ended six years of war against Lucca in 1110. Three years later Archbishop Peter of Pisa incited a crusade to liberate Christians from the Moors in the Balearic islands, but in error they devastated the Christian lands of Catalonia in eastern Spain. After three years of campaigning the Pisans and volunteers captured the main Muslim fortress at Majorca. To guard their commerce Florentines destroyed the castle at Monte Gualandi and the town of Prato in 1107 and Monte Cascioli castle in 1114. When the German margrave Rabodo took over Cascioli for the empire, the Florentines recaptured it in 1119 and buried Rabodo in the ruins. The Alberti family had controlled these castles, but they were opposed by the Guidi, who held even more castles. Both these families supported imperial authority, but this was usually only effective when the German emperor was invading. Without the military strength to hold them, the bishop had to divest civil jurisdiction over his lands in the region of Florence.
After Tuscany countess Matilda died in 1115, the Emperor returned to Italy to claim the lands she had previously donated to the Papacy. In 1116 Pope Paschal was forced to leave Rome after he attempted to install a Pierleone as prefect. In 1118 Pope Gelasius II excommunicated Heinrich and his pope, but Gelasius died in the monastery at Cluny after serving as pontiff for only one year. Pope Calixtus II promoted peace, and in the Concordat of Worms in 1122 Heinrich V guaranteed the security of Church property, freedom of elections, and renounced investiture with ring and staff. The Pope conceded the king’s role in German ecclesiastical elections; but in Italy and Burgundy the king could not grant regalia and receive homage until after consecration. In 1123 Pope Calixtus II held the First Lateran Council, and it condemned simony and the marriage of priests.
Fiesole was attacked by Florence in 1123 but was not captured until 1125 when the Fiesolians were massacred as the town was destroyed. Siena had consuls in 1125, Florence probably well before 1138, Pavia in 1145, and Milan about 1153. Pisa’s consuls got their authority from the assembly in 1162. The many battles of Florence against Siena began in 1129. Siena turned to the Alberti and Guidi as allies, and the Florentines allied with the Sienese feudal clans of the Cacciaconti and the Aldobrandeschi.
The Norman Roger II became Count of Sicily in 1103. Beginning in 1118 he spent a decade trying to establish the Normans in north Africa. During the reign (1111-27) of Duke William I of Apulia the towns in southern Italy had gained much independence; but in 1128 Pope Honorius II invested Count Roger with the duchies of Apulia and Calabria, and the next year Roger crushed the rebels and was recognized by the Prince of Capua. When his vassals did homage, Roger insisted on the rules of government, forbade private feuds, required the nobles to hand over criminals to ducal courts, and ordered that all persons and property be respected.
The Hohenstaufen Conrad in fighting for the German throne invaded northern Italy to claim the disputed territories of the late Matilda, and he was excommunicated by Honorius, who died in 1130. On the same day the Papareschi Innocent II and the Pierleoni Anacletus II were elected popes. Since the Pierleoni had more power in Rome, Innocent had to flee. All the Norman principalities in southern Italy were united as Roger was crowned king by Anacletus II. However, the next year Innocent crowned the German king Lothar at Liege and anathematized Anacletus, Conrad and his brother Friedrich. Tancred of Conversano, Grimoald of Bari, and Innocent II persuaded Count Rainulf of Alife and Prince Robert of Capua to join them, and they defeated Roger at Sabbato in 1132; but the next year when Lothar was crowned Emperor at the Lateran palace because Anacletus held St. Peter’s, Lothar did not invade southern Italy, enabling Roger to restore his rule in Apulia.
A war between Genoa and Pisa lasted from 1120 until 1132 when Pope Innocent II made peace with ecclesiastical concessions. In return the Pisans helped the Pope against the Normans and pillaged Amalfi in 1135 and 1137. Innocent II had taken refuge in Pisa; but in 1136 he urged Lothar to invade. While Bavarian duke Heinrich imposed imperial power on Tuscany with 3,000 armed men, the German Emperor Lothar passed through the Papal states. They joined forces to take Bari, and Pisan ships aided the capture of Salerno as Roger retreated to Sicily. The Frangipani helped install Innocent back at Rome. Lothar invested Count Rainulf in the duchy of Apulia and established imperial administration; but after his army departed, Roger returned to fight a devastating war against Rainulf in 1138 and managed to get Gregory elected as Victor IV to succeed Anacletus. After Rainulf died the next year, Roger regained control of Apulia. Innocent II excommunicated Roger and led forces himself; but the Pope was defeated and captured, and he had to recognize the kneeling Roger to gain release. The rebellion collapsed, and many nobles fled to the German or Byzantine empires to escape Roger’s repression as rebel cities lost their privileges.
Arnold of Brescia was a student of Abelard. He lived simply begging his daily bread from house to house while protesting the secularization of the Church and aiming to restore apostolic purity and simplicity. Arnold criticized clergy for their worldly possessions so vehemently that the Brescians expelled their bishop Manfred in 1137. While attempting to give earthly power back to the laity, he alienated the clergy; for he preached that neither clerics owning property nor bishops with regalia nor monks with possessions could be saved; he also questioned the sacraments and infant baptism. Arnold was charged for inciting the laity against the clergy at the second Lateran Council in 1139 and was banished from Italy as a schismatic. He went back to France, and Pope Innocent silenced him with Abelard in a convent. Abelard retired and died two years later, but Arnold gave public lectures in Paris criticizing the avarice of bishops and accusing Bernard of Clairvaux for being ambitious and envying scholars. Bernard got King Louis VII to expel Arnold from France. Arnold went to Zurich, and Bernard denounced him to the bishop of Constance. Arnold went to Passau in Germany, where he was protected by Cardinal Guido and reconciled with Pope Eugenius in 1145.
In Bologna the monk and law teacher Gratian incorporated the results of the second Lateran Council in his influential compilation of canon law entitled A Concordance of Differing Canons or simply Decretum, which was published about 1140. In this scholastic work Gratian attempted to remove contradictions between the two principles of natural law and customs for all Church practices. Gratian in his causa 23 affirmed the old Roman law that a just war must be based on both a just cause, that is redress of injuries, and a declaration by the proper authority. A formal proclamation should enumerate the reasons justifying the war, but he specifically outlawed any anticipation of imminent or future actions to attempt to justify preemptive attacks. As with Augustine, love for the enemy and the desire for lasting peace was supposed to regulate the conduct of the war. Thus violence must be controlled, and vindictiveness is disallowed. In a just war efforts should be made to protect non-combatants. These principles became a part of the chivalric ideal of knights taking up the cross. Gratian gave permission for clerics to declare war and gave the Pope the greatest authority; but those in holy orders were forbidden to participate in the actual combat. Bishops in regalia could command but must not personally commit acts of violence themselves. Yet Gratian approved of the Church using force against heretics to convert them against their will.
In 1141 Pope Innocent II sent Romans to besiege their enemies at Tivoli. However, the peace the Pope made with Tivoli was so unpopular that in 1143 insurgents declared Rome a republic and tried to revive the Senate. Next Innocent and Roger quarreled over the King’s interference in episcopal elections though Pope Lucius II made a seven-year truce with Roger in 1144. Lucius tried to overturn the Senate but failed and was killed in a street fight in 1145. A disciple of Bernard of Clairvaux was elected as Pope Eugenius III. He gained support from Rome’s surrounding cities that felt threatened and was able to restore the authority of the prefect and the sovereignty of the Church. Yet unrest soon caused Eugenius to flee to Pisa also. Eugenius sent the radical Arnold to Rome on pilgrimage. After the Pope fled to France, Arnold strengthened republican sentiments and was protected by the Senate. Arnold argued that the pontiff should preside only over ecclesiastical courts and that the administration of Rome should be under the Senate and a revived equestrian order. The Romans renounced papal authority, and the city soon had a militia like the Lombard republics.
The fall of Edessa stimulated Pope Eugenius to sponsor another crusade, and he appointed Bernard to preach it in France. While crusaders occupied Constantinople in 1147, the Normans took the opportunity to capture Corfu and Neapolis and to plunder Euboea, Corinth, and Thebes. Eugenius also renewed the treaty with Roger, who helped him return to Rome in 1148 when he excommunicated Arnold. However, as German king Conrad III approached Italy, Eugenius refused to renew Roger’s rights of investiture. Roger countered by sending subsidies to Heinrich the Proud’s brother Welf to support German revolts, and he tried to head off a war with the German and Byzantine empires by making an alliance with France. Roger continued to sponsor attacks on Africa, and in 1146 the Normans captured Tripoli. Other African cities were taken until Roger II died at Palermo in 1154 with his Sicilian kingdom at its largest extent.
Adrian IV, the only English Pope, was elected in 1154. When a cardinal was attacked and wounded by Arnold’s followers, Adrian put Rome under an interdict, banishing Arnold and his party. Arnold himself was captured but was given refuge by sympathetic barons. Germany’s new king Friedrich Barbarossa invaded Italy in 1155 and destroyed Milan’s ally town of Tortona. Pope Adrian sent a request that Arnold of Brescia should be handed over and executed by Friedrich, who had him hanged and his body burned, scattering his ashes in the Tiber to prevent the people from venerating his body. Arnold’s doctrines were eventually declared heretical by a council at Verona in 1184. Friedrich and Adrian met and quarreled over protocol, but the Pope crowned Friedrich emperor. Some angry Romans attacked the German soldiers, who worsted the Romans in the battle that followed. When the Pope met the Emperor again, he absolved the German soldiers for the violence in Rome, rationalizing that it was not murder to kill while defending one’s sovereign. An outbreak of fever persuaded Friedrich to return to Germany. This allowed Milan and its allied communes to rebuild Tortona and re-establish their regional hegemony. Unable to enter Rome, Pope Adrian went to Benevento and organized opposition to William of Sicily.
Sicily’s King William I (r. 1154-66) tried to make peace with Byzantine emperor Manuel, who declined; but William did gain an alliance with Venice. Manuel sent Paleologus and John Ducas to occupy cities in southern Italy, and Paleologus formed an alliance with Pope Adrian IV. After an illness William attacked Italy in 1156 and defeated the Byzantine forces, ruthlessly hanging and blinding many rebels. Most cities stopped resisting, but recalcitrant Bari was destroyed. In the Treaty of Benevento Adrian had to recognize all the Norman conquests in Italy. The next year after neutralizing the Genoese navy, the Normans plundered the coasts of the Greek empire and threatened Constantinople; but in 1158 Pope Adrian mediated a peace treaty between William and Manuel. Meanwhile insurrections against the Normans were occurring in North Africa, and their rule there ended when they lost Mahdiyah in 1160. That year William’s powerful Grand Emir, Maio of Bari, was assassinated by Matthew Bonnel. Conspirators even seized King William; but soon he gained enough power to arrest Matthew Bonnel and have him blinded. Rebels in Sicily were subdued, and William crossed over to Italy to face the revolt led by Robert of Loritello. The king ordered an additional tax and while repressing rebels ordered Salerno demolished, though this was prevented by his officer Matthew of Ajello.
Emperor Friedrich besieged Milan in 1158, and after a month hunger forced them to surrender. At Roncaglia Friedrich proclaimed his imperial and feudal rights over regalia, mints, customs, mills, and even appointments of consuls and civic magistrates. Genoa was the first to resist, followed by little Crema and powerful Milan, which tried to destroy the new imperial city of Lodi. Friedrich reacted in 1159 by blockading Milan and besieging Crema, which held out for six months. Friedrich proposed an arbitration of the schism, but Pope Adrian would not agree. He threatened Friedrich with excommunication but died of a heart attack before it could go into effect. Once again two popes were elected. Octavian became another Victor IV, and Roland took the name Alexander III. Neither was able to remain in Rome. Alexander refused arbitration, and at a Pavia synod Friedrich recognized Victor. Alexander excommunicated Victor and banned his party, and he was able to gain support in France and England. More Germans and Hungarians reinforced the imperial siege of Milan, and in March 1162 the city capitulated, making them join with Pisa as allies of the empire. A Sicilian ship helped Alexander flee to France. When Friedrich returned to Lombardy with a small army in 1163, he founded a strong coalition. After Victor died the next year at Lucca after trying to survive by brigandage, Cologne archbishop Rainald of Dassel got Paschal III elected as a pope.
Norman forces enabled Pope Alexander III to return to Rome in 1165. When Sicily’s king William died the next year, his wife Margaret governed as regent. She made Stephen of Perche from France chancellor and archbishop of Palermo; but rebels captured him and made him leave the kingdom, establishing a ruling Council of Ten. The young king’s tutor Walter Ophamil was made archbishop of Palermo; with the help of Matthew of Ajello he was able to promote the rule of King William II when he came of age. The coalition of Byzantines, Venetians, and Sicilians was able to control the Adriatic, because Pisa and Genoa were neutralized by mutual quarrels. Friedrich invaded Italy again and marched on Rome in 1167, defeating their militia. Friedrich believed he had conquered Rome until a deadly epidemic seemed to punish his pride. After more than 2,000 of his men died, including Archbishop Rainald, Friedrich of Swabia, Duke Welf VII, and the bishops of Liege, Spires, Ratisbon, and Verden, the Germans withdrew. The Lombards constructed a new city and named it Alessandria after the Pope. In December 1167 fifteen cities, including Venice, formed the Greater Lombard League. Alexander was recognized as far away as Denmark; but Friedrich nonetheless had Calixtus III elected after Paschal died in 1168. Even Pavia succumbed to the Lombard League.
Friedrich invaded Italy yet again in 1174, destroying Susa; but his siege of Alessandria the next year failed. On May 29, 1176 at Legnano the Germans’ imperial army was defeated by the Lombards. In a treaty at Anagni later that year Friedrich’s envoys met Alexander and agreed to recognize him as Pope and to restore Church property or pay restitution while recognizing its right to appoint the prefect of Rome. Friedrich and his son King Heinrich promised Sicily peace for fifteen years and the Lombards a truce for six years. The next year at Venice Friedrich and Alexander met in person and with the Lombards and Normans agreed on a formal peace treaty. After some more resistance in Rome the last “anti-Pope” was sequestered in the abbey of Cava.
In 1179 Alexander presided over the Third Lateran Council that proclaimed the rights and privileges of the Church, prohibited abuses, annulled the ordinances of the anti-popes, and declared that papal elections should require a two-thirds vote in order to reduce the chance of a schism. The Council also authorized a crusade against the Albigensian heretics of Toulouse and prohibited Christian burial to men killed in tournaments. Alexander died in 1181 and was succeeded by Pope Lucius III, who mediated another peace agreement in 1183 at Constance that recognized sovereign rights of the empire as long as they did not interfere with the freedom of the republics. Cities were allowed to elect their own officials and administer their own laws. All offenses were forgiven; all penalties were annulled; and prisoners were exchanged.
William II of Sicily had furthered diplomatic relations in 1177 by marrying Joan, daughter of England’s king Henry II, and in 1184 he betrothed Roger’s daughter Constance to Friedrich’s son Heinrich. Florentines spent four years building a new wall to enclose the exposed suburbs and completed it in 1176. After the Uberti revolted in 1177, Florence suffered a civil war for three years. In 1180 Count Guido Guerra of the Guidi clan tried to calm the violence by marrying Guadrada, and while living he had good relations with the commune; but Alberti hostility caused a citizen army to storm the castle of Mangona in 1184, capturing the Count and forcing him to recognize the jurisdiction of the republic. During his fairly peaceful visit to Tuscany in 1185 Friedrich I imposed imperial potestates, but Pope Lucius would not crown his son Heinrich emperor. Lucius was succeeded by Pope Urban III (1185-87), who revived the papal-imperial conflict. In 1184 Sicily had declared war on the Byzantine empire, but the next year they were defeated marching on Constantinople. In the next few years the urgency of the third crusade distracted knights from local affairs. William II volunteered for the third crusade, but he died in 1189.
Palermo archbishop Walter wanted Constance to rule; but Matthew of Ajello managed to get Tancred elected and became his chancellor. Crusading Richard from England complained that Joan was being deprived of her inheritance and forced Tancred to give her 20,000 ounces of gold and himself the same amount in exchange for upholding Tancred’s rule. However, Heinrich VI aimed to claim Constance’s rights by force. In 1191 Heinrich renewed a treaty with Pisa, and Germans invaded southern Italy. While Naples was under siege, Salerno submitted, enabling Empress Constance to occupy its royal palace. When the Germans withdrew after an epidemic, the people of Salerno repented and handed Constance over to Tancred. Pope Celestine (1191-98) persuaded Tancred to free Constance. In 1194 Heinrich VI made a treaty with the Lombard towns and gained the support of the Pisan and Genoese fleets. After Tancred died, Heinrich’s forces were able to storm Salerno and conquer the Sicilian kingdom; Heinrich was crowned king of Sicily on Christmas Day 1194. The eclectic Sicilian society of Italians, Greeks, Saracens, and Normans was now ruled by a German.
About four years before becoming Pope Innocent III in 1198, Lothar of Segni wrote On the Contempt of the World or On the Misery of the Human Condition. Using many quotations from the Old and New Testaments, this pessimistic tract described how humans in many ways are less well off than other animals, being helpless at birth and lacking covering nor producing fruit. He satirized the vanities of married women, noted the terrors of nightmares, the pain of sickness, sudden sorrows, and the miseries of old age. No other creature has invented such cruel punishments to torture and execute brothers. In the second book he held moral evils responsible for humans’ lack of happiness because of the desires for power, pleasure, and honors. He drew character portraits of the drunkard, the parvenu, and the proud man, describing how petty are those who unscrupulously seek advancement in the world. Those with a little wealth soon desire more, never being satisfied, and the same is true for pleasures. Man always wants more. The vices he delineated included sexual deviations. Finally in the third book the future Innocent warned about the eternal pains of hell and the irrevocable damnation of the condemned when penance and amending one’s life becomes too late. He promised to write another book on how human dignity can be redeemed by Christ; but he became preoccupied with the power of the papacy which he developed to perhaps its greatest extent.
When his father Heinrich VI died in 1197, Friedrich had already been elected king; but he was not yet three years old. Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) used these circumstances to regain political power for the papacy by getting the Welf Otto IV to agree to papal recuperations in imperial Italy by supporting Innocent’s legal claims. The Staufen Philip, duke of Swabia, was the late Heinrich’s brother and had the imperial treasury at Trifels. He won over princes and Cologne archbishop Adolf with promises and was elected king of Germany also, resulting in another civil war over the succession. Otto had been brought up in the Anglo-Norman court, and King Richard I had made him duke of Aquitane; but he had only a third of the Welf allod in Brunswick-Luneburg. Otto was so greedy and ruthless that he even proposed making the brothels a source of imperial income. Otto’s English support declined when Richard died in 1199. That year the princes at Speyer issued a declaration protesting papal interference in imperial affairs, but in 1201 Otto issued a decree from Neuss giving his rights in central Italy and Sicily to the Pope and even promising to make peace with France. Pope Innocent III then excommunicated Philip.
In the north Bremen archbishop Hartwig II (1185-1207) got Pope Celestine III in 1195 and Innocent III in 1198 to authorize crusading privileges to those invading Livonia, where knights called Sword-Brothers were organized about 1202. A few years later Bishop Christian of Prussia formed the Knights of Dobrin. Bishop Albert moved his see downriver to Riga, which attracted German settlers, and he converted half the Livs under their leader Caupo. Semigallians helped defeat Lithuanian raiders in 1205, and two years later the leader of Kukenois gave Bishop Albert half his land. Most of the Letts were governed by Riga as Kukenois and Jersika were occupied by 1209. In the next nine years the southern Estonians were subjugated. The Christian knights offered protection against the Lithuanians and Russians, helped the Livs and Letts attack the Estonians, and increased trade and wealth.
After the German emperor Heinrich VI died, the communes of Florence, Siena, Lucca, Arezzo, and Pisa formed the Tuscan League in November 1197. The commune in Florence got the Alberti clan to surrender all their castles and way-tolls in 1200, and two years later after five campaigns Semifonte, the town the Alberti built to compete with Florentine trade, was destroyed. These communes often fought each other over disputed territory, and Florence and Pisa had a forty-year defensive alliance and commercial treaty since 1171. While German emperors were struggling for control, the Lombard League led by Milan fought Cremona and its allies. During the era of the Tuscan League, consuls were replaced by the single authority of the podesta, who was usually a foreigner swearing to obey the constitution and serving for only one year at the end of which an audit might deduct fines from his salary. Genoa had replaced their commune with a podesta as early as 1190. This system replaced the consuls, who had often divided in civil war. Florence went to war with Siena in 1207. Siena started using the annual foreign podesta in 1211, and a popular social party emerged there by at least 1213.
Pope Innocent III helped Romans defeat Viterbo in 1199 and dictated the terms of its surrender. In 1202 Innocent’s brother Richard Conti offended Count Odo of the Poli house, and hostility against the Conti family increased when the Pope claimed Poli estates as papal fiefs for the Contis. Innocent had to flee Rome for Palestrina in 1203. The conflict was resolved when four umpires chose Innocent to elect the senate. First he allowed 56 senators; but six months later he selected Pandulf as the single senator for Rome. The new peace was memorialized in the Conti tower in 1205.
Pope Innocent compelled Heinrich VI’s widow Constance as regent in Sicily to concede control over apostolic legates, appeals to the Pope, and the holding of synods, while she retained only some influence over the election of prelates. By restoring Walter of Palear as chancellor and promising to pay tribute for Apulia and Marsica she obtained the Pope’s investiture of Sicily for herself and her son Friedrich before she died in November 1198. Pope Innocent became young Friedrich’s guardian and appointed as the government of Sicily a council of four bishops that included Walter of Palear. When the German Markward tried to take over Sicily in 1200, Innocent sent a papal army commanded by his cousin Marshal Giacopo that defeated Markward, who nonetheless came back to take Palermo the next year. Innocent called on Walter of Brienne, who claimed Sicily as the son-in-law of the last Norman king Tancred. Markward died in 1202; but after his successor William Caperone defeated and killed Walter of Brienne in 1205, he came over to the Pope’s side and restored young Friedrich to the papal legate Cardinal Gherardo and Walter of Palear. The regency ended in 1208 when Pope Innocent considered Friedrich old enough at 14 to marry Constance, the widowed queen of Hungary and sister of Pedro II of Aragon. Young Friedrich tried to conquer Sicily by arresting some nobles and confiscating their lands.
Otto IV gained support from the secular princes of Bohemia and Thuringia, got Denmark as an ally by giving them Nordalbingia and Slavinia, and made a defensive alliance against France with England’s King John. However, when the English lost Normandy to the French in 1204, even Otto’s brother Heinrich and Cologne archbishop Adolf abandoned him. As Otto fled Germany, Philip of Swabia was re-crowned at Aachen after a new election. Even though Philip had sent an army led by the Bishop of Worms to challenge papal recuperation of Italy, he was absolved of the excommunication in 1207. Philip was murdered at Bamberg in 1208 by the Bavarian count palatine, Otto of Wittelsbach, because Philip’s daughter, who had been engaged to him, married the Pope’s nephew. German princes elected Otto king at Frankfurt, and after repeating his promises to Pope Innocent, Otto was crowned Emperor at Rome the next year. Yet when Otto invaded Friedrich II’s Sicilian kingdom in 1210, Innocent excommunicated him and the following year released Otto’s vassals from their oaths of allegiance. Now Friedrich II gained papal support, which won over the archbishop of Mainz, the king of Bohemia, and the landgrave of Thuringia, causing Otto to give up his Sicilian campaign to return to Germany.
When Pope Innocent III ordered the Italian cities to repudiate Emperor Otto IV, Florentines, who disliked Friedrich’s grandfather and supported the Welf Otto, came to be called Guelfs, while those supporting the Hohenstaufen Waiblingen family were called in Italian Ghibellini. In 1213 Friedrich sent his kinsman Bishop Friedrich of Trent to Italy as his imperial legate. After Friedrich II promised to go on crusade and punish heretics while not interfering in ecclesiastical elections, appeals, courts and administration, the fourth Lateran Council of 1215 confirmed him as Emperor. This peace for a crusade was not accepted by fighting Milan and Piacenza nor by Genoa and Pisa, and Innocent III died the next year. The murder of Buondelmonte in 1216 led to a civil war in Florence between the Ghibelline Uberti and the Guelf Buondelmonti adherents.
The fourth Lateran Council and twelfth Ecumenical Council of 1215 was attended by 412 bishops, 800 abbots and priors, other delegates, and imperial and royal ambassadors. Innocent’s other purpose besides promoting the crusade for Jerusalem was to improve the Church. Full indulgence was promised to those contributing to the crusade, and business with Saracens was boycotted for four years. The council confirmed the doctrine of transubstantiation and established the Inquisition against heretics. The ideas on the trinity of Joachim of Fiore and the pantheism of Amaury of Bena were condemned. The hierarchy of bishops was set with Rome pre-eminent, and the first papal tithes were imposed on the clergy, which also had to consult the Pope before paying taxes to civil authorities. The Benedictine and Augustinian orders were reformed, and additional monastic orders were forbidden. All Christians should confess their sins to a priest at least once a year, and priests who revealed secrets of the confessional were to be relegated to a monastery for the rest of their lives. Clerics were forbidden to participate in any death sentences. The Church authorities in each province or diocese should be freely and lawfully elected as Gratian had codified. Clergy should avoid intemperance, incontinence, hunting, gambling, theatrical entertainment, executions, duels, and inns. A dress code for clerics was devised, and Jews and Muslims were ordered to wear distinctive clothes in order to guard against carnal intercourse with Christians. Jews were banned from holding civil offices.
Friedrich II had been brought up in Sicily as an orphan exploited for his wealth and power. He released papal fears of a large empire by having his son Heinrich crowned king of Sicily even though he was only one year old. Friedrich made a treaty with France that gained him 20,000 marks, and he was elected king of Germany at Frankfurt in December 1212 though he had to be crowned at Mainz since Otto controlled Aachen. In his Golden Bull of Eger Friedrich now made the same concessions to the Pope that Otto had made. In 1214 both King John of England and Otto IV of Germany were defeated in France by the army of King Philip II. The following year Friedrich’s forces defeated the Welf army in the Lower Rhine of Lorraine, enabling him to be crowned at Aachen. Otto fled to Cologne and died in 1218. After Pope Innocent died in 1216, Friedrich tried to get his young son Heinrich VII, already king of Sicily, elected king of Germany too. He made Heinrich duke of Swabia in 1217 and rector of Burgundy in 1219.
Pope Honorius III (1216-27) sent Cardinal Ugolino as his legate, and he mediated a peace between Genoa and Pisa in 1218. The same year a papal interdict stimulated Milan and Pavia to submit to peace; but in Rome a restored commune drove the Pope out to Viterbo. After his son Heinrich VII was crowned king of the Romans, Friedrich promised not to incorporate the Sicilian kingdom into the constitutional law of the Roman empire and got Rome to recall Pope Honorius so that Friedrich could be crowned Emperor in 1220. After the Florentine and Pisan delegations clashed at his coronation, Pisa formed a Ghibelline alliance with Siena, while Florence, as the Guelf supporters of the Pope, turned to Siena’s enemy Lucca. Because of the conflict with the Pope, Friedrich had to withdraw his central power from ecclesiastical territories.
Cologne archbishop Engelbert helped Heinrich VII rule Germany, and he wanted a connection with England; but Friedrich arranged for King Heinrich to marry Margaret, the daughter of the Babenberg duke Leopold of Austria. During the wedding celebration Engelbert was murdered by his own resentful kin. When Dane king Valdemar II was captured by Heinrich of Schwerin after mistreating him in peace time, Valdemar gained his release in a treaty by paying a ransom and ceding territory from the Eider to Pomerania. Once free, Valdemar renounced the treaty as made under duress, and he was absolved from his oath by the Pope. However, Friedrich declared Lübeck an imperial city in 1226, and the next year the empire won the lands back from Valdemar in battle. Germans spread into Baltic lands, and the Teutonic Order was established in Prussia. A new league of German cities was banned by the new imperial regent, Duke Ludwig of Bavaria, because the ecclesiastical princes wanted to rule the cities.
In Sicily Friedrich reduced the mountain tribes of Arabs and created a standing army, and he established loyal Saracen troops at the military colony of Lucera in Apulia. The Norman navy was improved, and resources were gained by revoking the trading privileges of Genoa and Pisa. His royal justiciar dominated legal processes, and Friedrich increased the number of lawyers by founding a university at Naples in 1224. He provided subsidies for poor students to attend the university, and he chose his administrators based on their ability rather than for their noble family. Emperor Friedrich promulgated twenty constitutions to reform the Norman judicial system and demolished threatening castles while building imperial ones. He had been putting off his pledge to go on crusade for years; but in 1225 Friedrich committed himself to doing so within two years, and he married Isabella, daughter of Jerusalem king John of Brienne. In 1226 Milan, Bologna, Brescia, Mantua, Bergamo, Turin, Vicenza, Padua, and Treviso formed a second Lombard League with an offensive and defensive alliance for 25 years, and it was joined by the communes of Piacenza, Verona, Faenza, Vercelli, Lodi, and Alessandria.
Friedrich embarked on the crusade in August 1227 but became so ill that he had to return. The new Pope Gregory IX (1227-41) excommunicated him for breaking his vow; but the Pope was so unpopular in Rome that he was driven out for almost two years. Without getting absolved, Friedrich led 1,000 knights and about 10,000 pilgrims the next year; using his fluent Arabic he made a treaty regaining access to Jerusalem in 1229. However, the Emperor’s concessions to the Muslims caused the patriarch of Jerusalem to excommunicate Friedrich, who was pelted by a mob when he left Acre.
Friedrich had left Duke Rainald of Spoleto in Sicily as vicegerent, and he had invaded the papal states as soon as Pope Gregory tried to set up a king in Germany. Gregory reacted by sending an army commanded by the Church to attack the Sicilian kingdom, and they occupied half the mainland before Friedrich returned from Palestine. Friedrich organized his troops and drove them out; but in the treaty at San Germano in 1230 that lifted his excommunication Friedrich returned papal lands and promised not to tax Sicilian clergy nor to interfere with ecclesiastical elections and courts. Friedrich besieged and banished his faulty deputy Rainald of Spoleto, and in 1233 he punished Messina, Syracuse and other Sicilian towns.
Friedrich’s Constitutions of Melfi in 1231 established his dominance over the government of Sicily. Peter de Vinea was put in charge of the chancery and composed a new code of laws to replace customary and feudal laws such as ordeals and rights of wreck. This royal law claimed all jurisdiction and aimed to guarantee personal liberty by protecting foreigners and the weak against the strong, by recognizing female inheritance, and by trying to prevent instead of punish crime. The poor were given free access to justice, and widows and orphans were even subsidized by the state. Friedrich established annual fairs in 1234, and he lowered tax on exported grain from a third to a sixth, suppressing internal customs to promote trade. Income from monopolies granted to the Jews greatly increased state revenues but exhausted the country’s resources. Some scholars believe that Sicily at this time was the most prosperous and civilized state in Europe.
In Germany King Heinrich VII disagreed with his regent Ludwig and by military force took control of the government in 1229. Heinrich recognized the league of cities; but the bishop of Liege persuaded the princes at Worms in 1231 to make illegal any efforts by the ecclesiastical princes to form pacts, and the next year Emperor Friedrich canceled all councils, mayoralties, and official functions installed in German cities without the consent of the episcopal lord. Gradually the princes and bishops were gaining territorial authority. Friedrich summoned his son Heinrich for confirming a city council of Worms. Heinrich submitted to his father Friedrich at Aquileia but resented his lack of independence.
By 1230 the Sword-Brothers had a bad reputation in Livonia, and their master Folkwin could not persuade the Teutonic knights to accept them. In 1236 Folkwin and fifty Sword-Brothers were exterminated while attacking Lithuanians. The Teutonic knights used a similar strategy of establishing forts in a campaign to conquer Prussia. Beginning from the Polish fort of Chelmno in 1230, they secured the Vistula River the next year. The Cistercian bishop Christian of Prussia was captured in 1233 and held for six years. That year Margrave Heinrich of Meissen brought 500 knights and founded Elbing, and in 1234 Pope Gregory IX granted the knights a state in Prussia. By 1239 a garrison at Balga was threatening the trade of Danzig duke Swantopelk, who with his river fleet launched a war in 1242 that lasted ten years; but Polish princes helped the knights defeat Swantopelk.
Mendicant orders of Franciscans spread to Germany while Dominicans gained a commission in 1231 to combat heresy. Elizabeth, princess of Hungary and widow of the Thuringian landgrave, became a Franciscan and nursed lepers; she was heralded as a saint when she died in 1231. Her confessor Conrad of Marburg was authorized by the Pope to head the Inquisition in Germany. Fanaticism led to many trials, and eighty men were condemned to be burned alive. Conrad and twelve of his officers were killed in the street in 1233 by the men of Chevalier von Dornbach. Peasants of Stedingen had been imprisoned by Conrad and burned for refusing to pay tithes to the Archbishop of Bremen, and the next year about 6,000 more were massacred by an army of crusaders led by the Duke of Brabant and the counts of Oldenburg, Cleve, and Holland. King Heinrich pleased many princes when he prohibited the preaching of crusades of violence against alleged heretics because such campaigns subverted civil order. Charges of heresy were to be judged soberly in ordinary courts. However, this challenged Friedrich’s policy against heresy. Heinrich got further into trouble when he made an alliance with France and approved the Lombard League’s closing of the Alpine passes to imperial troops. Friedrich went to Germany, and he suspected his son of trying to poison him. Heinrich was deposed at a court in Worms in 1235 and imprisoned until he died in an accident seven years later.
In 1230 Pope Gregory IX assigned to Ramon de Penyafort the task of codifying the five collections of canon laws, and in 1234 the Five Books of the Decretals were promulgated. Pope Boniface VIII added a sixth book in 1298, and these stood as the basis of canon law until the 19th century. Gregory tried to mediate with the Lombard League that had closed the Alpine passes to the Germans by sending the Dominican friar John of Vicenza in 1233; but the Pope could not reconcile the Romans with Viterbo, and after being exiled again he reacted by proclaiming a crusade against Rome. Gregory turned to Friedrich; but he had to return to Germany to face the rebellion by his son Heinrich. Sicilian troops helped the Pope win at Viterbo, and Gregory returned to Rome in 1235. That year he helped negotiate an end to a six-year war between Florence and Siena.
Irritated by French encroachment in Provence, Friedrich married Isabella, sister of English king Henry III. At a 1235 Mainz court Friedrich healed the Welf-Staufen conflict by making Heinrich the Lion’s grandson Otto duke of Luneburg and Brunswick, and he also declared an imperial peace with severe penalties for those persisting in feuds. Barons were no longer allowed to molest and rob citizens, who were forbidden to deprive the nobility of their serfs. The nobility had to stop building castles at the expense of the peasants. Friedrich took control of tolls and mints and appointed a royal justiciar as he had in Sicily. Princes took an oath to join the upcoming Italian campaign. In 1237 he made Vienna an imperial city and had the princes elect his nine-year-old son Conrad IV king of the Romans and future emperor. Friedrich tried to bring the Babenberg duchies of Austria and Styria under imperial administration; but the King of Bohemia and the Duke of Bavaria opposed this and made him lift the ban on the Babenberg duke Friedrich, whose childless death in 1246 nonetheless resulted in imperial control over Austria and Styria.
Despite the Pope’s objections, Friedrich decided to subjugate Italy and invaded in 1236, burning Vicenza. His imperial army, using 10,000 Saracens from Lucera, defeated the Lombard League at Cortenuova in 1237. Milan asked for terms, but Friedrich demanded surrender. Calling on troops from Sicily, Hungary, Germany, and Provence in 1238, Friedrich nonetheless could not take heroic Brescia. Friedrich gained papal Sardinia by marrying his illegitimate son Enzio to its heiress Adelasia. (Friedrich loved beautiful women and had several children by his mistresses.) The rhetoric between Pope and Emperor escalated as each referred to the other as the beast of the Apocalypse. Gregory called the Emperor the forerunner of the anti-Christ and condemned him for disbelieving that God was born from a virgin. Friedrich reacted by taxing papal territories; he believed that the papacy was indulging in pride, luxury, and secularism, and he suggested it should go back to the apostolic simplicity of primitive Christianity. Pope Gregory made an alliance with Genoa and Venice against the Emperor for nine years and excommunicated Friedrich in 1239. The Pope raised a war chest by getting 15,000 silver marks from the Lombard League, contributions from Christians, and loans from bankers. Friedrich successfully besieged Milan but lost Ferrara and Ravenna to the Lombards though he subdued most of Tuscany.
When Gregory called a council in Rome in 1241, the Emperor had most of the foreigners arrested before they could get there. Gregory died that year, and no one could get two-thirds of the cardinals’ votes for two years until a Genoese legal scholar became Pope Innocent IV (1243-54). He fled to Lyons and conferred upon the cardinals the privilege of wearing red as a sign of their willingness to shed their blood for the Church. Pope Innocent renewed the war, and finally famine and pestilence stimulated Friedrich to ask for absolution the next year. He agreed to restore Church lands, free prisoners, forgive rebels, let the Pope settle the Lombard dispute, and satisfy every papal grievance. Later Friedrich changed his mind and was banned by the exiled Pope’s council at Lyons in 1245. Friedrich ordered the Alpine passes closed to stop reinforcements from the Pope and devastated the region of Viterbo. Friedrich taxed ecclesiastics and attacked Milan. In Sicily a conspiracy to assassinate the Emperor failed and was punished, and the last Saracens were expelled from the island.
In 1243 Jews of Belitz near Berlin were burned to death in the first known massacre based on the allegation that they desecrated the Christian sacrament. The next year Duke Friedrich of Austria issued a decree protecting Jews from murder and assault with strict laws. Similar laws were adopted later in Hungary, Bohemia, Greater Poland, Meissen, Thuringia, and Silesia. Frequent massacres of Jews in Germany and France that were often based on erroneous allegations that they had murdered Christian children were brought to the attention of Pope Innocent IV, who issued a bull from Lyons in 1247 to contradict such baseless charges.
The imperial emissary Gebhard of Arnstein had compelled the Italian cities to accept the Emperor’s endorsement of their podestas in 1238. In a revolution at Siena in 1240 the nobility and people established a ruling council of 24 that lasted for thirty years until Siena was forced to join the Guelf league. In 1246 Friedrich’s illegitimate son Friedrich of Antioch became vicar-general of Tuscany and podesta of Florence, where he established his imperial administration. He was supported by the Ghibellines led by the Uberti family; but after a street brawl in 1248 the Guelfs withdrew to their castles in the mountains, and the angry Ghibellines destroyed 36 of their buildings in Florence. The next year Friedrich of Antioch captured the Guelfs’ exile headquarters at Capraia, executing and imprisoning the garrison. While young Friedrich was away in 1250, the Guelfs attacked Figline.
Friedrich’s imperial regent Heinrich Raspe, landgrave of Thuringia, was elected king but had little power and died in 1247 to be replaced by Count William of Holland, who won over Cologne. Friedrich held a diet at Cremona and married various relatives to powerful families. Pope Innocent sent William 25,000 silver marks and declared a crusade against Friedrich. When the Emperor’s army was defeated at Parma in 1248, his immense imperial treasure was captured. Friedrich still refused to renounce the empire and accused the Pope of trying to poison him. By the next year William had conquered enough territory to be crowned at Aachen. Friedrich, suspecting that Peter de Vinea had joined the papal cause and was trying to poison him, had him blinded, and Peter committed suicide in prison. The struggle went on until Friedrich finally died of dysentery on December 13, 1250.
Denmark’s King Erik Ejegod (r. 1095-1103) enforced the law and destroyed the stronghold of pirates (vikings) at Jomsburg. Erik left on a pilgrimage to the holy land in 1103 and never returned, and an archbishopric for Scandinavia was established at Lund the next year. Erik had left his son Harald to govern; but he was so unpopular that the nobles elected his uncle Niels as king. Niels (r. 1104-34) appointed Erik’s son Knut Lavard duke of Jutland. Knut’s war against the powerful Wend, King Henry of the Abodrites, was popular because it defended Denmark; but Knut alienated Niels’ son Magnus, who assassinated him in 1131. In the ensuing civil war Magnus was defeated and killed in 1134 by the army led by Knut’s brother Erik Emune; five bishops and sixty priests were also killed. King Niels fled to Slesvig, where he was murdered by members of the late Knut’s brotherhood. Erik Emune was king for three years, but he was called the Unforgotten for his many crimes. He put to death his brother Harald and eleven of Harald’s sons; but the twelfth, Olaf, escaped to Sweden. Erik attacked the pirate stronghold of Arkona; but while presiding over an assembly he was assassinated by a Jutland chief, who was avenging an executed relative.
Denmark’s assembly chose the grandson of Erik Ejegod, who was called Erik the Lamb; but he had to fight Olaf, who was defeated and killed in 1143. However, attacks by Wend pirates so outraged public opinion that Erik was persuaded to retire to a monastery in 1147. That summer the two contenders for the throne of Denmark, Knut V and Svein III, put aside their quarrel to join the Saxons in a crusade against the Wends. Their younger brother Valdemar helped Svein drive out Knut, who took refuge with Emperor Conrad III. Knut returned as a vassal of the empire, causing more civil war. Friedrich Barbarossa tried to settle the dispute by recognizing Svein as king of Denmark but giving Knut Zealand as a fief. Svein refused, but Valdemar got them to agree to let Knut have domains in Jutland and Skane instead. Svein became unpopular when he adopted German customs and led a disastrous invasion of Sweden. Valdemar turned to Knut and forced Svein to accept the division of Denmark into three parts with Knut ruling the islands, Svein over Skane, and Valdemar governing Jutland and Slesvig. When Svein had Knut assassinated, Valdemar escaped a similar attempt. The people supported Valdemar, and the defeated Svein was decapitated as Valdemar was recognized as sole king in 1157.
Denmark’s king Valdemar (r. 1157-82) allied with Heinrich the Lion of Saxony against the Wends and did fealty to Emperor Friedrich. Lund archbishop Eskil persuaded Valdemar to attack the Rugians in 1159. Valdemar published the Skanian ecclesiastical laws in 1162 and the civil code the next year. After Nyklot’s son Pribislav regained his father’s lands in 1164 with an Abotrite revolt that destroyed a Saxon army, crusades organized in 1168 against the Wends enabled the Danes to conquer pagan Rügen and demolish its main temple at Arkona. Many thousands of Rugians were killed; but Eskil got Valdemar to stop the plundering and burning by Bishop Absalon’s forces after the Wends had agreed to be baptized and pay tribute. Danish slaves were emancipated, and everyone was expected to accept Christianity as the land of the pagan priests was given to the Church. Heinrich of Saxony expected half and even encouraged the Wagrians, Abotrites, and Liutizians to fight the Danes, but Valdemar paid him off in 1171. When the Wends built fortresses for defense, the Danes became suspicious and destroyed them, burning their lands.
The king’s friend, Bishop Absalon of Roskilde, who welcomed Cistercians, crowned Valdemar’s son Knut in 1170. New laws for Zealand were promulgated the next year. Absalon became archbishop of Lund in 1178 but remained prime minister. By the time Valdemar died in 1182, he had fought 28 battles against the pagans. Absalon acted as regent for Knut and threw off subservience to Germany by invading the Slavs in Pomerania and Mecklenberg, destroying the Liutizian-Pomeranian fleet in 1184. Knut’s brother, Count Valdemar of Jutland, defeated the count of Holstein and annexed his land. The Danes invaded Finland in 1191, Estonia in 1194 and 1197, and the Finns again in 1202.
A year after Archbishop Absalon died, Knut’s brother Valdemar Sejr became king of Denmark in 1202. He was called Victorious for expanding the realm, conquering the region around Lübeck to the Oder-Vistula. The king and Archbishop Andrew forced Estonian islanders to submit in 1206. King Valdemar II convened the first hof composed of nobles and prelates. By recognizing Friedrich II as Emperor in 1214 Valdemar gained recognition of Denmark’s provinces in Germany. This caused Otto and his allies to invade Holstein and take Hamburg, and they were supported by King Valdemar’s rival, Bishop Valdemar, now of Bremen; but the bishop was driven into a cloister while the Pope appointed and protected another bishop.
King Valdemar also increased the Danish empire by launching a crusade into northern Estonia with a new order of knights called the Brothers of the Sword in 1219. Valdemar was captured by a German vassal, Count Heinrich of Schwerin, in 1223. The Brothers of the Sword and the bishop of Riga then seized part of Estonia while Count Adolf and the princes of northern Germany returned to Holstein and their lands. The regent Albert refused to pay 50,000 marks of silver for Valdemar but was defeated at Molln in 1225. To gain his freedom Valdemar had to give back the conquered territory except for Rügen and Estonia but including Lübeck, and he was defeated by German princes in Holstein trying to recapture it in 1227 when his Ditmarsh soldiers went over to the other side. The Sword-Brothers took Reval in 1227 but had to give it to the Teutonic Knights in the treaty of Stensby in 1238. However, Valdemar was able to keep his Estonian possessions because of his 200 ships. A papal legate persuaded Valdemar to join the Teutonic Order’s crusade against Russia in 1240 that ended in defeat two years later.
Valdemar II had his son Erik crowned in 1232 and gave his sons Abel and Christopher dukedoms. Valdemar promulgated a law code for Jutland before he died in 1241. When Erik became king, he gave his duchy of Slesvig to his brother Abel; but they quarreled when Erik tried to win back Holstein, which Abel defended for that count. Erik also aroused the enmity of Sweden by attacking Lübeck, and his brothers followed Abel’s example in refusing to do homage to King Erik. When Slesvig was taken, Abel fled to his allies; but the Duke of Saxony and the Margrave of Brandenberg mediated a truce in the civil war. For a campaign into Livonia to recover territory Erik laid a tax of a silver penny on every plow in his kingdom, giving him the name Plow-penny though in Skane many resisted paying. This expedition in Estonia accomplished little, but Erik then attacked Holstein. Near Slesvig Erik was captured and beheaded by his brother Abel in 1250. Abel became king and averted war by giving Holstein to its count and Livonia to the Teutonic Knights. Abel restored annual meetings of the estates and improved the laws; but he was killed by Frisians while trying to enforce tax collection in western Slesvig after ruling only two years.
Norway’s king Magnus III (r. 1093-1103) was called Bareleg for dressing like a Scot. He was warlike and would not let his cousin Haakon rule the north as his father Magnus the Good had let Harald the Hardruler. Magnus III resented Haakon’s suspension of taxes that shrunk his royal income but had to retreat when the region raised armed forces. Haakon then dismissed his army but died of illness. The civil war was continued by Tore and Egil until they were defeated and hanged by Magnus, who killed many and burned houses for what he considered treason. He conquered the Orkney islands in 1098, capturing and sending its two earls to Norway and putting his eight-year-old son Sigurd in charge of the islands. Next the forces of Magnus plundered the Hebrides and attacked Wales, where Orkney earl Magnus Erlendsson was castigated for refusing to fight. Norway’s Magnus made a treaty with Malcolm of Scotland, gaining the western islands. In 1100 King Magnus went to war in the east with Swedish king Ingi, but the next year he married Ingi’s daughter Margaret. Magnus was disliked for the heavy taxes used to pay for his wars. He invaded Ireland, capturing Dublin and most of Ulster; he demand cattle from King Moriartak but was killed trying to collect them.
The three sons of Magnus were proclaimed kings. Olaf IV died before he was old enough to rule, and Norway was divided between Eystein I (r. 1103-22), and Sigurd I (r. 1103-30). They developed the Church by imposing tithes, founding the first Norwegian monastery and building cathedrals. In 1107 Sigurd went on an illustrious crusade to Palestine for four years while Eystein governed and continued the building program. In the Orkney Islands Magnus Erlendsson ruled wisely by enforcing the laws for all and helping the poor; but he was challenged by Haakon Paulsson. In 1117 Haakon treacherously murdered the unresisting Magnus, who was proclaimed a saint. After Eystein died, Sigurd planned to invade Sweden with his Danish allies under King Niels; but when the Danes did not come, the Norwegians plundered Tumartorp and Kalmar before raiding Smaaland for cattle and to force pagans to convert. After 1130 Norway suffered frequent civil wars for more than a century over who should be king.
Harald Gille came from Ireland claiming that he was a son of Magnus Bareleg and convinced King Sigurd by walking over hot plowshares. In 1130 Sigurd’s son Magnus was proclaimed king by the Thing at Oslo; but Harald Gille broke his oath when he claimed to be king over half of Norway at Tunsberg. After three years of co-existence they fought at Fyrileif, and Harald’s army fled. Harald went to King Erik Emune in Denmark and was given Halland as a fief. Magnus forgave the rebels and disbanded his army; but Harald invaded Bergen and captured King Magnus, blinding and castrating him and cutting off one foot; the mutilated Magnus went into a monastery near Nidaros. Harald Gille then ruled all Norway for a year until Sigurd Slembe also claimed that he was a son of Magnus Bareleg, and his conspiracy murdered Harald in his bed in 1136. When Sigurd admitted that he murdered Harald, the nobles refused to make him king but outlawed him and his men. Regents governed for the three young sons of Harald Gille, and they defeated an alliance of Sigurd Slembe and the blind Magnus with the Danes in 1139, killing both leaders. Harald’s sons Sigurd and Inge ruled Norway in peace. When another son, Eystein, arrived from Scotland, he was given a third of the Norwegian kingdom.
The English cardinal Nicholas Breakspear (who became Pope Adrian IV) visited Norway as papal legate in 1152, establishing an archbishopric at Nidaros (Trondheim) and instituting reforms. Bishops were now elected by canonical communities instead of being appointed by the king. The peace mediated by Nicholas gradually broke down as a quarrel between King Eystein and King Sigurd resulted in Sigurd being killed by Inge’s men led by Gregorius Dagson in 1155. After more conflict Eystein’s men abandoned him, and he was murdered by his brother-in-law in 1157. Rebels proclaiming Sigurd’s son Haakon were defeated by Inge’s army led by Gregorius Dagson two years later; but in 1161 Inge’s forces were betrayed at Oslo, and he was defeated and killed by the army of broad-shouldered Haakon. Nobles in Bergen led by Earl Erling Skakke elected Erling’s young son Magnus, but he and Erling took refuge with King Valdemar in Denmark. In a naval battle Haakon was defeated and killed at Sekken in 1162. Archbishop Eystein crowned eight-year-old Magnus V in 1164 when he promised to enforce the reforms, obey the Pope, and grant privileges to the Church. Erling administered the government for his young son but reneged on his promise to cede Viken to Denmark, causing sporadic conflict. Eystein II’s grandson Olaf was proclaimed king by Uplanders and defeated Erling once; but Olaf had to flee to Denmark, where he died in 1169.
Erling then made peace with Denmark and was allowed to keep Viken as King Valdemar’s vassal. Another Eystein claimed to be the son of a king and led a group called Birchlegs, but they were defeated in 1177. Sverrir, who claimed to be an illegitimate son of Sigurd Mund, the son of Harald Gille, was proclaimed king the same year by nobles, and he was joined by bandits and Birchlegs. Two years later his forces met and defeated the army of Erling and Magnus; Erling and many court nobles were killed. King Magnus fled to King Valdemar in Denmark while Archbishop Eystein went to England. Occasional battles were fought in this civil war until Magnus was defeated and killed at Fimreite in 1184 when 2,000 of his men fell.
King Sverrir (r. 1184-1202) had to quell several rebellions. He repudiated the religious reforms and privileges. Most of the bishops went into exile, and Sverrir was excommunicated. Sverrir’s brother Erik gained funds by a Viking-like raid on Rotala at the mouth of the Dvina in 1186, capturing two Saxon cogs on the way back. Archbishop Eystein returned in 1187; but his successor refused to crown Sverrir and fled to Denmark in 1190. The last six years of Sverrir’s life were spent fighting rebels called Baglers, who took control of the Oslo area. When Innocent III became Pope in 1198, he put Norway under interdict and excommunicated Sverrir. Sverrir published a speech against the bishops. He argued that the Christ is the head and the bishops should be the eyes; but he complained they are blinded by covetousness, excess, ambition, arrogance, and injustice. Sverrir also wrote a history to justify his policies. In 1199 he built a new fleet at Trondheim. The next year the Baglers attacked him at Oslo with three armies; but Sverrir gathered his forces and at Tunsberg besieged the Baglers, who surrendered about a month before Sverrir died on March 9, 1202.
After King Sverrir’s his son Haakon II recalled the bishops and others from exile, and the interdict was removed from Norway; but Haakon died on the first day of 1204, perhaps of poison. His nearest heir was four-year-old Guthorm; but his election caused the Bagler party to organize around Erling Steinvegg, and they were supported by Valdemar II of Denmark. Erling was also proclaimed king in 1204, and the same year Guthorm died suspiciously. The Thing elected Sverrir’s nephew Inge Baardsson king; but the battles between the Birchlegs and the Baglers continued. Erling died in 1207, and the Baglers chose as their king Philip Simonsson, nephew of Bishop Nicholas. The next year peace was negotiated, and Philip swore fealty to Inge and was made earl of Viken and the Uplands, marrying Sverrir’s daughter Christina.
When Inge died in 1217, the Birchlegs elected Sverrir’s 13-year old grandson Haakon as king. Rivalry with Earl Skule was meliorated when the king was betrothed to Skule’s ten-year-old daughter Margaret in 1219. Four years later Earl Skule exchanged the southern part of Norway for the northern third of the country. Civil war erupted again after Skule was proclaimed king in 1239, but he and his plundering men were trapped and massacred the following year. Young Haakon IV (r. 1217-63) modernized the government by appointing a chancellor and royal council. Blood feuds and ordeals by fire were prohibited. Money was spent building monasteries, churches, a hospital for lepers, and a palace at Bergen with a wall around it.
Sweden was ruled by Stenkil’s sons Ingi and Halsten from about 1080 though Ingi was overthrown for three years by his pagan brother-in-law Blotsven before regaining power. In 1101 King Magnus of Norway was betrothed to Ingi’s daughter Margaret, who was named the peace maid for the agreement between them and Denmark’s King Erik for peace and friendly cooperation. After Magnus fell from power two years later, she married the Dane king Niels. Sweden also established tithing and by 1120 had five bishops. Sverker became king about 1130 and ruled for about a quarter of a century until he was murdered, as Sweden also suffered civil war in this period. Sverker promoted the Church and welcomed French monks. During the latter part of his reign Erik Jedvardsson was proclaimed king in Svealand and was believed to have crusaded in Finland before he was killed about 1160. Erik promulgated laws with strict punishment for offenses against the Christian religion. Sweden’s first archbishop was established at Uppsala in 1164. Erik’s son Knut came out of exile and became king of Sweden in 1167. He organized the Church and fortified Stockholm before he died in 1196.
Sverker II, son of the Goth Charles, was king of Sweden from 1196 to 1210 according to a compact made between the Swedes and the Goths. He extended privileges to the Church, donating property to the church of Uppsala in 1200. After Birger Brosa died in 1202, revolt erupted. Three years later in a battle at Elgaros three of Knut’s sons were killed by Sverker’s royal army, and Erik fled to Norway. A few years later Erik Knutsson returned with forces strong enough to cause Sverker to retreat to Denmark. Their king Valdemar II supplied Sverker with an army, but they were defeated at Lena in 1208. Sverker went back to Denmark and appealed to Pope Innocent III, who threatened Erik with a ban. Sverker returned to Sweden with a Danish army again, but he was defeated and killed in 1210. That year Erik was the first Swedish king known to have been crowned by an archbishop. He ruled for ten years in peace by promising that he would be succeeded by Sverker’s son John, who also ruled peacefully but for only two years.
Erik III (r. 1222-50) was only six years old when he began his reign. In 1229 Erik’s army was defeated by those proclaiming Knut the Tall, and Erik fled to Denmark until Knut died in 1232. The Folkung jarl Ulf administered the government. In 1237 Pope Gregory IX ordered Swedish bishops to lead a crusade against the pagan Tavasti in Finland, and Birger Magnusson led the invasion. The Swedes expanded territory into Finland and along the eastern Baltic coast; but they were stopped before the Neva River by the Russians led by Prince Alexander of Novgorod in 1240. Upland peasants revolted in 1247 but were put down and punished with heavier taxes. Holmger, son of Knut the Tall, tried to claim the throne, but he was captured and beheaded the next year. The papal legate Bishop William of Sabina visited Sweden and gained independence for the Church with ecclesiastical elections replacing royal appointments; celibacy was recommended but resisted as many Church positions had become hereditary. Folkung family magnate Birger Magnusson replaced Ulf as jarl in 1248 and negotiated a treaty with Norway’s Haakon in which each country agreed not to give refuge to the enemies of the other, and King Haakon’s son agreed to marry Birger’s daughter.
Iceland was the first Scandinavian country to introduce tithing in 1097. The tithe was used to support the bishop, the priests, maintenance of church buildings, and the poor. A second bishop for the north was installed at Skalholt in 1106. The Althing of Iceland appointed a commission to revise its laws in 1117, and they were approved by a majority the following year. In Scandinavia laws gradually replaced the importance of kin as closer family relations replaced more distant ones. Guilds developed into an important institution in the 11th century. The early guilds were brotherhoods that tried to limit their members to those of good character and expelled those committing dishonorable actions. A member causing the death of another member must pay forty marks or be expelled as a felon. Members were expected to defend each other, and anyone witnessing the death of a member without doing so was expelled. If a member lost his money, his brothers contributed to him, and two at a time were expected to attend the sick. The guilds thus provided laws as well as important social and economic institutions until gradually royal and national laws took precedence. Towns often grew up around religious institutions as building projects attracted masons, carpenters, and smiths. The first Lateran council of 1123 ordered priests to repudiate their wives, but clerical celibacy was resisted in Scandinavia for another century. Women had the right to own property; but they did not have legal equality and could not speak in the assemblies (things).
In Iceland family feuds starting around 1200 wiped out some of the families, and with limited resources the economy stagnated. Bishop Gudmund Arason (1203-37) engaged in many conflicts with chieftains on behalf of the Church, and he also strove to help the poor. In 1208 some of the bishop’s men killed his opponent Kolbeinn Tumason in a skirmish. At times Gudnmund was held in confinement. From the time he became law-speaker in 1215, much of Iceland’s history revolved around the power struggles of its great historian Snorri Sturlason. Saemund Jonsson had conflicts with traders over prices; his son Deacon Pall was resented by traders in Bergen and drowned. Saemund’s brother Orm was killed by Greenland traders in 1218 when he was gathering timber from the Westman islands. By 1224 Snorri was the richest man in Iceland; but he was often opposed by his nephew Sturla Sighvatsson, who was killed battling Gizur Thorvaldsson in 1238. Norwegian king Haakon IV sent Gizur as his commissioner, and his men murdered Snorri in 1241.
Snorri’s son Oraekja and Sturla Thordarson went to avenge Snorri’s murder, but Gizur had the case placed before Norwegian king Haakon. Oraekja declined; but Gizue eventually captured and exiled him, and Sturla Thordarson swore allegiance to Kolbeinn the Young. Haakon sent Thord Kakali Sighvatsson to Iceland, and he gained enough forces to challenge Kolbeinn in Iceland’s biggest naval battle in 1244. Kolbeinn agreed to let King Haakon settle the dispute but died the next year. In 1246 Thord also came into conflict with the rival chief Brand in Iceland’s worst land battle; but Gizur persuaded them to let King Haakon arbitrate. While Thord gained ground, Haakon sent two sons of Saemund Jonsson to Iceland in 1251.
In Hungary King Coloman (r. 1095-1116) provided passage to crusaders and promoted commerce. Coloman annexed Croatia and was crowned king there too; but in 1108 he granted Croatia constitutional independence and swore that he would allow no Magyars to go there without the Croatians’ permission. Coloman had his brother and nephew blinded so that his son Stephen II (r. 1116-31) could succeed him. In 1127 Stephen invaded Greek territory, taking Belgrade and Sofia; but his miserable reign was followed by the blinded nephew Bela II (r. 1131-41). His son Geza II (r. 1141-61) allowed the Saxons immigrating into Hungary and Transylvania to govern themselves with their own national assembly. Geza’s son Stephen III (r. 1161-73) had to struggle with his uncles Ladislas II and Stephen IV for the throne; but his brother Bela III (r. 1173-96) was unchallenged. He moved closer to western culture by marrying Margaret of France, sister of Philip Augustus and widow of England’s prince Henry, and Magyar students attended the university in Paris. Bela III pushed his frontiers north of the Carpathian mountains by fighting the Russians in Galicia (Halich), and his son Emeric (r. 1196-1204) struggled with his younger brother Andrew, who deposed Bela’s son Ladislas III in 1205.
Hungarian king Andrew II (r. 1205-35) used German knights to defend the eastern frontier of Transylvania against the Kumans from 1211 until he expelled the Order for disobedience in 1225. Andrew provoked revolt with his extravagance and favoritism, and in 1222 he had to sign the significant Golden Bull that acknowledged various rights in 31 articles. All future kings of Hungary would swear to this national charter. The king promised the following: to imprison no noble without a trial before himself and the count-palatine, to levy no taxes on the estates of nobles or ecclesiastics, to accept tithes in kind instead of money, to forbid foreigners to own land, and to protect people disobeying illegal orders. No one was to be compelled to serve outside the country unless at royal expense. Counts and other royal officers could be removed for misconduct, and their positions were no longer hereditary. In 1231 another Golden Bull established an annual meeting for the king and nobles, and an article forbidding Jews and Muslims from holding public office was added to the charter.
Andrew’s son Bela IV (r. 1235-70) faced the invasion of the Mongols as 40,000 Kumans were pushed into Hungary by the Mongols in 1239. Bela turned to Jewish agents for aid and adopted the protective laws of Austria’s Friedrich. The skilled army of Khan Batu, using gun-powder invented by the Chinese, killed many thousands of the Hungarian army in 1241 though the Croats stopped the invasion near Fiume on the Dalmatian coast. King Bela fled to Austria and had to cede territory to the Austrian duke Friedrich, and in rebuilding the fortifications of the country many magnates became more independent as 34 of the 55 new castles were not royal ones. The depopulation provided more opportunities for the German immigrants. Bela fought to regain the territories from Austria, and Friedrich was killed. The Austrian succession was disputed by Hungary and Bohemia but was resolved as King Premysl Ottokar II married Bela’s daughter Constance.
Bohemia was ruled by the Premyslid dynasty from the ninth century until 1306. Duke Bratislav was murdered in 1100 and was succeeded by his brother Borivoj until 1107, when civil war broke out. Poland’s Boleslaw invaded in support of Vladislav’s brother Sobeslav; but in the settlement Vladislav was recognized as duke and became cup-bearer to German Emperor Heinrich VI in 1114, thus an imperial elector. Bohemia adopted Latin, and chronicler Cosmas wrote the history of Bohemia to 1125. An attempt in 1143 to make the clergy celibate was resisted in Bohemia and did not become effective for another century. Duke Vladislav II (r. 1140-73) supported Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa in his campaign to capture Milan in 1158 and was crowned king that year at Ratisbon.
In 1173 Vladislav II abdicated so that his son Friedrich could rule; but during civil wars in the next 24 years feudal magnates and the German emperor chose ten different rulers. In 1182 Emperor Friedrich settled a dispute over the throne by summoning both claimants to Ratisbon and declaring his namesake Friedrich duke of Bohemia and Conrad Otto duke of Moravia. Five years later the Emperor made the Prague bishop, who was of the Premyslid family, independent of the local prince as an imperial fief. The dukes still had great power and wealth as they exploited many slaves until the 13th century. Bishop Heinrich Bretislav of Prague became Duke of Bohemia in 1193 and conquered Moravia; but when he died in 1197, the sons of King Vladislav cooperated as Premysl Ottokar became king of Bohemia and Vladislav Heinrich was made Margrave of Moravia.
In 1212 Emperor Friedrich II recognized Bohemia as his fief, but its king Ottokar I (r. 1197-1230) became an imperial elector. Bishop Andrew of Prague (1214-24) claimed Church immunity from all laws and even taxes while attempting to enforce tithing on all Bohemia. His policy was unpopular, and he fled to Rome; he returned in 1222 but was driven out again and died in Rome two years later. Bohemia prospered and grew with German immigration. The feudal power of the castles declined as landowners became wealthy. Yet Germans built walls around their settlements, and other cities and nobles fortified their castles. German immigration continued to increase during the reign of Wenceslas (r. 1230-53) and in the second half of the century. Colonizing in groups, they brought German law with them. During the reign of Wenceslas I the use of family names began in Bohemia. As a royal council advised the king, government became more centralized. Hostility between Bohemia and Austria paused during the Mongol invasion as the Duke of Silesia was defeated by the Tartars at Liegnitz in 1241. Wenceslas managed to defend Bohemia, but Moravia was ravaged by the Mongols.
In Poland Wladyslaw I Herman (r. 1079-1102) was dominated by the German empire and lost recent conquests to Russia during civil wars. His son Boleslaw III (r. 1102-38) became king by defeating his older brothers in battle, and he expelled his half-brother Zbigniew in 1107. Zbigniew gained Czechs and pagans as allies; but in 1109 he was defeated by King Boleslaw and Emperor Heinrich V. Zbigniew was blinded, exiled, and later killed. The king tried to absolve himself of this treatment of his brother with severe penance and long pilgrimages. In addition to fighting wars with Bohemia, Boleslaw spent a decade conquering Pomerania from Germany and achieved it by 1122; but it took six more years to convert them to Christianity. In 1123 a papal legate organized the Polish Church and founded three bishoprics, including Pomerania. Germany pushed the borders back to the Oder and Nysa rivers, and in 1135 Boleslaw did homage to Emperor Lothar III for Pomerania and Rügen. King Wladyslaw’s chaplain Martin Gallus wrote the first chronicle of Poland, and Cistercian monks were given a charter in 1140.
In his will Boleslaw divided Poland among his sons. The oldest son Wladislaw was already prince of Silesia and was given Pomerania also; Mieszko got Greater Poland; Boleslaw received Mazovia and eastern Kujavia; and Heinrich was given Sandomierz. After eight years Wladislaw II tried to use Russian allies to reunite Poland; but he was forced to flee to Germany by Boleslaw IV (r. 1146-73). Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa intervened in 1163 and 1172 to restore Silesia to the sons of Wladislaw II. Mieszko III became senior in 1173, but four years later he was banished from Cracow by a rebellion. The youngest brother Casimir II (r. 1177-94) was the next senior. He conciliated the magnates and granted the clergy privileges in 1180, acquiring Mazovia in 1186. Casimir’s peaceful rule was followed by a civil war between Mieszko and Casimir’s son, who became Leszek I when Mieszko died in 1202.
In Poland Leszek I (r. 1202-27) joined Cracow with his province of Sandomierz and his brother’s Kujawia and Mazovia into what was called Lesser Poland. Roman added Galicia (Halich) to his Volhynia; but after refusing to do homage to Leszek, he was defeated and killed in 1205. A civil war followed and was aggravated by the intervention of Hungary. Dominicans were given a charter in 1223. The death of Leszek in 1227 brought about another war over the succession. When the crusading Dobrzyn Brotherhood that Leszek’s brother Conrad of Mazovia founded was almost wiped out in 1224, he appealed to the Teutonic Knights, who were given territory on the frontier of Kujawia in 1228. Their crusade accelerated four years later when seven Polish dukes led soldiers into Livonia. From 1241 Prince Svantopelk of Pomerania waged war for a dozen years against the German knights and the Poles. Mongols invaded and devastated Poland in 1241 before retreating to Russia.
The meeting of Russian princes at Liubech in 1097 divided Kievan territory but established that sons should inherit instead of brothers. Resenting Vasilko, Prince David invited him to the house of Svyatopolk (r. 1093-1113) and had him blinded. To settle the dispute Vladimir Monomakh called another conference at Vitichev in 1100; Svyatopolk had to side with his kin, and David lost Volhynia, keeping only four small towns. Monomakh led the military campaigns into the Polovtsy country, because they raided Russian territory almost every year. He founded Vladimir in the northeast in 1108 and was chosen prince of Kiev in 1113, declining at first, because legally it should have gone to Svyatopolk’s son Oleg. Turmoil erupted during that selection process, and the Jews, who had been exploited by Svyatopolk, were plundered. Monomakh reduced the interest rate allowed from 120 to 20 percent and expelled the Jews. He also fixed payment for the services of the half-free and prohibited making them slaves unless they attempted to escape.
Vladimir Monomakh made war against Livonia, Finland, Bulgaria, Poland, and Hungary. In his Testament he claimed he participated in 83 campaigns, concluded 19 treaties, released 100 Polovestian princes, and drowned 200 in rivers. Monomakh left the following advice to his sons: fasting, solitude nor the monastic life will procure you eternal life, but good deeds will; nourish the poor; be a father to orphans; settle the cases of widows yourself; do not let the strong destroy the weak; execute no one, whether innocent or guilty; love your wives but do not give them power over you; watch out for lying, drinking, and fornication that corrupt body and soul; honor the old as fathers and love the young as brothers; strive to learn, and remember what is useful.
Monomakh was succeeded in Vladimir by his son Yury Dolgorubky (r. 1125-57) and in Kiev by his sons Mstislav (r. 1125-32) and Yaropolk (r. 1132-39). Mstislav sent the prince of Polotsk as a prisoner to Constantinople for refusing to join the campaign against the Polovtsy. During the reign of Yaropolk the sons of Mstislav fought their uncles. An Olgovich (supporting the line of Oleg) from Chernigov named Vsélod (r. 1139-46) was accepted as prince of Kiev, but his son Igor was soon deposed by the warrior Izyaslav Mstislavich (r. 1146-54), who spent his reign fighting his uncles and the Olgovichi. After five years of struggles under Izyaslav’s uncle and brother, Kievans summoned his brother Rostislav (r. 1159-68), who was also prince of Smolensk and Novgorod; he thus united a large area in peace. After Rostislav died, Andrew Bogulyubsky (r. 1157-74) from the northeast principalities of Rostov and Suzdal formed a coalition of eleven princes against Kiev prince Mstislav, sacking the city in 1169. Bogulyubsky kept his capital in Vladimir but was killed by a conspiracy, and two years later his brother Vsévolod III (r. 1176-1212) began his reign as Russia’s Grand Prince. Many were made slaves by bankruptcy, by not keeping a service agreement, or by marrying a slave. As agriculture developed in the Kiev region, thousands of slaves were put to work by the princes.
Novgorod was usually ruled by a younger relative of the Kievan prince; but in 1126 the civilian administrator of the city called the Posadnik was elected by their public assembly (veche), and the Posadnik became the main authority after they expelled their prince ten years later. Novgorod gained further independence in 1156 as their bishop was also nominated by the veche. The veche met in the marketplace but was increasingly controlled by the wealthy in the Council of Notables. Their princes had to swear to uphold the laws and privileges of Yaroslav, and they could be dismissed by the veche.
The anonymous Lay of Igor’s Campaign, considered the first great work of Russian literature, describes how Prince Igor (1151-1202) was defeated by the Kumans in 1185. In the poem Igor urges his warriors to fight to the death rather than be captured, and on the first day of battle he and his brother Vsevolod defeat the infidel Kumans and capture their maidens. Despite their Frankish weapons, the Russians are defeated on the next two days. Igor is captured, but he later escapes. The poet blamed the Russian princes for sowing the land with arrows by their quarrels, and he particularly mentioned Svyatopolk’s son Oleg, Igor’s grandfather. Igor and his brother Vsevolod had revived the strife. The victorious Kumans levied tribute on the Russian households; but they were defeated in turn by the grand prince of Kiev.
In Kiev Vsévolod III (r. 1176-1212) named his younger son Yuri as his successor; but his son Constantine and his allies defeated Yuri in a civil war by 1217. However, after Constantine died the next year, Yuri governed until 1237. Yuri led the campaign against the Volga Bulgarians and founded Nijni-Novgorod in 1221; but southern Russia was beyond his control as it was raided by Petchenegs, Poles, and Hungarians.
Roman Mstislavich (r. 1199-1205) ruled Volhynia and was aided by Hungarian soldiers sent by Casimir in the conquest of Galicia, fighting off Kumans and Lithuanians. Roman also extended his dominion over Kiev, which was sacked in 1203 by the Polovtsi mercenaries of the Chernigov Olgoviches. According to the Polish bishop Kadloubek, Roman promised to pardon the boyard aristocrats; but when they returned, he had them executed and confiscated their property, arguing that to eat honey in peace one must first kill the bees. After Roman was killed for not doing homage to Poland, Galicia suffered conflict for many years until it was conquered about 1238 by Roman’s son Daniel, who governed Volhynia (r. 1205-64). This region was subjugated by the Mongols in 1240 though Galicia retained most of its independence. Daniel invaded Prussia with the Polish dukes Semovit and Boleslaw; but this drove the Lithuanian Mindaugas into an alliance with the Germans.
An army of Volhynians, Galicians, Polovtsians, and Kumans tried to stop invading Mongols led by Subatai at the river Kalka in 1223; but they were badly defeated, and many Russian princes were captured and put to death. The Khan Batu conquered the Volga Bolgary in 1236, destroyed Ryazan, Rostov, and Suzdalian towns the next year, and defeated the northern princes in 1238. Batu approached Novgorod but turned south. Yaroslav II, the only remaining son of Vsévolod III, was confirmed as Grand Prince by Batu; but when he went to visit the court of the Grand Khan in 1246, he was either poisoned or died returning. The Mongols plundered Suzdal again and southern Russia in 1239. The next year after their envoys to Kiev were killed, they destroyed Kiev, killing or enslaving all the inhabitants. Although Batu went home for a succession conference in 1242, much of Russia was under Mongol sovereignty for more than two centuries.
Independent Novgorod expelled Prince Yaroslav three times; but he returned in 1225 and helped them survive famine and fire. In 1227 he sent priests to baptize Karelians; but in 1237 Pope Gregory IX was told the Tavastians had rejected Christianity, and he proclaimed a crusade against them. Yaroslav succeeded his brother George II in Suzdal as Grand Prince in 1238 and was replaced at Novgorod by his son Alexander. While other Russians were being attacked by Mongols, Alexander led Novgorod in victory over the invading Swedes in 1240 by the river Neva (earning him the name Nevsky). The independent people of Novgorod dismissed Alexander; but they called him back when the Teutonic knights besieged Pskov and established a fort to control trade. Alexander captured the fort, and in 1242 his army relieved Pskov and defeated the Germans on the ice of Lake Peipus. Alexander made peace and exchanged prisoners. In 1245 Alexander and his retinue drove Lithuanian raiders from Torzhok.
1. Menzel, Wolfgang, Germany from the Earliest Period, p. 480.
This chapter has been published in the book MEDIEVAL EUROPE 610-1250. For ordering information, please click here.