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Sailors from the Scandinavian countries that became Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, who raided river inlets in Europe, were called Vikings. Until they began writing, more is known about their invasions of more literate countries than about their homelands; but later Norse sagas helped fill in their history. By the middle of the eighth century Viking shipbuilding had advanced enough to allow for longer sea voyages. The first major Danish raids occurred during the reign (786-802) of Wessex king Brihtric. Over-population for the land in Scandinavia led to migrations. Breeding was increased by men who could afford it having more than one wife, and younger sons often set out in ships to find new land. The first settlements in Shetland, the Orkneys, and Hebrides were to find grazing land. Trade, however, soon turned to plundering, as Vikings often desired wealth and fame as much as land.
In Norway the legendary Halfdan (called the Black because of his hair) reigned over the region of Agder and divided Vestfold with his brother Olaf. The historian Snorri Sturluson wrote that he was a wise man who made laws that he observed himself and made others observe, believing that violence should not replace the laws. He defined many criminal acts and set compensations, fines, and penalties. Halfdan increased his kingdom by conquest and marriage until he drowned when he was forty about 880. Since his son Harald Fairhair was only ten, his mother's brother Guthorm ruled as regent and fought against those attempting to gain independence.
Harald Fairhair enlarged his territory of Vestfold. Snorri
Sturluson wrote that Harald fought at least eight battles in the
region of Trondheim, killing eight kings. The young king Harald
overcame the older Swedish king Erik. Eventually Hadon Grjotgardsson
recognized Harald's overlordship and ruled Trondelag as earl
(jarl) of Hladir, and Harald married Hadon's daughter. Some
time before 900 Harald's fleet defeated pirates and rebels from
the west at Hafrsfjord. This caused some Norwegians to flee from
Harald to Shetland, Orkney, and the Hebrides, and from these islands
they raided their Norwegian homeland. So Harald attacked them
and claimed Shetland and Orkney, which he gave to the family of
the More earl Rognvald to govern. Rognvald's brother Sigurd was
the first earl of Orkney, and he raided Scotland, conquering Caithness.
After Sigurd and his son Guthorm died, Rognvald sent his son Hallad
to be earl of Orkney; but he failed to stop Viking raids and went
back to Norway in disgrace. Rognvald's youngest son Einar was
given a large ship, and he defeated and killed the Viking leader
Kalf in battle. Harald's sons Halfdan Long-Leg and Gudrod Ljome
killed Rognvald and sixty men by burning his house. When Harald
Fairhair sent his son Halfdan to Orkney, Einar fled but then defeated
him. Harald stopped Halfdan's brothers from avenging his death.
Harald Fairhair appointed earls to collect fines and taxes, from which he took one-third, and the earls became rich. Every earl had at least four hersar, who provided twenty men, while the earls supplied sixty men for the royal army. Harald made property laws over all the lands he conquered by proclaiming that all udal property belonged to him, making bondholders pay him taxes. It was said that Harald put away nine wives when he married King Erik's daughter Ragnhild from Jutland. Harald unified Norway but divided it among his sons, who fought each other. Thorir succeeded his father Rognvald as earl of More. Rognvald's son Rolf (Rollo) settled in Normandy, where the Frank king Charles the Simple recognized him as duke in 911. Rolf agreed to defend the territory against raiders and was baptized the next year. The Normans increased their territory by taking Bessin and Maine in 924 and Cotentin and Avranchin in 933. In old age Harald Fairhair had the son Haakon, whom he sent to be foster son of King Athelstan in England. Harald gave his son Erik authority three years before he died.
About 900 the Swedish king Olaf seized royal power in Denmark by force of arms, and he ruled with his sons Gnupa and Gurd. In 934 Gnupa attacked Frisia but was defeated by German king Heinrich the Fowler. Gnupa's son Sigtryg had his throne taken away by the Norseman Hardegon. After 936 Swedish rule was ended in Denmark, and Gorm the Old ruled at Jelling in Jutland; he was aided by his son Harald Bluetooth, who had succeeded him by 950.
Harald Fairhair's successor Erik was called Bloodaxe because he killed several of his brothers. Haakon was brought up by England's king Athelstan as a Christian. Erik Bloodaxe married Gunnhild, the daughter of Denmark's king Gorm the Old. Haakon returned from England with a force and made an alliance with Earl Sigurd, driving Erik out of Norway in the 940s. Haakon restored the udal rights of the bondholders which Harald had taken away, encouraging many to return from exile. By 948 Erik Bloodaxe had become king in York, but the English drove him out for King Eadred. Erik returned in 952 but two years later was forced out again; he was killed with five other Norse kings at Stanmore in Northumbria. Erik Bloodaxe's widow Gunnhild fled to her brother Harald Bluetooth's court in Jutland and got him to attack Norway. In response Norwegians led by Haakon raided the coasts of Jutland, Zealand, and Danish lands in Sweden. Haakon appointed his nephews Tryggvi Olafsson to defend the Vik and Gudrod Bjornsson to rule another region of eastern Norway. Haakon was called the Good in the sagas for his justice, and he formulated the Gulathing law for Vestland and the Frostathing law for Trondelag. Gulathing law required every three families to supply one man for military service.
During the reign of Haakon the Good, Snorri Sturluson noted that Uplands king Eystein was called the Great by some but the Bad by others because he made war on Nidaros (Trondheim). His persecution caused many Nidaros people to leave their udal properties. Haakon began by practicing his Christianity in private and then persuaded some friends to be baptized. Later he sent for a bishop and teachers from England and invited the people of Trondheim to accept Christianity. At the Frosta Thing his proposal for fasting on Sundays was not popular, and they proclaimed their intention to find a new king if he persisted; but Earl Sigurd persuaded King Haakon to compromise. People were compelling him to offer sacrifices, and conflict was imminent when a Danish invasion of the Vik unified the country for a campaign against Erik's sons and the Danes. They assaulted Norway three times and finally managed to defeat and kill Haakon about 961.
Erik Bloodaxe's five sons and their mother Gunnhild returned to rule central and southwestern Norway. Erik's oldest son Harald Greycloak was a Christian and proceeded to destroy pagan shrines, causing unrest. Earl Sigurd governed Trondheim; but Greycloak got Sigurd's younger brother Grjotgardr to betray him by promising him his earldom. After Sigurd had been burned to death by Greycloak, the people of Trondheim made Sigurd's son Haakon earl; he often battled Gunnhild's sons. After Haakon met with the kings Tryggvi and Gudrod Bjornsson, Greycloak's brother Gudrod arranged a meeting with Tryggvi and treacherously murdered him and twelve men. Then Harald Greycloak murdered Gudrod Bjornsson at a feast. Harald Bluetooth formed an alliance with Earl Haakon, and Greycloak was killed in a battle off Hals about 970. Haakon defeated and hanged the Danish Gold-Harald and made a treaty with Denmark. Haakon still called himself earl but governed the seven western provinces of Norway, while Denmark's Harald Bluetooth ruled the eastern provinces, the Vik and Uppland. Harold compelled Haakon to be baptized; but Haakon went back to the old religion and plundered Gotland.
After witnessing an ordeal of fire Harald Bluetooth had become a Christian and paid homage to German emperor Otto I in 973; but after Otto's death Harald raided Holstein the next year, and Haakon's Norwegians helped him fight against Otto II's large army. Germans and Harald encouraged Haakon to evangelize Norway; but Christianity made little progress there, and the irritated Haakon declared his independence. In 983 while Emperor Otto II was fighting the Saracens in Italy, Harald's son Svein Forkbeard took the opportunity to lead Danes in an attack on Slesvig to drive the Germans south. Probably because Harald was associated with the Christian Germans, his son Svein eventually overthrew him. Harald Bluetooth died after being wounded in the civil battle about 985. Svein Forkbeard attacked Norway about 990, but Joms-Vikings from Wolin led by Earl Sigvald helped Earl Haakon defend the country. Swedes still occupied Denmark, but Svein also failed in his attack against the Swede king Erik the Victorious. According to the story Svein was captured by Slavs and ransomed at great cost.
In Norway Tryggvi Olafsson's son Olaf Tryggvason was proclaimed king about 995 after an eventful youth portrayed later in saga. His mother had escaped Norway and Sweden with the child. Olaf was sold into slavery in Russia; he killed his foster-father's murderer, was ransomed by Sigurd in Esthonia, and was taken to Novgorod, where he was raised by the famous Vladimir for nine years; then Olaf became a Baltic pirate. In 987 he married the Wend princess Geyra and used force to subdue those Wends who had stopped paying her taxes. After Geyra died of illness, Olaf led a raid of England in 991 and was paid to leave by King Aethelred, and he was an ally of Svein Forkbeard in an attack on London in 994. This time the English paid the Vikings 16,000 pounds of silver; Olaf became a Christian and promised not to treat England as an enemy. After winning a duel, Olaf married Gyda, daughter of Dublin king Olaf Kvaran. Olaf Tryggvason then returned to Norway. Haakon had become unpopular for taking prominent daughters as his concubines, and the bondholders drove him out and turned to Olaf. Haakon was murdered by a servant, whom Olaf then had beheaded. Olaf was elected king by a General Thing at Trondheim.
Olaf toured Norway as Haakon's relations and friends fled to Sweden. Olaf demanded that people accept Christianity and punished those who refused. Those who opposed him he had mutilated or killed, driving some into exile. Those accused of sorcery were banished or killed. When Olaf returned to Trondheim, many in the Thing opposed Christianity; so at Maere Olaf agreed to sacrifice but chose prominent men as victims. The bonders then agreed to be baptized, and Olaf kept the men who came to his feast as hostages. Opposition declined after Olaf killed their leader Jern Skiaegge and married his daughter Gudrun, who was dismissed from his bed after she attacked the king with a knife. Olaf sent the priest Thangbrand as a missionary to Iceland in 997. Gudrod was the last surviving son of Erik Bloodaxe and Gunnhild, but he was killed when his revolt against Olaf failed. However, in 1000 an alliance of Denmark's Svein Forkbeard, Sweden's king Olaf Skotkonung, and Earl Haakon's son Erik formed against him, and King Olaf disappeared in the sea battle.
Iceland had been discovered by the Irish; but Norse explorers
began settling on Iceland in the 9th century. By 930 most of the
suitable land had been taken by Norwegians. That year 36 chieftains,
secular priests, and wealthy landowners called godar elected
Ulfljot of Lon to return to Norway, where his uncle Thorleif the
Wise helped him adapt the Gulathing Law for Iceland. When Ulfljot
returned, the 36 godar established the national assembly
or Althing and elected him law-speaker for three years to recite
one-third of the laws each year. In 965 Iceland was divided into
north, south, east, and west, and each quarter held law assemblies
(things) in the spring and fall. Three godar in
each quarter (except one quarter had four) presided and appointed
jurors for local trials.
Thorgeir of Ljosavatn was law-speaker of Iceland for 17 years (985-1001), and in 1000 he proclaimed the adoption of Christianity, though sacrificing in secret was still allowed for a few years to make the transition less violent. Skapti Thoroddsson was law-speaker for 27 years (1004-1030) and established the Fifth Court with 48 jurors in 1005 to handle appeals from the four quarters. Jury decisions were considered unanimous if the minority did not exceed six. Gizur the White was one of the first godar to be baptized by Thangbrand, and Gizur's son Isleif was educated in Germany and became Iceland's first bishop (1056-1080). Isleif was succeeded by his son Gizur Isleifsson (1082-1118), who introduced tithing to help the poor, and he made the first reliable census of farmers for taxing.
In 982 Greenland was explored and named by Erik the Red, who had been banished from both Norway and Iceland for manslaughter. Four years later Erik led 25 ships, 14 of which began a colony on Greenland. About 1000 Erik's son Leif Erikson was the first to explore the North American continent, which he called Vinland. His brother Thorvald was the first to meet natives there; but he was killed by an arrow in hostilities. In the first trading with the natives about 1010 Thorfinn Karlsefni refused to barter weapons but exchanged red cloth and milk for furs. Karlsefni spent three winters there; but conflicts over the women with them and fear of greater strife discouraged the Vikings from returning again, except for one disastrous expedition in which Erik the Red's daughter Freydis killed her two brothers and all the other women.
Svein Forkbeard began attacking England again in 1003 and continued collecting large amounts of silver as tribute. This helped replace the Kufa silver from the mints at Baghdad and Samarkand that ceased coming to the north in the mid-10th century. Between 991 and 1018 the English paid more than 200,000 pounds of silver to Vikings in tribute, and this did not stop until Edward the Confessor made the last payment for mercenaries in 1051. Svein led the Danish conquest of England in 1013 but died the next year. King Svein Forkbeard had not only enriched Denmark, but he also favored Christianity while tolerating pagan practices. Svein was succeeded by his son Harald, who helped his younger brother Knut take over England. After Harald died, Knut went back to claim the Danish throne in 1019; but he soon returned to England, where he also reigned as king.
In Norway Olaf Haraldsson, who had raided under Thorkel the Tall and Normandy's duke Richard, defeated Svein Haakonssson in Trondelag in 1016 and claimed the throne of Norway as a descendant of Harald Fairhair, overthrowing the Danish and Swedish domination. Olaf strictly enforced the law and would not countenance bribery or threats. He energetically made Norway more Christian by destroying pagan shrines and executing, maiming, and taking the property of those who refused to be baptized. The priest Grimkell developed ecclesiastical law at Moster. Olaf demanded that Iceland cede an offshore skerry or pay tribute, and he claimed the Faroese Islands and the Orkneys. Olaf fought Swedish encroachment by hanging their tax collectors who ventured across the mountains and executing two Swedish officers in disputed territory, where he had the town of Sarpsborg fortified. Sweden's king Olaf Skotkonung died in 1022 and was succeeded by his son Onund Jacob, who agreed to attack Denmark with Norway. Their forces were met by Knut's fleet from England in 1026; but after the battle each of the kings returned to his own country. Fearing a sea battle, Norway's Olaf went overland to Sarpsborg, while Knut went on a pilgrimage to Rome, attending the imperial coronation of Conrad II.
Knut attacked Norway with a fleet in 1028; but Olaf Haraldsson lost credibility when he had Erling Skjalgsson murdered after promising him quarter. Olaf fled through Sweden to his kinsman Yaroslav in Russia. Olaf had lost support from some warriors because he had abolished marauding and plundering, punishing those of any class who did so. Knut used money to win over great chiefs and was accepted as Norway's king. Knut proclaimed his son Hordaknut king of Denmark and sent Haakon Eriksson to govern Norway as he returned to England by way of Denmark. When Earl Haakon drowned the next summer, Knut appointed his son Svein with his English mother Aelfgifu, who proceeded to Norway only to find Olaf returning from the east. Sweden's Onund supplied Olaf with 480 men, but according to reports Olaf's army of 3,600 men was no match for Svein's army of 14,400 led by land-owners Kalf Arnason and Thori Hund. Olaf was defeated and killed at Stiklestad in 1030 in Norway's first known land battle. Bishop Grimkell declared Olaf a saint, and miraculous legends regarding Norway's Christian king soon spread.
Aelfgifu tried to impose Danish or English systems of taxation and justice in Norway, and resentment forced her and her son Svein to retreat to southern Norway in 1033 and to Denmark two years later. Norwegian emissaries went to Russia to get Olaf's son Magnus and brought the ten-year-old boy back to Norway. Queen Astrid welcomed Magnus even though he was Olaf's illegitimate son. Magnus was chosen king by the Eyra Thing as Svein fled with his followers. Knut died in England in 1035, followed a few months later by Svein's death in Denmark. Since Hordaknut was busy ruling Denmark, his half-brother Harald Harefood was elected king in England. Magnus met Hordaknut, and they made peace, agreeing that if either died without a son, the survivor would inherit his kingdom. King Magnus fined and took the property of many who had opposed his father Olaf, and Harek was killed. Complaints were made that he was violating the laws Haakon the Good had instituted. Magnus listened and had the Grey Goose (Gragas) law code compiled, earning the name Good for his justice. This law was the most progressive in Europe at that time, providing for the poor and their illegitimate children, standardizing weights and measures, policing markets and sea havens, offering inns for travelers, wages for servants and support during sickness, protection of pregnant women and even domestic animals, and building roads and bridges.
Hordaknut had already gained the support of Magnus to fight for the English throne before his half-brother Harald died in 1040. Hordaknut landed at Sandwich with 62 ships, and the next year his fleet tax on the English raised a staggering 32,000 pounds of silver; but Hordaknut died in 1042, ending Danish rule in England. Magnus arrived with seventy large ships, and the Viborg Thing chose Magnus Olafson as king of Denmark; he appointed Svein, son of Earl Ulf and Knut's sister Estrid, to govern as earl of Jutland and went back to Norway the following year. Magnus was concerned about the Wendish raids on the south Danish coasts, and in 1043 his forces killed a reported 15,000 Wends in Jomsborg. When Svein began calling himself king, Magnus turned his forces against him, causing Svein to retreat to the court of Onund in Sweden.
In Sweden Svein met soldier of fortune, Harald Sigurdsson, who at 15 had fought for his half-brother Olaf at Stiklestad. Svein served Russian king Yaroslav in his Polish campaign of 1031, and as commander of the Byzantines' imperial Varangians he fought in the Greek islands, Asia Minor, the Caucasus, Palestine, Sicily, and Bulgaria. According to Snorri Sturluson's saga Harald wanted to marry Maria, niece of the Empress Zoe, but the latter would not approve because she was in love with Harald herself. When Harald tried to leave Constantinople, he was thrown into a dungeon, charged with misappropriating the booty of Emperor Michael V. A lady helped Harald escape; when Michael deposed Zoe in 1042, Harald and the Varangians blinded Michael. Harald abducted Maria but released her after he escaped from Constantinople. Harald went back to Novgorod and married King Yaroslav's daughter Ellisif before joining forces with Svein Ulfsson in Sweden. When Magnus heard that Harald and Svein were burning and looting in Denmark, he made peace with Harald by giving him half his kingdom of Norway for half the wealth of the rich Harald.
When Magnus tried to claim the throne of England, the saintly Edward wrote back that he would not raise an army but would have to be killed. Upon reflection Magnus decided it was best to let the consecrated Edward rule for him in England. Magnus campaigned against Svein in Denmark; but before he died in 1047, Magnus bequeathed Norway to Harald and his rights in Denmark to Svein. Harald intended to claim the throne of Denmark also; but the powerful Einar Paunch-Shaker refused to support a war abroad for another king's lands. So Harald went back to Norway but later plundered Denmark. In 1056 Iceland suffered a famine, but Harald sent them four ships of grain. However, Harald was called Hard-Ruler and burned some of Norway's farms. Einar was the leader of the farmers; but he and his son Eindridi were murdered while at Harald's court. Haakon Ivarson was related to Eindridi and quarreled with Harald, going to Denmark to fight for Svein for a time. Finn Arnason tried to reconcile Haakon but also went to fight for Denmark, because he blamed Harald for his brother Kalf's death. At Nissa in 1062 Harald's Norwegian forces defeated Svein, who was saved by Haakon. Two years later Svein and Harald finally made a peace treaty.
In 1014 a Viking coalition led by Dublin king Sigtrygg and Orkney earl Sigurd was defeated in the battle at Clontarf. Sigurd was killed as Sigtrygg fled, and Irish king Brian Borumha was also slain. After Sigurd's death, his sons divided control over the Orkney Islands. Einar was murdered in 1020, and Brusi did homage to Norway's king Olaf, who claimed Einar's third; but the younger son Thorfinn refused such fealty and fought the Scot Karl Hundason. Thorfinn succeeded Brusi and came to terms with Brusi's son Rognvald, who was allied with Norway king Magnus, so that together they could raid the Hebrides, Ireland, and England. Then Thorfinn and Rognvald quarreled over control of the Orkneys. After a naval battle, Thorfinn escaped from his burned house and set fire to Rognvald's house and had him killed. Thorfinn reconciled with Magnus, plundered Scotland and Ireland again, and made friends with Norway king Harald. Thorfinn went on a pilgrimage to be forgiven for his sins by the Pope in Rome and died in 1064.
By the mid-11th century the age of Viking raiding was changing to a new era. Norse power in Ireland was reduced in 1052 when Diarmaid of Leinster defeated their Dublin kingdom. Norse influence in Kiev Russia ceased when Yaroslav died in 1054. When Harold became king of England in 1066, his brother Earl Tossig of Northumbria appealed to Denmark's king Svein who declined; but Tossig got Norway's Harald Hard-Ruler to invade England with 300 ships and 9,000 men. They were defeated, and Harald was killed at the battle of Stamford Bridge. Harald's sons Magnus and Olaf Kyrri (the Calm) succeeded as kings of Norway, but Magnus died in 1069. Olaf ruled in peace until 1093. He hired more men in his court; but they did not oppress people, and the country prospered during his reign. Denmark's Svein invaded England in 1070; but he was bought off by Normandy's William and returned to Denmark, where he died about 1075. The Norse chiefs now wanted to stay on their lands in peace, and the only army allowed was the king's. As there were fewer new lands to settle, younger sons had to stay home and farm smaller fields, seek higher pasture, or sell their labor. The institution of slavery declined as fewer captives were acquired.
The story of Denmark's king Knut is told in the Knytlinga
Saga. Before he died in 1074, Svein chose Knut to succeed
him; but to avoid a fight Knut agreed to be earl of Zealand. Knut
led a raid on Northumberland the following year and became king
in 1080 after his older brother Harald died. Knut demanded his
privileges by threatening not to let farmers feed their pigs in
the forest or others fish in the ocean. Those leading the opposition
against him he had executed. Knut strictly enforced the laws by
executing or mutilating thieves as well as murderers, whether
rich or poor. Knut dismissed Egil for plundering and later had
him hanged. Knut IV patronized the Church and founded a Benedictine
abbey at Odense. He was unpopular for his punishments and for
levying tithes on the rural aristocracy. Knut married the Flemish
princess Adele, and their son Charles the Good would also suffer
a martyr's death like his father. Knut was planning to invade
England with the count of Flanders and Norwegian king Olaf III;
but they paused fearing an attack from the Wends, who feared the
expedition was aimed at them.
The restless Danes sent Knut's brother Olaf to him; but Knut sent Olaf in chains to Count Baldwin in Flanders. The Norwegians went home, and Knut traveled with a larger retinue. This provoked a peasant tax revolt led by Thord Wether. Knut sent the Thurgunnuson brothers with sixty men; but they were repulsed with stones and missiles. When King Knut sent Toli, Thord killed him with a spear. The rebellion grew, and Knut sent Queen Adele and their son Charles to her father in Flanders. Earl Asbjorn told the king he only pretended to join the farmers, and Knut asked for reconciliation; but Asbjorn was spying on his forces and told the farmers that Knut threatened them. Knut and his brothers Benedict and Erik took refuge in an Odense church he had founded. Others fought at the doorway while Knut prayed. Eyvind entered to talk but murdered Knut on July 10, 1086. Erik escaped; Benedict fought and was killed; then the Thorgunnusons surrendered. According to the saga Earl Asbjorn was killed by rats, and Thord died in a horse accident. The Thorgunnusons replaced Olaf in the Flanders dungeon until the new king's ransom was paid; but King Olaf refused to pay it. Baldwin let the brothers go to raise the ransom themselves. The saga indicated that customs and morals were bad in Denmark during the reign of the greedy Olaf (1086-1095). Miracles were attributed to Knut, and he was canonized in 1101, becoming the patron saint of Denmark.
About 1075 Adam of Bremen described the nations of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. He wrote that in Denmark unchaste women were sold off, and men found guilty of a crime preferred beheading to flogging. The Danes detested crying and sorrow so much that they did not grieve for their sins or their dead loved ones. Adam believed the Swedes cared nothing for gold, silver, horses, and furs, but they loved women and usually had two, three, or more wives. However, they used beheading for punishing intercourse with a neighbor's wife, for raping a virgin, and for plundering a neighbor's property or doing him injury. Swedes excelled in hospitality and rivaled each other in entertaining strangers. The Swedish monarch's power was limited by the will of the people. Adam described the Norwegians as pirates, who lived off their livestock and were quite frugal, though he heard that their priests were greedy.
The Vikings had three social classes - the aristocratic kings and earls who inherited wealthy estates as the eldest sons; free peasant farmers and warriors; and the thralls or serfs who worked the land. Killing a thrall was not considered a major crime. Denmark was organized into about 200 districts, each with its own assembly called the Thing. Decisions were thus democratic, but their enforcement by a weaker victim against a strong aggressor could be problematic. Honor often led to settling disputes by duels, and a poor thief unable to pay for what was stolen could be hanged.
Norse myths were told in the Poetic Eddas, but they were not written down until the 13th century. Counsel given in the "Sayings of the High One" (Havamal) gives an idea of the early wisdom. The first stanza warns listeners to watch out for enemies, but in the second givers are blessed. Fire, food, clothing, and water are considered necessary, but so is wisdom, though the intelligent do not boast. The careful guest watches and listens while keeping silent. Common sense is better than riches, which are the resort of the wretched. The worst provision to carry is to be too drunk on ale, for the more one drinks the less one knows about human nature; drinking steals wits and makes one forgetful. A prince's son should be silent and thoughtful but bold in fighting. The foolish think they will live forever and make fun of everything, not realizing they have faults. The fool worries all night and finds things just as bad in the morning. Fools think they know everything but cannot answer questions. A quick tongue can cause trouble; the wise retreat when guests insult each other. Even a beloved person is loathed after sitting too long in someone else's hall. Having a small farm of your own is better. Mutual givers and receivers make the longest friends.
A coward may avoid enemies, but no one can escape old age. Visitors should not outstay their welcome. One should be friendly to friends of one's friends but not to friends of one's enemies. One who wishes to take another's life must get up early like the wolf. One should speak fairly to those one does not trust, but to these the poem advises thinking falsely and repaying treachery with lies. The generous and brave live best, because the cowardly fear everything, and the miser sighs when given gifts. The poem suggests that moderate wisdom is better than being too wise, for the latter are seldom cheerful or carefree. One should get up early and work thoughtfully. The wise ask and answer questions. The lame can ride a horse; the handless drive herds; the deaf may succeed, and even being blind is better than being burned, for a corpse is useless. Many are fooled by money. Cattle die; relatives die; the self must die; but one's reputation never dies. The poet warns against trusting the words of a girl or a woman, because their hearts are made on a whirling wheel; but the hearts of men are fickle toward women too. Yet no one should ever reproach another for love, for often the wise are seized more than the foolish.
Also beware that thieves do not fool you. No person is so good as to be free of evil, nor is anyone so bad as to have no value. Do not confide in a bad person, who will never repay your open heart with good. Never quarrel with a fool. The wise refrain from fighting, but a fool will fight without cause or reason. Do not break an alliance with a friend, or you will grieve for the loss of a friend in whom you may confide. Then advice is given that will be useful if you learn it, beginning each refrain with "Do you good if you have it."1 The listener is advised not to sleep in the arms of a witch nor to entice another man's wife. Don't tell your misfortunes to the wicked but be friendly with the good. Never mock a guest or wanderer nor laugh at old sages. The poem concludes by offering eighteen spells for various situations.
Edward succeeded his father Alfred as king of Wessex in 899 while eastern England was divided between various Danish armies. Edward's cousin Aethelwold was the son of King Aethelred I and challenged Edward's right; but finding little support, Aethelwold barricaded himself in the royal estates of Wimborne and Christchurch, taking a nun for a wife. Edward drove him out, and Aethelwold retreated across the channel and went to Northumberland to gain Danish allies; but he was killed along with the Danish king Eohric after they attacked Mercia and northern Wessex in 902. Territories were settled according to the treaty Alfred had made with Guthrum in 886. Edward replaced the dioceses of Winchester and Sherborne with five smaller ones by adding bishops in Ramsbury, Wells, and Crediton. Every man was considered worthy of his "folkright," and the king's reeves were instructed to hold "moots" once a month. Edward's ordering that buying and selling must occur in "ports" helped transform the boroughs from military functions to centers of trade and industry.
In 909 Edward sent an army of West Saxons and Mercians to attack Danes in Northumbria, and the next year the Danes retaliated against Mercia; but three of their kings were killed when a Wessex army won a decisive victory near Tettenhall. In 911 Mercia's ealdorman Aethelred died, and his widow Aethelflaed, Edward's sister, ruled Mercia for nearly eight years, ordering the building of strategic fortifications. The next year Edward confronted a Danish army in Essex and in 914 the Vikings from Brittany that were invading Wales. These battles continued, though Edward persuaded earl Thurketil to leave England in 916 with some followers. The Danes had difficulty cooperating with each other, though five armies occupied Tempsford, while Aethelflaed's forces took over Derby for Mercia. When English soldiers from the midlands stormed Tempsford and killed all its defenders, including the Danish king of East Anglia, the tide of the war turned. Vikings led by Raegnald attacked the Scots in 918, returned to Northumbria, and took over York the next year.
After Aethelflaed died, Edward took her daughter Aelfwynn to Wessex and ruled Mercia himself. Three Welsh kings, including Idwal of Gwyned and Hywel of Dyfed, also submitted to Edward. Danes also recognized the authority of Edward as he now ruled all England south of the Humber, though Vikings led by Raegnald's cousin Sihtric invaded Mercia in 920 with an army from Dublin. Edward marched his army north, and according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle the Scots, Raegnald of York, Ealdred of Bamburgh, and all the people in Northumbria and Strathclyde submitted to English king Edward. Actually Edward recognized the Viking kingdom in York that in 921 Raegnald left to Sihtric nor did he probably have much real power north of the Humber. Edward died in 924 while suppressing a rebellion in Chester.
In 925 Edward's son Athelstan was crowned king of Wessex, and he apparently ruled Mercia as well. York king Sihtric made an alliance with Athelstan and in 926 married Athelstan's sister; but Sihtric died the next year and was succeeded by his young son Olaf, who was assisted by his uncle Guthfrith from Dublin. When Athelstan invaded Northumbria, Olaf fled to Ireland while Guthfrith went to the king of the Scots. In 927 Athelstan got the kings of Scotland and Strathclyde and the English lord of Bamburgh to recognize his authority and promise to suppress idolatry. Guthfrith escaped and besieged York but retreated and surrendered to Athelstan, who let him return to Ireland. Athelstan then destroyed the York fortifications, which had been built by the Danes. Athelstan consolidated the west by making Welsh princes pay annual tribute that included a reported 25,000 oxen. Hywel Da of Dyfed was particularly influenced by English customs and promulgated an influential law code. Athelstan frequently held national councils attended by thegns, earls, ealdormen, bishops, and abbots that included Danes. His laws indicated concern about thieves as lords were made to account for their men. Athelstan often showed mercy and exempted those under 15 from the death penalty.
Athelstan invaded Scotland by land and sea in 934; but the Scots did not resist and were merely raided. However, three years later the kings of Scotland and Strathclyde joined with Guthfrith's son Olaf from Dublin in an invasion of England. Five kings and seven earls from Ireland were killed, and losses of the victorious English were also heavy. This battle was celebrated by the West Saxons and Mercians in a poem as taking place at Brunanburh. Frank king Charles the Simple had married Edward's daughter Eadgifu, who brought their son Louis to Athelstan's court until he returned to be crowned king at Laon in 936. When German king Otto invaded Lotharingia, Athelstan sent a fleet to assist Louis, but they only raided the coast across the channel.
Athelstan died in 939 and was succeeded by his 18-year-old brother Edmund. Within a few weeks Dublin king Olaf Guthfrithson invaded and took over York before raiding the midlands. Edmund's army met his at Leicester, but the archbishops of Canterbury and York arranged a treaty giving Olaf the region between Watling Street and the Humber. The next year Olaf invaded Northumbria; but he died and was succeeded by his cousin Olaf Sihtricson, who lost the gained territory to Edmund in 942. The next year the Northumbrians chose Raegnald as king, and both he and Olaf were baptized at Edmund's court. When Olaf and Raegnald began fighting, Edmund expelled both with his army. A poem celebrated Edmund's victories in reconquering the five boroughs of Mercia and claimed that the loyal Danes were rescued from the Norse invaders. Next Edmund with Welsh allies invaded Strathclyde, where he had King Dunmail's two sons blinded. Edmund gave Strathclyde to the Scot king Malcolm (r. 942-952); but within a few years Dunmail was ruling again. Canterbury archbishop Oda (a Dane) urged the king to humanize his laws. Family feuds were prevented when Edmund's laws pronounced that a murderer's kinsmen could not be held liable if they did not support the crime, and revenge could only be taken on the killer himself. In 946 while trying to defend his steward, Edmund was stabbed to death by a criminal.
Since Edmund's two sons were too young, he was succeeded by his brother Eadred, who was also accepted as king of Northumbria until Norway's fleeing king Erik Bloodaxe arrived there. Eadred invaded with his army and though they were defeated at first, they forced the Northumbrians to abandon Erik lest their country be destroyed. In 949 Olaf Sihtricson came back from Dublin and was accepted by the Northumbrians as king until Erik returned to drive out Olaf in 952. Erik Bloodaxe ruled in York for two years but then was expelled by the Northumbrians in 954, and Eadred took over Northumbria again. Eadred died in the next year, leaving a large sum of money to be used to buy peace from pagan armies. Eadred had no children and so was succeeded by Edmund's elder son Eadwig, who was about 15 and was assisted by ealdormen from Mercia, Essex, and East Anglia. Eadwig offended the aristocracy at his coronation when Glastonbury abbot Dunstan found him cavorting with a noble woman and her daughter Aelgifu, whom he later married. These women caused King Eadwig to banish Dunstan.
In 957 Mercia and Northumbria selected his younger brother Edgar as their king. When Eadwig died two years later, Edgar also became king of Wessex. Edgar recalled Dunstan and made him archbishop of Canterbury. In return for their loyalty Edgar allowed the Danes much autonomy in their local affairs, and soon "Danelaw" would refer to the regulations in the Danish shires of England. Edgar was called "the Pacific" by chronicler Roger of Wendover, and his reign was remarkably free of wars. According to Roger, Edgar assembled a navy to defend the coasts of England from foreign nations, and he replaced debased coins with a new coinage for all England. Shires were divided into smaller judicial districts called "hundreds," some of which were under monastic authority. In the emerging feudal system people were under their own personal lord, the lord of the hundred, and the king.
Edgar was credited with building more than forty monasteries, nearly doubling the land endowments of the English church. Edgar appointed Oda's nephew Oswald to the see of Worcester and Aethelwold to Winchester; they were influenced by stricter discipline in the Frank monasteries at Cluny and Fleury and began insisting on chastity for all ordained men and women. These prelates and Dunstan fought drunkenness and immorality among the clergy. Aethelwold even made clerks take vows or had their property confiscated. At Edgar's request Aethelwold translated the Rule of Benedict into English, and he also wrote the monastic Regularis Concordia for the Anglican nation from continental models. Aelfric abridged this Latin work for his monks at Eynsham and wrote a biography of his master Aethelwold. In 991 Aelfric published Catholic Homilies in English on the saints whose festivals the English celebrated so that the poor could have more knowledge of Christian ideas. Aelfric emphasized the virtues of industry, patience, and moderation, and he warned against cursing and speaking evil. In 998 Aelfric wrote his Lives of the Saints for Ealdorman Aethelweard and his son.
Edgar died in 975; his elder son Edward had offended many with his violence, and his rule was soon challenged. Some, such as Mercia ealdorman Aelfhere, began destroying monasteries Edgar had founded. Edward was murdered while visiting his half-brother Aethelred in March 978. No one was punished for the crime, and Aethelred was crowned a month later at the age of ten. Vikings raided the coastline at Hampshire, Thanet, and Cheshire in 980, Devon and Cornwall in the next year, and Dorset in 982. The next reported attack was not until 988 when it was met by Devon thegns. Hostility between the courts of England and Normandy developed, and in 990 Pope John XV sent an envoy to mediate a treaty that was signed the next year. That year Norway's exiled Olaf Tryggvason led forces that burned Ipswich, defeating and killing Essex duke Brihtnoth at Maldon. Aethelred began a series of a large payments to Vikings by giving them 22,000 pounds of gold and silver to depart. In 994 Denmark's Svein Forkbeard and Olaf Tryggvason attacked England with 94 warships, and the English agreed to pay 16,000 pounds of silver; Svein returned to Denmark, and Olaf agreed not to fight the English anymore.
The next Viking raiders arrived in 997 and did not stop harrying the Wessex coast until they went to Normandy for the summer of 1000. During this lull Aethelred's army devastated Strathclyde. Viking raiders returned in 1001 and were paid 24,000 pounds the next year. Aethelred married Emma, sister of Normandy duke Richard II, as his second wife. That year on St. Brice's day Aethelred, afraid of an uprising against him, ordered all Danish men in England killed. Although this outrageous command obviously could not be carried out in many areas, a slaughter was reported in Oxford, and the hostage Gunnhild, sister of Denmark king Svein, was a victim and became a cause for revenge. Svein led a large invasion the next year, and in 1004 his fleet pillaged Norwich in East Anglia, which began negotiating for peace. Ulfkell Snilling raised a force and was defeated but not without inflicting heavy casualties, causing the Vikings to leave. They returned in 1006, occupied Sandwich, and raided the southeast. The next year they departed with a tribute of 36,000 pounds.
Mercia was given its own commander in Eadric Streona as ealdorman, and the English spent two years building warships. Eadric's brother Brihtric accused Sussex thegn Wulfnoth of treason, and Wulfnoth took twenty ships to engage in piracy. Brihtric pursued him with eighty ships; but a storm drove his ships ashore, where they were burned by Wulfnoth's men. The fleet was so weak that it abandoned Sandwich for London, while a Danish force with Jomsberg warriors led by Thorkell the Tall anchored at Sandwich in 1009. London held out; but Oxford was burned, and Ipswich was stormed with difficulty. In 1011 Canterbury was taken, and Archbishop Aelfheah refused a separate ransom for him even though the English paid 48,000 pounds. Thorkell offered all he had but could not stop Aelfheah's murder. When the Vikings departed at the end of 1012, Thorkell joined King Aethelred with his 45 ships.
Svein returned again in 1013 and was accepted as king in the eastern Danelaw regions. They invaded Wessex, and after London finally fell, Aethelred joined his wife he had already sent to Normandy. When Svein died in February 1014, the Danish sailors accepted his son Knut as their king. English nobles went to Aethelred and made him promise certain reforms before they agreed to support his return. Aethelred then led an expedition against the Danes at Lindsey, and Knut withdrew to Denmark after mutilating the hostages his father had taken. Aethelred then destroyed Lindsey and many of its people for their having supported the Danes. Knut gathered a strong force that included Norway's famous Erik of Hlathir and Thorkell the Tall, who came from England with nine warships. Eadric of Mercia treacherously murdered Siferth and Morcar, two prominent thegns of the northern Danelaw, and Aethelred confiscated their estates and ordered Siferth's widow Ealdgyth arrested; but his son Edmund, against his father's will, married Ealdgyth and claimed their property. Archbishop Wulfstan of York preached a famous sermon that God was punishing England because of its moral degradation.
Plotting between Edmund and his brother-in-law Eadric resulted in Eadric going over to Knut's side with forty ships when the Danes arrived in 1015. While King Aethelred was ill, Edmund raised an army and joined with Northumbrian earl Uhtred to fight Eadric and Knut's invaders; but they did so by devastating the lands of Cheshire, Staffordshire, and Shropshire, allowing Knut to invade the Danelaw. Uhtred returned north and submitted to Knut but was murdered, and Knut gave his earldom of Northumbria to the capable Erik. Edmund joined his father at London. When Aethelred died, local magnates chose Edmund as king; but a larger assembly at Southampton elected Knut sovereign when he promised good government. The opposing forces fought six major battles. After the battle of Otford Eadric told Edmund he was changing to his side; but in the battle at Ashingdon Eadric's men fled, and Edmund's army was defeated. Eadric persuaded Edmund to negotiate, and Knut agreed to let Edmund pay tribute and rule south of the Thames; but when Edmund died in 1016, Knut became king of all England.
In 1017 Knut divided England in four parts when he allowed Eadric to rule Mercia and Thorkell the Tall East Anglia, while the Norwegian Erik still governed Northumbria, and Knut himself ruled Wessex. Although he had two sons by Aelgifu of Northampton, Knut married Aethelred's widow Emma while her sons Alfred and Edward were being educated at Rouen. Edmund's infant sons were sent to Denmark and ended up at the court of Hungary. Within a few months Eadric was suspected of treason and executed without a trial, and Mercia reverted to its earldoms. Also three other prominent nobles were killed. Knut's navy destroyed thirty Viking ships that had approached the English coast. Forty of his ships were retained in England, and the rest were sent back to Denmark. The crews were paid with 10,500 pounds exacted from London and a Danegeld of 72,000 pounds from the rest of England. Knut's armed guard of about 3,000 or so Danes called Housecarls became the basis for a standing army. Scotland's king Malcolm II Mackenneth (r. 1005-1034) won possession of Lothian in the battle of Carham on Tweed in 1018.
Knut decided that the legal relationships developed during Edgar's reign should be the basis of his government, and the members of the council (witan) all swore to observe "Edgar's law." A law code under Knut's name was eventually drawn up that emphasized religious duties as much as civil ones. The king could only legislate with the consent of his witan, and the slave trade was denounced. Godwin aided Knut by fighting with him in Norway and was appointed Earl of Wessex. When Knut went to Scandinavia and then to Rome in 1027, he wrote to the English that these travels were for England's security, and he gained freedom for travelers, who had been subjected to numerous tolls. He also got Pope John XIX to relinquish the payment for archbishoprics as simony. Knut reduced his navy to sixteen ships.
When Knut died in 1035, he wanted his eldest son Hordaknut to succeed him; but he was ruling in Denmark. Although Queen Emma and Earl Godwin supported Hordaknut, the next year a council at Oxford elected as regent Knut's younger son by Aelfgifu, Harald Harefoot. Emma was to live at Winchester with Hordaknut's housecarls; but Harald sent a force to Winchester to take the treasury. In 1036 Aethelred's son Alfred came to join his mother Emma, but he was arrested by Godwin, who destroyed Alfred's followers. Alfred was blinded and died, though Godwin disclaimed responsibility and was acquitted in a trial. By 1037 Aelfgifu had enough nobles swearing fealty to Harald that he was acknowledged as king, and Emma fled to Flanders, where Hordaknut gathered a force. Before he could invade, Harald died in March 1040. Three months later Hordaknut arrived with 62 warships to claim the crown. After two of his tax collectors were murdered by a mob in Worcester, Hordaknut sent his housecarls, who killed many and burned Worcester. A chronicle reported that Hordaknut broke a pledge and killed Northumbrian earl Eadwulf, giving this earldom to York earl Siward, and it was also said that he sold vacant bishoprics. Hordaknut invited Aethelred's other son Edward to England and adopted him as his heir. When Hordaknut died in 1042, Edward was elected king, ending Dane rule in England.
In the 9th century the disintegration of the Carolingian empire and the dangers of Viking raids resulted in the development of feudal relationships for mutual protection. This process was accelerated with the Edict of Mersen in 847 when the three sons of Louis the Pious, kings Lothar, Louis, and Charles, made the following declaration:
We will moreover that each free man in our kingdom shall choose a lord,
from us or our faithful, such a one as he wishes.
We command moreover that no man shall leave his lord
without just cause, nor should any one receive him,
except in such a way as was customary in the time of our predecessors.
And we wish you to know that
we want to grant right to our faithful subjects,
and we do not wish to do anything to them against reason.
Similarly we admonish you and the rest of our faithful subjects
that you grant right to your men
and do not act against reason toward them.
And we will that the man of each one of us in whosoever kingdom he is,
shall go with his lord against the enemy,
or in his other needs unless there shall have been (as may there not be)
such an invasion of the kingdom as is called a landwer,
so that the whole people of that kingdom shall go together to repel it.2
Thirty years later departing Charles the Bald assembled a council at Quierzy and assured the nobles in his famous capitulary that their offices were not only permanent but hereditary as well so that now the titles of dukes, counts, and marquises meant not only honors, dignity, and privileges but sovereign rights too. Eventually the king had little money and land to give away, and the church would not give up what it had. After the abdication of Charles the Fat in 887 the three kingdoms soon broke into seven, namely Francia (France), Navarre, Provence, Burgundy, Lotharingia (Lorraine), Alemannia (Germany), and Italy. These also were disintegrating into regional powers. France, for example, by the end of the 9th century had been broken into about 29 provinces or petty states governed by dukes, counts, marquises, and viscounts. By the end of the tenth century these great fiefs had become no less than 55 such fiefdoms. After 888 legislative measures did not come from the king. Castle walls became refuges against the Vikings, but they could also be used by brigands.
Yet in the 10th and 11th centuries a new order developed in local regions under individual sovereigns or tyrants, as the case may be. Dukes and counts usually remained vassals of the king; but they dominated the vassals under them. The church might challenge these aristocratic tyrannies, but archbishops and bishops often participated in similar power arrangements. Private ownership tended to dominate rather than spiritual considerations, and episcopal authority waned. Popular elections of bishops were replaced by appointments. Power was based on territorial ownership, and local sovereignty was manifested by conducting trials, enforcing law, making war, and taxing. Thus the king reigned over a confederation of petty sovereigns and despots, who had power over and were supposed to protect their dependent subjects. The essential value that made this system work was loyalty in the fealty each vassal pledged to his lord. Since even dukes and counts were usually vassals of kings, such subservience lost its stigma. These feudal contracts were based on the homage of the vassal and investiture of land by the lord that was represented by a charter, flag, staff, or some other symbol. Thus feudal tenure of land became the most common means of holding land although allodial right or complete ownership still existed in parts of Europe.
Charles III (called the Simple for being straightforward) had been consecrated king by Rheims archbishop Fulk in 898. Flanders count Baldwin II (r. 879-918) tried to eliminate Fulk's power by having him murdered in 900, but Fulk's work was carried on by his successor Archbishop Herveus (900-922), who convened a synod for reform at Trosly in 909. The synod condemned charges levied on priests by laymen who had appointed them, and tithes were exempted from such seizure. Charles came to terms with Rolf (Rollo) and the Normans in 911 by allowing them to settle in the counties of Rouen, Lisieux, and Evreux and other lands that became known as Normandy in exchange for their protection against Viking attacks. Rolf married Charles' daughter Gisela and was baptized the next year. The Normans prospered in the best policed province and gradually adopted the French language and customs. When Louis the Child died in 911, Lotharingia led by Reginar went over to Charles but not without a fight from the next German king Conrad. Reginar was succeeded by his son Gilbert in 915.
In 910 Aquitane's William the Pious had founded the famous monastery at Cluny that began the movement for reforms such as enforcing the celibacy of clergy, eliminating simony (paying money for ecclesiastical offices), and rejecting secular control. The second abbot of Cluny, Odo (926-941) secured the right of free elections and the abbot's privilege to oversee other monasteries. Abbot Odo also wrote the Life of Saint Gerald about a warrior who protected the weak and the church so nobly that he never even wounded anyone.
Vikings invaded Brittany in 918, and by the next year they were using Nantes as a base in the Loire valley. Disgusted after being put off by Charles' chief advisor Haganon, nobles at Soissons in 920 renounced their loyalty to the Frank king. Two years later Francia duke Robert was crowned king in Rheims cathedral and was supported by his son-in-law Raoul (Radulf) of Burgundy. Haganon hired Norman mercenaries, and in 923 Robert was killed by Fulbert in a battle near the Aisne; but Robert's son Hugh and his brother-in-law Herbert of Vermandois won the victory that left a reported 18,000 dead. Hugh asked his sister Emma who should be king, and she chose her husband Raoul over her brother. The Normans seized Bayeux and Séez in 924.
Charles the Simple fled to Heinrich's Saxon court at Bonn and turned to Herbert, who betrayed and imprisoned Charles before joining Raoul against the Normans; Raoul was seriously wounded, while a thousand Normans were killed. Rolf died and was succeeded by his son William Longsword as duke of Normandy. In 925 Herbert managed to get his son Hugh ordained archbishop of Rheims at the age of five. Herbert also wanted Laon for his son Odo; but Raoul refused until Herbert brought Charles out of prison and took him to the Normandy court of William, who did homage to him as king. So in 928 Raoul gave Herbert Laon, and Charles was put back in prison, where he died the next year. After Louis the Blind died in 928, Raoul traveled to Vienne and accepted the homage of his cousin Charles Constantine, son of Louis, as count. Vikings led by Rognvald had pillaged Burgundy but were defeated in 925. Raoul defeated the Normans at Limoges in 930, made the monk Artoldus archbishop of Rheims in 931, and with the help of Hugh he waged war for two years against Herbert. That year Normandy duke William crushed a revolt in Brittany, and in 933 he did homage to King Raoul, gaining the dioceses of Cotentin and Avranchin. Germany's Heinrich mediated a reconciliation between Herbert and Raoul in 935, but Raoul became ill and passed away in 936 without a male heir.
Robert's son Hugh, not content with his titles as Marquess of Neustria, Count of Paris, and abbot of five places, called himself Duke of the Franks. He sent emissaries to England to negotiate the return of Louis, son of Charles the Simple. Louis IV (r. 936-954) was crowned king at Laon, and Hugh brought him to Burgundy to challenge the dukedom of Raoul's brother Hugh the Black. In 938 Lotharingia duke Gilbert persuaded the young king to invade that often disputed territory. Hugh and Herbert of Vermandois opposed this and drove Archbishop Artoldus from Rheims so that Herbert once again could put his son Hugh in that position. Then these rebels besieged Laon. Otto's German army was fighting for Lotharingia, and Hugh and Herbert accepted his alliance by doing him homage at Attigny. Louis fled into Burgundy but met with Otto on the Meuse in 942, and Pope Stephen VIII warned that those fighting King Louis would be excommunicated. Duke Hugh submitted, and Herbert died in 943. Yet that year Hugh gained control over Burgundy by making Hugh the Black his vassal.
After William I of Normandy was invited by Count Arnulf (r. 918-965) to Flanders, where he was murdered in 942, Louis tried to regain some Norman territory by visiting his successor Richard I (r. 942-996). The Danish leader Sihtric sailed a fleet up the Seine and was welcomed by pagans. King Louis IV and Duke Hugh defeated several pagan bands of Normans. However, when Danes captured Louis, they turned him over to Hugh. After several months and threats from England's king Edmund, German king Otto, and the Pope, Hugh released Louis in exchange for Laon. In 946 Louis and his queen Gerberga appealed to her brother Otto, and he helped them recapture Rheims in order to restore Artoldus. In 948 a council presided over by a legate of Pope Agapetus II at Ingelheim excommunicated Hugh of Vermandois and warned the Frank duke Hugh he would be too if he did not submit, which he did in 950. Since the Magyars had been repelled from Germany in 937, they had been invading the Frank realm. In 954 they pillaged Vermandois, the region around Laon and Rheims, and also Burgundy. That year Louis died after falling from his horse and was succeeded by his oldest son Lothair.
King Lothair (r. 954-986) assisted Frank duke Hugh in his effort to regain the duchy of Poitiers by siege in 955, and three years later Hugh marched against the count of Poitou. Duke Hugh died, and King Lothair settled the inheritance dispute between his sons Hugh Capet and Otto by investing the latter with Burgundy in 960. After his son Baldwin died, Arnulf of Flanders in 962 donated his duchy to the king. After Arnulf died, Lothair invaded most of Flanders in 965 but was stopped by the Flemings; the king would later lose Douai and Arras. Lothair sent Rheims archdeacon and logic professor Gerann as his legate to Otto I in Rome, and in 972 Gerann brought Gerbert to Rheims, where archbishop Adalbero made this scholar head of the cathedral school. Both Gerbert and Adalbero supported Emperor Otto II of Germany. After Lothair's forces drove Otto II out of Aachen in 978, the German king got revenge two years later when his army of 60,000 plundered the country around Rheims, Laon, and Soissons before they occupied Paris and sang "Hallelujah," though Otto II lost his baggage and rearguard while crossing the flooded Aisne.
In 979 Lothair had his son Louis crowned at Compiegne and gave him the kingdom of Aquitane, though three years later Lothair had to help his son withdraw from Auvergne. Louis brought back softer southern customs that were mocked by the hardy northerners. When Lothair was trying Adalbero for treason in 985, Duke Hugh Capet broke up the council at Compiegne. After Lothair died in 986, Louis V so distrusted Adalbero and Gerbert that he marched his army to Rheims; but Adalbero chose a trial rather than a battle that convened at Compiegne in May 987. A few days later Louis V died while hunting, though later chroniclers suspected he and his father might have been poisoned by his wife.
His uncle Charles, duke of Lower Lotharingia, claimed he should
rule as a Carolingian; but Adalbero argued that they should select
a man who excels in worldly stature and thoughtfulness, who would
protect them and be a devoted father, namely Hugh Capet. Hugh
was crowned at Noyon on July 3, 987, and in December at Orleans
his son Robert was made co-ruler. Charles captured Laon the next
year. In 989 a church council at Charroux declared the Peace of
God and forbade force being used to enter churches or usurp property
from peasants. At the Council of Le Puy the next year Le Puy bishop
Guy of Anjou urged all men to become sons of peace. When Adalbero
died in 989, King Hugh disappointed Gerbert by selecting as the
next archbishop Arnulf, the illegitimate son of Lothair. Arnulf
opened the gates of Rheims to the army of Charles, though he pretended
he was being captured by Charles. Hugh appealed Arnulf's treachery
to Pope John XV with no result. In 991 Laon bishop Ascelin betrayed
Charles and Arnulf into the hands of Hugh. Both kings organized
the trial of Arnulf, who confessed he ordered the gates unlocked.
Gerbert was then elected archbishop of Rheims although Pope John
XV never recognized the deposition of Arnulf. When the count of
Montreuil stole the relics of St. Riquier, King Hugh went to war
against him in order to get them back.
King Hugh Capet died in 996, and he was succeeded by his son Robert II. Although he had studied under Gerbert at Rheims, Robert had caused scandal by divorcing his wives Suzanne, daughter of Berengar II, and Willa. Robert wanted to marry his cousin Bertha, widow of Chartres count Odo, and he did so after he became king; but Gerbert refused to sanction the marriage, because Robert was also godfather to a child of Bertha. In 997 the German Pope Gregory V, who had been driven out of Rome by Crescentius II, convened a synod at Pavia with no one from France that suspended all bishops who had deposed Arnulf, and he also summoned Robert to account for his incestuous marriage or face excommunication. Unable to function as Rheims archbishop, Gerbert went to Otto III, who made him his secretary. King Robert was excommunicated in 998 and hoped Bertha would bear him a son; finally he regained papal approval by dismissing Bertha and contracting a marriage with Constance, daughter of the Toulouse count. At the change of the millennium religious fears that the world might end were soon transformed into joy in the new era, and the Gothic style of Christian art began to develop. Duke William of Guienne at the Poitiers council he summoned in 1000 proposed that those who refused to settle disputes by means of justice instead of arms should be excommunicated. France's Robert made this the rule in his kingdom.
In Normandy Duke Richard II (r. 996-1026) had absorbed French customs and feudal chivalry to the extent that he was one of the first to use the word "gentlemen" to describe those he wanted to have around him. Yet in 997 when peasants tried to hold meetings and make their own laws at an assembly with two representatives from each district, Richard ordered his uncle, Count Rudolf of Ivry, to crush the revolt; these deputies and other rebels were cruelly mutilated by cutting off their hands and feet, thus discouraging others. In 1001 Duke Richard appointed William of Dijon to run the monastery at Féchamp, and William set up schools that were free to all including slaves. William ruled that monastery, Saint-Bénigne, and others until he died in 1031. Richard II maintained peace with England while the Danes ruled there. Richard II left Normandy to his oldest son, who became Richard III; but in 1028 his younger brother Robert (called Magnificent by some and Devil by others) usurped the dukedom by poisoning Richard III and his chief barons at a feast.
When Burgundy duke Henri died in 1002 with no heir, Macon count Odo-William, his adopted son, claimed the territory; but King Robert II besieged Auxerre with his army and pillaged the surrounding country for nearly two years. Avallon and Auxerre capitulated in 1005; but resistance continued for ten more years before Robert controlled the duchy. When Queen Constance complained about one of the king's favorites, her uncle Anjou count Fulk the Black (r. 987-1040) sent twelve knights to stab him in 1008. The ambitious Fulk expanded his territory by defeating Blois count Odo II (r. 996-1037) in 1016 at Pontlevoy, and in 1026 Fulk took from him the stronghold of Saumur, pillaging and burning everything including the church of St. Florent. In 1016 at Verdun nobles swore not to impress clerics nor peasants nor raid crops nor take livestock.
King Robert II maintained friendly relations with Heinrich II of Germany, meeting in 1006 and again in 1023. In the latter meeting they discussed a universal peace pact for France and Germany and eventually for all Christendom. Four years later the Truce of God was proclaimed by church authorities in Aquitane to regulate warfare with specific laws. Military attacks were prohibited after sunset on Wednesday until sunrise on Monday as well as on all fast days and feast days. Most of Gaul adopted this beneficial law as lords swore to uphold it. All churches, unarmed clerics, and monks were declared inviolable, and peasants, flocks, and farming implements were protected. King Robert II was known for his piety and composed several hymns that were adopted by the church. He cared for the poor even though Queen Constance objected. Yet Manichaean heretics were burned to death, and Jews were also persecuted. William of Dijon and Richard of St. Vannes criticized the prelates for being hirelings rather than preachers. In 1026 Guifred of Cerdagne was made archbishop of Narbonne at the age of ten after 100,000 solidi had been paid; he sold most of the see's treasures and oppressed his clergy in order to enrich his family.
In Flanders young Baldwin married King Robert II's daughter Adela and rebelled against his father Baldwin IV, who married the daughter of Normandy duke Richard and returned with more forces that made his son submit to joint rule. In the peace treaty of 1030 all the Flemish knights swore to uphold the Peace of God. Baldwin V (r. 1035-1067) and Bishop Drogo of Thérouanne jointly proclaimed the peace in 1042.
Robert II died in 1031 and was succeeded by his son Henri I, who was 23. Queen Constance wanted her younger son Robert to be king; but the Church and Norman duke Robert supported Henri. Prince Robert was defeated, pardoned, and given the duchy of Burgundy. Henri refused to follow the Truce of God in his realms, because he believed the Church should not interfere in his prerogatives. Henri attacked Count Odo II of Blois for trying to take Provence and Lotharingia, and Odo was defeated by 1034. Norman duke Robert invaded Brittainy in 1033 to make Duke Alain do homage; but two years later Robert went penitently to Jerusalem, and he died at Bythinian Nicaea. Fulk the Black made three such pilgrimages to Jerusalem, where he had himself whipped, and he died returning on foot in 1040. Fulk had murdered one wife and mistreated another, leaving her in Palestine. In 1036 his son Geoffrey Martel tried to take the county of Anjou from him, but Fulk defeated and humiliated him. After Blois Count Odo II was killed trying to invade Lorraine in 1037, his sons Stephen and Theobald plotted to make King Henri's younger brother Odo king; but they were captured and imprisoned with the assistance of Geoffrey Martel, who was rewarded with Tours, though he was not able to conquer it until 1044.
Young William (the Bastard) fought for his father Robert's dukedom of Normandy and won it with the support of King Henri I in 1047. In October of that year the Truce of God was proclaimed at Caen for Normandy. In Burgundy Duke Robert I (r. 1032-1076) pillaged the lands of his vassals, including those of the Church. When Bishop Gervase of Le Mans took over the guardianship of young Hugh III, count of Maine, Count Geoffrey Martel of Anjou (r. 1040-1060) imprisoned the prelate. Although King Henri had been the ally of Anjou in its struggles against Blois, in 1048 Henri and Duke William of Normandy invaded Anjou and took Mouliherne. Two marriages to German princesses had not produced a son for King Henri; so in 1051 he sent to Kiev for princess Anne, and she bore him three sons. After Geoffrey defeated William in Maine, Henri changed sides again so that he and Geoffrey could invade Normandy in 1054; but in a major battle at Mortemer Henri fled, and his ally Geoffrey had to relinquish Maine to William. Four years later Geoffrey again persuaded King Henri to invade Normandy, where they were badly defeated. Henri died during negotiations in 1060, and he was succeeded as king of France by his son Philip I, who had been crowned at Rheims the year before.
Since Philip was born in 1052, Henri had made his brother-in-law, Count Baldwin V of Flanders, guardian until the king became fifteen. By the time Philip came of age William of Normandy had conquered England. Philip gained funds by selling ecclesiastical offices. When Geoffrey the Bearded usurped Anjou by imprisoning his brother Fulk Rechin (r. 1067-1109), Philip joined with the count of Blois and the lords of Maine; in the peace settlement he gained Gatinais. Count Baldwin died in 1067, and his widow appealed to the young king when Robert the Frisian (r. 1071-1093) robbed her of Flanders; but Philip was defeated at Cassel in 1071, and Flanders did not do him homage until 1076. Robert the Frisian became a strong ruler of Flanders. Philip formally invested Robert with Flanders and received back Corbie that had gone to Flanders as a dowry in Adele's marriage to Baldwin V. Robert the Frisian made an alliance with Denmark and married his daughter to Denmark's king Knut. He enforced the Peace of God and defended widows, clerics, orphans, and merchants by punishing robberies on the highway and attacks on women. His domains were divided into castellanies, and no one could build a castle without his permission.
After several years of fighting, Philip gained the county of Vexin from Simon of Crépy in 1078. Meanwhile King William was luring away the nobility of France by offering them lands in England. His eldest son Robert Curthose tried to take Normandy by revolting; Philip and William besieged Robert at his castle of Gerberoy, but a successful sortie sent their army fleeing in 1079. William agreed to let his son Robert have Normandy upon his death, which came at Rouen in 1087; while barons seized castles, his servants plundered the late Duke William's personal effects, leaving a naked corpse. The rebels were subsidized by William's successor as king of England, William Rufus. Between 1088 and 1094 Duke Robert had to besiege one castle after another in Normandy. In 1072 King Philip had married Bertha, daughter of Holland's count Florent; yet twenty years later he put away his wife, claiming prohibited consanguinity. Then he married Bertrade even though she was still married to Anjou count Fulk Rechin. Most French bishops objected, and Pope Urban ordered the king's marriage dissolved. When Philip refused to obey a council at Autun, the Pope excommunicated him in 1094. Solomon Yizchaki known as Rashi (1040-1105) taught the Talmud at Troyes in Champagne.
In Navarre a Basque kingdom developed around Pamplona under King Sancho I (r. 905-926). In 911 King Alfonso III died, and his kingdom of Castile was divided between his three sons as Leon, Asturias, and Galicia with Lusitania (Portugal); but three years later the oldest son died, and Ordoño II (r. 914-924) reunited Leon and Galicia. Castile developed under Fernan Gonzalez (r. 930-970). Leon's Ramiro II (r. 931-950) managed to defeat the Muslims at Simancas in 939; but Burgos count Fernan Gonzalez, after having been imprisoned for rebellion, fought and established independence. Yet the caliphs that succeeded the powerful 'Abd al-Rahman III in Cordoba received the homage and tribute of Leon's Ramiro III (r. 966-984), Navarre's Sancho II (r. 970-994), Barcelona count Borrell (r. 947-992), and Castile count Garcia Fernandez (r. 970-995). The dictatorial al-Mansur led armies that burned Barcelona in 985 and plundered Leon and other towns three years later.
Muslim power in Spain began to decline in the 11th century. In 1002 Navarre, Leon, and Castile allied together to defeat the Moors. During a Muslim civil war Count Sancho Garcia of Castile sacked Cordoba in 1009, and Barcelona count Ramon Borrell (r. 992-1018) did the same the next year. In Leon Alfonso V (r. 999-1028) rebuilt the city and devised the first general laws at a Leon council; he took the western half of Castile during the minority of its last count, Garcia Sanchez (r. 1017-1029).
Navarre king Sancho Garcés III (r. 1000-1035) developed more contacts with feudal France and its church reforms while trying to conquer Christian Spain. Barcelona count Berenguer Ramon I (r. 1018-1035) became his vassal, and in 1034 Sancho III occupied Leon and proclaimed himself emperor of Spain. However, when he died the next year, his realms were divided among his four sons, resulting in a dynastic civil war. Vermudo III regained Leon; but in 1037 he was defeated and killed at Tamaron by Fernando I of Castile (r. 1035-1065). Fernando also attacked his brothers as well as the Muslims at Toledo, Seville, and Badajoz; but Navarre was held by Garcia Sanchez III (r. 1035-1054) and Aragon by Ramiro I (r. 1035-1063). In 1045 Ramiro took Sobrarbe and Ribagorza when the fourth brother Gonzalo was murdered. Meanwhile Barcelona count Ramon Berenguer I (r. 1035-1076) was developing relationships with nobles in Languedoc and a legal system. Navarre's Garcia resented the dominance of his younger brother Fernando, and war broke out in 1054; Garcia was killed by a lance, and Navarre was defeated. Fernando annexed territory on the south bank of the Ebro and let Garcia's son Sancho III rule the rest of Navarre. Fernando's army captured the Muslim stronghold at Lamego in 1057.
Ramiro was killed by Saracens at the siege of Grados in 1063 and was succeeded in Aragon by his son Sancho Ramirez. In 1064 Pope Alexander II inspired French crusaders to capture the fortress of Barbastro in northeast Spain; but the next year Christians were massacred at Zaragoza, and a Muslim army regained Barbastro. In 1064 Coimbra in Portugal had surrendered to Castile after six months of siege. Fernando's army defeated Abd al-Malik at Valencia in 1065, and Zaragoza once again paid tribute. Castile's Fernando also made the mistake of leaving his kingdom divided among his sons. In 1067 the war of the three Sanchos took place when Sancho II of Castile attacked his namesake in Navarre; but Sancho Ramirez of Aragon helped Sancho III of Navarre to defeat Sancho of Castile.
Leon's Alfonso VI (r. 1065-1109) took over Castile when Sancho II was murdered in 1072. Alfonso was guided by the advice of his sister Urraca and reduced the oppression of the communes by royal officers and judges. The odious turnpike toll on pilgrims going to the shrine of Santiago at Compostela was also abolished. Urraca persuaded Alfonso to invite Garcia to a conference in 1073; Garcia was then imprisoned until his death in 1090. In 1076 Navarre's Sancho III was pushed off a cliff by a conspiracy led by his brother Ramon and his sister Ermesenda. The Navarrese refused to give the throne to the fratricidal Ramon, who fled to Zaragoza, and the children of Sancho were too young; so Castile's Alfonso VI and Aragon's Sancho Ramirez marched in and divided Navarre. Sancho Ramirez took over Pamplona, and Alfonso gained Rioja.
A council of Compostella in 1056 had forbidden bishops and monks all contact with women except relatives and nuns. In 1073 Alfonso VI granted to Cluny the first of several monasteries in Castile, and in 1077 Pope Gregory VII sent Bishop Amandus as his legate to Spain. The next year a council at Girona forbade ordination of priests' sons and the inheritance of ecclesiastical benefices. The council at Bourgos in 1080 commanded married priests to dismiss their wives, though this was not enforced until the 13th century. Alfonso VI ended the old Visigothic laws that discriminated against Jews by favoring those that gave Jews civil equality with Christians. Pope Gregory VII tried to impose foreign bishops on Spain, and in 1080 he wrote to Alfonso that he should not allow Jews to rule over Christians. Yet in 1085 Alfonso VI sent his physician and secretary Amran ben Isaac Ibn-Shahib as an envoy to Seville; but al-Mutamid had him killed and his Christian companions imprisoned.
Toledo was besieged in 1085 and surrendered; but the capitulation agreement was violated when the mosque was turned into a Christian church. Conversions resulted in large numbers of Arabic-speaking Christians called Mozarabs. In 1085 Alfonso VI made Bernard of Sauvetot, his Cluniac abbot of Sahagun, the primate archbishop of Toledo. That year King Alfonso also granted the people of Coimbra a charter. The fall of Toledo stimulated a North African sect of Almoravids to assist their brother Muslims in Spain, and they defeated the Christian army at Zalaca the next year. The Almoravids soon occupied all of eastern Spain as far north as Zaragoza. French knights, such as cousins Raymond and Henri of Burgundy who both married daughters of Alfonso VI, joined the Christian Reconquista effort. Since Alfonso VI had no son, a revolt in Galicia involving Bishop Diego Pelaez of Santiago de Compostela, broke out in 1087, probably in an effort to free the imprisoned Garcia, who had ruled Galicia. The rebellion spread to the east but failed. Bishop Diego Pelaez was deposed the next year.
In 1089 Alfonso VI gave Cluny 10,000 dinars for Abbot Hugh's help in getting papal confirmation for Bernard as primate at Toledo. In 1090 Bishop Pedro of Cardeña was deposed from the see of Compostela by the papal legate Cardinal Rainerius, the future Pope Paschal II, and the office remained vacant for four years. Alfonso defended Toledo against an attack by Emir Yusuf, who deposed the rulers of Granada and Malaga before returning to North Africa. In 1091 the taifa kingdom of al-Mutamid fell as the Mutamids took over Cordoba, Seville, and Calatrava, and by the next year they controlled Valencia.
The most famous hero fighting for Alfonso VI was Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar, who had been named Campeador (Challenger) after defeating a Navarrese warrior in single combat during the war of the three Sanchos. Three years later Sancho II of Castile named him chief commander. After Sancho was murdered in 1072, Rodrigo and the knights made Alfonso take an oath he was not part of it before they would give him the crown of Castile. This caused Alfonso to dislike Rodrigo, though the king gave his cousin Ximena to him in marriage two years later. King Alfonso sent Rodrigo to collect tribute from al-Mutamid in Seville. Rodrigo found them under attack by Granada king 'Abd Allah and a few Christian nobles. Rodrigo helped the Sevillians defeat them; but he was later criticized for this and was charged with taking some of the tribute for himself. After Rodrigo attacked the Moors on his own initiative in 1081, Alfonso banished him. Rodrigo became a mercenary and fought on behalf of Saragossa's al-Mutamin for four years and after his death for al-Mutamin's son Mostain for three more years, often attacking and capturing Christians. The Muslims called him Said, which means lord or master, and in Spanish he thus became renowned as El Cid.
In 1088 the Cid attacked Valencia for Mostain but wrote to Alfonso VI that he was still loyal to him and had been trying to weaken the Muslims in these wars. The next year the Cid met with King Alfonso and was promised all the lands he could conquer from the Muslims. Later Alfonso was persuaded to cancel the agreement and imprisoned the Cid's family. The Cid protested his innocence but regained only his family. As an independent knight his army plundered, and he gained large amounts of tribute from several lords, including 100,000 dinars a year from Valencia's Kadir. The Cid was attacked by Berenguer of Barcelona but defeated and captured him along with 5,000 men. The Cid was offended when Alfonso sent an army against Valencia, and so he ravaged the estates of the nobles who hated him, such as Count Garcia Ordoñez. Alfonso's army had to abandon the siege of Valencia to protect his own country. After a terrible famine the Cid was able to take Valencia from the Muslims in 1094. That year he allied himself with King Pedro of Aragon and attempted to push the Almoravids south by force of arms; but the Muslims were reinforced by a fleet, and the Cid could not accomplish his goal of driving them from the peninsula of Spain. The Cid ruled Valencia until his death in 1099; later he became the subject of a celebrated epic poem.
From the beginning of the tenth century eastern Europe suffered a wave of incursions from the Magyars (Hungarians) that stimulated the Germans to develop city walls and feudal relationships for mutual protection. The Magyars attacked along the Danube, but their chief Cussal was defeated and killed near Vienna in 900. On February 4, 900 Arnulf's son Ludwig (Louis) was proclaimed king of Germany by dignitaries at Forchheim even though he was only six years old. Ludwig the Child's kingdom included Saxony, Bavaria, Franconia, Swabia, and Lotharingia (Lorraine). Arnulf had put his son Zwentibold on the throne in Lotharingia; but his alliance with Odo (Eudes) of Paris and his mistreatment of Treves archbishop Rathod resulted in Lotharingian nobles rebelling and killing Zwentibold in August 900; they recognized young King Ludwig, who appointed the Conradin Gebhard duke. Abodriti tribes led by Crito invaded Saxony; but being repulsed, they devastated northern Italy in 902. Magyars also defeated and killed Ernst's son Liutpold near Presburg, and King Ludwig was nearly captured.
Count Mafrid rebelled against Gebhard but was driven into exile in 906. Franconia suffered from the family feud between the Babenbergs and the Conradins. They met in battle at Firtzlar in 906; Conrad the Old was killed, but Adalbert's victory resulted in his being executed for treason by order of King Ludwig, enabling Conrad the Younger to take power in Franconia. In Swabia Constance bishop Salamo III was the recognized power. Saxony was governed by Count Liudolf's son Otto. Magyars took over Moravia in 906 and invaded Saxony; but they were driven out by Otto's son Heinrich. Magyar invasions had caused Bavaria to make peace with Moravia; but in 907 Bavaria was devastated by Magyars; Count Liutpold was killed and was succeeded by his son Arnulf. The next year the Magyars attacked Saxony and Thuringia. In 909 Duke Arnulf stopped the Magyars at the Rott River; but they captured prisoners and cattle in Swabia. In 910 Franconian duke Gebhard died fighting the Magyars, and Reginar seized Lotharingia. Louis made a treaty with the Magyars and agreed to pay them tribute for ten years.
When Ludwig the Child died in 911, the nobles at Forchheim chose Conrad the Younger as king, though nobles in Lotharingia turned over their duchy in homage to the Frank Charles the Simple. Conrad's army twice invaded, occupying Aachen, but they could not regain Lotharingia. German bishops supported Conrad; but in 914 Swabian Erchanger imprisoned Bishop Salama and was banished by King Conrad, although Erchanger soon returned and continued to oppose the king. The same year Conrad marched forces into recalcitrant Bavaria. Heinrich had become duke of Saxony in 912; three years later he quarreled with Conrad over land he claimed in Thuringia, and he attacked forces sent under Conrad's brother Eberhard. Bishops gathered in 916 to condemn the disloyalty; but Saxony's Heinrich escaped punishment, and Bavaria's Arnulf and Swabia's Erchanger treated the bishops' judgments with contempt. So Duke Arnulf's capital at Ratisbon (Regensburg) was besieged, captured, and plundered, causing Arnulf to flee to the Magyars, and the following January Erchanger was arrested and executed with his brother Berthold. Arnulf began plundering monasteries, using the treasure to pay his men. Conrad's forces failed to stop Arnulf from returning to his Bavarian capital in 918. Conrad died by the end of 918 after persuading his brother Eberhard to recommend Saxon duke Heinrich as his successor.
In May 919 Eberhard and some nobles assembled at Fritzlar elected Heinrich (the Fowler) king of Germany. Since Conrad had ruled Franconia himself, his brother Eberhard was appointed its duke. Swabia duke Burchard II and Bavaria's Arnulf resisted recognizing Heinrich, who compelled them both to do so by marching his army into Swabia that year and into Bavaria in 921, though Arnulf retained the privilege of appointing bishops in his duchy. That year Heinrich met King Charles on a boat in the Rhine, and they agreed to let Lotharingia remain in the western kingdom; but two years later Heinrich invaded, and in 925 he gained the homage of Lotharingia duke Gilbert, who wavered back and forth until he married Heinrich's daughter Gerberga in 928. That year Heinrich made the bishop of Toul a count.
The Magyars continued to raid Germany until one of their chiefs was captured, and in 924 Heinrich negotiated a nine-year truce, promising to pay tribute. The Saxons used the interval to fortify their defenses and train their troops. Every Saxon over the age of 13 was bound for military service. Heinrich ordered all meetings and festivals to be held within city walls. Every ninth man had to move into the city and construct dwellings and granaries for the other eight farmers, and one-third of the harvest had to be stored in the citadel. Feudal service now demanded that soldiers be mounted on horses so that Heinrich could build up his cavalry.
In Bohemia the boy Wenzel was taught Christian ways by his saintly grandmother Ludmilla, but his resentful mother Drahomira had her mother-in-law murdered. In 929 Heinrich marched his army to Prague, where Duke Wenzel (Vaclav) surrendered and promised to pay an annual tribute of 600 marks of silver and 120 cattle. However, his brother Boleslav (r. 929-967) disliked this capitulation and treacherously murdered his brother, who became a national hero celebrated in the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas." The same year Heinrich's forces defeated an army of Slavs at Lenzen. Heinrich tested his army by attacking the Slavic Wends in 928, and within four years their territory was divided into military fiefs. England king Athelstan's daughter Edith came to Cologne and married Heinrich's son Otto in 930. Heinrich stopped paying tribute to the Magyars in 933 and defeated their invasion of Saxony at Riade. Heinrich thanked God and gave the tribute money he had been paying the Magyars to the church for the poor. Heinrich then turned north to face Viking marauders in Frisia. He exacted tribute from Swedish Knuba at Haithabu and persuaded him to be baptized, and he also forced the pagan Denmark king Gorm the Old to accept peace in 934. Before he died in 936, Heinrich chose his son Otto as his successor.
Otto was 24 when he became king of Germany. Vassalage was demonstrated at his coronation banquet when he was served by Gilbert of Lotharingia as chamberlain, Eberhard of Franconia as steward, Hermann of Swabia as cupbearer, and Arnulf of Bavaria as marshal. Otto sent Hermann Billing and Count Gero to fight incursions by Slavic tribes in the north, and much land from the Elbe to the Oder was surrendered to the Germans. Magyars crossed Franconia and invaded Saxony in 937, but Otto's army defeated them the next year.
When Arnulf died in 937 and was succeeded as duke of Bavaria by his son Eberhard, Otto reclaimed his power to nominate bishops. Eberhard rebelled, causing civil war in Bavaria. Franconia's Duke Eberhard was not treated with respect by the Saxon Brunning; so this Eberhard had his town of Hellmern burned, and many were killed. Otto ordered the Franconian Eberhard to pay a heavy fine in horses and silver, and his followers were ordered to appear in shame carrying dogs at the Saxon royal palace in Magdeburg. Instead Franconia revolted, and Otto's council at Steele in 938 failed to pacify them. Otto's half-brother Thankmar joined Franconian Eberhard, and they besieged Belecke, captured Otto's brother Heinrich, and took fortified Eresburg. Otto's army marched there, and Heinrich's men killed Thankmar in a church with a spear. Heinrich was released, and Franconia calmed down for a while. When Bavaria submitted, its Duke Eberhard was banished, replaced by his uncle Berchtold, who swore loyalty to the king.
In 939 Franconia's Eberhard, Otto's brother Heinrich, and Duke Gilbert of Lotharingia combined forces in a wider civil war against Otto. They fought on the banks of the Rhine near Xanten, as some of Otto's German soldiers knowing Old French shouted to the Lotharingians to flee. Heinrich fled to Merseburg, where Otto besieged him for two months before giving him a thirty-day truce. Later in 939 the royal army led by Duke Hermann of Swabia caught the rebels on the Rhine near Andernach; Eberhard died of his wounds, and Gilbert was drowned. Otto now put Franconia under his own administration; but he forgave Heinrich and put him in charge of Lotharingia, where he was soon rejected by the people and replaced by the Lotharingian Otto of Verdun. In 940 Otto's army drove Frank king Louis IV out of Lotharingia. Heinrich now plotted to assassinate his brother in 941; but Otto learned of it and arrested the conspirators, though Heinrich escaped. On Christmas day Heinrich returned penitent to his royal brother, was forgiven, and pledged his loyalty; Heinrich kept his word, and in 947 he was made duke of Bavaria. That year Otto's daughter Liutgard married Conrad the Red, who had become duke of Lotharingia in 944. When Hermann died in 949, the duchy of Swabia was given to Otto's son Liudolf.
In 946 Otto went to help his sister Queen Gerberga, who was married to Louis, and the two kings captured Rheims. In order to promote missionary work in 948 Otto founded bishoprics at Brandenburg and Havelberg in Mainz and at Ripen, Aarhus, and Schleswig in Bremen. Otto called to his court such scholars as theologian Rather and Cremona bishop Liutprand, who wrote a popular history. Valuable Latin classics were brought from Italy by Gunzo so that educated Germans could read such authors as Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Terence, Cicero, and Sallust. In 950 Otto finally ended the rebellion of Boleslav by marching his army into Bohemia to make him submit, and Heinrich attacked the Magyars in Pannonia. After Berengar II imprisoned Adelaide, her brother Conrad of Burgundy asked Otto to rescue her. So in 951 Otto with his brothers Heinrich and Bruno invaded Italy. At Pavia Otto proclaimed himself king of Italy and then married Adelaide; but he left the next year, leaving Conrad the Red to fight Berengar. The Council of Augsburg in 952 forbade marriage to ecclesiastics.
Fearing he would soon be disinherited, Otto's son Liudolf and Conrad, who resented Otto's criticism of his governing in Italy, made certain demands and then broke into open rebellion when Otto's response was to punish them. Most of Franconia and Swabia were up in arms against Otto and Heinrich. In 953 defection spread to Saxony, and Bavarians revolted, driving royalists out of the country after Liudolf arrived with an army at Ratisbon to expel Heinrich's family and seize his wealth. Otto made his well educated brother Bruno archbishop of Cologne and duke of Lotharingia. Then in 954 Magyars invaded Bavaria and Franconia and were supported by Liudolf and Conrad. However, Otto's army forced the Bavarians to accept a truce. At an assembly at Langenzenn Conrad submitted. After the rebellious Mainz archbishop Friedrich died, he was replaced by Otto's son Wilhelm. Liudolf fled to Ratisbon, where a siege compelled him to accept a truce and the judgment of another assembly at Fritzlar. Liudolf failed to rally rebels in Swabia; he was forgiven by his father but lost his dukedom to Burchard III. Heinrich got starving Bavaria to submit by spring 955; but in November Heinrich died of illness, and his widow Judith governed Bavaria for her young son.
In October 955 Otto defeated Obodrite warriors at the Recknitz River and hanged their chieftains, including their king Bulksu. A chronicler, who did not attend the battle, recorded that 100,000 had been killed. The Magyars no longer bothered the Germans and gradually were assimilated as Christian Hungarians. In Saxony Hermann Billung had driven his nephews Wichmann and Egbert into exile across the Elbe for having rebelled, and they then joined with the Slavic chieftains Stoinef and Naco. Hermann failed to defeat them in the spring of 955. However, Otto with the help of Count Gero defeated these Wends in a bloody battle in which Stoinef was killed; but Wichmann and Egbert escaped to Frank duke Hugh. Both eventually submitted, and Wichmann later helped Gero fight Polish duke Mieszko. Otto sent Adalbert to Kiev as a missionary in 961. In 965 Poland's Duke Mieszko married Dubravka, sister of Bohemia duke Boleslav, and the next year Mieszko was baptized. Poznan was assigned a bishop under the supervision of Magdeburg, and Pope John XIII made Adalbert primate of Germany at Magdeburg; but Mieszko got Jordan made bishop of Poland and struggled to maintain religious independence from Germany. In 962 Otto was crowned Emperor at Rome, and he was occupied in Italy most of the time until 972. At an assembly at Quedlinburg during Easter 973 Otto I met with Byzantine, Bulgarian, Magyar, Czech, and Polish envoys.
Otto II was only 17 when his father died in 973, but he became sole Emperor of Germany and Italy. Heinrich called the Quarreler governed Bavaria, and he allied with Swabia, where his sister Hedwig was wife of Duke Burchard III. When Augsburg bishop Ulrich died in July 973, Heinrich and Burchard intrigued to replace him against the will of Otto II and the Swabian people. When Duke Burchard died in November, Otto II appointed Otto I's grandson Otto, son of Liudolf, as duke of Swabia. Both Heinrich and Hedwig resented this and conspired with Bohemia duke Boleslav II and Polish duke Mieszko. Otto II summoned Heinrich and imprisoned him at Ingelheim. In 974 Otto II fought three separate wars: he had to fight off a Danish attack by King Harald Bluetooth; his army put down a revolt in Lotharingia led by the brothers Reginar IV and Lambert, whose father Reginar III had been banished by Bruno; and the same year the German army invaded Bohemia to pillage. Heinrich the Quarreler escaped; but in 976 German bishops excommunicated Heinrich, and Otto attacked him at Ratisbon. Heinrich took refuge in Bohemia. Bavaria duke Otto was now made duke of Swabia as well, though part of it, Carinthia, was given to Heinrich the Younger. Otto's army with Bavarians invaded Bohemia again; but the Bavarians were attacked while bathing, and Otto canceled the campaign.
In 977 Heinrich the Quarreler joined with Heinrich the Younger and Augsburg bishop Heinrich in the War of the Three Heinrichs; but by the end of the next year the Quarreler and Bishop Heinrich were in exile, and Heinrich the Younger had lost his duchy of Carinthia to Otto, son of Conrad the Red. At Easter 978 Bohemia's Boleslav II did homage to Otto II. The first bishop of Prague appointed in 973 was the Saxon Thietmar although he knew the Slavic language; he was succeeded in 982 by the Slav Adalbert (Vojtech), who died a martyr among the Prussians in 997. Also in 977 Charles had quarreled with his brother Lothar, king of France, and was given Lower Lotharingia by Otto II. This caused Lothair to invade and plunder the royal palace at Aachen. Otto II reacted by marching his army to pillage Rheims, Laon, and Soissons. Lothair's army met Otto's at the Aisne; but in 980 the two kings made a treaty recognizing that Lotharingia belonged to Otto. This enabled Otto to take his army to Italy, where Saracens were ravaging Apulia and Calabria. On the way Otto listened to a philosophical debate at Ravenna between the scholar Gerbert and Otrich, head of the Magdeburg school.
News of Otto's Italian defeat by the Saracens stimulated the Slavs to rise up in the region of the Elbe and Oder rivers. The Obodrite prince Mistevoi had fought with Otto II in Italy and wanted to marry the sister of Duke Bernard I of Saxony; but he was so insulted by the jealous Margrave Dietrich that the Obodrites plundered and burned Hamburg. The Lyutitzi destroyed the sees of Havelberg and Brandenburg, slaughtering many Christians. Bohemians plundered Zeitz. Dietrich's lands were devastated, but he organized Saxon forces to defeat the rebellious Slavs at Belkesheim. Nonetheless Dietrich was removed from his governing position by Emperor Otto II. Danes also invaded but were stopped by Saxon duke Bernard. Duke Otto died on his way back to Germany. Heinrich the Younger was made duke of Bavaria and Carinthia, while Franconia's Conrad took over Swabia. Otto II died at Rome in 983.
Otto III had just been crowned at Aachen when his father died; but he was still only three years old. His mother Theaphano was Greek and his grandmother Adelaide Italian; but they acted as regents. Heinrich the Younger was released after being in prison five years, and he gained the support of Trier archbishop Egbert, Magdeburg archbishop Gisler, Metz bishop Dietrich, and Slavs. Saxony's Bernard I and Mainz archbishop Willigis supported young Otto III; but the boy's guardian, Cologne archbishop Warin, allowed Heinrich to capture the king. Heinrich was proclaimed king, and Poland's Mieszko and Bohemia's Boleslav II did homage to him. With civil war threatening, a council at Burstadt near Worms persuaded Heinrich to restore Otto III to Willigis, Swabian duke Conrad, and his mother Theaphano, who arrived from Italy with Adelaide to take over the government. Heinrich offered to help France's Lothair take over Lotharingia; but he could not bring himself to betray Germany and did not join Lothair's invasion that overcame the resistance of Godfrey and his sons to take Verdun in 985. Then Heinrich the Quarreler submitted to Otto III and was given back his old duchy of Bavaria.
The next two years kept German forces busy fighting the Wends and Bohemians on the eastern frontier. Polish duke Mieszko helped Margrave Eckhard regain Meissen. When Poles fought the Bohemians in 990, Theophano sent German forces to help Mieszko, while Boleslav's Bohemians allied with the Lyutitzi. However, the Bohemians decided to make a treaty with Germany, and they helped the Saxon army escape to Magdeburg. After Empress Theaphano died in 991, Empress Adelaide returned to govern after visiting Italy. Magyar incursions were driven back by Heinrich's Bavarians; but a Saxon named Kiso helped the Lyutitzi retake Brandenburg, though two years later Kiso changed sides again to help the Germans recover the fortress in 993. The next year Vikings sailed up the Elbe River and plundered Saxony. Before he died in 995, Heinrich the Quarreler advised his son Heinrich not to make the mistake he did of resisting the king, and seven years later young Duke Heinrich of Bavaria would become king of Germany.
By the time Mieszko had died in 992 Poland had expanded greatly its territory by conquest to include more than a million people, and the church of Poland gained independence from Germany by submitting to the Pope. Magyar leader Geza (r. 970-997) made peace with Germany and sent envoys to an assembly at Quedlinburg in 973. When Geza died, he was succeeded by his son, who had been baptized as Stephen (r. 997-1038). He ordered all Magyars to be baptized and all Christian slaves set free. Pagans led by his relative Kuppa revolted but were defeated at Veszprim. Stephen also promoted Christianity by building churches and abbeys and was assisted in this by his wife Gisela, sister of Duke Heinrich of Bavaria. An archbishopric at Esztergom was approved by Otto III and Sylvester II in 1001, and Stephen was crowned "His Apostolic Majesty." Since the German priests and monks did not know the people's language, King Stephen traveled around to preach in the towns.
By 995 Otto III was considered old enough at 15 to rule for himself, and the next year he traveled to Italy. Otto III returned to fight the Slavs, negotiate a marriage with a Byzantine princes, and then went back to Rome again in 998, leaving Germany to be ruled by his aunt Matilda, abbess of Quedlinburg. After German chancellor Hildibald of Worms died in 998, Otto III gave the chancellor of Italy, Heribert, administration of the entire empire. The next year Heribert also became archbishop of Cologne. In 1001 while Otto III was preoccupied with Rome, rebels were turning to Duke Heinrich of Bavaria; but Heinrich wisely remembered his father's counsel and remained loyal. Otto III died in 1002.
Literature began to develop as the Song of Walter (Waltharius) was written in Latin early in the tenth century. In this poem royal children are given as hostages to Attila the Hun - Hagen from the Franks, Hildegund from Burgundy, and Walter from Aquitane. Hagen escapes, and Frank king Gunther stops paying tribute to Attila; but Walter helps the Huns defeat the Franks. Walter and Hildegund fall in love and escape; but Gunther will not forgive the tribute already given and sends eleven warriors against Walter, who slays them one by one. Walter then fights Gunther and his son Hagen; all three are seriously wounded, but they become friends. This story symbolizes how the violence of the marauding Huns influenced German culture.
"The Escape of a Certain Captive" is an allegorical poem in Latin written by a Toul monk, probably in the tenth century. Calf is caught by the monastic Wolf. Calf prays, and in a dream Otter warns Wolf not to kill Calf. An army of bulls marches to rescue Calf; Wolf flees and fears Fox. Otter and Hedgehog are unafraid and ask him why. Wolf tells the story of how Fox healed sick Lion by killing Wolf's uncle and using his hide. Fox also helped Panther become Lion's heir and was granted a fortress as vassal of Lion and Panther. A feud developed between the families of Fox and Wolf. Now Fox resents Wolf, because his fortress has been given in fief to Wolf. A bull approaches Wolf, and Fox sees him; but Wolf is killed, and Calf is rescued. This story reflects the violence of feudal rivalries even under a king and may specifically represent the return to kingly rule under Heinrich I after the bad times under Louis the Child and Conrad I.
Hrotsvitha was born into an aristocratic Saxon family about 935, and she was well educated at the abbey of Gandersheim, where she became a nun. Her stories elaborate on Christian themes such as the birth of Mary and a martyr in Muslim Spain; a bishop making a pact with the devil is saved by visions of Mary. Hrotsvitha also wrote poems celebrating the accomplishments of Otto I and a history of Gandersheim convent from its founding in 856 to 919. She died in the year 1000; but her plays had little influence until they were rediscovered by the humanist Conradus Celtis five centuries later. Noting that Christians liked to read the plays of Terence, Hrotsvitha wrote six plays, even though they could not be performed, in the style of Terence as a moral alternative for Christians to read. The salacious content found in Terence was ameliorated by using Christian stories and themes.
Hrotsvitha's play Gallicanus is about a pagan general, who falls in love with Emperor Constantine's Christian daughter; Gallicanus converts, but renounces marriage and eventually finds a martyr's death. In Dulcitius during the Diocletian persecutions the Christian virgins Agape, Chionia, and Irene are put to death after the diabolical governor Dulcitius cannot seduce them. Callimachus fails to seduce the Christian wife Drusiana when she prays to die. Yet Callimachus hires Fortunatus to bring her corpse for him to enjoy; but a serpent kills them both. Drusiana's husband Andronicus is helped by the apostle John, and Jesus revives Drusiana and Callimachus. Drusiana brings Fortunatus back to life; but he refuses to repent and dies again.
Hrotsvitha's Abraham is about a monk who adopts a girl; she becomes a prostitute, but he goes as a customer and redeems her. In this play Hrotsvitha wrote that it is human to sin but devilish to dwell in sin. Blame not the one who falls but the one who fails to rise again, for the mercy of God is vaster than His creatures. In Paphnutius a monk redeems the prostitute Thais though she already believes that God's justice rewards and punishes everyone's actions. She wonders if she can be purified after her many sins; but Paphnutius assures her that no sin is too grievous that it cannot be atoned for repentant tears if they are followed by good deeds. He locks her up in a cell for three years before she dies and goes to heaven. Sapientia is an allegory in which the three daughters of Wisdom - Faith, Hope, and Charity - are martyred by Emperor Hadrian, and then their mother dies too.
The influence of the Vikings on the origins of the Russian state is still controversial, though it is generally recognized that Slavs had been living in the area for many generations. The legendary Varangian (Viking) Rurik ruled Novgorod in 862 and was succeeded by Oleg, who may have been his younger brother. Oleg united many Russian tribes and took over Kiev in 882. He imposed on the Drevlians the tax of a marten's fur from every house, and he obtained a beneficial trade treaty with the Byzantine empire in 911. Oleg was succeeded by his son Igor (r. 913-945). Igor's forces attacked Constantinople in 941, but they were defeated by the Byzantine navy and its Greek fire. The Russians campaigned in Persia in 943, and the treaty with the Byzantine emperor the next year was not as favorable for the Russians as the earlier one. Igor tried to collect tribute in the land of the Drevlians, but they killed him in 945. Since their son Svjatoslav was only a boy, Oleg's widow Olga ruled Russia for the next seventeen years. She was converted to Christianity shortly before her journey to Constantinople in 957; but her son and most of the people remained pagans.
In 964 Svjatoslav (r. 962-972) subjugated an eastern Slavic tribe called the Viatichi, who had been paying tribute to the Khazars instead of Kiev. After bringing some Finnic-speaking tribes into his kingdom, Svjatoslav went down the Volga and attacked the Khazar capital at Itil, took their fortress Samandar on the Caspian Sea, and defeated the Alans and tribes in the northern Caucasus, finally storming the Khazar fortress of Sarkil before returning to Kiev in 967. The next year Svjatoslav joined Byzantine emperor Nicephorus Phocas in an attack on the Bulgarian kingdom. The Russians captured their capital and took their ruler Boris prisoner. However, defeating the Khazars and Bulgarians had opened the way for the Pechenegs (Patzinaks), who besieged Kiev while the Russian army was away. Svjatoslav decided that he liked the Danube region better than the Volga, because of the enriching trade opportunities. The Greeks brought gold, silks, wine, and fruit; Hungary and Bohemia contributed silver and horses; and the Russians offered furs, wax, honey, and slaves. When John Tzimisces became Byzantine emperor in 969, he challenged the Russians in the Balkans, but Svjatoslav's forces captured Philippopolis and threatened Adrianople and Constantinople. Yet the Russians had to make peace and retreat again in 971. On his way back to Russia Svjatoslav was killed by Patzinaks. The Russian army had been reduced from 60,000 to 22,000.
Svjatoslav's lands were divided by his sons, who fought a war of succession until the illegitimate Vladimir was victorious about 980, and he ruled until 1015. Vladimir regained Galician towns from Poland and conquered the Lithuanian tribes of the Iatviags in the north while managing to withstand the Patzinaks by building fortresses and towns. After sacking Cherson in the Crimea, Vladimir sent a message to Byzantine emperor Basil that he would adopt Christianity in his kingdom if he could marry the Emperor's sister Anne, or he would attack Constantinople. Vladimir married Anne in 988 and was baptized on the same day. Images of the pagan god Perun were scourged, and masses of Russians were all baptized on a single day. According to legend the Russians rejected Islam because it prohibited alcohol, and they liked to drink, while Judaism was not selected, because its people were defeated and had no state. Cyril's Slavic translation of the Bible was imported from Bulgaria to educate the people. Greek bishops urged Vladimir to replace private revenge with public punishments such as imprisonment, convict labor, flogging, torture, mutilation, or death; but the Russians preferred the payment of wergild or fines that did not offend human dignity and helped the treasury.
Another war between princes followed the death of Vladimir in 1015. Sviatopolk won some victories with the help of Poland. According to the chronicler Nestor, his brothers Boris and Gleb refused to add to the violence, imitating Jesus, and were murdered by Sviatopolk's orders. However, Sviatopolk was defeated by his brother Yaroslav (r. 1019-1054). Yet war continued, and in 1026 Yaroslav had to divide the kingdom with his brother Mstislav, who ruled the east from Chernigov until he died ten years later. In 1031 Yaroslav regained the land Poland had taken for helping Sviatopolk. After the Russians defeated the Patzinaks in 1037, there was a generation of peace. Yaroslav wed a Swedish princess, and his relatives and many Russian nobles married into aristocratic families from Poland, Germany, Hungary, and Bohemia. Yaroslav is credited with developing the first Russian legal code. He established a large school and library at Kiev and patronized the arts.
Before he died, Yaroslav assigned his sons cities and their regions by rank, giving the oldest son Iziaslav Kiev and Novgorod; Sviatoslav got Chernigov; Vsevolod got Petreiaslav; Viacheslav got Smolensk; and Igor got Volynia. Iziaslav was blamed for not controlling the Polovtsy (Cumans) in the Lower Dnieper region, and his two brothers, fearing he was going to disinherit them, expelled him in 1073. Iziaslav took refuge at the court of Germany's Heinrich IV, who was pacified by gold from Sviatoslav's envoys. Sviatoslav became king, and at his death in 1076 Vsevolod was going to move up; but the Polish helped Iziaslav to come back. Iziaslav and Vsevolod took Chernigov territory from the sons of Sviatoslav. After Iziaslav died two years later, Vsevolod (r. 1078-1093) became king. He was succeeded by Iziaslav's son Sviatopolk II, who was a bad ruler. Yet Vsevolod's son Vladimir Monomakh refused to overthrow him while trying to fight the evils of the Kiev regime. Deprived of his land, Oleg Sviatoslav joined with the Polovtsy in a civil war. While winning the civil war Monomakh called a conference at Liubech in 1097. The system of dividing the kingdom was finally abandoned as the princes agreed that each son should rule what his father had ruled, and they united to fight the Polovtsy.
Berengar was made king of Italy in 898; but when King Louis of Provence came to Italy in 900, Berengar retreated. Louis was crowned in Pavia by nobles and in Rome by Pope Benedict IV the next year; but in 902 Berengar marched on Pavia and forced Louis to leave and swear never to return. However, in 905 Louis led an army to Pavia, and Berengar fled again. When Louis visited Verona with only a few troops, Berengar came, captured him in a church, had him blinded for breaking his oath, and sent him back to Provence, where he reigned until his death in 928 though Duke Hugh governed. Pope Sergius (904-911) was allied to the Roman faction led by Senator Theophylact and his wife "Senatrix" Theodora. Their daughter Marozia was the mistress of Sergius, and her son by him eventually became Pope John XI. Marozia married Spoleto marquess Alberic, and their son was the ambitious Alberic II. Such corruption and hatred between factions existed that opponents of the papacy called it the "Pornocracy." John X (914-928) was also hated but rallied forces led by Picingli, Landolf, Salerno's Guiamar, and Alberic to fight the marauding Saracens, who were defeated in 915 near the Garigliano. Later that year John X crowned Berengar emperor.
About 920 Bertha of Tuscany urged nobles led by her son Duke Hugh of Provence to overthrow Berengar I; but they failed. Then Rudolph II, king of Jurane Burgundy, was invited by Bertha's son-in-law Adalbert of Ivrea, and Berengar turned for allies to the Magyars, who had already invaded Campania. Berengar was defeated south of Milan in 923 and was murdered by a vassal the next year. The Magyars plundered Lombardy and burned Pavia but were wiped out by an epidemic in Languedoc. Once again Hugh of Provence revolted; Rudolph went back to Burgundy; and Hugh of Arles was made king of Italy in 926. Alberic had died, and Marozia now married Guido (Guy) of Tuscany. In 927 Hugh made a commercial agreement with Venice that enabled Pavia to become a trading center for Oriental goods. In 928 Guido and Marozia imprisoned Pope John X and had him killed, and in 931 she got her son made Pope John XI. After Guido died, the widow Marozia invited Hugh to Rome; but Guido and Hugh were both sons of Bertha, and the Church objected to Hugh marrying Marozia. At the wedding feast a quarrel arose between Hugh and Marozia's 16-year-old son Alberic II, who appealed to nobles. Hugh was driven out and banished, and Alberic governed Rome from 932 to 954. Marozia lost her power, and Alberic even controlled Pope John XI, keeping him in prison or confined to spiritual duties.
After the death of Burgundy king Rudolph II in 937 and his own wife Marozia, Hugh of Arles married Rudolph's widow Bertha, while Otto took Rudolph's son Conrad to his German court. Magyars led by Taxis ravaged Apulia in 947. Hugh died that year, and his son Lothair died in 950. Ivrea count Berengar was accused of taking large amounts of the tribute raised for the Magyars and of being responsible for Lothair's death; but in December 950 Berengar and his oldest son Adalbert were crowned co-kings of Italy at Pavia. When Berengar II put Lothair's widow Adelaide in prison, her brother Conrad got Otto and his German brothers to invade in 951. Otto married Adelaide but went back to Germany the next year. Conrad was left in charge; he persuaded Berengar to visit Otto's court, and at the Augsberg council in 952 Berengar swore homage to Otto. Alberic II died in 954 but not before Roman nobles promised they would make his son Octavian the next Pope, and in 955 he became Pope John XII at the age of twenty. He was soon being criticized for spending his time with women and hunting.
In 956 Otto sent his son Liutprand, who drove out Italy's kings Berengar II and his son Adalbert; but Liutprand died of malaria the next year before his father could make him king, and they came back. Otto received requests from bishops and nobles as well as Pope John XII to dislodge Berengar. So in 961 Otto had his child Otto II crowned co-king and left him with Mainz archbishop Wilhelm, and while the learned Bruno governed Germany, Otto marched his army into Italy. Berengar burned the royal palace at Pavia and fled with his family to the mountains. On February 2, 962 the young Pope crowned Otto emperor, and eleven days later Otto proclaimed John XII's possession of the papal lands that included most of Italy, though as his protector Otto really controlled them. While Berengar held out at San Leo, Adalbert fled to the Saracens in Provence. Meanwhile John XII turned to the Byzantines and even welcomed Adalbert's forces into Rome. Otto's army arrived in Rome to drive out Adalbert and the Pope, who was deposed and replaced by Otto's choice of Leo VIII in December 963. Berengar surrendered to the siege and was banished to Bavaria.
Back in Rome again, Otto relieved the city's burden by sending most of his army back to Germany. Pope John XII used bribes and promised the treasury of St. Peter to the Romans, who rose up against Otto and Leo; but they were no match for Otto's trained soldiers and were soon suppressed. They swore loyalty, and Otto went after Adalbert in Spoleta. Again the Romans revolted; John XII returned from exile, and Leo VIII fled to Otto. John XII cruelly punished two envoys, whom he felt had betrayed him, and convened a synod which deposed Leo; but John XII died of a stroke in May 964. The Romans chose Benedict the Grammarian as Pope; but Otto successfully besieged Rome and restored Leo VIII. Benedict begged forgiveness, but had even his priesthood taken away.
Otto returned to Germany in 965. Lombards in Italy made Adalbert king, and Otto sent Swabia duke Burchard III to drive him out. When Leo VIII died that year, the Romans deferred to Otto, who appointed the Narni bishop to be John XIII. This Pope's efforts to control the Roman nobles resulted in their imprisoning him until they learned that Otto was marching south. The German army crushed Adalbert and his supporters; at Rome Otto had twelve prominent citizens hanged, and the prefect Peter was publicly humiliated by riding a donkey backwards. Otto appointed Pandulf Ironhead duke of Spoleto in 967, and the same year his son Otto II was consecrated Co-emperor by Pope John XIII. Otto I tried to negotiate a diplomatic marriage for his son with Byzantine royalty, but his envoy Bishop Liutprand was snubbed by Emperor Nicephorus, who feared loss of his lands in Italy. In 968 Otto marched into Apulia and attacked Bari; but he could not get it to surrender, and two years later Bovino also resisted. Pandulf was captured and imprisoned at Constantinople.
However, after John Tzimisces became Byzantine emperor, Otto II married the Byzantine princess Theaphano at Rome in 972, the year Otto I finally left Italy. Pandulf became lord of Capua, Benevento, and Spoleto; but Apulia and Calabria remained Byzantine territory. Pope John XIII died in September 972, and Otto selected Benedict VI as Pope; this appointment also aroused opposition, and he was not consecrated until January 973, the year Otto died. When Salerno prince Gisulf was overthrown by religious nobles led by Landolf, Pandulf Ironhead restored the prince as his vassal. The next year Crescentius had his men imprison Benedict VI, who was replaced by Franco, taking the name Boniface VII. Otto II sent Count Sicco, and Boniface VII had Benedict VI strangled in his cell. The bishop of Sutri was made Pope Benedict VII as a synod in Rome damned Boniface VII, who fled to Constantinople. The Salerno prince died without an heir in 977, and Pandulf succeeded him; but Pandulf's great dominions broke up when he died in 981.
Otto II arrived in Rome by Easter 981. He recognized Landolf IV in Capua and the Byzantine ally Duke Manso in Amalfi, though he besieged Salerno. Otto II called in forces of Otto, duke of Bavaria and Swabia, and together they marched through Apulia and after a long siege captured Tarentum from the Greeks. To add insult to this injury of the Byzantines, Otto II also called himself Emperor of the Romans. The German armies killed Saracens on Calabria's east coast; but they were defeated in the summer of 982 near Cotrone, where 4,000 were killed; many were captured, and Otto II only escaped by swimming to and from a Greek ship. Otto II appointed Pavia bishop Peter as Pope John XIV, but the Emperor died of malaria in Rome before the end of 983. Exiled Boniface VII resented a Lombard Pope and returned to imprison John XIV, who died of maltreatment. When Boniface died after a year in 985, he was so hated that his corpse was desecrated in the streets. John XV was elected Pope, and it was not until 995 that Crescentius II forced him to leave Rome and to ask Otto III for help.
By the time Otto III arrived in 996, John XV had been allowed to return but had then died. The priests and Crescentius asked Otto III to select his successor, and he chose young Bruno, who became the first German Pope as Gregory V. However, Romans resented the German, and Gregory V fled to Pavia, where he presided over a synod that condemned French bishops for deposing Rheims archbishop Arnulf. Crescentius proclaimed a Greek named John Philagathos as Pope John XVI. Because of Slavic invaders, Otto III could not return to Rome with Gregory V until 998. John XVI fled; he was captured and mutilated before being returned to Rome for the humiliation of riding a donkey backwards, and then he was imprisoned. Crescentius tried to hold out in a castle, and many believed he surrendered before he was executed. Otto III appointed Gerbert archbishop of Ravenna in 998, and the next year after Gregory V died, Gerbert became the first French Pope as Sylvester II.
In 1001 people from Tivoli revolted against Emperor Otto III; but faced with a siege, they pledged their loyalty. Romans, however, managed to besiege Otto in the same castle St. Angelo, the prison for Popes where Crescentius had been taken. Otto III pleaded that he had left his homeland and devoted himself to increasing Roman glory, and some were moved to turn over two conspirators; but Otto III and Duke Heinrich of Bavaria had to escape with the help of Tuscany marquis Hugh. Otto's dream of a new Roman empire seemed shattered at its center. Otto III went to Ravenna, met with the doge of Venice, called for more German troops, sent Milan archbishop Arnulf to Constantinople to find him a bride, and then marched back to the walls of Rome. Yet the Emperor lacked the forces to besiege his chosen capital and had to return to Germany. Otto III was marching to Rome again early in 1002 when he died of fever at Paterno. One month later rebels proclaimed Arduin of Ivrea king of Italy, and Sylvester II died the next year. Bishops Peter and Leo of Vercelli had drafted a decree promulgated by Otto III that the church should never free any of its serfs.
Germany's new king Heinrich II sent a force led by Duke Otto of Carinthia; but Ardoin's army took over Verona and defeated them; Leo of Vercelli was driven into exile. Heinrich marched an army of Franks and Swabians across the Alps. Ardoin fled to the west, and in 1004 Heinrich was crowned king of the Lombards at Pavia. That day a quarrel broke out and escalated into a destructive fire and a battle until Heinrich commanded a stop to the slaughter. This caused many Lombards to submit, but Heinrich went back to Germany the next month. John Crescentius, whose father had been slain in 998, gained power in Rome; but he died in 1012, and the last Pope he nominated, Sergius IV, died a few months later. The Crescentian Gregory was at first elected the next Pope; but he was soon replaced by Benedict VIII, who pleased Germany's Heinrich by confirming the see of Bamberg. Gregory fled to Germany and appealed to Heinrich.
In 1013 Heinrich with his queen Kunigunda and many bishops marched to Italy. Ardoin fled from Pavia, and Leo of Vercelli welcomed Heinrich at Ravenna, where Heinrich convoked a synod to confirm his half brother Arnold as archbishop there. In 1014 Heinrich was crowned Emperor by Benedict VIII, and Kunigunda became Empress. A riot lasted two days before the Germans had it suppressed, and Heinrich then left Rome to spend two months securing Tuscany. Heinrich appointed two missi to oversee Pavia, Milan, and Seprio before going back to Germany. As soon as he had crossed the Alps, Ardoin attacked Vercelli and took over the diocese. At Westphalia Heinrich invoked the Lombard law of treason against the captured Otbertines, and much land from them and Count Hubert the Red was given to the see of Pavia. Ardoin withdrew into a monastery and died in 1015, allowing Leo to recover Vercelli. Heinrich sent a Bavarian cleric named Pilgrim to be chancellor of Italy and make peace with the Lombards, and the last surviving captive Otbertine was released in 1018.
Meanwhile Saracens led by Mujahid from Spain had conquered Sardinia in 1015 and raided the Tuscan coast. Pope Benedict VIII urged the Pisans and Genoese to attack Sardinia in 1016. That year Norman knights, returning from a pilgrimage to Palestine, helped Salerno prince Guaimar to fight off a siege by the Saracens. The Normans made an appeal in Normandy, and more knights came back the next year to support Guaimar, the Lombard leader Melo who was back from exile, and Capua ruler Pandulf III in an attack on Byzantine Apulia. However, in 1018 the Byzantines destroyed the rebel army at Cannae, and Melo fled to ask help from Heinrich II in Germany, where he died. Benedict traveled to Bamberg to visit Heinrich in 1020. Heinrich returned the visit by going to Rome again in 1022, and at Pavia a small synod denounced clerical marriage. Church lands were being given away to their sons, and so it was confirmed that children of unfree priests should be serfs and not own land; to enforce it Heinrich issued an imperial decree. Benedict VIII died in 1024 and was succeeded by his brother, a layman who suddenly became Pope John XIX.
After Heinrich's son Conrad II became king of Germany in 1024, the Italians offered their crown to Frank king Robert II, but he declined to challenge the German empire. Duke William V of Aquitane accepted it for his son but could not organize opposition to Germany. Conrad was crowned king of Italy in 1026 at Milan by its archbishop Aribert, because rebels had burned down the palace at Pavia. Conrad's German army ravaged the region, and at Ravenna citizens rose up and were slaughtered by imperial troops. On Easter in 1027 Conrad and Gisela were crowned by Pope John XIX in the presence of kings Knut and Rodolph III, though the festivities were marred by street fighting in Rome. Conrad received the homage of princes from Capua, Benevento, and Salerno before going back to Germany. On becoming king Conrad had released the imprisoned Pandulf III, who regained his sovereignty of Capua and took territory from young Guaimar V of Salerno. Duke Sergius IV of Naples called upon Normans led by Rainulf and gave them the territory of Aversa. In 1034 Rainulf deserted Sergius to serve Capua; but three years later he left there to support Salerno prince Guaimar V.
Conrad II attended a diet at Pavia in 1037 to settle differences between Milan archbishop Aribert and the Otbertine Hugh. Aribert refused to grant redress and was surprised to find himself put in prison by the Emperor. When a monk helped the Archbishop escape, Conrad besieged Milan and issued one of the most celebrated decrees of feudal law, the Constitutio de Feudis, which declared that no vassal shall be deprived of any fief without certain and proven guilt and only by the ancestral constitution and by judgment of one's peers. Cases of lower vassals may be appealed to overlords or imperial missi, and those of higher vassals may be heard by the Emperor himself. Tenants may not be alienated nor exchanged without their consent. The penalty for disobedience was to be a hundred pounds of gold, half going to the imperial treasury and half to the victim. The Italian fiefs became hereditary. Finally the siege of Milan was lifted, but Conrad broke with tradition by deposing Archbishop Aribert himself. Aribert instigated Blois count Odo to invade Lorraine; but Odo was defeated and killed at Bar in November 1037. Three Lombard bishops of Vercelli, Cremona, and Piacenza, who were complicit in this, were exiled in Germany. Some Normans fought for Byzantine general George Maniaces in his effort against Saracens in Sicily, but the Normans abandoned him in 1040.
Conrad II crushed a revolt in Parma by destroying the city,
and he got Pope Benedict IX to excommunicate Milan archbishop
Aribert. Conrad commanded Pandulf III to restore the property
and prisoners he had taken from the Abbey of Monte Cassino. Pandulf
sent him 150 pounds of gold and hostages but refused to pay more;
so Conrad gave Capua to Prince Guiamar of Salerno. A pestilence
that killed young Queen Gunnhild and Duke Herman of Swabia prevented
Conrad from renewing the siege of Milan; but he ordered Italian
princes to raid Milanese territory annually, and then he departed
for Germany, where he died in 1039. However, Heinrich III disapproved
of his father's policy against Milan and ordered the Italian princes
to stop the war. A Milanese adventurer named Arduin brought 300
men to Rainulf, and the Normans helped the Lombards win victories
over the Greeks, notably at Monte Maggiore in May 1041. The rebellion
might have been crushed the next year when Maniaces was appointed
Byzantine governor; but later that year Maniaces took some Normans
with him to vie for the throne at Constantinople. The Normans
chose Guaimar as leader and gradually advanced south under the
command of Iron-Arm William, Tancred's oldest son. In 1042 civil
war broke out in Milan between the nobles and the common people
called pataria, who supported ecclesiastical reforms that
encouraged elections rather than feudal investiture.
The growing commercial state of Venice was dominated by the Candiani family from 932 to 976. Marquess Gunter of Istria began confiscating their goods and forbade his subjects to pay debts to the Venetians; but in 933 Venice led by Doge Pietro Candiano II (r. 932-939) boycotted Istria until Gunter signed a peace treaty. Doge Pietro Candiano III (r. 942-959) also used a boycott against Aquileia patriarch Lupus after he attacked Grado, and they agreed to a treaty in 944. Pietro Candiano IV (r. 959-976) was resented for trying to turn Venice into a monarchy; the people rose up and burned the palace, killing the Doge. Pietro Orseolo I was the next Doge, but he retired to a monastery two years later. Venice became divided between the Coloprini faction that supported the German empire and the Morosini party that favored the Byzantine alliance. Stefano Coloprini had killed a Morosini and fled to German emperor Otto II, offering to ally Venice with the Western empire if Otto would help him become Doge. Otto ordered an immediate blockade and sent in his vassal, the Duke of Carinthia; but both Stefano Coloprini and Otto II died in 983, and Otto's mother Adelaide as regent could get only an amnesty for the Coloprini rebels.
Doge Peter Orseolo II (r. 991-1008) made a treaty with Byzantine emperor Basil II in 992 and five years later got the nobles to swear they would not draw their swords in the ducal palace under stiff penalties. Orseolo II stopped paying tribute to the Dalmatians and conquered their ports with his fleet in 1000. The Venetians began building larger ships. Otto III even visited Venice secretly in 1001. The next year the Venetian fleet broke a Saracen blockade of Bari and brought provisions to the starving city. In 1017 Otto Orseolo (r. 1008-1026) appointed as patriarch of Grado his older brother Orso, who was replaced as bishop of Torcello by his younger brother Vitale. Five years later resentment against the Orseolo family drove both brothers out of Venice to Istria when Poppo, the Bavarian patriarch of Aquileia, marched into Grado; but Venetians angered by Poppo's sending their treasures to Aquileia soon expelled him, and the Orseolo brothers returned. The German king Conrad refused to renew the pact, and Otto was the last Orseolo to govern Venice, marking the end of a long era since 811 in which Venice was dominated by three families. The revolutionary Domenico Flabanico (r. 1032-1043) ended the practice of appointing co-regents as successors to the Doge, giving the assembly more power.
Since Otto III left no children when he died, the German throne was disputed. Meissen margrave Eckhard contended for the throne, but he was murdered by four brothers because of a private grudge. Heinrich of Bavaria was supported by the clergy and was anointed king by Archbishop Willigis at Mainz in 1002. Duke Herman II of Swabia did not concur, and Heinrich II soon invaded Swabia to persuade him; but Herman countered by attacking Strasburg. Saxon magnates assembled and agreed to serve Heinrich after he promised to observe their law and consider their interests. After bishops swore fealty at Aachen, Herman submitted too; he was allowed to keep his duchy of Swabia and his fiefs but had to pay for the damage to Strasburg.
Heinrich II was born May 6, 973 and energetically tried to protect people's rights against their lords by traveling around to dispense justice, though he was quite busy fighting wars to maintain his empire. Even before he was crowned, the Lombards had elected Ivrea marquess Ardoin as king at Pavia. A few weeks later Mieszko's son Duke Boleslav I of Poland (r. 992-1025) asserted his independence and conquered much territory, though he gave some of it back at the diet of Merseburg. Not given the duchy of Bavaria, the discontent Babenberg Heinrich of Schweinfurt, margrave of Nordgau, joined with Boleslav in revolt. By intrigues that involved blinding his own relative, Boleslav managed to take control of Bohemia. Margrave Heinrich allied himself with Ernest of Babenberg and King Heinrich's own brother Bruno to wage war against the German king in 1003. Ernest was captured; then the margrave and Bruno gave up and took refuge with Boleslav, who attacked Bavaria the next year. Hungary's king Stephen helped his brother-in-law Bruno gain a pardon from King Heinrich, who also eventually forgave the margrave Heinrich after a few months in prison. At Quedlinburg Heinrich made a treaty with envoys of the Redari and Lyutitzi Wends that allowed them political and religious independence, though some Germans resented fighting with pagans against the Christian Poles.
After a few months in Italy, Heinrich II invaded Bohemia with the exiled Duke Jaromir and drove Boleslav out of Prague. In 1005 Heinrich suppressed an uprising of Frisians, and then with Duke Heinrich of Luxembourg and Jaromir's Bohemians he tried to regain territory from Boleslav; but the Germans were defeated near Posen, and Heinrich accepted a treaty. The next year Heinrich's forces invaded Burgundy. An alliance of Heinrich with Frank king Robert II and Norman duke Richard failed to take Ghent away from Flanders count Baldwin IV until Heinrich's forces ravaged the country in 1007, when Baldwin submitted and surrendered Valenciennes. Two years later Heinrich gave it back to his vassal Baldwin as a fief. With King Heinrich so occupied, Boleslav invaded the march east of Saxony, taking captives from Zerbst and reconquering most of Lausitz. In 1010 Heinrich failed to dislodge Boleslav; when his ally Jaromir was driven from Bohemia, Heinrich had to recognize Duke Udalrich. In 1012 Boleslav did homage to Heinrich and received Lausitz as his fief. Boleslav promised to help Heinrich in Italy, and Heinrich offered Germans to aid Poland against Russia.
To counter the power of the feudal lords Heinrich extended much secular authority to bishops and abbots, granting them vacant counties. Heinrich insisted on his right to nominate prelates and appointed allies at Hamburg, Hildesheim, Minden, Halberstadt, and Fulda. Heinrich thus gained educated and moral men for governing, though this meant their spiritual duties might be neglected. Also they could not pass on their power to sons. King Heinrich took an active role in the church, presiding at synods to instill discipline and prevent heresy. In 1005 Heinrich replaced a wealthy abbot of Hersfeld with the ascetic Godehard of Altaich, who gave monks the choice of strictly obeying the Rule or being expelled. Luxuries were converted into pious uses, and over the next ten years similar reforms were implemented at Reichenau, Fulda, and Corvey. In 1007 Heinrich established the see of Bamberg, which was subject only to the Pope. A library soon grew at Bamberg, which became a center of learning.
The German feudal system did not allow Jews to own land, and so they became merchants. In 1012 Heinrich expelled Jews from Mainz for refusing to be baptized. Gershom ben Jehuda (960-1028) wrote penitential hymns because of the persecution. Gershom taught the Talmud and had founded a school in Mainz that flourished for eighty years. He forbade polygamy, argued that a wife's consent was necessary for a divorce, and advised that those carrying letters for others should not read them. During the persecutions many Jews became Christians to save their lives or property, even Gershom's son. The wealthy Simon ben Isaac bribed officials so that Jews could stay in Mainz, and Gershom forgave the Jews who returned to their religion.
In 1014 Pope Benedict VIII consecrated Heinrich as Roman Emperor. At the synod of Goslar in 1019 Heinrich confirmed that the children and wives of serfs, who had become secular priests and married free women, were not free. After Boleslav failed to support Heinrich in Italy and tried to regain Bohemia by winning over Duke Udalrich, Heinrich II raised three armies to invade Poland in 1015; but the Germans had to retreat. For four years Heinrich waged unsuccessful campaigns against Poland and Burgundy. Boleslav occupied Kiev and agreed to a treaty with Heinrich at Bautzen in 1018, and the same year Rodolph III, after ruling Burgundy for a quarter century, met Heinrich at Mainz and surrendered sovereignty to the German Emperor, though the Burgundian lords resisted. In 1017 Heinrich subdued a revolt by the Saxon duke Bernard, who then helped him attack the Wends to restore the Christian prince Mistislav over the pagan Obodrites. In 1020 Heinrich's forces captured Ghent. When Rome was threatened by Byzantine forces the next year, Heinrich went back to Italy for a year. Heinrich II died at Bamberg in 1024. King Heinrich and Queen Kunigunda were so pious that they took a vow of celibacy and thus had no children.
German nobles, gathering by the Rhine between Mainz and Worms, elected Conrad the Elder as their king. Some bishops, princes in Lorraine, and others resisted, but many clergy were persuaded by Cologne archbishop Pilgrim and Odilo (994-1049) of Cluny. Once again Saxon nobles meeting at Minden insisted that the new king follow their laws that affirmed serfdom and prohibited unequal marriages. At Aachen Conrad increased his popularity by decreeing that descendants of vassals were entitled to inherit the fief in perpetuity. Burgundy's Rodolph III argued that he had given his realm to Heinrich II, not to the Germans; but Conrad II occupied Basle in 1025, and his queen Gisela mollified her uncle Rodolph. The dukes of Lorraine submitted to Conrad at Aachen, though Count Welf plundered the lands of Heinrich II's brother Bruno, guardian of young king Heinrich and administrator of Germany while Conrad was in Italy. Ernest of Swabia was sent to suppress the rebellion but joined it instead by invading Alsace, though Burgundy's Rodolph repelled him. When King Conrad returned from Italy, he summoned Welf and Ernest; both were imprisoned, though within a year Ernest was forgiven and given back Swabia. Yet four years later in 1030 Ernest once again changed sides to revolt with Count Werner, and both lived in the Black Forest as bandits until they were killed by imperial troops under Count Manegold. Duke Ernest was later made into a romantic hero.
Conrad II was crowned Emperor at Rome in 1027. When Rodolph III died in 1032, Conrad inherited the kingdom of Burgundy, though some nobles refused to swear allegiance. Severe winter weather blunted the king's efforts to subdue them. Conrad met with Frank king Henri I, and after an expedition to Poland the German king raided the territory of Odo, Count of Blois and Champagne. Italian allies from Tuscany and Milan helped Conrad complete the task of bringing Burgundy into his imperial domains.
After Poland's Boleslav I died in 1025, his younger son Mieszko II drove out his older brother Otto Bezprim. Mieszko followed his father's policy of attacking eastern Saxony. The Lyutitzi appealed to Conrad; but German troops had to withdraw after unsuccessfully besieging Bautzen, though Bohemia's Bretislav managed to regain Moravia from the Poles. After Margrave of the East Mark, Thietmar, died in 1030, Mieszko's Poles were aided by Saxon rebels in destroying a hundred villages and taking 9,000 captives until they were fought off by Wettin count Dietrich. The same year Conrad's forces attacked Hungary; but young king Heinrich made peace with King Stephen by ceding some land in order to restore Vienna. When Conrad formed an alliance with Poland's exiled Otto Bezprim, who was aided by Kiev prince Yaroslav, Mieszko had to agree to the old borders of Poland before his father's military adventures. Yet Otto Bezprim continued his attack, drove out Mieszko, and became duke; but his brutal reign was ended by assassination after a year in 1032. Mieszko returned from Bohemia and submitted to Conrad; but he died in 1034, and Poland degenerated into civil wars for five more years.
Conrad sent his son Heinrich to remove the uncooperative Udalrich from the Bohemian throne, and Duke Jaromir ruled after twenty years in prison; yet after Udalrich was pardoned in 1034, he blinded his brother and died the same year. Jaromir declined to rule again, and Bretislav (r. 1034-1055) was made duke of Bohemia. Conflict with the Lyutitzi was put to a duel, and the Christian lost; but a provocative Saxon fortress was later captured, and imperial campaigns subdued the Lyutitzi by 1036. Conrad did maintain good relations with Denmark until Knut died in 1035. That year Heinrich married Knut's daughter Gunnhild, and Schleswig was ceded to Denmark. Gunnhild died of a pestilence in Italy, and Conrad II died of illness at Utrecht in 1039. He was succeeded by his son Heinrich, who had already been crowned king.
Heinrich III (r. 1039-1056) already had the duchies of Bavaria and Swabia as well as the kingdom of Burgundy when he became sole king of Germany. He traveled to various parts of his empire to receive homage and dispense justice. During this tour Heinrich also gained the duchy of Carinthia. Heinrich refused to accept gifts in exchange for ecclesiastical appointments. In 1040 he sent an imperial army to join Eckhard of Meissen in an attack on Bohemia; but they were badly defeated by Bretislav's forces, and only the efforts of the hermit Gunther freed hundreds of German captives. Bretislav lost an ally when Peter of Hungary was overthrown by an insurrection that made Odo king as Peter fled to Heinrich. The next year Heinrich led a second German invasion of Bohemia that captured Prague; Bretislav did homage at Ratisbon, gave hostages, and agreed to pay tribute. In 1042 Heinrich entered Burgundy to enforce justice on the now submitting nobles. That summer Heinrich passed through Bavaria and crossed the border into Hungary to install Peter's cousin, who was overthrown by Obo not long after the Germans departed. The next year Heinrich invaded Hungary again and regained the territory on the Danube that had been ceded to Stephen in 1031.
In 1041 a synod of bishops at Montriond extended the Truce of God to all of Lent and Advent, and at Constance in October 1043 Heinrich III proclaimed the Day of Indulgence or Pardon. He renounced vengeance against anyone who had injured him and exhorted all his nobles and people also to forgive all private injuries. The appeal was to be spread throughout his kingdoms. At Besancon in Burgundy 28 bishops attended Heinrich's marriage to Agnes of Poitou although some abbots objected because they were distantly related. The "Indulgence" was proclaimed again at Utrecht that Christmas, and peace seemed to reign; but it did not last long. In April 1044 Duke Gozelo of Lorraine died, and Heinrich redivided the duchy by giving Lower Lorraine to the younger Gozelo, causing the oldest son Gottfried (Godfrey), already duke of Upper Lorraine, to revolt. That summer Heinrich and Peter invaded Hungary again and defeated Obo's larger forces. The Hungarians favoring Bavarian law got their way. Obo was captured and beheaded, while Peter was crowned and agreed to pay an annual tribute. Yet within two years Peter had been captured and blinded. Heinrich helped Casimir (r. 1039-1058) to restore Poland.
Meanwhile Gottfried gained Frank king Henri I and some Burgundian nationalists as allies. When Heinrich III summoned Gottfried to Aachen, he appeared and lost all his lands; but he was allowed to leave and started a rebellion. To strengthen the Count Palatine Otto in Lower Lorraine, Heinrich III gave him the duchy of Swabia. Baldwin, son of Flanders count Baldwin V (r. 1035-1067), was granted Antwerp; but he later became Godfrey's ally. In July 1045 Gottfried submitted and was imprisoned; but the following year Heinrich III restored him as duke of Upper Lorraine. After his hostage son died, Gottfried wanted to regain Verdun and organized another rebellion with Baldwin V and others in the Netherlands. Pope Leo IX excommunicated Gottfried and Baldwin. Gottfried submitted again and lost his lands. Heinrich III then attacked Baldwin's lands, aided by Denmark and England's Edward, and Baldwin V had to give back Antwerp. A son named Heinrich was born to the German king in 1050 and was elected king three years later.
Heinrich III invaded Hungary, but King Andrew eluded him and made peace with Adalbert of Austria. Kuno, the exiled duke of Bavaria, urged Hungarian king Andrew to invade Carinthia in 1054; but Heinrich was too busy in Flanders to control Hungary. That year Heinrich had to retreat from Flanders, but in 1055 an attack by the two Baldwins and Gottfried on Antwerp failed also. The Slav duke Godescale had renounced Christianity after his father's death; but when vengeance did not satisfy him, he re-converted, establishing monasteries and canons in Lubeck and Oldenburg. As leader of the Obodrites, Godescale joined with Bernhard of Saxony and Wilhelm of Brandenburg in an unsuccessful campaign against the Lyutitzi.
In 1056 Frank king Henri I met Heinrich III and challenged him to a single combat, but the German emperor made a hasty departure and died later that year. Heinrich's widow let Baldwin V keep the Scheldt march as a vassal, and his son became Count Baldwin I of Hainault. Since Heinrich IV was not yet six years old, his Empress-mother Agnes ruled as regent, resulting in a decline in the power and prestige of the imperial authority. Hungary's king Andrew (Andras) tried to hold on to his throne by marrying his son Salamon to Agnes' daughter Judith; but the imperial army sent to support them was defeated by Béla's forces in 1060, and his brother Andrew was killed. Béla and his son Géza became the rulers of Hungary amid civil war until Ladislas (r. 1077-1095) became king. Poland's Boleslav II (r. 1058-1079) became independent also, though Bohemia under Vratislav II (r. 1061-1092) sided with the German empire. Agnes gave to Burgundian noble Rudolf von Rheinfelden the duchy of Bavaria and her daughter in marriage while Berthold became duke of Carinthia.
In 1062 Cologne archbishop Anno with the aid of Duke Otto of Bavaria and Count Ekbert of Brunswick kidnapped Heinrich and took over the government as Agnes retired to her religious life. Anno enriched his province and his relatives and decided in favor of Pope Alexander II; but two years later while he was in Mantua, Bremen archbishop Adalbert took control and on a military campaign temporarily helped Salamon gain power in Hungary. In 1064 German bishops led thousands of people on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem; they returned the following year. Heinrich IV was given his sword and declared of age in 1065, but Adalbert kept him from going to Italy to be crowned emperor. Anno returned, and at the diet of Tribur the next year Heinrich dismissed Adalbert. In 1069 Heinrich IV let church authorities persuade him not to divorce his wife Bertha. The next year he accepted the deposition for simony of Charles, whom he had appointed bishop of Constance, and the king did not object in 1072 when Reichenau abbot Robert suffered the same fate.
Heinrich IV had castles built in Saxony and put a garrison in Luneburg. In 1073 the king planned a campaign against Poland; but under this guise Saxon nobles gathered forces led by Count Herman and recaptured Luneburg with its royal garrison, which was traded for the previously captured Billung rebel Magnus. Pope Gregory VII complained that Heinrich had invested an archbishop of Milan in opposition to Atto. So the king renounced his right of investiture and let the new Pope solve the Milan problem. Heinrich wanted to attack Saxony, but his princes postponed that. Heinrich went to Worms in January 1074 and granted its citizens a charter after they expelled his enemy, Bishop Adalbert. The next month Heinrich and the Saxons agreed to destroy castles of both sides; the rebels were pardoned, and Heinrich agreed to consult with Saxons on issues regarding Saxony. At the Easter fair Cologne merchants rose up against Archbishop Anno and gained royal favor. As fortifications were being destroyed at Harzburg, zealous citizens demolished the church as well. Although the nobles blamed it on the peasants, Heinrich used it to get the princes to support his campaign against the Saxons the next spring.
After Salomo took refuge in Germany, Heinrich IV attacked Hungary but could not dislodge Géza, who rejected the Pope's help as well and was crowned by Byzantine emperor Michael VII. In 1075 Heinrich's army was supported by the dukes of Swabia, Bavaria, Carinthia, Upper and Lower Lorraine, and Bohemia, and they were victorious against the Saxons although the losses were heavy. Heinrich imprisoned the Saxon leaders, both lay and clergy, confiscated much territory, and renewed the building of castles. Heinrich next invested his chaplain Tedald as archbishop of Milan and sent an embassy to Pope Gregory VII. Heinrich's son Conrad was designated as his successor, and exiled Saxon bishops were allowed to return, pending trials. Early in 1076 Heinrich learned that Pope Gregory was threatening him with excommunication. A hasty council at Worms was called to depose Gregory. In response not only did Gregory VII excommunicate Heinrich, but he absolved his subjects from their oath of fealty. Heinrich's summons to diets were mostly ignored as Saxon nobles escaped and armed. Even Heinrich's ally Vratislav of Bohemia was driven out of Meissen by Margrave Ekbert.
At the Tribur Diet in October 1076 Saxons wanted to replace the king, but the assembly gave Heinrich IV until February to gain absolution from the Pope, or he would lose his kingdom. With his wife and a few supporters Heinrich crossed the frozen Alps to Canossa. After three days of penitence Gregory VII accepted his humiliation and requested a safe escort to the February meeting at Augsburg, where the Pope was to preside and judge the king. This never took place, and in March 1077 a diet at Forchheim elected Swabia duke Rudolf king in the presence of two papal legates. Rudolf renounced the hereditary right of his son and royal control of episcopal elections, while he promised to obey the Pope. Yet the towns supported Heinrich, and a riot even occurred at Mainz when Rudolf was crowned by Archbishop Siegfried. Rudolf had to retreat to Saxony while Heinrich returned to Germany, gathering support in Carinthia and Bavaria.
In Cambrai the priest Ramihrdus denounced the bishop for simony; but his insurrection in 1077 was crushed, and Ramihrdus was burned as a heretic, though Pope Gregory proclaimed him a martyr. Swabia was invaded and devastated by both sides. In Poland Cracow bishop Stanislaw excommunicated Boleslav II and was convicted of treason; the knights refused to execute him; but in 1079 Boleslav killed Stanislaw himself and then fled to Hungary. Boleslav was succeeded by his younger brother Wladyslaw I Herman (r. 1079-1102), who took the side of the imperial party and later married Heinrich's sister.
In August 1078 Heinrich's army suffered defeats in Franconia as the civil war persisted. In January 1080 Heinrich invaded Saxony, but he had to retreat to Bavaria. After Heinrich's envoys threatened the Pope, Gregory recognized Rudolf as king. However, Heinrich IV won over the Billungs Magnus and Herman as well as Margrave Ekbert of Meissen. At Bamberg and Mainz German bishops renounced Gregory, and at Brixen in northern Italy an assembly pronounced Gregory VII deposed and elected Heinrich's nominee, Ravenna archbishop Guibert, as Pope Clement III. Heinrich marched his army through Thuringia to attack Rudolf, who was mortally wounded although his side won the battle. Many people believed the death of Rudolf a judgment of God.
In 1081 Heinrich IV invaded Italy and at Rome was crowned emperor by Pope Clement III. In Saxony Rudolf was succeeded by the Lotharingian count Herman; but the rebel cause declined, and Herman was eventually killed in 1088 in his native Lorraine. The papal party was organized by the legate bishop Otto of Ostia (who became Pope Urban II in 1088). Otto managed to block peace efforts of the princes at Gerstungen in 1085. At Mainz that year Clement III was confirmed, and the Peace of God was proclaimed. In a country suffering from civil war the Peace of God had already been announced by Bishop Henri of Liege in 1081 and by Cologne archbishop Sigewin in 1083. Now Heinrich extended the Peace to his entire kingdom. Yet after Heinrich replaced the hostile archbishop of Magdeburg, he had to abandon Saxony again. In 1086 the king was defeated at Wurzburg; but by 1088 the Saxony rebellion had dissolved by its own discord. The German bishops compromised by accepting Urban II as Pope but ignored his excommunication of Heinrich. Only Ekbert remained defiant, but he was murdered in 1090.
Conrad had been crowned king in 1087, and he revolted against his father in 1093 when Heinrich IV was fighting Countess Matilda in Italy. Conrad was crowned king of Italy at Milan and was promised an imperial coronation if he would renounce investitures. Germans, however, did not support this, and prince Heinrich was declared Heinrich IV's future successor. Conrad's forces fell away, and he never returned from Italy, where he died in 1101. The young Guelf had married the widow Matilda; but they divorced, and the elder Guelf took his son back to Germany in 1095, making peace with Emperor Heinrich the next year. In 1095 Heinrich IV issued a decree that protected the rights of Jews, and no one was to compel a Jew to be baptized. When Pope Urban II declared the crusade, the Emperor and most Germans were in no mood to participate in another war called by the Pope. Instead Heinrich IV returned to Germany in 1097.
Hildebrand traveled to the court of Heinrich III on behalf of Pope Gregory VI (1045-1046), who had bought the papacy in order to reform the church. Gregory abdicated when Heinrich III came to Italy and selected the Saxon Suidger of Bamberg to be Pope Clement II. On Christmas day 1046 the new Pope anointed Heinrich III as Emperor and Agnes as Empress. Heinrich gained power over Rome and the papal elections when he was named Patrician. Hildebrand went to Cluny, where he studied under the abbot Hugo and became prior. Heinrich took Capua away from Guaimar and gave it back to Pandulf III. Drogo succeeded his brother William as leader of the Normans, while Robert Guiscard, oldest son of Tancred's second wife, ravaged Calabria as a robber chief. Gerard of Buonalbergo brought Guiscard 200 knights.
In 1048 Bruno of Toul became Pope Leo IX, and from 1049 to 1051 he criticized prevalent practices of simony and clerical marriage or concubinage in councils at Rome, Pavia, Rheims, Mainz, Salerno, Siponto, and Vercelli; Leo also criticized usury, marriage to relatives, and the bearing of arms by clergy. In 1052 he visited Burgundy, Lorraine, and his friend Heinrich III in Germany, where he toured Regensburg, Bamberg, Mainz, and Worms before returning to Rome. Leo IX also complained about the Normans stealing church property in southern Italy, and he asked Heinrich III for help. A conspiracy to assassinate Normans on the same day resulted in the massacre of Drogo and sixty of his men in 1051. Two years later after making a treaty with Byzantine governor Argyrus at Bari, Leo himself marched against the Normans with troops he had recruited; but the Pope was defeated and taken prisoner at Civitate. Leo was released nine months later after he recognized Robert Guiscard as Duke of Apulia and Calabria. Leo IX died in 1054, but a year went by before Eichstadt bishop Gebhard was elected at Regensburg to become Pope Victor II.
Heinrich III visited Italy again in 1055 and held a synod with Victor at Florence that confirmed laws against simony and the reforms of Pope Leo IX. Hildebrand was sent to France to oppose the heresy of Berengar of Tours, who doubted the transubstantiation of wine to blood. There Hildebrand deposed six bishops for simony. The issue of clerical concubinage became so heated that rioters in Milan demanded that clergy sign a statement promising to stay celibate, forcing many to choose between their altars and their wives. Pope Victor favored peace but died on a journey to Rheims. Normans continued to devastate southern Italy as Robert Guiscard became the leader after his half-brother Humphrey died in 1057. Guiscard was supported by his youngest brother Roger; but the next year they quarreled, enabling the Calabrians to resist paying tribute until Guiscard granted Roger half of Calabria.
In 1057 Gottfried's brother Friedrich of Lorraine was elected Pope Stephen IX at Rome; but he died eight months later. Stephen made the reluctant monk Peter Damian (1007-1072) bishop of Ostia. The ascetic Damian wrote about the monastic life. He suggested that one first cast out money, arguing "The richer you may be in the poor lucre of this world, the more miserably lacking you are in true riches."3 He warned monks against restless travel that prevents spiritual quiet; one should avoid running about in the world as one would a pool of blood. Damian systematized self-flagellation by accompanying each Psalm with a hundred strokes of the whip on one's bare back. Some monks even beat themselves to death in their zeal to release souls from purgatory, and Damian had to check excesses and order that no one should be forced to scourge himself. This self-flagellation became popular among Christian ascetics and was practiced regularly by Dominic (1170-1221) and others. Damian recommended the virtues of sobriety, humility, patience, obedience, chastity, and charity, and he urged his brothers to fight for their souls, which rise above the emotion of any relationship. He became a leader of the Cluny reforms to eliminate concubinage and simony. He also condemned the bearing of arms by clergy which Leo IX had done against the Normans, for he believed a priest should only contend with the Word and not a sword.
After Pope Stephen IX died, Count Gerard of Galeria quickly pushed through the election of John Mincius as Pope Benedict X, though money was involved. Many bishops objected, threatened Benedict with excommunication, and fled Rome. In Sienna they selected Florence bishop Gerard as Pope Nicholas II, who was supported by Duke Gottfried of Lower Lorraine. Benedict fled, was besieged by the Normans, captured, deposed, and imprisoned. Nicholas made Hildebrand archdeacon and chancellor of the Roman church. The council at Melfi promoted clerical celibacy and recognized Norman control of Capua by Richard; Pope Nicholas granted Apulia, Calabria, and Sicily to his vassal Robert Guiscard. In 1059 at a Lateran council 113 bishops, none of whom were from Germany, decreed that anyone contesting an election by priests and prelates was to be anathematized, thus establishing the electoral power of the cardinal bishops. The same year Pope Nicholas issued a decree against simony, and those present had to take an oath they had not received money. The next year French synods in Tours and Vienne extended the deposition for simony to the bishops making such appointments. Decrees against simony, marriage of priests, and alienation of church property and tithes were made at Avignon and Toulouse by Hugh, who was abbot of Cluny 1049-1109.
After Pope Nicholas II died suddenly in 1061, cardinals met outside of Rome and elected Lucca bishop Anselm as Pope Alexander II. A month later Heinrich IV as Patrician invested Parma bishop Cadalus as Pope Honorius II, who was called rich in silver but poor in virtue by Bonizo. Honorius was blocked by Gottfried's forces; but he gathered vassals at Parma and entered Rome in March, 1062, and his side won a bloody battle. Both papal claimants agreed to withdraw to their sees while the German court decided. Honorius contributed money, but Damian argued for Alexander, who was chosen by the Germans over the Lombard Honorius. Yet the imperial ambassador Bishop Benzo brought Honorius to Rome in 1063 though he had to escape to Parma. At a Mantua council Honorius accused Alexander, who took an oath denying simony. A mob supporting Honorius attacked the council; but Cadalus (Honorius) was excommunicated. Alexander presided over the Roman church with Hildebrand as his chief advisor. Hildebrand was a friend of William of Normandy and persuaded Pope Alexander to bless his conquest of England.
In 1060 Guiscard's Normans had taken Taranto, Brindisi, and Reggio from the Greeks; but when he invaded Sicily with Roger and captured Messina the next year, Normans rebelled in Apulia and joined the Byzantines. This revolt, another quarrel with Roger, and attacks on the Saracens in Sicily kept Guiscard busy for several years. For two years Richard of Capua protected Pope Alexander II; but after they quarreled in 1066, Richard ravaged the Papal State and threatened Rome until Gottfried of Lorraine took up arms and reconciled them. Guiscard besieged Bari in 1068, but it held out for three years until the Normans defeated the Byzantine fleet in 1071, marking the end of Byzantine power in Italy. A naval blockade also helped the Normans to take Palermo the next year.
Pope Alexander II encouraged the poor Patarines in Milan, and his representative Erlembald threatened to excommunicate Archbishop Guido, who used an interdict to force the popular preacher Ariald to leave Milan. In 1066 Ariald was murdered; but when his body was recovered ten months later, people believed it was a miracle. Now Erlembald tried to remove Guido by a canonical election; but he secretly resigned so that Gottfried could be appointed by the German court. Erlembald with an army attacked Gottfried, and part of Milan was burned in 1071. Guido withdrew and died that summer. Erlembald organized the election of Atto as archbishop of Milan in January 1072, though Heinrich IV sent an embassy insisting that Gottfried be consecrated.
Before he died in 1073, Pope Alexander II excommunicated counselors of German king Heinrich IV for consecrating the Milan archbishop Godfrey, whom Heinrich had invested in opposition to Atto. Other prominent prelates had recently died also. At Alexander's funeral the Romans acclaimed Hildebrand as the next Pope, and he was quickly elected by the cardinals. Yet Hildebrand was only a deacon; so he was ordained a priest and then consecrated Pope the following month as Gregory VII. He strongly argued for clerical celibacy as the ascetic ideal of angelic purity for a priest, who should master carnal passions and be completely devoted to the Church without the worldly distractions of family life. Unless priests were free of their wives and independent, they could not free the Church from rule by secular power. Gregory's negotiation with Robert Guiscard failed, and the Pope allied himself with Richard of Capua, as wars continued in southern Italy. Guiscard fought his own nephew Abelard in Calabria and Richard in Capua, taking Amalfi in 1073.
Previous reformers had condemned simony and concubinage; but at the Rome synod in March 1074 Gregory began to enforce these policies by deposing priests who had paid for their benefices, prohibiting all future sacerdotal marriages, requiring married priests to dismiss their wives or cease performing mass, and commanding the laity not to attend their services. People were aroused, and disobedient priests were scorned, reduced to poverty, sometimes tortured or mutilated, and sent into exile while their wives were insulted as harlots, and their children were called bastards. A Paris synod in 1074 rejected Gregory's decrees as unreasonable; four years later at Poitiers his legate got a canon adopted threatening to excommunicate anyone listening to a mass by a priest known to be guilty of simony or concubinage; but the bishops could not enforce this. Unlike his religious father, Heinrich IV had gone back to selling ecclesiastical appointments. Gregory VII believed that when princes exercised their privilege of investiture for ecclesiastical offices they became lords over the Church instead of its protectors.
In 1075 synods in Rome forbade the laity to appoint bishops or assume the right of investiture, and Gregory VII excommunicated five of Heinrich IV's counselors for simony. In his "Papal Dictates" Gregory claimed that the Roman pontiff alone can depose and reinstate bishops or make new laws, that his legate is above all bishops, that he may depose emperors and transfer bishops, that his sentence may be retracted by no one, that no one may judge him, that the Roman church has never erred, and that he may absolve subjects from their fealty to wicked men. At Christmas 1075 Gregory was abducted but was rescued by the Roman people, whom he stopped from killing his captor. Early the next year the Pope ordered Duke Rudolf of Swabia and Duke Bertolf of Carinthia to use force to stop rebellious priests from performing sacerdotal functions. Heinrich reacted by calling a council at Worms in January 1076 under Mainz archbishop Siegfried that without a hearing deposed Gregory for treason and witchcraft. A month later Pope Gregory excommunicated and deposed Heinrich, absolving his subjects from their oath of obedience; all the bishops who had deposed the Pope at Worms and Piacenza were also excommunicated. The Pope's authority to excommunicate a king had been recognized, but deposition was new. Yet religious sentiment tended to support the Pope.
Heinrich IV tried but failed to get many bishops on his side, and in October 1076 a diet near Mainz demanded that Heinrich submit to the Pope and seek absolution before their next meeting in February at Augsburg. Pope Gregory traveled north in winter but stopped at Countess Matilda's fortress at Canossa to await a safe escort into Germany. Heinrich arrived in January and for three days did penance as a sinner before the Pope agreed to see the shivering king. Heinrich agreed to submit at the meeting of German nobles at which Gregory would preside after being given a safe escort. Yet Heinrich never provided protection for the Pope's journey but instead went off to fight and defeat his rival Rudolph in 1078.
The 1074 Rome synod had also excommunicated Robert Guiscard and his followers; yet Guiscard refused to accept an alliance with Heinrich IV. Monte Cassino abbot Desiderius tried to make peace between Guiscard and the Pope but failed. However, the Normans Richard and Guiscard joined forces to besiege Salerno and Naples. While Pope Gregory was at Canossa, his last ally in southern Italy, Salerno prince Gisulf, lost his state to Guiscard. When the Duke of Apulia also besieged Benevento, Gregory again excommunicated Guiscard and more Normans. After Richard of Capua died, his son Jordan submitted to the Pope and forced Guiscard to lift the siege of Benevento. Several resentful nobles revolted against Guiscard, who fought back until Abbot Desiderius mediated peace between the Normans. Then in 1080 Guiscard subdued the remaining rebels, causing some to flee to Greece with Abelard. That summer Desiderius got Guiscard to swear fealty to Pope Gregory in exchange for papal recognition of the Norman's gains. The same year a proposed marriage of Guiscard's daughter to a son of the Byzantine emperor Michael VII collapsed, and Guiscard aimed to intervene in the Byzantine succession struggle, supported by the Pope's dreams of reuniting the church. The Normans took Corfu and besieged Dyrrhachium in 1081.
After Heinrich IV was defeated in Thuringia by Rudolph in 1080, Gregory VII again deprived Heinrich of his kingdoms in Germany and Italy, forbade the faithful to obey him, and bestowed the crown on Rudolph. Heinrich IV reacted by having a Tyrolian council of thirty bishops depose Gregory and elect excommunicated Ravenna archbishop Wibert as Pope Clement III. Thus began a double civil war between rival popes as well as two rival kings. Gregory's alliance included Countess Matilda in northern Italy, the Normans in southern Italy, and the Saxons in Germany. Heinrich crossed the Alps in 1081 with a small army and defeated Matilda's forces, but he was not able to enter Rome. After suffering a defeat by the Venetian navy of sixty ships, the Normans defeated the Byzantine army led by Emperor Alexius and took Dyrrhachium in 1082. Venice gained the privilege of trading free of dues throughout the Byzantine empire. Alexius had also sent aid to Heinrich IV and instigated Abelard and Herman to revolt in Apulia. After Guiscard departed to help Gregory in Rome, his son Bohemond won several victories; but he was defeated near Larissa by Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus in 1083, and the unpaid Normans returned to Italy.
Heinrich IV with a larger army was able to occupy Rome in 1083, though Gregory held out in the castle of St. Angelo. The next year a synod in Rome deposed Gregory and consecrated Clement III, who crowned Heinrich Emperor and his wife Bertha Empress. Duke Guiscard organized an army of 6,000 cavalry and 30,000 infantry to march on Rome. Three days before the Normans arrived in May 1084, Heinrich IV retreated from Rome. On the third day after Guiscard took Rome, people supporting the imperialist cause rose up and were brutally put down by the Normans and their Saracen auxiliaries from Sicily, who slaughtered, pillaged, burned a quarter of the city, and sold thousands into slavery. Gregory was liberated and fled to Salerno. Guiscard returned to the war against the Byzantines, managing to capture Corfu and win a major naval victory at Cassiopo, causing Venice Doge Domenico Selvo (r. 1071-1084) to abdicate; but after an epidemic ravaged his army, Robert Guiscard died of typhoid in 1085. Pope Gregory renewed the ban on Heinrich IV and the anti-pope, sending a letter to the German Christians; but Gregory VII also died in 1085.
Clement III still held part of Rome; but in 1086 Monte Cassino abbot Desiderius was elected Pope Victor III, and Guiscard's son, Apulia duke Roger Borsa (r. 1085-1111), helped restore him to Rome, though Victor died the next year. In Sicily the Normans finally captured Syracuse in 1085, but the Saracens were not driven from the island until 1091. In 1088 another former prior of Cluny, Ostia bishop Odo, was elected at Tarracina and became Pope Urban II, and he soon controlled all of Rome except the castle of St. Angelo. He arranged a political marriage between the widowed Countess Matilda and the young Guelph of Bavaria, though they were divorced in 1095. In a long Italian civil war the papal party became known as the Guelfs while the imperialists were called Ghibellines. Philip I of France was excommunicated for adultery in 1094 at Autun in Burgundy, and the Pope ratified it the next year. Urban encouraged the revolt of Heinrich IV's son Conrad, who was crowned king of Italy in 1093. Pope Urban held a synod at Piacenza in 1095 that was attended by 4,000 clergy and 30,000 lay people meeting in a field; but what might be the most consequential sermon ever was preached by Urban II at Clermont in November 1095 when he called for a crusade to capture Jerusalem from the Muslims.
Edward (the Confessor) was elected king by the nobles in 1042 and was crowned nine months later on Easter. Edward had been brought up by Norman clergy at Jumiéges and other monasteries, and he immediately filled his court with Normans, Flemings, and Bretons. In 1043 King Edward, Wessex earl Godwin, Mercia earl Leofric, and Northumbria earl Siward accused Edward's mother Emma of treason for plotting with Norway's king Magnus, and she lost her lands and property. Edward appointed Jumiéges abbot Robert to be bishop of London in 1044, and the Norman Ulf became bishop of Dorchester. The next year Earl Godwin persuaded Edward to marry his daughter Edith and give her many estates. Godwin then obtained earldoms for his sons Swegn, Harold, and Beorn. Edward made his nephew Ralf of Mantes earl in Herefordshire to balance Swegn, and two Breton lords were made earls to check Harold.
Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, king of Gwynedd and Powys, had invaded Mercia in 1039 and defeated their army, killing Earl Leofric's brother Eadwine. Godwin's son Swegn helped Gruffydd attack South Wales in 1046. While returning through Herefordshire Swegn abducted or seduced the Leominster abbess Eadgifu; he held her for a year before threats by Canterbury archbishop Eadsige compelled him to surrender her; then he fled to Bruges and Denmark. Swegn's earldom was given to Edward's nephew Ralf of Mantes. Swegn returned in 1049; but he quarreled with his Danish cousin, Earl Beorn, and murdered him. When Godfrey condoned these offenses, Edward set aside the newly elected Aelfric, a relative of Godwin, and in 1050 selected instead Robert of Jumiéges to be archbishop of Canterbury, while a Norman named William became bishop of London instead of Godfrey's friend, Abbot Spearhavoc of Abingdon.
In 1051 King Edward relieved the people's tax burden by abolishing the heregeld that had been levied annually to pay the king's retainers. That year Boulogne count Eustace visited Edward, and at Dover the count's soldiers killed a man; the quarrel escalated, and several were killed on both sides. Edward ordered Godfrey to punish the burghers of Dover, but he refused to attack his own people. The king summoned Godfrey, and Robert of Jumiéges brought up the old charge that Godfrey had been responsible for the murder of Edward's brother Alfred fifteen years before. Suspecting a blood-feud, Godwin called his thegns to arms and charged Ralf of Hereford with oppressing the English. Godwin marched his forces to Gloucestershire and demanded that the king surrender Eustace and his men. When earls Leofric of Mercia and Siward of Northumbria brought their warriors south to support the king, Godwin agreed to disband his forces; but he was afraid to attend the council (witan) without a promise of safe conduct. Godwin and his sons Swegn and Tostig fled to Flanders count Baldwin V, while his sons Harold and Leofwine went to Ireland. Queen Edith was deprived of her estates and sent to a nunnery at Wherwell, while Normans and Bretons arrived to obtain Godwin's lands, though Earl Leofric gained Beorn's estates, and Leofric's son Aelfgar took over Harold's earldom of East Anglia. Some of Swegn's earldom went to Odda.
Edward made a treaty with Normandy duke William in 1051, and discontent with Norman influence was increased by the visit of William to Edward's court. In 1052 Godwin returned to claim his estates. This time Leofric and Siward would not support Edward, and the archbishop Robert and bishop Ulf fled to the continent. A new witan met and restored the possessions of Godfrey and his family while outlawing many foreigners. Edith returned to court, and Stigand took over the see of Canterbury. Although Svein died on a penitent pilgrimage at Constantinople, and Godfrey died in 1053, his estates went to Harold, who became earl of Wessex as Aelfgar, son of Leofric of Mercia, was again appointed earl of East Anglia. The aging Edward turned his attention from politics to sport and religion.
In 1040 Macbeth (subject of Shakespeare's tragedy) had attacked and killed Scot king Duncan. Perhaps to assuage his conscience, in 1050 Macbeth went on a pilgrimage to Rome and gave money to the poor. In 1054 Siward helped his Scotch grandson Malcolm, son of Duncan, by attacking at Dunsinane and defeating King Macbeth even though Macbeth was the first to use Norman mercenaries in Scotland. Three years later Macbeth was killed, and Malcolm III Canmore (r. 1058-1093) became king of Scotland after Macbeth's stepson Lulach was killed. When Siward died in 1055, Harold's brother Tostig became earl of Northumbria. Mercia earl Leofric and his wife Godgifu had endowed a monastery at Coventry in 1043. According to a later account by Roger of Wendover, Countess Godgifu (Godiva) pleaded with her husband to abolish Coventry's heavy toll. In 1057 he promised to do so if she would ride naked through the marketplace; she did so, covered by her long hair. This legendary story has been explained as a variation of the Saxon fertility rite of having a naked maiden paraded in the center of the village. In 1059 King Malcolm visited Edward with Tostig and the archbishop of York. Yet when Tostig was on embassy with York archbishop Ealdred to Rome in 1061, the Scots raided Northumbria.
After Edward had Gruffydd's brother Rhys assassinated, Gruffydd ap Rhydderch's forces killed a patrol of Englishmen near Westbury in 1053. Gruffydd ap Llywelyn had conquered all of Wales by 1055. That year Earl Aelfgar resented the rise of Tostig and was banished from England for treason. Gruffydd ap Llywelyn and Aelfgar, who collected eighteen ships in Ireland, invaded England, defeated Earl Ralf, and burned Hereford after plundering the cathedral. Harold raised an army that forced them to retreat, and negotiations restored Aelfgar to his earldom and estates. Hereford bishop Athelstan died a few months later, and Harold's chaplain Leofgar succeeded him; but he was killed with a small force trying to get revenge against Gruffydd in 1056. Again the English army was called out, and Gruffydd agreed to do homage to King Edward, who granted him some land. Aelfgar gave his daughter Ealdgyth in marriage to Gruffydd. The next year Ralf died, and Aelfgar became earl of Mercia; but he was outlawed for treason and died in 1062, succeeded by his eldest son, young Edwin. That Christmas Harold took the opportunity to attack the base of Gruffyd's power at Rhuddlan, forcing the Welsh king to flee and liberating southern Wales from its conqueror. In May 1063 while Harold was advancing from the south, Earl Tostig's Northumbrian cavalry invaded Gwynedd, and the fugitive Gruffydd was killed by his own men. Gwynedd and Powys were made tributary provinces of Bleddyn and his brother Rhiwallon, and the land Gruffydd had occupied was once again England.
Mystery and doubt surrounds an adventure of Harold to the continent in which he was captured by a count named Guy. Harold was sent to Duke William's court in Normandy and accompanied him on a campaign against Duke Conan of Brittany. A tapestry portrays Harold giving arms to the Duke of Normandy and swearing an oath to William. Harold later argued that his oath to support William's claim to the throne of England was invalid because it was compelled. In Northumbria Tostig had caused the deaths and seized the estates of Gamel and Ulf while imposing heavy taxes, and in 1065 rebels supported by Edwin of Mercia seized York and elected Edwin's younger brother Morcar to replace Tostig as earl. Their combined forces met Harold's militia in the Thames valley, and their conditions were accepted. King Edward recognized Morcar as earl of Northumbria, and Tostig once again fled to his father-in-law in Flanders. Siward's son Waltheof was made earl of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire. On January 5, 1066 King Edward died at Westminster, and the very next day Harold was crowned king of England.
Northumbrians did not accept Harold as king until he visited the north, and Bishop Wulfstan of Worcester persuaded them England was in danger of foreign invasion. In May 1066 Harold's brother Tostig with Flemings attacked the coast of Sussex and occupied Sandwich; but they were defeated by Earl Edwin and the Lindsey militia, while Morcar's Northumbrians prevented them from landing in Yorkshire. Tostig fled with twelve small ships to Scotland. While Harold was preparing for an invasion by the Normans, Norway's king Harald with 300 ships landed soldiers on the Yorkshire coast. While England's Harold marched his army north, the forces of Edwin and Morcar tried to stop the Norwegians at Fulford near York; many of their men were killed or drowned in the Ouse River on September 20. The city of York made a separate peace with the invaders and gave the Norwegian king hostages and food. Five days later at Stamford Bridge Harold's English army defeated the Norwegians, killing King Harald and Tostig. Harald's son Olaf and Orkney earl Paul made peace with King Harold, swore not to attack England again, and sailed away with only 24 ships of survivors.
Three days later on September 28, 1066 William's Normans in about 500 ships landed at Pevensey and constructed a fortress in a ruined Roman fort. A few days later they built a castle at Hastings. Meanwhile King Harold marched an army of about 7,000 men from York to Hastings. William's army was smaller but consisted of very well trained knights. On October 14 William used strategy to break up the English men and rallied his knights. King Harold and his brothers Gyrth and Leofwine were killed. The only royal leader the English could find was the young Atheling Edgar of the Cerdic line. The Normans were surrounding London when Archbishop Stigand swore fealty to William at Wallingford, and the Atheling party collapsed as Edgar, Edwin, Morcar, York archbishop Ealdred, Worcester bishop Wulfstan, Hereford bishop Walter, and the leading men of London also did homage at Berkhamstead. William promised to treat them well; but London had not yet surrendered, and the Normans continued to ravage the countryside. William was anointed king of England by York archbishop Ealdred at Westminster on Christmas day in the eventful year of 1066.
King William imposed heavy taxes on England and demanded extra funds from those who had helped his enemies. Lands of those killed were confiscated. Many Englishwomen went into nunneries to avoid being raped by Normans. William enforced a murdrum fine on villages wherever a Norman was found dead. In March 1067 William visited Normandy, taking with him Edgar, Edwin, Morcar, and Waltheof while leaving England under the newly appointed earls, William fitz Osbern of Hereford and his half-brother Bayeux bishop Odo of Kent. Count Eustace of Boulogne landed at Dover and was supported by some English; but they were defeated by the castle's garrison, and he departed. Continued resistance resulted in the English aristocracy losing its political influence. Edgar fled to Scotland, while Edwin and Morcar tried to organize men at York. William sent Copsi to govern Northumbria, but after five weeks he was killed by Eadwulf's son Oswulf, who acted as earl until he was slain by a brigand. His cousin Cospatric bought the earldom from William; but he joined the Atheling party. So King William replaced him with Robert de Comines, but he was burned to death in the bishop's house at Durham in January 1069. The English attacked York, but William relieved the garrison and built a second castle for Earl William fitz Osbern.
Denmark king Svein Estridsson sent a fleet of 240 ships with Danes and Norwegians that joined the English forces organized at York by Edgar, Cospatric, and Waltheof. The Normans set fire to York but suffered a heavy defeat. William arrived and forced his foes to cross to the Yorkshire coast while the Normans suppressed rebellions in the rest of England. A thegn in Herefordshire called Edric the Wild had gained Welsh princes as allies, but they could not take the castle the Normans had built at Shrewsbury. William defeated the insurgency at Stafford; but while he was gone, the Danes re-occupied York. William isolated them by devastating the surrounding country, and the Danes agreed to return to their ships but were allowed to stay the winter. Waltheof and Cospatric submitted, and the remaining Mercian uprising was crushed on the Cheshire plain. Castles were built at Chester and Stafford, and William returned to Wessex and dismissed his mercenaries before Easter in 1070. That spring King Svein arrived at the Humber, and the Danish fleet broke their agreement, supported by many English led by Lincolnshire thegn Hereward. However, that summer Svein agreed to a treaty with William, and the Danes evacuated Ely and left.
Hereward stayed and was joined in 1071 by Morcar, whose brother Edwin had been killed by his own men while fleeing to Scotland. Edgar fled to Flanders, where Count Robert had become independent of William. Trying to hold on to Cumbria and Lothian, Malcolm's Scots raided England in 1070, but two years later William made Malcolm become his vassal. Also in 1072 William made Waltheof earl of Northumbria as he married the king's niece Judith. Ralf had succeeded his father as earl of East Anglia. Yet in 1075 Hereford earl Roger joined in a rebellion with Waltheof and Ralf, who was supported by many knights he had known in Brittany. They were supported by about 200 ships brought by Knut, who had just lost a struggle for the crown of Denmark with his brother Harald; but the rebellion was suppressed before the Danes arrived, and the fleet soon returned to Denmark. Ralf escaped to Brittany; his wife fought on but was later allowed to join him. Roger lost his lands and was imprisoned for life. As an Englishman Waltheof was beheaded for treason. Durham bishop Walcher became earl of Northumbria.
William allowed most English institutions to continue; but the Normans did bring some innovations such as jury trials. At a council in 1076 courts of ecclesiastical jurisdiction were established in England, and Canterbury archbishop Lanfranc introduced legislation aimed at stopping simony and clerical marriages in the future, though in practice such relationships continued to be formed as sons still inherited benefices. Lanfranc wrote Consuetudines, which recommended various continental practices for monks, and he reduced the number of English saints on the calendar, because he doubted their merits had been proven. Perhaps the biggest change the Normans brought to England was its partition into a military aristocracy as Normans took over many estates. Peasants were forbidden to hunt in the king's forests. King Knut also had a law against this; but the New Forest was now made a royal preserve by the king's edict. Frenchmen were given special protection such that if one were killed, the lord of the hundred where the murder occurred had to pay the king 46 marks. Most of English law remained the same, though capital punishment was reduced to mutilation.
By 1080 King William was reconciled with his son Robert, who was sent with an army to invade Scotland. Knut became king of Denmark in 1081, and four years later he tried to organize an invasion of England with his brother-in-law, Flanders count Robert, and King Olaf of Norway; but before he could get under way, Knut was murdered by rebels in 1086. William needed to quarter his mercenaries in England and distributed them according to the assessment of estates. To facilitate these calculations the king ordered the famous Domesday Survey in 1086. That August in a large council at Salisbury landowners swore fealty to King William, implying that vassals not only must serve their immediate lord but England's sovereign as well. William was spending more of his time on the continent, and in 1087 he was wounded in a battle against Frank king Philip over Mantes. The dying William granted the Normandy duchy to his son Robert, and his son William Rufus was given the kingdom of England.
William Rufus left his father's side shortly before he died on September 9, 1087. He went to England and met with Archbishop Lanfranc, who anointed him King William II at Westminster on September 26. The main opposition was led by Bishop Odo, Earl of Kent, and his brother Robert, who was aided by Gilbert of Clare and Eustace of Boulogne. Most of the English and the prelates supported William except for Durham bishop William of St. Carilef. By June 1088 the rebel fortresses at Dover, Rochester, Pevensey, and Tonbridge had submitted, and Odo, who resented having been banished by Lanfranc before, was once again in exile. Some Norman nobles, who had been encouraged by William's brother Robert, were also banished. The Bishop of Durham was put on trial and eventually was allowed to appeal to the Pope although he had to surrender Durham Castle. In 1089 William's chief advisor Lanfranc died, and the king turned to a chaplain named Ranulf Flambard, who was ruthlessly effective at raising money. His first advice was to leave the see of Canterbury vacant so that the king could collect its revenues. Game laws and local moots were made more severe with higher fines, and he revived the Danegald assessment that had been reduced by Edward and William I.
Duke Robert of Normandy resented his younger brother getting the kingdom of England, and war soon broke out between the brothers as many Norman lords had land in both realms. In 1090 William Rufus invaded eastern Normandy. William then met Duke Robert at Caen and offered to help him in fighting their younger brother Henri in western Normandy in exchange for certain lands in eastern Normandy. They defeated Heinrich in 1091 and divided his lands. News that Scotland's king Malcolm III had invaded Northumbria brought William back to England; but when King William II arrived, Malcolm did him homage. However, in 1092 William broke the peace by attacking Cumberland and Westmoreland, which had been part of Scotland since King Edmund ceded them to Malcolm I in 945. After William treated him as a vassal, Malcolm III invaded England the next year; but the Scotch king was killed in an ambush near Alnwick. After the death of Queen Margaret, daughter of Atheling Edgar, the Celtic party made Malcolm's brother Donaldbane king rather than her sons; but four years later William sent the Atheling Edgar with Norman knights to Scotland; they forced Donaldbane into exile and made Margaret's son Edgar king.
In 1093 William Rufus had fallen ill, and in his remorse he appointed the Bec abbot Anselm archbishop of Canterbury. After he recovered, the king made demands on Anselm for aid and forbade him to implement reforms. Anselm refused to pay and left for Rome in 1095. Skirmishes with the Welsh had been going on since 1088, and in 1093 Rhys ap Tewdwr was killed near Brecknock. Roger of Montgomery led an invasion of Dyfed, where his son Arnulf built a castle at Pembroke. A Welsh attack in 1094 forced the Normans out of Anglesey and destroyed many new castles, and the next year they stopped an invading army that was led by King William II. In 1094 William had invaded Normandy again but failed to take Caen, because Philip, King of France, came to the aid of Robert of Normandy. In 1095 a revolt against William's heavy taxation was led by Northumbrian earl Robert of Mowbray, who had been allowed to return; but the rebels were defeated after a few months when Robert was captured. His wife Matilda surrendered rather than see her husband blinded. Robert of Mowbray was imprisoned for life; Roger de Lacy fled to the continent and forfeited his estates; Shrewsbury earl Hugh paid 3,000 pounds and was pardoned; Holderness earl Odo was imprisoned and forfeited his estates; and William of Eu fought on, was defeated, and blinded.
1. Quoted in Bronsted, Johannes, The Vikings, p. 251.
2. Quoted in The Middle Ages: Sources of Medieval History ed. Brian Tierney, Volume 1, p. 127.
3. Opuscula Varia (Migne, Patrologia Latina, vol. 145, tr. J. B. R. quoted in The Portable Medieval Reader ed. James Bruce Ross and Mary Martin McLaughlin, p. 50.
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