Andrew Andersen








Germany (or East Frankish Kingdom) was ruled by the Kings elected among the territorial Dukes. The first King of Germany was Conrad, Duke of Franconia (911-18) who was followed by Henry, Duke of Saxony (919-36), the founder of the Saxon Dynasty. Henry's elected successor was his son Otto (936-73) who later was called Otto the Great, due to his glorious reign.


After allying himself with the church, Otto defeated the rebellious dukes and reduced German particularism. otto and his successors started German expansion eastwards into semi-independent Slavic territories as well as Poland and Bohemia. That expansion also known as Drang nach Osten did not mean putting the territories under formal German rule only but also colonizing them with German peasants and building German cities.



Under the leadership of Otto Germany successfully ended Magyar (Hungarian) expansion in West-Central Europe by defeating them at the Battle of Lechfeld in 955.


Seven years later (962) Otto took over the Middle Kingdom and in 962 was crowned an Emperor by the Pope in Rome. That was the foundation of the Holy Roman Empire that lasted until the early 19th century and united not only German-speaking lands but also Northern and partially Central Italy. many historians however believe that the creation of the Holy Roman Empire and the involvement of the German Kings in Italian affairs and strives was drawing their attention away from Germany proper thus strengthening German particularism.





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Source: The Penguin Atlas of World History, Vol. 1, 1974. p. 168

Flag of the

Holy Roman Empire


The Saxon dynasty continued until 1024 when the German crown was taken over by the Salians. Under the Salians, the Empire became dominant in Europe. The Salian period was also marked with the conflict between King Henry IV (1056-1106) and Gregory VII, the Pope of Rome, who questioned the concept of "Monarchy by Divine right". The conflict developed into a devastating war of 1077-1122 which resulted in the Concordat of Worms 16 years after the death of King Henry IV.




The above conflict reversed the centralization tendency in the Empire and increased the power of local lords. It was also under the Salians when the German feudal hierarchy finally formed.