THE HOLY ROMAN
EMPIRE: THE SAXONS & SALIANS (919 - 1125)
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
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
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.
(Click on the map to see the
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.
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.
GERMANY & AUSTRIA