Page 1198


and in 887 he was driven from the throne, to

spend the remaining year of his life on an esstate in Suabia.

At this crisis nature again asserted her

superiority over legitimacy. Duke Arnulf,

the bastard grandson of Louis the German,

was recognized as the successor of Charles

the Fat in Germany. The Frankish dominions, as already narrated, began to be

dismembered. The kingdom of Burgundy

was founded, with Aries for its capital. In

Italy, Berengar, duke of Friuli, seized upon

the inheritance of the Carlovingians; while

Eastern France and Western Switzerland

were given to Duke Conrad, grandson of

Louis the Debonair. As for King Arnulf,

he adopted the policy of attending strictly

to his own dominions. He successfully and

finally drove back the Danes from his northern

and the Bohemians from his eastern frontiers.

Against the latter people he pursued his

advantage by making an invasion of their

country. Half-barbaric Bohemia was thus

ground between the upper and the nether

millstone. For at this juncture the fierce,

blood-drinking Magyars, most savage of

the Finnish race, had burst out of Hungary on the east, and were rivaling the

hordes of Attila in their devastating


Having completed his conquest in Bohemia, Arnulf returned into his own kingdom,

and in 894 was called to Italy to assist Berengar against a dangerous rival. But the

most important of Arnulf's acts related to the

Church. Ambitious to be made Emperor,

and therefore eager to secure the support of

the popes, the king favored the ecclesiastical

body to the last degree. He issued an edict

that the civil officers should execute the decrees of the clergy; and to this was added

another that those who were excommunicated

should forfeit all civil rights. The hitherto

but half-avowed purposes of the popes to

claim a temporal dominion over the nations,

began to be more openly advanced under the

stimulus thus afforded by the secular ruler of

Germany. In the mean time a series of documents, called the Isidorian Decretals, were

brought to light and gave still further encouragement to the ambitions of the Roman pontiffs. These celebrated parchments received

their .name from Bishop Isidorus, of Seville,

by whom they were said to have been written.

They purported to be a reproduction of the

decrees of the ancient councils of the Church,

and in them the claims of the popes to be

regarded as the vicars of Christ, the vice-

regents of God on earth, and the rightful

arbiters of all human affairs, whether ecclesiastical or civil, were unequivocally asserted. Upon these claims the Church now

planted herself, and looked here and there

for the means with which to maintain her


King Arnulf soon found his reward. The

Pope Formosus was at this time in the power

of a Lombard prince, on whose head he

had been compelled to place the crown

of empire. Under the pretext of liberating

His Holiness from bondage, the German

king led an army into Italy, set free Formosus, captured Rome, and was himself

crowned as Emperor. Here, however, his

good fortune came to a sudden end. Shortly

after his coronation he was poisoned, and

though he lingered for three years before

death put a period to his sufferings, he had

little further control of public affairs. He

died in 899, and was succeeded by his son,

known as Louis the Child, the last prince

of the Carlovingian line in Germany. He

occupied the throne from his father's death

until the year 910, when he and the German

army were defeated in a great battle with

the Hungarians. The young king fled from

the field of his overthrow, consented to pay

tribute as a condition of peace, and died in

the following year.

On the extinction of the Carlovingian

House in Germany, the crown of that kingdom would, according to the terms of the

treaty of Verdun, have descended to Charles

the Simple, then on the throne of France.

But the German nobles had become too independent to submit themselves again to a

Frankish sovereign. They accordingly met

in a diet at Forcheim and chose for their king

Duke Conrad of Franconia. He belonged

by family to the Salian Franks, and thus was

established what is known as the Salian Dynasty, instead of the Carlovingian. Pope

Stephen III. had threatened to anathematize

all who acknowledged allegiance to any Emperor not a descendant of Charlemagne. But

King Conrad, fearing him not, accepted the

honor conferred by the diet, and was crowned

by Hatto, archbishop of Mayence.