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1255 FEUDAL ASCENDENCY-FEUDAL GERMANY.

court on the Aventine. But his presence was

poorly brooked by the insurgent people. Moved

partly by his unpleasant surroundings and

partly by curiosity, Otho slipped out of the

city by night and made a visit to Venice.

On his return to Rome, however, he found

the gates closed against him. Enraged

at this inhospitable reception, he gathered

a force and began a siege of the city. But

before he could make any impression upon

the defenses he sickened and died, being at

that time in the sixth year of his reign and

the twenty-third of his age. His body was

taken in charge by his followers, who cut

their way through the Roman insurgents,

bore their lifeless burden across the Alps,

and buried it in the royal tomb at Aix la Chapelle.

In the following year, A. D. 1003, Sylvester II died, and the papal seat was seized upon

by the counts of Tusculum. By them an effort was now made to apply the hereditary

principle to the Holy See, and to establish

a papal succession in their own family.

One of the counts, then a youth but seventeen

years of age, was raised to the pontifical

dignity with the title of John XVII, and

in the course of the following nine years

he was succeeded by three others as immature

as himself. Thus, while the Imperial crown

of Germany, so ably and honorably worn

by Otho the Great, descended to a fantastic

stripling incapable of any great and serious

enterprise, the papal tiara in like manner

declined from the broad brow of Leo VII to rest on the ridiculous heads of the boyish

incompetents, John XVIII and Sergius IV. Such was the waning and eclipse of the

magnificent dream of Charlemagne to

reestablish the ancient empire in state and

Church.

At the death of Otho III. the Imperial

crown was claimed by three of the German

princes. The choice fell at length upon the

late Emperor's cousin, Duke Henry of Bavaria, great grandson of Henry the Fowler.

The election of this prince was seriously opposed by the dukes of Saxony, Suabia, and

Lorraine; and for a season the Empire was

threatened with disruption. But in due time

the refractory electors submitted, and the

authority of Henry was recognized throughout

Germany. Not so, however, in the South.

The disposition to regard Italy as a separate kingdom was more and more manifest, and

the Italians were quick to perceive the difference between a powerful sovereign like Otho

the Great and the present wearer of the Imperial crown.

During the greater part of his reign

Henry II was vexed with the complication of his affairs south of the Alps. But a

more pressing demand was made upon the

military resources of Germany in repelling

the aggressions of the Poles. For Boleslau,

the reigning Duke of Poland, a brave and

warlike prince, undertook to unite Bohemia

and all the Slavonic countries eastward

of the Elbe into an independent kingdom.

The German territories in this region were

thus about to be wrested away from the

parent state and absorbed in a foreign dominion. The first sixteen years of Henry II's

reign were almost wholly consumed in warfare

with the Poles. One bloody campaign after

another was waged, until at last, in 1018,

peace was concluded by the acceptance of a

dependent relation on the part of Poland.

But to compensate for this humble position

as a tributary of the German Empire, the

Saxon province of Meissen was forced into

a like relation of dependence upon the Polish

duchy.

While these events had been in progress

beyond the Elbe the Wends had again revolted and obtained the mastery of Northern

Prussia. In that region the authority of

the Empire was overthrown and paganism

established on the ruins of the Church. In

the mean time Arduin, duke of Ivrea, had

once more induced the Lombards to throw

off their allegiance. Independence was declared and the duke was chosen king. As

early as 1006 Henry II was obliged to lead

an army across the mountains in order

to restore quiet to Italy. Proceeding against

Pavia he laid siege to that city, which was

presently taken and burned. Believing the

insurrection at an end the king returned

into Germany. But no sooner were the

Alps between him and Arduin than the

latter again came to the front as the leader

of the revolution. Pope Benedict VIII, the third of the boy pontiffs of the Tusculan dynasty, was so hard pressed by the

insurgents that he fled to Germany, and

besought Henry to aid him in recovering the

chair of St. Peter. In 1013 the king