Page 1257

1257 FEUDAL ASCENDENCY.-FEUDAL GERMANY.

Burgundy, who, as will be remembered, had

designed to give his kingdom to Henry II.,

now changed his mind and resisted the

claims of Conrad. In Poland, also, King

Boleslau annulled the existing treaty and

refused any longer to recognize the tributary

relation of the kingdom. Just at the time,

however, when the Empire seemed to totter,

the Polish king died, and while his sons were

engaged in a violent quarrel about the succession Conrad found opportunity to reestablish his sovereignty over the country.

In Burgundy also the childless Rudolph III.

was presently obliged to yield to the logic

of events and acknowledge Conrad as his

successor. With Canute the Great of England

the Emperor made a treaty by which the

Eider was established as his boundary on the

side of Denmark.

Having thus effected a settlement of the

affairs north of the Alps, Conrad next turned

his attention to the insurgent Lombards. He

led an army across the mountains, and early

in 1026 entered the valley of the Po. Finding Pavia in the hands of the rebels, the king

proceeded to Milan, where he received, at

the hands of the nobles, the iron crown of

Lombardy. In the course of a single year

all Northern Italy yielded to his sway. In

the following spring he continued his course

to Rome, where he was welcomed by Pope

John XIX., one of the Tusculan pontiffs,

being now but twelve years of age. At the

hands of this sage father of the Holy See,

Conrad received the golden crown of Empire.

Canute of England and Rudolph of Burgundy

were present on the occasion, which was

signalized by the betrothal of Gunhilde,

daughter of Canute, to Prince Henry, son of

the Emperor.

In the mean time the adventurous Normans

had made their way into Southern Italy, and

had there succeeded in expelling from the

country the Greeks and the Saracens. After

their manner they took possession for themselves, and a new Normandy was about to be

established in the South. Conrad found it

necessary to stretch out the Imperial scepter

towards the Mediterranean. But the Normans, though they readily assumed the relation of vassals to the crown, refused to leave

the provinces which they had conquered.

Thus did the blood of the northern races

assert itself as far as the strait of Messina.

During the absence of the Emperor in

Italy, an alarming condition of affairs had

supervened in Germany. Duke Ernest II of Suabia, step-son of Conrad, raised the

standard of revolt and laid claim to the

crown of Burgundy. On reaching the paternal

kingdom the Emperor marched against the

insurgents, defeated Ernest and threw him

into prison. The prayers of Gisela, the

rebel prince's mother, at length prevailed

to secure him his liberation. But he failed

to keep faith with the crown, united himself

with Count Werner of Kyburg, became an

outlaw in the Black Forest, and was soon

afterwards killed in a battle with the Imperial troops. Such, however, had been the

daring career which the rebellious prince had

run that he became a popular hero, and his

exploits were sung in the ballads and recited

in the traditions of a story-loving people.

Duke Ernest was the Robin Hood of Germany.

The affairs of Poland, after an epoch of

turbulence subsequent to the death of Boleslau, at length fell to a calm. The Poles

again asserted their independence of the German crown, and Conrad invaded the country

to reestablish his authority. But the expedition ended in disaster. The Imperial army

was utterly defeated and forced back to the

river Elbe. By this time a war had broken

out between Count Albert of Austria and

King Stephen of Hungary. The latter had

succeeded in inducing his people to abandon

paganism, and had himself, in the year 1000,

been baptized by Pope Sylvester II; but his piety, which afterwards gained for him

the appellation of Saint, did not save him

from the lust of war. Count Albert appealed to the Emperor for aid, and the Hungarians were obliged to consent to a treaty of peace dictated by the conquerors. A

settlement having been reached on the

Danubian frontier, Conrad found opportunity

to renew the war with the Poles. In this

also, he was successful, and Poland again

became tributary to the Empire. In 1032

Rudolph of Burgundy fulfilled the promise

which he had made ,by sending his crown and

scepter to the Emperor. Hereupon, Count

Odo of Champagne, who as the next relative

to Rudolph, claimed the duchy of Burgundy,

and raised a revolt in the southern part of that

province.