Page 1263

1263 FEUDAL ASCENDENCY-FEUDAL GERMANY.

and state, and demanded the old time right of

nominating the Pope. This claim was resisted by the Empress, who in 1058 raised

Nicholas II. to the throne. In a short time

the new pontiff surprised the queen regent

by abandoning the interests of the Empire

and casting in his lot with the Norman

barons and new-born republican cities of

Italy. In the home kingdom, also, the

feudal broils were perpetually renewed. A

conspiracy was made to destroy Prince Henry

and change the dynasty. When the first

plot was foiled, a second was formed under

the lead of Hanno, archbishop of Cologne.

The purpose now was to wrest Henry IV.

from his mother, drive her into retirement,

and transfer the regency to some prince

who was able to exercise Imperial authority.

Hanno succeeded in enticing young Henry

on board his vessel at Kaiserswerth. Here the

royal lad, then but twelve years of age, was

seized by the conspirators and forcibly

carried away. Shortly afterwards a meeting of the princes was held, and the young

king was placed under the guardianship of

Hanno.

The severity of his protector soon alienated both Henry and the nobles of the Empire. A counter revolution deprived Hanno

of the guardianship, and the same was transferred to Adelbert of Bremen. The latter

held the troublesome distinction until 1065,

when the prince, then reaching the age

of fifteen, was invested with the sword of

manhood. Taking the government upon

himself, Henry reluctantly accepted Hanno

as his chief counselor, the latter being forced

upon him by the princes of Cologne and

others affiliated with them.

At the age of seventeen the young king

took for his wife the Italian princess, Bertha.

But in the course of three years he wearied

of his choice and sought to be divorced.

The Archbishop of Mayence gave his sanction; but Hildebrand, now the chancellor

of Pope Alexander II., induced the pontiff

to deny the king's wishes, and Henry was

obliged to yield. His humiliation over

the failure of the project was compensated

by the death of the old enemy of his House,

Godfrey of Lorraine. About the same time

another foe, Duke Otho of Bavaria, was

seized by the king's party and deprived

of his duchy. Both these events tended powerfully to establish Henry in the Empire, but the tendency was somewhat neutralized by the hostile attitude of Magnus of Saxony. The Saxons had never been

patient under the rule of the Franconian

Emperors, and circumstances now favored

a general revolt of the nation. The people, under the leadership of the deposed

Duke of Bavaria, rose to the number of

sixty thousand, marched upon the castle

of Harzburg, and demanded of Henry the

dismissal of his counselors and a reform of

the government. This the king refused, and

was thereupon besieged in his castle.

When the situation became critical, he escaped from Harzburg and fled almost without a following. Not until he reached the

Rhine was there any general uprising in his

favor. The cities in this region, however,

had grown restive under the domination of

the bishops, and were eager to begin a revolution by receiving the fugitive Emperor.

His fortunes were thus stayed by a powerful support, but he was presently obliged

to make peace with the Saxons, who dictated

their own terms of settlement. They even

proceeded to the extreme of demolishing

the Emperor's castle and church at Harzburg,

where the bones of his father were buried.

This flagrant abuse of victory soon turned

the tide in favor of Henry, who rallied a

large army, entered the country of the Saxons,

and inflicted on them an overwhelming defeat. Thus at length were all parts of the

Empire reduced to submission, and the

throne of Henry IV seemed more firmly

established than that of any former Emperor

of the German race.

Now it was, however, that the great

monk Hildebrand, after having molded

the policy of the papacy during four successive pontificates, himself assumed the

tiara, and, with the title of Gregory VII,

took the seat of St. Peter. He was without doubt the greatest genius of his age,

and the work of his far-reaching intellect

in establishing a new order throughout

Christendom has continued to be felt for

more than eight hundred years. Coming

to the papal throve in 1073, he at once set

about recasting the whole policy and form

of the papal Church. At the first the Bishop

of Rome had neither claimed nor exercised any special preeminence over the other