Conrad II, Holy Roman Emperor
|This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the German Wikipedia. (July 2012)|
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (January 2011)|
|Conrad II, depicted in the Chronicle of Ekkehard von Aura|
|Reign||1024 – 4 June 1039|
|Reign||26 March 1027 – 4 June 1039|
|Coronation||26 March 1027
|Predecessor||Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor|
|Successor||Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor|
|Consort||Gisela of Swabia|
|Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor|
|Father||Henry, Count of Speyer|
|Mother||Adelaide of Alsace|
|Died||4 June 1039
Conrad II (c. 990 – 4 June 1039), also known as Conrad the Elder, was Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire from 1027 until his death. The founder of the Salian dynasty of emperors, Conrad also served as King of Germany from 1024, King of Italy from 1026, and King of Burgundy from 1033.
The son of a mid-level nobleman in Franconia, Count Henry of Speyer and Adelaide of Alsace, he inherited the titles of count of Speyer and of Worms as an infant when his father died. Conrad extended his power beyond his inherited lands, receiving the favor of the princes of the Kingdom of Germany. When the Saxon-based Ottonian dynasty of emperors died off with the childless Emperor Henry II, Conrad was elected to succeed him as King in 1024 at the age of 34. Conrad founded his own dynasty of rulers, known as the Salian dynasty, which ruled the Holy Roman Empire for over a century.
Conrad continued the policies and achievements of the Ottonian Henry II regarding the Catholic Church and the affairs of Italy. Conrad continued to build the Church as a center for imperial power, preferring to appoint church bishops over secular lords to important posts across the Empire. Like Henry II before him, Conrad also continued a policy of benign neglect over Italy, especially for the city of Rome. His reign marked a high point of the medieval imperial rule and a relatively peaceful period for the Empire. Following the death of the childish King Rudolph III of Burgundy in 1032, Conrad claimed dominion over the Kingdom of Arles and incorporated it into the Empire. The three kingdoms (Germany, Italy, and Burgundy) formed the basis of the Empire as the "royal triad" (regna tria).
The Salian dynasty has its origins with Count Werner V of Worms. His son, Conrad the Red, succeeded him as Count in 941 and King Otto I of Germany (the future Holy Roman Emperor) appointed him as Duke of Lorraine in 944. He was subsequently married to Liutgarde, one of Otto's daughters, in 947 and became one of the king's closest allies. The relationship was strained, however, when Otto refused to honor a peace treaty Conrad, as Otto's representative, had conducted with the rebellious Berengar II of Italy. Conrad also resented the growing influence of Otto's brother Henry I of Bavaria, which he saw as threatening his own power. In 953 Conrad joined the king's son Liudolf in rebellion against Otto, but the rebellion was defeated and Conrad was stripped of his duchy. Conrad and Otto were soon reconciled, with Conrad fighting for Otto in the great Battle of Lechfeld in 955. Though the Germans were successful in halting the Hungarian invasions of Europe, Conrad last his life in the battle. Conrad was succeed as Count of Worms in 956 by his son Otto of Worms, a grandson of Otto I. Sometime between 965 and 970 Otto of Worms' oldest son, Henry of Speyer, was born. Little is known of his life as he died the age of 20 between 985 and 990. Conrad II was born out of Henry's marriage to Adelaide of Alsace, an area of Upper Lorraine. After Henry's death, Adelaide married a Frankish nobleman. After her remarriage, Adelaide demonstrated no close relationship with her son.
In 978 Emperor Otto II appointed his nephew as Duke of Carinthia after deposing the rebellious Duke Henry I of Carinthia during the War of the Three Henries. Upon receiving the ducal title, however, Otto lost his position at Worms, which was given to Bishop Hildebald, Otto II's imperial chancellor. When Otto II died suddenly in 983, his infant son Otto III succeeded him, with his mother Theophanu serving as regent. Theophanu sought to reconcile the imperial house with Henry I, restoring him as Duke of Carinthia in 985, with Otto of Worms allowed to regain his ancestral position as Count of Worms. However, Otto was allowed to style himself "Duke of Worms" and his original territory was expanded so as not to diminish his rank. Otto of Worms remained loyal to the new Emperor, receiving rulership of the March of Verona in 955, though the actual Duchy of Carinthia passed to Henry IV of Bavaria. In 996, Otto III appointed Otto of Worms's son Bruno as Pope Gregory V. When Emperor Otto III died in 1002, both Otto of Worms, Conrad's grandfather, and Henry IV were candidates for election as King of Germany. In a compromise, Otto withdrew and received the Duchy of Carinthia from the newly elected Henry IV, who ruled as Henry II of Germany, in return. As a result, Otto of Worms renounced his holdings in Worms to Bishop Burchard of Worms, a long-time political rival. Buchard assumed care for Conrad, providing his education and upbringing by 1000.
After the early death of his uncle Duke Conrad I of Carinthia, the elder Conrad's infant son, Conrad the Younger, was named Count of Worms by Emperor Henry II while the Duchy of Carinthia passed to Adalbero of Eppenstein due to Conrad the Younger's infancy. Conrad the Younger was placed in Conrad's care.
Conrad married Gisela of Swabia, a twice widowed duchess, in 1016. Gisela was the daughter of Duke Herman II of Swabia who, in 1002, unsuccessfully claimed the German throne following Emperor Otto III's death, losing the election to Emperor Henry II. Gisela was first married to Count Bruno I of Brunswick the same year. Following his death around 1010, Gisela was married to Ernest I of the House of Babenberg. By the marriage, Ernest I inherited the Duchy of Swabia at the death of Gisela's brother Duke Herman III of Swabia in 1012. This marriage produced two sons: Ernest II and Herman. After the death of Ernest I in 1015, Emperor Henry II named Ernest II as Duke of Swabia. As Gisela's new husband, Conrad hoped to served as regent for his minor stepson in the administration of the duchy, seeing it as an opportunity to increase his own rank and subsequently make a claim for his own duchy. But Emperor Henry II blocked this by placing the guardianship of Ernest II, and regency over Swabia, in the hands of Archbishop Poppo of Trier in 1016. This further strained the already rough relationship between the imperial House of Otto and the Salian family.
Despite the failed hopes of obtaining his own duchy, the marriage to Gisela was beneficial to Conrad due to the wealth she brought to the marriage. Her mother, Gerberga of Burgundy, was the daughter of reigning Burgundian King Conrad of Burgundy and granddaughter of the late Frankish King Louis IV. Gisela also claimed descent from Charlemagne from both her mother and her father. The marriage, however, was problematic because familial relationshp shared by Gisela and Conrad: both were descendants of Ottonian King Henry I, Henry in the fifth generation and Gisela in the fourth. According to the canon law, marriage was not allowed among relatives of the first to seventh generations. Though Conrad's marriage differed little from the usual practice of the time, strict canonists took exception to the marriage and Emperor Henry II used this to force Conrad into temporary exile. During this exile, Gisela bore Conrad a son, Henry III, on October 28, 1017. Conrad and Emperor Henry II were eventually reconciled, allowing him to return to Germany.
Reign as King
Emperor Henry II died in 1024. Childless, Henry's death brought the Ottonian dynasty, which had ruled Germany since 919, to an end. Without a clear successor as King of Germany, Henry's widow Cunigunde of Luxembourg served as regent while the German dukes gathered to elect a new king. Cunigunde was assisted by her brothers Bishop Dietrich I of Metz and Duke Henry V of Bavaria. Archbiship Aribo of Mainz, the Primate of Germany, also assisted Cunigunde.
On September 4, 1024, the German princes gathered at Kamba, an historical name for an area on the east banks of the river Rhine River opposite the German town Oppenheim (today the position of Kamba is marked by a small monument, which displays Conrad on a horse). Archbishop Aribo serving as the assembly's president. Conrad represented him before the assembly as a candidate for election, as did his younger cousin Conrad the Younger, now Duke of Carinthia. Both were descendants from Emperor Otto I by their common grandfather Otto of Worms from his mother Liutgarde, one of Otto's daughters. Although other extended members of the Ottonian dynasty existed, none were seriously considered for election. The chronicler Wipo of Burgundy, who was Conrad's chaplain and attending the meeting, recorded the election. The Duchy of Saxony adopted a neutral strategy while the Duchy of Lorraine favored the younger Conrad. But a majority of the assembled princes favored the elder Conrad, who's seven-year old son ensured a stable dynasty for the kingdom. As president of the assembly, Archbishop Aribo cast the first vote and supported Conrad. He was joined by the other clergy in supporting Conrad. The secular dukes then cast their votes for Conrad as well. Only Archbishop Pilgrim of Cologne, Duke Gothelo I of Lower Lorraine, and Duke Frederick II of Upper Lorraine refused to support him.
Conrad was crowned as King of Germany by Archbishop Aribo in Mainz Cathedral on September 8, 1024 at the age of 34. To mark his election, Conrad commissioned the construction of the Speyer Cathedral in Speyer, near his ancestral home of Worms, with construction beginning in 1030. Archbishop Aribo, as Archbishop of Mainz, was already the chancellor of Germany but, in gratitude for his electoral support, was appointed by Conrad as chancellor of Italy as well, making Aribo the second most powerful man in the Holy Roman Empire as the Imperial Chancellor. But Aribo refused to crown Conrad's wife Gisela as queen due to the violation of canon law. However, Conrad refused to accept this. Archbishop Pilgrim of Cologne saw the situation as an opportunity to restore his relationship with the king after refusing to support his election and crowned Gisela as queen on September 21, 1024. The political reorientation of Pilgrims also weakened the opposition towards the new king.
Conrad inherited a kingdom troubled by numerous problems. The duchies of Saxony and Lorraine were in opposition to his rule, as well as his cousin Conrad of Carinthia. To secure his reign, Conrad went on a tour of Germany, making stops in Augsburg to receive the support of Bishop Bruno and at Strasbourg to receive the support of Bishop Werner, the brothers of the late Emperor Henry II. Both were appointed to high-ranking offices at Conrad's court. Traveling from Cologne to Aachen, the site of Charlemagne's old capital, Conrad continued the tradition of claiming Germany rights as successor to Charlemagne. Despite the continuance of this Ottonian tradition, the Duchy of Lorraine still did not accept his rule. Conrad then traveled north to Saxony, visiting Abbess Adelaide I of Quedlinburg and Abbess Sophia I of Gandersheim, both daughters of the late Ottonian Emperor Otto II. Their support of Conrad's rule greatly influenced the Saxony nobility. Celebrating Christmas at Minden, the Saxon nobles, led by Duke Bernard II, recognized Conrad as their king after promising he would respect Saxon lax. Conrad and Gisela would remain in Saxony during the winter until March 1025. Upon leaving Saxony, Conrad traveled to the Duchy of Swabia, celebrating Easter at Augsburg. He then traveled to the Duchy of Bavaria to celebrate Pentecost at Regensburg. Conrad next traveled to Zurich near the German-Burgundian border. In 1016, Emepror Henry II forced the childless Burgundian King Rudolph III to name his as his heir. With Henry's death in 1024, Conrad claimed enjoyed the same rights over Burgundy. This ended his tour of Germany, visiting all major regions of the kingdom within ten months of his election.
During his travel to Augsburg a conflict broke out between Conrad and his younger cousin Duke Conrad II of Carinthia. The reasons for the rebellion are not recorded but the younger Conrad claimed he did not receive some compensation the king promised him for withdrawing from the 1024 election.
In Bavaria Conrad was brought into contact with the Italian ruling elite for the first time. In June 1025, Archbishop Aribert of Milan, along with other bishops from Northern Italy, traveled north over the Alps to pay homage to Conrad. In exchange for certain privileges in the governing of Italy, Aribert agreed to crown Cronad with the Iron Crown of Lombardy. The situation in Italy, however, was unstable after the death of the Henry II. The secular nobles believed the Italian throne to be vacant, not accepting Conrad's automatic succession as a matter of right. Instead, the secular nobles offered the Italian crown to the great Capetian King Robert II of France and his son Hugh Magnus. After he rejected the offer, the secular lords approached Duke William V of Aquitaine. Though initially excited by the offered, William V subsequently rejected the offer as well.
Conrad formally confirmed the popular legal traditions of Saxony and issued new constitutions for Lombardy. In 1028 at Aachen he had his son Henry elected and anointed king of Germany. Henry married Gunhilda of Denmark, daughter of King Canute the Great of England, Denmark, and Norway by Emma of Normandy. This was an arrangement that Conrad had made many years prior, when he gave Canute parts of northern Germany to administer. Henry, who would later become Emperor Henry III, became chief counselor of his father.
Conrad campaigned unsuccessfully against Poland in 1028–1030, but in 1031 in a combined action with the Kievan Rus' forced King Mieszko II, son and heir of Bolesław I, to make peace and return the land that Bolesław had conquered from the Empire during the reign of Henry II. Mieszko II was compelled to give up his royal title, and for the remainder of his troubled rule became the Duke of Poland and Conrad's vassal.
In 1029 some Bavarian border conflicts undermined the good relations with Stephen I of Hungary. One year later Conrad launched a campaign against Hungary. The Hungarians successfully used scorched earth tactics, and the emperor had to withdraw with his army. Finally the Hungarian army forced him to surrender at Vienna. After his defeat Conrad was obliged to cede some border territory to Hungary.
When Rudolph III, King of Burgundy died on 2 February 1032, Conrad claimed the Kingship on the basis of an inheritance that Henry II had extorted from the former in 1006, after having invaded Burgundy to enforce his claim after Rudolph attempted to renounce it in 1016. Despite some opposition, the Burgundian and Provençal nobles paid homage to Conrad in Zürich in 1034. This Kingdom of Burgundy, which under Conrad's successors would become known as the Kingdom of Arles, corresponded to most of the southeastern quarter of modern France and included western Switzerland, the Franche-Comté, and Dauphiné. It did not include the smaller Duchy of Burgundy to the north, ruled by a cadet branch of the Capetian King of France. (Piecemeal over the next centuries, most of the former Kingdom of Arles was incorporated into France, but the King of Arles remained one of the Holy Roman Emperor's subsidiary titles until the dissolution of the Empire in 1806.)
Conrad upheld the rights of the valvassores (knights and burghers of the cities) of Italy against Archbishop Aribert of Milan and the local nobles. The nobles as vassal lords and the bishop had conspired to rescind rights from the burghers. With skillful diplomacy and luck Conrad restored order.
In 1038, Prince Guaimar IV of Salerno requested that Conrad adjudicate in a dispute over Capua with its Prince Pandulf, whom Conrad had released from imprisonment in 1024, immediately after his coronation. Hearing that Michael IV the Paphlagonian of the Byzantine Empire had received the same request, Conrad went to Southern Italy, to Salerno and Aversa. He appointed Richer, from Germany, as abbot of Monte Cassino, the abbot Theobald being imprisoned by Pandulf. At Troia, he ordered Pandulf to restore stolen property to Monte Cassino. Pandulf sent his wife and son to ask for peace, giving 300 lb of gold and a son and daughter as hostages. The Emperor accepted Pandulf's offer, but the hostage escaped and Pandulf holed up in his outlying castle of Sant'Agata de' Goti. Conrad besieged and took Capua and gave it to Guaimar with the title of Prince. He also recognised Aversa as a county of Salerno under Ranulf Drengot, the Norman adventurer. Pandulf, meanwhile, fled to Constantinople. Conrad thus left the Mezzogiorno firmly in Guaimar's hands and loyal, for once, to the Holy Roman Empire.
During the return trip to Germany an epidemic broke out among the troops. Conrad's daughter-in-law and stepson died. Conrad himself returned safely and held several important courts in Solothurn, Strasbourg, and in Goslar. His son Henry was invested with the kingdom of Burgundy.
A year later in 1039 Conrad fell ill and died of gout in Utrecht. His heart and bowels are buried at the Cathedral of Saint Martin, Utrecht. His body was transferred to Speyer via Cologne, Mainz, and Worms, where the funeral procession made stops. His body is buried at Speyer Cathedral, which was still under construction at this time. During a major excavation in 1900 his sarcophagus was relocated from his original resting place in front of the altar to the crypt, where it is still visible today along with those of seven of his successors.
A biography of Conrad II in chronicle form, Gesta Chuonradi II imperatoris, was written by his chaplain Wipo of Burgundy, and presented to Henry III in 1046, not long after the latter was crowned.
Family and children
|German royal dynasties|
|Conrad II||1024 – 1039|
|Henry III||1039 – 1056|
|Henry IV||1056 – 1105|
|Henry V||1105 – 1125|
|Family tree of the German monarchs
Depictions of Conrad II
The Basilica of Aquileia (northern Italy) contains an apse fresco (c. 1031) showing emperor Conrad II, his wife Gisela of Swabia and Patriarch Poppone of Aquileia.
|Ancestors of Conrad II, Holy Roman Emperor|
- Friedrich Heer, The Holy Roman Empire, transl. Janet Sondheimer, (Frederick A. Praeger, 1968), 51.
- Herwig Wolfram, Conrad II, 990-1039: Emperor of Three Kingdoms, 102.
- John Bagnell Bury, ed. The Cambridge Medieval History: III. Germany and the Western Empire 1922:264.
- Herwig Wolfram, Conrad II, 990-1039: Emperor of Three Kingdoms, transl. Denise A. Kaiser, (Pennsylvania University Press, 2006), 97.
- Halliday, Andrew (1826). Annals of the House of Hannover. London.at Google Books
- Herwig Wolfram, Conrad II 990-1039: Emperor of Three Kingdoms (University Park, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006).
Conrad II, Holy Roman EmperorBorn: c 990 Died: 1039
Title last held byHenry the Saint
|King of Germany
with Henry III (1028-1039)
Henry the Black
|Holy Roman Emperor
Title next held byHenry the Black
|King of Italy
Rudolph the Pious
|King of Burgundy
with Henry the Black (1028-1039)