The Salian dynasty, named after the Isalan Salian Franks, was a High Medieval dynasty of four Holy Roman Emperors (1027–1125). It was also known as the Frankish dynasty, after the family's origin and role as dukes of Franconia. The term Salic dynasty also applies to the Holy Roman Empire of the time as a separate term.
After the death of the last Saxon of the Ottonian Dynasty in 1024, first the elected Germanic king and then three years later the elected position of Holy Roman Emperor both passed to the first monarch of the Salian dynasty in the person of Conrad II, the only son of Count Henry of Speyer and Adelheid of Alsace (both territories in the Franconia of the day). He was elected king in 1024 and crowned Holy Roman Emperor on 26 March 1027.
The four Salian kings of the dynasty—Conrad II, Henry III, Henry IV, and Henry V—ruled the Holy Roman Empire from 1027 to 1125, and firmly established their monarchy as a major European power. They achieved the development of a permanent administrative system based on a class of public officials answerable to the crown.
Werner of Worms and his son Duke Conrad the Red of Lorraine, who died in 955, founded the ancestral dynasty. Conrad the Red married Liutgarde, a daughter of Emperor Otto I, their son Otto I, Duke of Carinthia ruled Carinthia from 978 to 1004.
Ruling in the Holy Roman Empire
After the death of the last Saxon Emperor Henry II the first Salian regent Conrad II was elected by the majority of the Prince-electors and was crowned Germanic king in Mainz on 8 September 1024. Early in 1026 Conrad went to Milan, where Ariberto, archbishop of Milan, crowned him king of Italy. When Rudolph III, King of Burgundy died 1032, Conrad II also claimed this kingship on the basis of an inheritance Henry II had extorted from the former in 1006. Despite some opposition, the Burgundian and Provençal nobles paid homage to Conrad in Zürich in 1034. This Kingdom of Burgundy would become known as the Kingdom of Arles under Conrad's successors.
Already in 1028 Conrad II had his son Henry III elected and anointed king of Germania. Henry's tenure led to an overstatement of previously unknown sacral kingship. So during this reign Speyer Cathedral was expanded to be the largest church in Western Christendom. Henry's conception of a legitimate power of royal disposition in the duchies was successful against the dukes, and thus secured royal control. However, in Lorraine, this led to years of conflict, from which Henry emerged as the winner. But also in southern Germania a powerful opposition group was formed in the years 1052-1055. 1046 Henry ended the papal schism, freed the Papacy from dependence on the Roman nobility, and laid the basis for its universal applicability. His early death in 1056 was long regarded as a disaster for the Empire.
The early Salians owed much of their success to their alliance with the Church, a policy begun by Otto I, which gave them the material support they needed to subdue rebellious dukes. In time, however, the Church came to regret this close relationship. The alliance broke down in 1075 during what came to be known as the Investiture Controversy (or Investiture Dispute), a struggle in which the reformist Pope, Gregory VII, demanded that Emperor Henry IV renounce his rights over the Church in Germania. The pope also attacked the concept of monarchy by divine right and gained the support of significant elements of the Germanic nobility interested in limiting imperial absolutism. More important, the pope forbade ecclesiastical officials under pain of excommunication to support Henry as they had so freely done in the past. In the end, Henry IV journeyed to Canossa in northern Italy in 1077 to do penance and to receive absolution from the pope. However, he resumed the practice of lay investiture (appointment of religious officials by civil authorities) and arranged the election of an antipope (Antipope Clement III) in 1080.
The monarch's struggle with the papacy resulted in a war that ravaged through the Holy Roman Empire from 1077 until the Concordat of Worms in 1122. The reign of the last ruler of the Salian dynasty Henry V coincided with the final phase of the great Investiture Controversy, which had pitted pope against emperor. By the settlement of the Concordat of Worms, Henry V surrendered to the demands of the second generation of Gregorian reformers. This agreement stipulated that the pope would appoint high church officials but gave the Germanic king the right to veto the papal choices. Imperial control of Italy was lost for a time, and the imperial crown became dependent on the political support of competing aristocratic factions. Feudalism also became more widespread as freemen sought protection by swearing allegiance to a lord. These powerful local rulers, having thereby acquired extensive territories and large military retinues, took over administration within their territories and organized it around an increasing number of castles. The most powerful of these local rulers came to be called princes rather than dukes.
According to the laws of the feudal system of the Holy Roman Empire, the king had no claims on the vassals of the other princes, only on those living within his family's territory. Lacking the support of the formerly independent vassals and weakened by the increasing hostility of the Church, the monarchy lost its pre-eminence. Thus the Investiture Contest strengthened local power in the Holy Roman Empire - in contrast to the trend in France and England, where centralized royal power grew. The Investiture Contest had an additional effect. The long struggle between emperor and pope hurt the Holy Roman Empire's intellectual life, in this period largely confined to monasteries, and the empire no longer led or even kept pace with developments occurring in France and Italy. For instance, no universities were founded in the Holy Roman Empire until the fourteenth century.
The first Hohenstaufen king Conrad III was a grandson of the Salian Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor. (Agnes, Henry IV's daughter and Henry V's sister, was the heiress of Salian dynasty's lands: her first marriage produced the royal and imperial Hohenstaufen dynasty and her second marriage the ducal Babenberg potentates of Duchy of Austria which was elevated much due to such connections Privilegium Minus.)
Salian Kings and Emperors
|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
- Conrad II 1024-1039, emperor 1027
- Henry III 1039-1056, emperor 1046
- Henry IV 1056-1106 emperor 1084
- Conrad (1087–1098, nominal king under his father Henry IV)
- Henry V 1106-1125, emperor 1111
Their regnal dates as emperor take into account elections and subsequent coronations.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.