1130-1137 - Emperor Lothar III is getting embroiled in the schism between popes Innocent II and Anaclet II. Anaclet II is properly elected and holds Rome whilst Innocent II enjoys the support of the most influential church leader of the time, St. Bernard of Clairvaux.
Fear of St. Bernard drives Lothar into the camp of Innocent II which means he has to go down to Italy and conquer Rome for the Pope. Not only that but it also means a conflict with Roger II by now king of Sicily and master of a large Norman /Saracen army.
And hat is in it for him? A rewriting of the Concordat of Worms? Ownership of the lands of the great countess Matilda? or something entirely different?
The music for the show is Flute Sonata in E-flat major, H.545 by Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach (or some claim it as BWV 1031 Johann Sebastian Bach) performed and arranged by Michel Rondeau under Common Creative Licence 3.0.
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Hello and Welcome to the History of the Germans – Episode 46 –A Topsy Turvy WorldWe are still in the year:
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Lothar III had managed to keep himself outside of all these debates as long as Honorius II was alive. He did pretty much whatever Honorius II or his papal legates wanted him to do. Appoint Norbert as archbishop of Magdeburg, make this guy the abbot of Fulda. Yes sir, yes sir. Lothar was at risk of being seen as a Papal minion.been a disguise since before:
Honorius II had invited him to come down to Rome to be crowned years ago and once Speyer had fallen, it was time to go.t it was too late. By January:
Another papal election was looming, and the two sides were getting ready.
Though Honorius II was “their pope”, the Frangipani had seen their position eroding these last few years. Many of the cardinals had gradually veered towards the more conservative spectrum and might like to see an old skool Gregorian candidate on the throne of Saint Peter. The Frangipani realise that timing would be of the essence. Seconded by the chancellor of the dying pope Cardinal Aimeric they made preparations.
That conservative candidate to succeed Honorius II the Frangipani were worried about was none other than the head of the opposing Pierleoni family, Cardinal Pietro Pierleoni. I know what you are thinking, but no, Pietro Pierleoni was not a 22 year-old dissolute scoundrel. Au contraire. Pierleoni was a man of great reform zeal and unquestioned piety. His scholarly credentials were impeccable. He had studied in Paris at the feet of the great scholastic Peter Abelard. After that he had been a monk at Cluny before being made papal Legate first in France and then in England. So eminently suitable, but in all and everything a red rag to Cardinal Aimeric and the Frangipani.
And so the Frangipani opened the gambit by seizing the dying Pontiff on FebruRy 11th and dragging him half dead to the Monastery of Sant Andrea. They put him into a nice warm cell and invited the minority of cardinals they could trust to come and elect a new pope. All that before the old pope was even dead, an unprecedented breach of protocol.
Word of their doings got out and the other cardinals threatened anathemas against the Frangipani should they dare to elect a pope before Honorius II was dead and buried.
In the negotiations that followed the parties agreed a new procedure. Given that Honorius was on his last leg and if a schism was to be avoided, the next pope needs to be elected very, very quickly. There was no room for lengthy debates in the full college of cardinals, let alone inviting those currently out on mission. The curia decided that for this particular case a committee of 8 cardinals should elevate a new pope as soon as the funeral of Honorius II had been held.
The Frangipani were not happy about this since only 3 of the 8 cardinals were part of their camp making the whole thing a foregone conclusion. But then any other electoral method would have had the same outcome. The Frangipani had only a minority in the college of cardinals irrespective of the election parameters. But they could make life uncomfortable by blocking access to the major churches of Rome. The electors were made to gather in one of the smaller churches in Rome, San Marco, as all the others had been occupied by the Frangipani.
On February 13th rumours swirled around the city that Honorius II had died. An angry mob surrounded the monastery where he had been brought. The Frangipani somehow managed to prop the dying pope onto the balcony where he waved to the crowd for one last time. Everyone calmed down and went home. Not yet time. That same night Honorius II died.
Normally a pope would lie in state for 3 days and only after he was buried would the election process begin. Hence the 8 cardinal electors in San Marco waited. Not so the Frangipani. Honorius’ body was not even cold before they threw him into a shallow grave in the courtyard of the monastery, said some hasty prayers and burial done moved on to elect a new pope. They chose Gregory Papareschi, the Cardinal Deacon of St. Angelo to be their new pope. By daybreak they took him to the Lateran where he was hastily installed as Innocent II on the throne of Saint Peter before he was brought to one of the strongest Frangipani fortresses inside the city to see what happens next.
By now a crowd had gathered outside the small church of San Marco where some of the 8 Cardinal-electors were gathered. The 3 frangipani supporters had gone home earlier When news came through of Innocent II’s hasty election and enthronisation, it was uproar. The 5 cardinal-electors present declared the election of Innocent II uncanonical, the Frangipani and their three colleagues whose absence was now explained were excommunicated. And they then proceeded to elect Pietro Pierleoni as Pope Anaclet II.
And there we are again, a schism. But this time a schism without involvement of the emperor.
Over the subsequent days Anaclet II gradually gained the upper hand in Rome. The generous distribution of Pierleoni money to all and sundry ensured they could quickly take the Lateran and after that St. Peter. A week later Anaclet II was formally enthroned in old St. Peter with all the pomp and circumstance that comes with a papal inauguration. Meanwhile Innocent II was still in Rome but his followership began to dwindle. As Pierleoni money found its way into the Frangipani fortress, he feared for his life and fled the Holy city.
Anaclet II was now in control of ROME. But though the Pierleone were rich, they were not rich enough to bribe the whole of Christendom. Innocent II’s journey north turned out to be more of a triumphal progress than a flight. Pisa cheered him on, as did Genoa. From there he travelled to France. When he disembarked in St. Giles, he was greeted by the abbot of Cluny of all people. This move of his old abbey against Anaclet was a bad start. At the council of Etampes France declared wholeheartedly for Innocent II. King Louis VI, by now an old and enormously fat man, kissed the papal feet. Even King Henry I of England came down to Chartres to honour the new pope.
The reason for this miraculous rise from a more than dodgy election and subsequent expulsion from Rome can be summarised in one word, or one name, Bernhard of Clairvaux. The silver-tongued preacher had sided with Innocent II, claiming that though fewer cardinals had voted for Innocent II, these cardinals had been the righteous ones. He even pushed the argument that the Pierleoni had only recently converted from Judaism and who could ever let a Jewish convert onto the throne of Saint Peter. I assume that nobody dared to enlighten St. Bernhard about St. Peter’s religious affiliation before he became an apostle?
What surprises here even more than the weakness of his arguments is that it was completely obvious to all and everyone that Bernhard of Clairvaux was utterly biased. The Frangipani faction and their pope, Innocent II were supporters of Bernhard. The Pierleoni and their pope stood for all that Bernhard despised, the old Clunaic style of monasticism, scholastic learning and the church reform style of Gregory VII. But such was the authority of the erudite spiritualist that everyone fell in line. The great churchmen of the time and most importantly the three leaders of the great monastic orders, obviously the Cistercians, but also the Premonstratensians and even the Cluniacs, despite the fact that Anaclet II had been a monk in Cluny.
Everyone was with Innocent II, well not everyone yet. For Lothar III the schism had created both an opportunity and a problem. On the one hand there was a formally correctly elected pope down in Rome whose position was weak and who could be made to do the three things Lothar III wanted, crown him emperor, hand over the lands of Matilda of Tuscany and even revise the concordat of Worms. But, there was Bernhard of Clairvaux. If Lothar sided with Anaclet, St. Bernhard would start preaching against him. If he would contest his election or coronation, could Lothar hold his position against the Hohenstaufen? On the other hand supporting Innocent II meant he would need to fight his way into the city of Rome to gain his crown, something that took Henry IV nearly 5 years. The choice was Anaclet and anarchy or Bernhard and battle.
Lothar hesitated and hesitated and hesitated. Anaclet II sent him letter after letter. He even excommunicated Konrad of Hohenstaufen to show his goodwill. Still no response.
Anaclet II is now starting to panic. Apart from King David of Scotland and the duke of Aquitaine, nobody is on his side. He needs help. And there is always, always an option for a pope in the 12th century who needs help. And that option is called, the Normans but it comes with strings attached.
Roger II, great count of Sicily is their leader now. Roger had managed to acquire the duchies of Apulia and Calabria from the descendants of his famous uncle, Robert Giuscard. Nearly all of Southern Italy south of Rome is now in the hands of just one man. That man wants something, and he wants it badly. And that is a crown.ome. And so, on Christmas day:
After that Lothar could no longer sit on the fence. It was decision time. Roger claiming to be king was a terrible affront to Imperial dignity. Since his Ottonian predecessors had ridden south and Saxon weapons ruled all the way to the deepest south of Italy, all of Italy was part of Empire. Or that at least was what Lothar believed..
Going to Rome had at the same time become more necessary as well as more difficult. Re- establishing imperial rule in Italy and a crown were appealing but not enough to justify the risk. If Innocent II really wanted him to go and recapture Rome for him, he would need to make some concession. The Concordat of Worms should be re-opened. The emperor may get the right of investiture and hence control over the imperial church back. We are dialling the clock back to Henry III. I guess everyone is giddy with excitement.In:
It is hard to believe, but it seems that Lothar thought this was just a sort of curtesy act with no further meaning for the relationship between emperor and pope. Because as soon as the preliminaries were over, Lothar sat down to negotiate. He basically said, o.k., I get you down to Rome and even risk war with Roger of Sicily, but in exchange you let me invest the bishops again. I mean fair dues. Innocent must accept this. No longer can the papacy use the divisions amongst the German nobles to push their position. It is time for the emperor to exploit the divisions within the church, right.
Not right says Bernhard of Clairvaux. He leaps from his chair and subjects the emperor to a merciless castigation before the entire assembly, calling upon him to renounce his pretensions there and then and pay unconditional homage to the rightful pope. A pope he had acted as groom for just now. How dares he challenging his rightful lord.
10 out of 10 for balls. Lothar is so stunned; he does not know what to say. He had not realised that his negotiation position had already been wiped out when he held the papal stirrup. This is the 12th century and images count more than a thousand words. Who needs to negotiate with a mere stable boy?
The great opportunity to get it all back is gone. Lothar agrees to take Innocent II into Rome and all he expects in exchange was the coronation.
And that is exactly what Lothar did, that and no more. He took an army of just 1,500 knights down to Italy. That seemed a ridiculously low number given that Anaclet had an alliance with Roger II who could raise 10 times that in a heartbeat. And even though the Hohenstaufen were much reduced, the situation in Germany was still extremely fragile. One anecdote may illustrate that.
On his way to the Brenner pass Lothar and his army stayed in Augsburg. The king was suspicious of the bishop and the inhabitants of Augsburg believing them to harbour pro-Hohenstaufen sympathies. A few weeks earlier they had attacked and robbed a papal envoy who made the mistake of passing near the city limits.
Nevertheless Lothar was greeted with deference and the bishop was promising to punish the perpetrators of the crime harshly. Whilst king and bishop were still debating the issue some tumult was brewing in the streets. An altercation had occurred between the soldiers and the locals in a shop. The discussion escalated and daggers were drawn. The king joined his soldiers whilst the people and clergy of Augsburg fled into the cathedral. Though the bishop through himself between the parties to stop the carnage praying and pleading, Lothar ordered his soldiers to advance. What ensued was a massacre of the citizens seeking refuge in the church. Throughout the day and well into the night the army sent to serve the pope murdered and raped not showing any mercy for children or nuns
This was not some hostile foreign stronghold, it was one of the major merchant cities of Germany, it had opened its gates to his king but still terrible violence was meted out. And this is not an unusual occurrence. The long civil war had worn down people’s moral boundaries. Violence had become commonplace.
Leaving the smouldering ruins of Augsburg behind, the army travelled with relative ease down to Rome. It was again St. Bernhard who had made that possible by haranguing and harassing the major Italian cities. He could not get them to support the expedition, except for Pisa, Genoa and Cremona, but the Lombard cities promised not to attack the army. That meant it became an odd kind of imperial progress. No city was entered, no coronation to king of Italy in Monza or Pavia celebrated. The army sort of snuck down the road, saying please and thank you just trying to get to Rome in one piece.
With the army still only about 2,000 men, the question arose what they were supposed to do when they get there. Sur they were the great German knights, but still no match for the Normans. And that is when they hit a patch of good fortune. King Roger of Sicily suddenly found himself having to fight off a major rebellion. Coinicidence, maybe, or some well-placed bags of gold coins from the papal purse. To everyone’s surprise, the rebels were successful. They gave Roger a bloody nose and he had to shelter on the island of Sicily. No way that he could help Anaclet II.th,:
Note the date. It is June and Malaria season is kicking off. Anaclet is still sitting pretty, and Roger II is gradually gaining ground in Souther Italy. Lothar thinks there is another opportunity to negotiate. A revision of the Concordat of Worms plus the lands of Matilda for the continuation of the campaign. And again St. Bernard and his friend Norbert the Archbishop of Magdeburg put a spanner in the works. No revision of the Concordat. And as for the lands of Matilda, well you can receive them as a papal vassal against a rent of 100 mark of silver annually, but it remains property of the pope and whoever is count of Tuscany has to do military service for him.
Lothar as so many times before prefers a sparrow in his hand to a dove on the roof, and takes the offer. The position of Margrave of Tuscany and greatest of Italian lords is passed on to the imperial son-in-law,, Henry the Proud, head of the house of Welf.
But it was not enough to make him stay. The ink barely dry on the agreement, Lothar packed his bags and went home. If the pope offers no more than basic service, well, all he gets back in return is basic service.
Lothar’s return was also the end of Innocent II’s stay in Rome. A few weeks later the Pierleoni had regained their positions on the left bank and Innocent had to leave by the same route as 3 years earlier. So, nothing had really changed.
2 years and an avalanche of letters from Bernhard of Clairvaux later, Lothar was finally willing to do it properly. Negotiations had been ongoing despite the initial rebuttal and the two sides found an arrangement that suited both sides.
The pope gave the archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen ecclesiastical oversight over all of Scandinavia and the archbishop of Magdeburg the same over Poland. That was new. Hamburg-Bremen had forever dreamt of being the metropolitan church for the whole of the Baltic and Magdeburg never had any oversight over Poland. It can be argued that Lothar saw an imperial endorsement of the Eastern Expansion of the empire as something more valuable than positions in this extremely wealthy but unmanageable snake pit that was Italy.
It is not an unwinding of the Concordat of Worms, but still a pretty good deal.In August:
This was a very different proposition than last time around. Lothar had an army that not only could but was very much intent on defeating the upstart Sicilian King Roger II. This time he comes as the leader of a unified empire intent on projecting his power into Italy. It is only a 100 years ago that emperor Henry III could command the southern duchies of Capua, Salerno and Puglia and previous Saxon emperors had taken huge armies all the way to the deepest south of Italy.
Lothar’s position in Northern Italy had also improved. Thanks to St.Bernard relentless travelling and preaching all the Italian cities have now sided with Innocent II and Lothar. The most committed supporters were still the citizens of Pisa.n attack by the Pisan navy in:
Now back to Lothar. He held an assembly for the Italian realm and a muster on the fields of Roncaglia outside Piacenza. There the plan for the attack on Roger II is agreed.
To ease its progress the army was split in two, one led by Lothar, the other by Henry the Proud. Lothar would travel along the eastern side of Italy towards Puglia whilst Henry would follow the western shore.
Once Henry had reached Grosseto, Innocent II joined his army.
The two men promptly fell out almost immediately. Not over some issue of compassion for your fellow men, the nature of divinity or even the state of Saxon monasteries. No, it was over money, cold hard cash. The army had passed by the city of Viterbo who had paid 3,000 pounds of silver for not having their land plundered, their peasants killed and their daughters raped. Now the question arises, whose money is it? The duke’s who commands the troops or the pope who, who, I do not know, has the moral high ground? Henry did not know either and without Bernhard of Clairvaux on hand to muddle up the arguments, the pope relented.
After the disagreement the army moved pressed on further south, passing just outside the walls of Rome without entering the holy city. It is not known whether that was part of Innocents plan.
The pope would be even more irritated when they passed the famous ancient abbey of Monte Cassino. Inside the monks had been squabbling over who they should elect as abbot, a supporter of Anaclet or a supporter of Innocent. Henry made a deal with the supporter of Anaclet that he would change sides and pay him 400 mark of silver. Another event occurred at Benevento where again Henry did what he thought best, not taking account of the papal wishes. Innocent II was not happy about that, not happy. Did I mention that Henry’s nickname was the Proud? Well it was a Character trait that will cost him dearly, very dearly.
At the same rate as Henry the Proud was losing friends an alienating people, another man saw a huge improvement in his standing. Many a city fell to the mighty sword of Konrad of Hohenstaufen, the former archenemy of the emperor. The whole army and even the emperor himself praised him for his prowess and new found loyalty.
The two armies had now made some significant inroads into Rogers Southern Italian Possessions. They reunited in the city of Bari in Puglia, one of the most important harbours on the Adriatic. The citizens who detested Roger’s autocratic regime had opened their gates to the imperial papal army.
The citadel was however still held by the Norman garrison. I say Norman, but in reality most of the soldiers were saracens, Muslim inhabitants of Sicily. The Normans had decided to allow their Muslim and Jewish subjects to retain their religion, in part because mass conversion was simply not enforceable and also because they levied a special tax on the non-Christians. The Saracen guard were amongst the most loyal troops of Roger II. They held out until the besieged had dug out the foundations of the castle walls and brought them to collapse. Once inside the Germans gave no quarter. The 500 men who had not been cut down or had drowned in the sea were hanged.
The fall of Bari was a Disaster for Roger II. His rule was unpopular particularly on the mainland and as news arrived of his defeat many a city was keen to surrender to the emperor.
Roger II opened negotiations, offering to split his kingdom, letting Puglia and Calabria be run by his sons. But Lothar refused, or had to refuse, because there was no agreement between him and pope Innocent II what to do with southern Italy.
As the pope and the emperor surveyed their success the underlying differences came to the fore. The pope had firmly believed the emperor would help him out of a sense of duty. As Gregory VII had made clear, the emperor like any other king was the pope’s vassal and owed him service. Lothar on the other hand saw himself as the guardian of the church, but that meant he had the secular power over all of Italy. He looked back to the days when emperors last went down to southern Italy, during the days of Henry III and even Otto the Great. Then there was no doubt who was the overlord of these la
The conflict that had been brewing for a while became apparent to the whole army when the two sides fell out over the appointment of a new duke of Puglia. Both sides wanted the same man, but each insisted that it was their right to invest the new duke. In the end they came up with a silly compromise. They would both had over the ducal banner, the pope holding the top of the shaft, the emperor the bottom. A Similar conflict arose over the still unconfirmed appointment of the abbot of Monte Cassino. What we see is that even the most conciliatory approach to imperial papal relationship cannot prevent the fundamental question coming back to the fore, who is more senior, the pope or the emperor?
As the army sheltered from the relentless heat in the hills outside Bari, the German lords became restless. They have been en route for months. Peace was in the air and that means it did not look as if there was any more plunder to be had. There was also little chance that they would receive any counties or duchies in Italy as long as the two principals were unsure about who was boss. That and some not so subtle bribery by Roger II and the army was going on strike. Many a lord upped sticks and headed back home.
As so often before, the great expedition had achieved pretty much nothing. Bari reverted back to Roger II as soon as the last imperial tent had been taken down. The newly appointed duke of Puglia was back in exile within weeks. Anaclet II was still in Rome.
And Innocent II was now very suspicious of the intentions of his allies. Unreliable is what they were and disobedient at every junction. And who was the worst if the lot – Henry the Proud – of course. That stingy bastard withheld his money and had now turned on his heel to get back home to his cold and foggy hovel.rd:
Lothar III was buried in the church of Koenigslutter, which he had ordered to be built. Much more modest than the Salian Family mausoleum in Speyer, it is still a remarkable building.When they opened his grave in:
“Lothar, by the grace of god emperor and forever Augustus reigned for 12 years, 3 months and 3 days; he was always trusting in the lord, a truthful, steadfast and peace loving man and a fearless warrior. He died on a December 3rd on return from Puglia where he defeated the Saracens.”
The counterpoint to this eulogy is a frieze on the outside of the church showing hunting scenes. The central panel depicts two very aggressive looking hares who have overcome the huntsman and are tying him up. I leave it to you to decide whether this depiction of a topsy turvy world or the standard eulogy is the more suitable comment on Lothar’s reign.
Just one more piece of epilogue. Anaclet II died shortly after Lothar and so Innocent II finally gained control of Rome. Once installed in the Lateran Palace Innocent has a fresco painted on the wall showing Lothar III receiving the imperial crown on his knees from the Pope. Underneath it says “and so the king became a vassal of the pope before receiving his crown”
It is all a question of perspective I presume..
Next week we will leave Lothar behind and look at the next election contest between a Welf, Henry the Proud and a Hohenstaufen, our friend Konrad on his second attempt. Lots of twists and turns to come.
And in the meantime, should you feel like supporting the show and get hold of these bonus episodes, sign up on Patreon. The links are in the show notes or on my website at historyofthegermans.com.