The Salian dynasty' was a dynasty in the High Middle Ages of four German Kings (1024-1125), also known as the Frankish dynasty after the family's origin and role as dukes of Franconia. All of these kings were also crowned Holy Roman Emperor (1027-1125): the term Salic dynasty' also applies to the Holy Roman Empire as a separate term.
After the death of the last Saxon of the Ottonian Dynasty in 1024, first the elected crown of 'King of Germany' 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 of Germany in 1024 and crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire 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 Luitgard, 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
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 Henry IV renounce his rights over the Church in Germany. The pope also attacked the concept of monarchy by divine right and gained the support of significant elements of the German 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 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. This agreement stipulated that the pope would appoint high church officials but gave the German 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. (The heiress of Salian family territories were issue of Agnes, Henry IV's daughter and Henry V's sister: 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.)
- Conrad II 1024-1039, emperor 1027
- Henry III 1039-1056, emperor 1046
- Henry IV 1056-1106 emperor 1084
- Henry V 1106-1125, emperor 1111
Their regnal dates as emperor take into account elections and subsequent coronations.
- Kings of Germany family tree. The Salians were the 4th dynasty to rule Germany and were related by marriage to all the others.
- Concordat of Worms
- This article contains material from the Library of Congress Country Studies, which are United States government publications in the public domain.
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