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active, powerful, and daring of the Cæsars of Germany. His successor, Innocent IV., pursued with equal vigour and address, and with better fortune, his hostile policy, until the fatal blow which eventually led to the extinction of the house of Hohenstaufen, or, as out of Germany it is usually styled, of Swabia.
On the other hand, this family, from the time that it emerged from its peaceful valley, and exchanged its rock-hung castle, first for the seat of Prince of the Empire, afterwards for the imperial throne of Charlemagne, gave birth to a succession of princes worthy to cope with their spiritual antagonists in that great contest. Though at length worsted, they fell with dignity. The severe and impartial truth of history cannot but do justice to their high and kingly qualities.
· Victrix causa Deis placuit sed victa Catoni.' The two Fredericks, Barbarossa, the warlike invader of the liberties of Italy, and the accomplished Frederick II., are among the most remarkable men of the middle ages. Barbarossa was the model of a feudal sovereign. Brave, generous, jealous of his imperial rights, and impatient of any infringement of his supremacy by plebeian and commercial burghers; still, even in the fierce warfare which he waged against the Lombard republics, he displayed the placability no less than the haughtiness of a lofty mind, bearing prosperity without insolence, and discomfiture with dignity. Frederick II. was born at least two centuries too early ; forced by the circumstances of the time, and by his own bold and inquiring mind, into a premature discovery of the mysteries of ecclesiastical tyranny, which led only to a vain struggle, and involved himself and his line in ruin-had he fallen on the age of Charles V. by placing himself at the head of the then mature and inevitable reformation, he might, perhaps, have spared Europe a long period of bloodshed and anarchy.
The rise and fall of the house of Swabia are singularly adapted to form a great and harmonious historic composition. The subject offers a distinct and definite whole. As the rise of the Hohenstaufen line was rapid and brilliant, so was its termination abrupt and complete. The history of this kingly family might form a great Shakspearian drama; it has within itself a perfect unity of interest; or rather, it might spread out into a trilogy, a succession of historic dramas, rising in gradual development to the height of interest through the reigns of the two Fredericks-attaining the crisis of its grandeur in the victories of the second—and closing in the deep and tragic catastrophe of the scaffold of Conradin. · The papal power might be represented as the divine Nemesis, the stern and inexorable destiny ever hovering over the devoted house, darkening the years of its highest might and splendour, and at length
quenching all its glories in the blood of its last blameless and youthful descendant.-- M. von Raumer says :
• Eastward from Stutgard and Esslingen, the Rems and the Fils form two of the most fertile and charming valleys of Swabia. Along their sides stretches a continuation of the ridge of the rugged Alps, with an interchange of hill and dale; above all these heights appears, rising sheer, in the form of a cone, from the almost level plain, the lofty Hohenstaufen. Only towards the north-east, the beautiful hills called the Rechberge draw towards it, as it were, with brotherly closeness ; on every other side there is an almost boundless view over the rich country, with its fields, meadows, and woods. In the more remote distance rises the Staufell, and the graceful pinnacle of the Staufenech which springs from it; beyond may be clearly discerned the parent stem of all these branch mountains, the rugged Alps; and a dark line marks on the other side the Black Forest. A practised eye can discover more than sixty towns or villages in the great circle from this mountain, as far as Elwangen. North-west from the foot of the Hohenstaufen, lies a village called Büren, or Beuern, belonging to a family of the same name, of which the early origin is unknown; until about the middle of the eleventh century, Frederick of Büren migrated from the narrow valley to the Hohenstaufen. The view down from this pinnacle appeared to summon and incite to the assumption and extension of dominion; thenceforth the race of the Hohenstaufen raised itself not only over other families of the same rank, but above all the princely families, and houses of Germany; until, after its dazzling meridian splendour and unparalleled elevation, it became the victim of an awful and unexampled tragic destiny; sunk at once into the darkest night, so as to leave behind it no vestige; and only the faithful allegiance of the historian can attempt to reawaken it to life.'
During the prosperity of the Hohenstaufen, a flattering but ungrounded genealogy closely connected them with the Franconian emperors, and even traced them up to the Carlovingian and Merovingian races; but, according to M. von Raumer, even their less splendid connexion with the Counts of Calw and the Palatines of Tubingen is rather doubtful; nor is it certain that their ancestors had any right to the rank of counts,-only to that of nobles. Nothing is positively known but that Frederick, the founder of the Hohenstaufen, was the son of Frederick of Büren, and of Hildegard, of a Franconian and Alsatian family. He had one sister, Adelaide, and four brothers, of whom Otho became Bishop of Strasburg; Louis, Count Palatine. By his prudence, courage, and activity, Frederick-of whatever rank were his ancestors—lose to be the equal of the noblest counts of Swabia, and was a steady and important partisan of the Emperor Henry IV. in all his difficulties. Henry, who knew by bitter experience the fickleness and the self
interested interested motives which governed the ancient princely families of the empire, looked with confidence to the greater fidelity of a noble who had so lately risen into distinction under his influence, and could appreciate the value, in such trying exigencies, of a man like Frederick of Hohenstaufen. He summoned him, therefore, to Ratisbon, in the year 1079, and thus addressed him :- Brave man, whom I have ever found most faithful and valiant, thou knowest how wickedness has obtained the upper hand in the Roman empire ; how, by the operation of the devil, rebellious conspiracies pass for holy alliances; while God's commandment—to honour those in authority-is despised and trodden under foot. Even as heretofore, contend thou, henceforth, against this most destructive evil; and as a proof with what gratitude I acknowledge thy former—with what confidence I reckon on thy future-services, I give thee my only daughter Agnes for thy wife, and the dukedom of Swabia for her dowry. Duke Frederick died in the year 1105: his eldest son, Frederick, succeeded to the dukedom of Swabia ; and his fidelity, and that of his brother, Conrad, to the cause of the succeeding Emperor, Henry V., obtained for Conrad the investiture of the dukedom of Franconia, forfeited by the revolt of Erlong, bishop of Wurtzburg.
Such is the opening of our great historic drama. The scene does not immediately change to the imperial palace; for though, on the death of Henry V. without issue, and the extinction of the Franconian race, Frederick of Swabia had all but obtained the crown of Germany—the influence, and still more, the bold and dexterous management of a powerful ecclesiastic, Adelbert, bishop of Mentz, carried the election in favour of Lothaire, the Saxon. Many years elapsed before the Swabian house acknowledged the title of the Saxon; but the family which counterbalanced the dominant and growing influence of the Hohenstaufen, was that in which we have a domestic hereditary interest, the house of Welf or Guelph. Gibbon, in his · Antiquities of the House of Brunswick,' has traced, with his usual clearness and accuracy, the fortunes of the two branches of this princely house; the Italian—the Dukes of Ferrara-whose title to immortality rests on their connexion with the undying lays of Ariosto and Tasso; the German, who, if they have wanted their divine poets to perpetuate their names, may claim to be the ancestors of the Brunswick kings of England. During the reign of Lothaire, the pretensions of the elder Hohenstaufen, Frederick, to the throne of Germany, seem quietly and amicably to have given place to those of the more popular and enterprising Conrad, the Duke of Fran, conia: but the union of the two powerful fiefs of Saxony and Bavaria in the person of Henry the Proud, the son of Henry the
Black, had raised å formidable competitor at the approaching élection-for Lothaire died without heirs; and the North and South of Germany--the Houses of Swabia and of Guelph-stood opposed to each other for the great prize, the imperial crown. The position of the parties was now changed; the greater power and influence was on the side of Henry the Proud ; but the House of Hohenstaufen boldly adopted the same irregular and violent course by which they had been excluded on the former occasion. They did not await the Diet, the great assembly of the whole feudal aristocracy of the empire; for the nomination to the imperial throne had not as yet been appropriated by the electoral princes. The meeting had been summoned at the Feast of Pentecost, in the city of Mentz; but before that day, Frederick and his brother Conrad, with the Archbishops of Treves and Cologne, the Pope's Legate, and a few other magnates, met in Coblentz, and chose Conrad for king, who was crowned in Aix-la-Chapelle by the Pope's Legate, the see of Mentz being then vacant. The civil war which threatened to involve the whole of Germany in desolation was arrested for a time by the prudence of the Archbishop of Treves, and was finally averted by the opportune death of Henry the Proud. His brother, Guelph VI., attempted to maintain possession of the dukedom of Bavaria, against Leopold, Duke of Austria, the half-brother of the Hohenstaufen, (after the death of the Duke of Swabia, his widow, Agnes, the daughter of Henry IV., had married the Margrave of Austria,) and it was in the battle of Weinsberg, for the possession of this territory, that the cry of Welf and Waiblingen (Guelphi and Ghibelline), the signal for centuries of deadly faction and remorseless animosity in the empire and in the cities of Italy, was first heard. The Guelph requires no explanation : Waiblingen seems to have been a castle of the Hohenstaufen, upon the banks of the Rems.
The great fault which we should find with the work of M. von Raumer, is the disproportionate space which he has assigned to the history of the Crusades. In many points, however, this most important event in the history of the dark ages is closely connected with his subject; and as we can fully enter into the strength of the temptation offered to a writer far from insensible to the splendid and poetic effect of that which may be considered the romantic period of history, we would be extremely lenient to an error of this nature. The crusades must have contributed in an important degree to the power and authority of the popes. The pontiff had appeared as the acknowledged head of the western world in more than one general assembly of all the temporal as well as ecclesiastical powers of Europe, who were present either in person or by their représentatives. The whole assembly had taken arms at his bid
ding, and expected that his blessing on an enterprise thus sanctified must ensure the favour of heaven. On this public scene he had been recognised as the visible representative of Christ upon earth-the mediator between Christendom and its divine Master. The crusaders were the army of the pope; and though, with a degree of prudence which is extraordinary, considering the contagious enthusiasm of the age, the solemn assurances of more than one pope, that he would actually place himself at the head of the Army of the Faith, were always decently eluded, or actually prevented by the circumstances of the time, still that opinion upon which all power, but more particularly spiritual power, ultimately rests, must have been greatly strengthened by the position thus assumed by the successor of St. Peter. There can be no doubt that the religious feeling of the age, however strangely different from pure and genuine Christianity, was immeasurably strengthened by the excitement of the crusades; and that religious feeling spread a deeper mist of sanctity and veneration around the person of the pope. The emperors and kings who joined the crusades, fought, as it were, under the banner of the pope : it was an act of obedience not only to Heaven, but to the Roman see; and, in popular estimation, the line between obedience and allegiance, between allegiance and confessed inferiority, is ever faint and indistinct. The · Servant of the servants of God’ rose still higher towards the commanding attitude of a master: those of whom he professed himself the servant, sank still lower into the humble position of liegemen and vassals. In another way the crusades added greatly to the papal influence. An expedition to the Holy Land was a kind of forlorn hope upon which all the more dangerous and refractory of the temporal sovereigns might be employed so as to waste their strength, if not to lose their lives, by the accidents of the journey, or by the sword of the Mahometan. Not to assume the cross was sin and impiety. If they resisted, the fearful ban hung over them, and was ratified by the fears and by the wavering allegiance of their subjects. If they obeyed and returned, as most of them did, with shame and defeat, they returned shorn of their power, lowered in the public estimation, and perhaps still pursued, on account of their ill success, by the inexorable interdict. It was by thus trammelling their opponents with vows which they could not decline, and from which they could not extricate themselves by thus consuming their wealth and resources on this wild and remote warfare—while themselves were still steadily pursuing the course of aggrandizement, that the popes succeeded in some degree in breaking and wasting away the power and the influence of the Hohenstaufen.
Conrad, the first emperor of the race, betrayed his reluctance