Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

200

THE

WAR OF THE TWO ABBOTS:

AN HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE MIDDLE AGES.

"La querelle des investitures fut la source des guerres du Sacerdoce et de l'Empire. . . de ces guerres désastreuses, qui partagèrent l'Allemagne en deux parties opposés, dont l'un soutenait les prétensions des Papes, et l'autre les droits des Empereurs."

"Ulrick d'Eppenstein occupe sans contredit le premier rang dans la longue liste des abbés de St. Gall."- Conservatur Suisse, toni. ix. p. 162.

MONASTERIES OF ST. GALL AND REICHNAU; SWITZERLAND. 1076-1094.

THE contest concerning ecclesiastical investitures, begun by Gregory VII. (before his elevation to the tiara, a monk of Clugny, named Hildebrand, which the German nobles by a play of words changed to Hölbrand (fire-brand), in allusion to his violent character, and the desolating wars he lighted

up

in pursuing his plan for the temporal aggrandizement of the papal power,) was the bitter stream of troubled waters which divided Germany into two

ORIGIN OF THE WAR.

201

opposite extremes of opinion and action; the fertile source from whence flowed all the subsequent quarrels between the sacerdotal party and that of the empire -the one supporting the pretensions of pope, the other the rights of the emperor.

the

In the different countries of Helvetia, now united under the general name of Switzerland, the bishop of Coire, the counts of Kyburg, of Nellenburg, and of Toggenburg, with many other influential nobles and all their numerous dependencies, as well as the city of Zurich, early espoused the cause of the pope; whilst the prince-bishops of Bâsle and Lausanne, the chancellor bishop of Sion in the Valais, the counts of Lenzburg, of Neuchâtel, and of Oltingen, with several lords of equal importance, remained faithful to the emperor.

*

*The kingdom of Burgundy, or Arles, comprehended the whole mountainous region which we now call Switzerland. It was accordingly reunited to the Germanic empire by the bequest of Rudolph, along with the rest of his dominions. (Rudolph III., last of the Transjurane dynasty, to the emperor Conrad II.) A numerous and ancient nobility, vassals one to another or to the empire, divided the possession with ecclesiastical lords hardly less powerful than themselves. Of the former, we find the counts of Zahringen, Kyburg, Hapsburg, and Tokenburg, most conspicuous; of the latter, the bishop of Coire, the abbot of St. Gall, and abbess of Seckingen. Every variety of feudal rights was early found and long preserved in Helvetia; nor is there any country whose history better illustrates that ambiguous relation, half property and half dominion, in which

Henry IV. emperor of Germany, a young man, brave, affable, and not ill-disposed, but of slender education and impetuous passions, which his two tutors, Hanno, archbishop of Mayence, and Adalbert, archbishop of Bremen, more occupied in ruling the heritage of their illustrious pupil than his mind, had never taught him the necessity of subduing-at five years of age succeeding to a throne whose pillars his father's ambition had already shaken, ere the hapless orphan mounted its tottering steps, then involved in an open war with rebellious Saxony, and fighting inch by inch for pre-eminence with many haughty barons of his court ambitious of further distinction -was peculiarly ill fitted to oppose so many and, unfortunately, such potent enemies.

Early in 1077 the dissensions which had so long existed between Pope Gregory VII., the emperor Henry, and his refractory subjects, reached their climax. Henry having positively refused to relinquish to the former the royal prerogative of confirming bishoprics and abbeys, on the seemingly natural ground that in one form or other it had been exercised by a long line of ancestors; and with his customary warmth of temper declared his determination to transmit this important privilege intact to his successors by every means in

the territorial aristocracy, under the feudal system, stood with respect to their dependents.-Hallan's View of the Middle Ages, chap. v. p. 340.

CHARACTER OF HENRY IV.

203

his power, the pope, who had been long tampering with his domestic enemies, sent him an imperious order to appear personally at Rome, there to vindicate his conduct towards them. Such an insult offered to a young and passionate monarch, produced the effect intended—further exasperation. Henry assembled in haste a number of bishops and nobles, his staunchest friends, at Worms, and procured a sentence of deposition against the pope. He was probably beguiled into this unadvised measure by the recollection that his father, the emperor Henry III.*, one of the most absolute monarchs that ever lived, had actually been invested, at a period of public disorder, with the express power of nominating the supreme head of the church; and although for many years this imperial privilege had not merely fallen into disusage, but was to a certain degree annulled by a decree issuing from Gregory himself, when during the pontificate of Nicholas II., he ruled in the papal court, under the title of cardinal Hildebrand; Henry,

* Henry III. died at thirty-nine years of age, of a lingering. malady: he had acquired greater control than any of his prede cessors over the election of the pontiff'; and his widow, Agnes, was exceedingly displeased that during Henry IV.'s infancy her consent was not formally demanded, as his guardian, before the nomination of Alexander II., and a schism ensued; but the monk Hildebrand, who brought him in, had already acquired great influence over the church, for, "to the shame of society," says Sismondi; "it is not by amiable manners and gentle virtues that men usually govern their fellows."

listening only to his passions, determined to consider it had simply rested in abeyance during his own long -minority, or been robbed of its legitimate power by those to whom it was obnoxious when there was none to oppose their usurpation. But he soon learnt the time was past when emperors could so rule the church, and, like other inexperienced, ill-directed monarchs, found he had formed an erroneous estimate of his strength.

The pope, on learning Henry's rash proceedings at Worms, immediately summoned a council in the Lateran palace; and there, after solemnly excommunicating his impetuous rival, declared him deprived of his kingdoms of Germany and Italy, released his subjects from their allegiance, and recommended the election of another sovereign. A blow so terrible in the middle ages, gave such encouragement to the numerous foes which various untoward circumstances had enlisted against Henry, that, aided by the assistance of the papal court, they soon proclaimed him fallen from his imperial dignity; and a very considerable body of malecontents, with the duke of Zorengen at their head, elected in his place Rudolph duke of Swabia, his cousin and brother-in-law; thus adding the bitterness of family ties, now irrevocably riven asunder, to the cup of deposition.

The anti-Cæsar, Rudolph, count of Rheinfelden and duke of Swabia, thus suddenly called upon to enact

I

« ForrigeFortsæt »