Emperor Henry IV, Holy Roman Empire, King of Germany, King of the Romans, Pope Gregory VII, The Investiture Controversy
There is a point I would like to reiterate: The Kingdom of East Francia was not referred to as the Kingdom of Germany or Regnum Teutonicum by contemporary sources until the 11th century which corresponds to the reign of Emperor Heinrich II as mentioned yesterday.
I’d like to back track a bit because the sources I’ve been using seem to be contradictory and confusing. My decision to do this series was an attempt to remove the confusion between the titles King of East Francia, King of Germany and King of the Romans. The issue is many sources are using the last two titles interchangeably.
For example: One source states that Heinrich II was the first to be called “King of the Germans” (Rex Teutonicorum). Yesterday, the source I used claimed he used the title Rex Romanorum or King of the Romans for the first time.
In Yesterday’s article I mentioned that with the reign of Heinrich II the tradition of calling oneself King of the Romans from the election as King until the Imperial Papal Coronation began at this time.
However, while researching today’s part of this series I found the contradictory claims that states it wasn’t until the reign of Emperor Heinrich IV that the title of King of the Romans was used from the election as King until the Imperial Papal Coronation…as we will see below.
My problem is that instead of researching the entire topic I have written each section one at a time. I wish I had written the entire series at once then divided into sections to avoid the confusion.
I may rewrite this at some future date. Oh well, I shall forage onward and try to untangle the confusion by the end of the series…..
After the reign of Heinrich II a German king’s claim to an Imperial coronation was increasingly contested by the papacy culminating in the fierce Investiture Controversy.
Briefly, The Investiture Controversy, was a conflict between the Church and the state in medieval Europe over the ability to choose and install bishops (investiture) and abbots of monasteries and the pope himself. A series of popes in the 11th and 12th centuries undercut the power of the Holy Roman Emperor and other European monarchies, and the controversy led to nearly 50 years of conflict.
Emperor Heinrich III went to the northeast to deal with a Slav uprising. He fell ill on the way and took to his bed. He made Beatrice and Matilda and had those with him swear allegiance to the young Heinrich whom he commended the pope, present.
On October 5, not yet forty, Emperor Heinrich III died at Bodfeld, the imperial hunting lodge in the Harz mountains.
His son and heir, a six-year-old minor, Heinrich IV, was elected to rule the Empire in 1056 and he adopted Rex Romanorum (King of the Romans) as a title to emphasize his sacred entitlement to be crowned Emperor by the Pope.
However, as part of the Investiture Controversy Pope Gregory VII insisted on using the term Teutonicorum Rex (“King of the Germans”) for the King in order to imply that Heinrich’s authority was merely local and did not extend over the whole Empire.
Pope Gregory VII’s usage of the title Teutonicum Rex was deemed as derogatory and an insult by Heinrich when he implied that Heinrich’s rule didn’t extend the totality of the Empire.
Heinrich IV continued to regularly use the title Rex Romanorum until he was crowned Emperor by Antipope Clement III in 1084. As mentioned yesterday, successors of Emperor Heinrich II (or was it Emperor Heinrich IV?) imitated this practice, and were called Rex Romanorum after their election as King and Romanorum Imperator after their Papal coronations.
The practice had developed where the new monarch that had been elected King (King of the Romans, King of Germany) would travel to Rome and be crowned Emperor by the Pope. Because it was rarely possible for the elected King to proceed immediately to Rome for his crowning, several years might elapse between election and coronation, and some Kings never completed the journey to Rome at all.
Not all Kings of the Romans made the journey to Rome due to hostile relations with the Pope, or because either the pressure of business at home or warfare in Germany or Italy made it impossible for the King to make the journey. In such cases, the king might retain the title “King of the Romans” for his entire reign. This occurred at least four times.
As a suitable title for the King between his election and his coronation as Emperor, Rex Romanorum (King of the Romans) would stress the plenitude of his authority over the Empire and his warrant to be future Emperor (Imperator futurus) without infringing upon the Papal privilege. This seems to have resolved the Investiture Controversy.
As I sort through the information to which King started to use the title King of the Romans upon their election, I believe the thing to take away at this point is that during the reign of the Ottonian Dynasty, the Ottonian Kungs seem to have adopted the use of the “Teutonic” label as it helped them to counter critics who questioned how the Ottonians, who were neither Carolingian nor Frankish, could legitimately rule.
The Ottonians, by calling themselves “German” kings, instead presented themselves as rulers of all peoples north of the Alps and east of the Rhine. This “German kingdom” was later regarded as a subdivision of the Empire alongside Italy, Burgundy and Bohemia.
And as I mentioned in a previous entry, by the late eleventh century the term “Kingdom of the Germans” (Regnum Teutonicorum) had become utilised more favourably in Germany due to a growing sense of national identity; by the twelfth century, German historian Otto of Freising had to explain that East Francia was “now called the Kingdom of the Germans”.
Also, historiography seems to use the title King of Germany and King of the Romans interchangeably.
More on this tomorrow!