Lothair III, Holy Roman Emperor

Lothair III, Holy Roman Emperor

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Lothair III of Supplinburg (9 June 1075, Unterlüß
Unterlüß
Unterlüß is a municipality in the district of Celle, in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated approx. 30 km northeast of Celle, and 25 km southwest of Uelzen....

 – 4 December 1137), was Duke of Saxony
Rulers of Saxony
This article lists Dukes, Electors, and Kings ruling over different territories named Saxony from the beginning of the Saxon Duchy in the 9th century to the end of the Saxon Kingdom in 1918.-Dukes of Saxony:...

 (1106), King of Germany (1125), and Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 from 1133 to 1137. The son of Count Gebhard of Supplinburg, his reign was troubled by the constant intriguing of Frederick I, Duke of Swabia
Frederick I, Duke of Swabia
Frederick I von Staufen was Duke of Swabia from 1079 to his death. He was the first ruler of Swabia from the House of Hohenstaufen, and was the builder of dynasty's ancestral Hohenstaufen Castle near Göppingen.-Parents:...

 and Duke Conrad
Conrad III of Germany
Conrad III was the first King of Germany of the Hohenstaufen dynasty. He was the son of Frederick I, Duke of Swabia, and Agnes, a daughter of the Salian Emperor Henry IV.-Life and reign:...

 of Franconia
Franconia
Franconia is a region of Germany comprising the northern parts of the modern state of Bavaria, a small part of southern Thuringia, and a region in northeastern Baden-Württemberg called Tauberfranken...

. He died whilst returning from a successful campaign against the Normans
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

 in southern Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

.

Rise to power


Little is known of Lothair's youth. He was a posthumous child, born in June 1075 shortly after his father, Gebhard of Supplinburg, died in the battle of Langensalza
First Battle of Langensalza
The First Battle of Langensalza was fought on 9 June 1075 between forces of German King Henry IV and several rebellious Saxon noblemen on the River Unstrut near Langensalza. The battle was a complete success for Henry, resulting in the subjugation of Saxony shortly before the Investiture...

 against troops loyal to the Emperor Henry IV
Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor
Henry IV was King of the Romans from 1056 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1084 until his forced abdication in 1105. He was the third emperor of the Salian dynasty and one of the most powerful and important figures of the 11th century...

.

After years of purchasing lands or gaining them via inheritance or marriage alliances throughout Saxony
Saxony
The Free State of Saxony is a landlocked state of Germany, contingent with Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, Bavaria, the Czech Republic and Poland. It is the tenth-largest German state in area, with of Germany's sixteen states....

, Lothair gained the domains of the Billung
Billung
The House of Billung was a dynasty of Saxon noblemen in the 9th through 12th centuries.The first known member of the house was Count Wichmann, mentioned as a Billung in 811...

, Nordheim and Brunswick families and became one of the dominant landowners in the northern duchy. He was made Duke of Saxony in 1106 by Emperor Henry V
Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor
Henry V was King of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor , the fourth and last ruler of the Salian dynasty. Henry's reign coincided with the final phase of the great Investiture Controversy, which had pitted pope against emperor...

 in exchange for his help against Henry's father, Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor
Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor
Henry IV was King of the Romans from 1056 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1084 until his forced abdication in 1105. He was the third emperor of the Salian dynasty and one of the most powerful and important figures of the 11th century...

. Emboldened by the promotion, and incensed over the imposition of a new tax on ducal lords, Lothair subsequently revolted against Henry's rule and denied Henry's ability to rule Saxony during the Investiture Controversy
Investiture Controversy
The Investiture Controversy or Investiture Contest was the most significant conflict between Church and state in medieval Europe. In the 11th and 12th centuries, a series of Popes challenged the authority of European monarchies over control of appointments, or investitures, of church officials such...

. In 1115 his forces defeated those of the Emperor in the Battle of Welfesholz
Battle of Welfesholz
The Battle of Welfesholz was fought on February 11, 1115 between the Imperial army of the Holy Roman Empire and a rebellious Saxon force.Henry V, uncontested King of the Romans since 1106, had inherited the Investiture Controversy from his father Henry IV...

.

When Henry died in 1125, Lothair was viewed by the imperial chancellor, the Archbishop of Mainz, as a perfect candidate. As an extensive landowner, he brought power to the table, but he was old (slightly over fifty years of age) and had no male issue, potentially making him malleable for the nobility. He was therefore elected king of Germany after a contentious power struggle with Frederick II, Duke of Swabia
Frederick II, Duke of Swabia
Frederick II , called the One-Eyed, was the second Hohenstaufen duke of Swabia from 1105. He was the eldest son of Frederick I and Agnes....

, head of the Hohenstaufen
Hohenstaufen
The House of Hohenstaufen was a dynasty of German kings in the High Middle Ages, lasting from 1138 to 1254. Three of these kings were also crowned Holy Roman Emperor. In 1194 the Hohenstaufens also became Kings of Sicily...

. His election was notable in that it marked a departure from the concept of hereditary succession. Somewhat naive concerning the complex power struggle between the papacy and the empire, Lothair also consented to several symbolic acts that were subsequently interpreted by Rome as signaling acceptance of papal confirmation of his position.

A campaign undertaken in the same year against Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

 ended in defeat, making for a less than great start by Lothair. Among those imprisoned by the Bohemians was Albert of Ascania
Albert I of Brandenburg
Albert the Bear was the first Margrave of Brandenburg from 1157 to his death and was briefly Duke of Saxony between 1138 and 1142.-Life:...

, future Margrave of Brandenburg.

Dispute with the Staufens


During his reign, a succession dispute broke out between the houses of Welf and Staufen
Hohenstaufen
The House of Hohenstaufen was a dynasty of German kings in the High Middle Ages, lasting from 1138 to 1254. Three of these kings were also crowned Holy Roman Emperor. In 1194 the Hohenstaufens also became Kings of Sicily...

, the latter which was led by Frederick II and his brother Duke Conrad
Conrad III of Germany
Conrad III was the first King of Germany of the Hohenstaufen dynasty. He was the son of Frederick I, Duke of Swabia, and Agnes, a daughter of the Salian Emperor Henry IV.-Life and reign:...

 of Franconia
Franconia
Franconia is a region of Germany comprising the northern parts of the modern state of Bavaria, a small part of southern Thuringia, and a region in northeastern Baden-Württemberg called Tauberfranken...

. The Staufens, in addition to claiming the private Salian lands which clearly fell to them, also claimed all of the crown lands gained under Henry IV and Henry V. Lothair's attempts to seize the crown lands following approval from a group of nobles meeting in Regensburg provoked Staufen reaction. Frederick of Swabia was placed under the imperial ban, Conrad was deprived of Franconia, and the rectorate of Burgundy passed to Conrad of Zähringen
Zähringen
Zähringen is the name of an old German family that founded a large number of cities in what are today Switzerland and Baden-Württemberg. While the junior line that first assumed the title Duke of Zähringen, a cadet branch of the House of Baden, became extinct in 1218, the senior line persists and...

.

The Staufens, who had the support of their own lands plus support in many imperial cities, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 and the Duchy of Swabia
Swabia
Swabia is a cultural, historic and linguistic region in southwestern Germany.-Geography:Like many cultural regions of Europe, Swabia's borders are not clearly defined...

, raised Conrad as anti-king Conrad III. In 1128 Conrad was crowned King of Italy
King of Italy
King of Italy is a title adopted by many rulers of the Italian peninsula after the fall of the Roman Empire...

 by the Anselm V
Anselm V, Archbishop of Milan
Anselmo della Pusterla was the Archbishop of Milan, as Anselm V, from 30 June 1126 to his deposition early in 1135. He died on 14 August 1136.Like most young Milanese of his day, Anselm went to France for his education...

, Archbishop of Milan. Lothair took advantage of Conrad's expedition into Italy and his lack of resources by attacking the Staufens in Germany. Nuremberg
Nuremberg
Nuremberg[p] is a city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about north of Munich and is Franconia's largest city. The population is 505,664...

 and Speyer
Speyer
Speyer is a city of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany with approximately 50,000 inhabitants. Located beside the river Rhine, Speyer is 25 km south of Ludwigshafen and Mannheim. Founded by the Romans, it is one of Germany's oldest cities...

, two strong cities in support of the opposition, fell in 1129. Conrad's failure to make anything of his position in Italy, causing him to return in 1130 without anything to show for it, assured at least a partial victory for Lothair.

Relations with the Papacy


In the double papal election of 1130, both sides campaigned for Lothair's support. The king had an opportunity to take advantage of the situation and reassert imperial control over the papacy, but choosing instead to deal with the Staufen resistance, he let his inferiors make the decision. Anacletus II offered Lothair the Imperial crown, but in the end Innocent II gained his support, and he promised to escort the new pope back to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

. In 1131 the two met at Liège, where the king demonstrated subservience to the pope, and his request that investiture be restored to him was ignored. He did, however, maintain the rights secured by the Concordat of Worms
Concordat of Worms
The Concordat of Worms, sometimes called the Pactum Calixtinum by papal historians, was an agreement between Pope Calixtus II and Holy Roman Emperor Henry V on September 23, 1122 near the city of Worms...

. He also agreed to assist Innocent against King Roger II of Sicily
Roger II of Sicily
Roger II was King of Sicily, son of Roger I of Sicily and successor to his brother Simon. He began his rule as Count of Sicily in 1105, later became Duke of Apulia and Calabria , then King of Sicily...

, an ally of Anacletus. In exchange, Innocent II again crowned Lothair as King of the Romans
King of the Romans
King of the Romans was the title used by the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire following his election to the office by the princes of the Kingdom of Germany...

 on March 29, 1131.

The force Lothair took with him into Italy in 1132 was not strong, due to his leaving troops in Germany to prevent the Hohenstaufen from revolting. Whilst he carefully avoided any cities that were hostile, he did attempt to besiege Milan, which failed due to the small army he had at his disposal. Consequently, he reached Rome in 1133, which was mostly held by Anacletus. As St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter , officially known in Italian as ' and commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City. Saint Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world...

 was closed to them, Innocent instead crowned Lothair as emperor in the Lateran
Basilica of St. John Lateran
The Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran , commonly known as St. John Lateran's Archbasilica and St. John Lateran's Basilica, is the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope...

 on June 4, 1133. The emperor continued giving little or no resistance against papal interference with his power; he even ignored a bull by Innocent which stated that the emperor's authority derived from him. He also recognized papal claims to the Matildine lands (formerly owned by Countess Matilda), in exchange receiving those lands as fiefs.

Campaign against Sicily


Returning to Germany, he set out to create peace. The Staufen brothers, falling short on resources, were compelled to submit. The Reichstag in Bamberg
Bamberg
Bamberg is a city in Bavaria, Germany. It is located in Upper Franconia on the river Regnitz, close to its confluence with the river Main. Bamberg is one of the few cities in Germany that was not destroyed by World War II bombings because of a nearby Artillery Factory that prevented planes from...

 in 1135 pardoned the two brothers and restored them to their lands. In return, they recognized Lothair as emperor, Conrad abandoned his title of King of Italy
King of Italy
King of Italy is a title adopted by many rulers of the Italian peninsula after the fall of the Roman Empire...

, and both promised to assist him in another Italian campaign, before a ten-year ‘Landpeace’ was declared.

In 1136, at the insistence of Innocent and Byzantine Emperor John II Comnenus, the campaign began, directed against Roger of Sicily. Two main armies, one led by Lothair, the other by Henry the Proud of Bavaria, entered Italy. On the river Tronto
Tronto
The Tronto is a 115 km-long Italian river that arises at Monte della Laghetta and ends in the Adriatic Sea at Porto d'Ascoli, San Benedetto del Tronto. Anciently the Truentus, it traverses the Lazio, Marche, and Abruzzo regions....

, Count William of Loritello
William of Loritello
William was an Italo-Norman nobleman, the son and successor of Count Robert II of Loritello in 1137.He reigned only briefly, because, immediately after his succession, the Emperor Lothair II descended the peninsula to fight the royal pretensions of Roger II of Sicily in the Mezzogiorno. On the...

 did homage to Lothair and opened the gates of Termoli
Termoli
Termoli is a town and comune on the Adriatic coast of Italy, in the province of Campobasso, region of Molise. It has a population of around 32,000, having expanded quickly after World War II, and it is a local resort town known for its beaches and old fortifications...

 to him. This was followed by Count Hugh II of Molise. Advancing deep into the southern part of the peninsula, the two armies met at Bari
Bari
Bari is the capital city of the province of Bari and of the Apulia region, on the Adriatic Sea, in Italy. It is the second most important economic centre of mainland Southern Italy after Naples, and is well known as a port and university city, as well as the city of Saint Nicholas...

, and continued further south in 1137. Roger offered to give Apulia
Apulia
Apulia is a region in Southern Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea in the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Òtranto and Gulf of Taranto in the south. Its most southern portion, known as Salento peninsula, forms a high heel on the "boot" of Italy. The region comprises , and...

 as a fief of the Empire to one of his sons and give another son as a hostage—terms which Lothair refused after being pressured by Innocent.

The German troops, however, were adamant against campaigning during the hot summer and revolted. The emperor, who had hoped for the complete conquest of Sicily, instead separated Capua
Capua
Capua is a city and comune in the province of Caserta, Campania, southern Italy, situated 25 km north of Naples, on the northeastern edge of the Campanian plain. Ancient Capua was situated where Santa Maria Capua Vetere is now...

 and Apulia from Roger's kingdom and gave them to Roger's enemies. Innocent, however, protested, claiming that Apulia fell under papal claims; the two eventually jointly enfeoffed the duchy to Rainulf of Alife. Lothair turned north, but died while crossing the Alps on December 4, 1137. Shortly beforehand, he gave his Tuscan
Tuscany
Tuscany is a region in Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.75 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence ....

 Matildine lands to his son-in-law, Henry the Proud of Bavaria, and his last acts were to give him also the Duchy of Saxony and the imperial regalia. However, the kingship subsequently ended up in the hands of the Staufens, destroying Lothair's hopes for a powerful Welf hereditary monarchy. He is entombed in the monastery church of Saints Peter and Paul at Königslutter, which he endowed as his burial church and for which he lay the cornerstone in 1135.

Actions in the North and East


The emperor's most long-lasting contribution to Germany came from his actions in the north and east. Being a Saxon, he gave more attention to the region than previous emperors. Even before becoming German king, he had given control of Holstein
Holstein
Holstein is the region between the rivers Elbe and Eider. It is part of Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost state of Germany....

 and Stormarn
Stormarn
Stormarn is a district in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Segeberg and Ostholstein, the city of Lübeck, the district of Lauenburg, and the city-state of Hamburg.-History:...

 to Adolf I of Schauenburg
Schauenburg
Schaumburg and Schauenburg are the two versions of the name of a regional German dynasty.The usage is scattered, historically as well as locally:* Schaumburg, a district and former county in Lower Saxony*Schauenburg, Hesse, a municipality in Germany...

. In 1134 he appointed the Ascanian Albert as margrave of Brandenburg
Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-states of Germany. It lies in the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

. In 1136 he appointed Conrad the Great of Wettin, already margrave of Meissen, to the position of margrave of Lausitz, uniting the two marches. In addition, he petitioned the pope to expand the rights of the Archbishops of Bremen and Magdeburg
Archbishopric of Magdeburg
The Archbishopric of Magdeburg was a Roman Catholic archdiocese and Prince-Bishopric of the Holy Roman Empire centered on the city of Magdeburg on the Elbe River....

 in the area. King Eric II of Denmark
Eric II of Denmark
Eric II the Memorable was king of Denmark between 1134 and 1137. Eric was an illegitimate son of Eric I of Denmark, who ruled Denmark from 1095 to 1103. Eric the Memorable rebelled against his uncle Niels of Denmark, and was declared king in 1134. He punished his adversaries severely, and...

 was made a vassal of the emperor in 1135, becoming a member of the Reichstag. Successful diplomatic intervention by Lothair in ending war between Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 and Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

/Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 resulted in the Polish Duke's Bolesław III Wrymouth payment of Pomeranian tribute that was long overdue. In addition, the Polish Duke had to accept Pomerania
Pomerania
Pomerania is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. Divided between Germany and Poland, it stretches roughly from the Recknitz River near Stralsund in the West, via the Oder River delta near Szczecin, to the mouth of the Vistula River near Gdańsk in the East...

 and Rügen
Rügen
Rügen is Germany's largest island. Located in the Baltic Sea, it is part of the Vorpommern-Rügen district of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.- Geography :Rügen is located off the north-eastern coast of Germany in the Baltic Sea...

 as fiefs of the Empire.

Issue


By his wife, Richenza of Northeim
Richenza of Northeim
Richenza of Northeim was a member of the dynasty of the Counts of Northeim, and a German Empress.She was the daughter of Henry the Fat of Northeim and Gertrud of Brunswick of the Brunonen dynasty....

, Lothair had only one surviving child, a daughter Gertrude
Gertrud of Süpplingenburg
Gertrud of Süpplingenburg was the only child of Emperor Lothar III , Duke of Saxony, and his wife Richenza of Northeim....

, born April 18, 1115. In order to secure Welf support for his election, Lothair married Gertrude to Henry the Proud
Henry X, Duke of Bavaria
thumb|right|Henry X in a much later engraving.Henry the Proud was the Duke of Bavaria , Duke of Saxony , and Margrave of Tuscany .-Life and reign:...

, the duke of Bavaria, on May 29, 1127. Their son was Henry the Lion
Henry the Lion
Henry the Lion was a member of the Welf dynasty and Duke of Saxony, as Henry III, from 1142, and Duke of Bavaria, as Henry XII, from 1156, which duchies he held until 1180....

.

A note on the ordinal


The numbering of German rulers generally follows a sequence that leads back to the Carolingian
Carolingian
The Carolingian dynasty was a Frankish noble family with origins in the Arnulfing and Pippinid clans of the 7th century AD. The name "Carolingian", Medieval Latin karolingi, an altered form of an unattested Old High German *karling, kerling The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the...

 empire and the East Frankish kingdom that emerged from it. Lothair III is thus seen as a successor of Emperor Lothair I
Lothair I
Lothair I or Lothar I was the Emperor of the Romans , co-ruling with his father until 840, and the King of Bavaria , Italy and Middle Francia...

 (ruled 843–855) and King Lothair II of Lotharingia
Lothair II of Lotharingia
Lothair II was the second son of Emperor Lothair I and Ermengarde of Tours. He was married to Teutberga, daughter of Boso the Elder. He is the namesake of the Lothair Crystal, which he probably commissioned, and of the Cross of Lothair, which was made over a century after his death but...

 (ruled 855–869), most of whose kingdom was eventually absorbed into Germany. However, because Lothair II was not Emperor and did not rule Germany proper, some historians do not count him in the German sequence and thus call Lothair of Supplinburg Lothair II rather than Lothair III.

Sources

  • Karl Hampe (1973). Germany Under the Salian and Hohenstaufen Emperors. ISBN 0-631-14180-4
  • Bryce, James. The Holy Roman Empire. MacMillan, 1913
  • Comyn, Robert. History of the Western Empire, from its Restoration by Charlemagne to the Accession of Charles V, Vol. I. 1851
  • Encyclopædia Britannica: Lothair III

External links