Germany History: from Ludovico IL Germanico to Federico II

Germany History: from Ludovico IL Germanico to Federico II

It was during the wars fought between Charlemagne’s successors that a German state emerged for the first time, autonomous and comprising in a unitary political organism all the Germanic populations east of the Rhine: the kingdom known as the Eastern Franks (later also regnum Theutonicum, or Saxonorum), recognized by the Treaty of Verdun (843) to Louis the German, grandson of Charlemagne, the year following that Strasbourg oath which, due to its bilingual redaction (Old French and Old High German), is proof of the existence of an autonomous and distinct German nationality within the Frankish world, albeit through the internal differences of customs, habits and in part also of language that were still found among the ancient populations. The German nation confirmed and consolidated in the following centuries its achieved unity with its own civilization which made its influence felt throughout Europe; the construction of a national state proved to be much more difficult. Under the reign of the last Carolingians the compactness of the political formation that had been created was severely tested both by the contrasts (and by the subdivisions) between Ludovico’s successors, and by the recurring aspirations for a reunification of Charlemagne’s Empire. Between the end of the century. Furthermore, during the reigns of Arnolfo of Carinthia and Ludovico il Fanciullo, continuous invasions by Hungarians, Slavs and Danes followed one another.

This situation of serious weakness of central power resulted in the strengthening of those ethnic-based particularisms that were linked to the traditions of the ancient peoples subdued by the Franks and determined the formation of political units governed by leaders who took the name of dukes, the national duchies. of Saxony, Franconia, Swabia and Bavaria, which was later joined by that of Lorraine, not corresponding to an ethnic group, but to the constituent territories of ancient Lotharingia, definitively incorporated into the German kingdom starting from 925. The extinction of the Carolingians of Germany (911) made the dukes – who had previously recognized at least nominally the authority of the sovereigns and their hereditary monarchy – arbitrators of the situation: they gave life to a national monarchy, in which the elective principle was tempered by the tendency to choose the sovereign at the interior of a single lineage (dynasties of Saxony, from 919 to 1024; of Franconia, from 1024 to 1125; of the Hohenstaufen, from 1138 to 1250). With Henry the Bird, first of the house of Saxony, and above all with his son, Otto I, the German state was strengthened thanks to the creation of a rudimentary administrative structure (palatine and ministerial counts), to the support of the bishops, appointed by the king and in charge of important political functions, and to that of the minor nobility, which was favored over the great feudal lords. A policy of founding frontier marches along the Elbe (of the Billunghi, from the North, from Lusatia, from Merseburg, from Meissen; and, further south, Orientale, of Carinthia, of Carniola) which not only ensured the defense of the German territory against the invaders (the Hungarians had been beaten at Riade in 933 and on the Lech in 955; the Slavs stopped near the Recknitz in 955), but also laid the foundations for expansion towards the East (Drang nach Osten) of the German settlement and for the Christianization of the Slavs, through the creation of a new series of bishoprics: Schleswig, Oldenburg, Brandenburg, Meissen, Prague, Olmütz, etc., subjected to the metropolitan see of Magdeburg and Mainz. However, even with Otto I emerged (or re-emerged, if we think of the Carolingian matrix of the German state) those imperial and universalist aspirations which then conditioned the action of the German sovereigns for centuries.

In 962, according to globalsciencellc, Ottone encircled the imperial crown in Rome and inaugurated a policy of constant intervention in the political events of the Italian peninsula, which would have required ever new commitment and energy from his successors. The Italian policy of Otto I was made with Otto II and with Otto III also Mediterranean and Eastern, even arousing the utopian program of a renovatio imperii; the ever closer relations with the Church and with the papacy involved the Empire in the exhausting struggle of investitures, from the middle of the century. XI to 1122 (Concordat of Worms); the same political program of Frederick I, centered on the restoration of state power, was conceived within the framework of a universal empire, with Rome as its capital and Italy as its center, and forced the Hohenstaufen to clash with the Italian communes and the papacy; and when in 1194 Henry VI inherited the crown of the Kingdom of Sicily, the ancient mirage of a dominium mundi flashed once again, extended to Byzantium and the Levant. This policy required enormous financial commitments for the recruitment of armies, forced the sovereigns to continually descend into Italy, to long and frequent absences from Germany; above all it prevented them from creating strong structures of government and from opposing the development of particularistic forces: the urban centers, which always claimed new autonomy, the nobility, which by now began to found its power, feudality, on territorial bases, which, far from constituting that hierarchical system of links between the emperor and the potentos hoped for by Barbarossa, it turned out to be the most serious element of disintegration. Thus, while in the West, and above all in France and England, the national monarchies – albeit through a bitter and long struggle – promoted the construction of an increasingly centralized and unitary state organism, ordering and regulating cities and local lordships, large principalities and autonomous provinces, in that slow process that leads to the formation of the modern state, the German monarchy wore out its energies and its authority in pursuit of the dream of a universal empire.

Germany History - from Ludovico IL Germanico to Federico II

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