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East Germany Table of Contents

East Germany

Salian Dynasty, 1024 - 1125

After the death of Henry II in 1024, the crown passed to the Salians, a Frankish tribe. The German monarchy established itself as a major European power under the Salian emperors. The main Salian accomplishment was the development of a permanent administrative system based on a class of public officials who served the crown. Salian rule was challenged in 1075 by the Investiture Controversy, a papal-imperial struggle in which Pope Gregory VII demanded that the Salian king Henry IV renounce his rights over the German church. The pope further attacked the concept of monarchy by divine right and gained the support of significant elements of the German nobility interested in delimiting imperial absolutism. Henry was forced to journey to Canossa in northern Italy to do penance and receive absolution from the pope. He resumed the practice of lay investiture, however, and had an antipope elected.

The papal-imperial struggle resulted in civil war, which ravaged the German lands from 1077 until the issue was resolved by the Concordat of Worms in 1122. Control of Italy was lost, and the crown became dependent on the political support of competing aristocratic factions. Feudalism advanced rapidly as freemen sought protection by swearing allegiance to a lord. The princes, having thereby acquired extensive territories and large military retinues, took over administration within their territories and organized it around an increasing number of castles. Hence the foundations of the territorial particularism characteristic of subsequent German history were laid during the civil wars. The ultimate result was the monarchy's loss of pre-eminence.

Data as of July 1987