The Holy Roman Empire

Otto I, Investiture Contest, Frederick Barbarossa

Otto I

  • Fall of the Carolingians (888)
  • Otto of Saxony
i. King of northern Germany
ii. Protected the church in Italy
  • Pope Gregory XII
i. appreciated Otto's assistance to the church
ii. Proclaimed Otto of Saxony emperor; Holy Roman Empire begins
  • There were conflicts between the papacy (the authority of the pope) and the emperors
i. emperors were unable to ever build a strong and powerful state
ii. Popes enthroned medieval emperors
iii. Popes and emperors both held powerful authority— neither was able to overcome the other; strained relations
iv. Emperors wanted to have control over which people were given power within the local churches (bishops, patriarchs, archbishops,etc.); popes saw this decision as their own right
v. Popes hindered the emperors from ever building a powerful state; popes felt it would threaten their authority


Frederick Barbarossa

  • Had ambitions to absorb the wealthy region of Lombardy (in northern Italy) into the Holy Roman Empire.
  • Popes disapproved of this ambition because other European states were supporting Italy.
  • Papal alliances forced the emperor to give up his rights in Lombardy.