NameConrad II (The Salic) King of Germany
Death4 Jun 1039, Utrecht, Germany
BurialImperial Cathedral, Speyer
Misc. Notes
German king (1024-39) and Holy Roman emperor (1027-39), founder of the Salian dynasty. During his reign, he proved that the German monarchy had become a viable institution. Since the survival of the monarchy was no longer primarily dependent on a compact between sovereign and territorial nobles, it was henceforth invulnerable to prolonged rebellion on their part.

Conrad was the son of Count Henry of Speyer, who had been passed over in his inheritances in favour of a younger brother. Henry was descended, through the marriage of his great-grandfather Conrad the Red to a daughter of Emperor Otto, from the Saxon house. Left poor, Conrad was brought up by the Bishop of Worms and did not receive much of a formal education; but, conscious of the deprivations suffered by him and his father, he matured early. Prudent and firm, he often displayed great chivalry as well as a strong sense of justice, and he was determined to gain the status that fortune had denied him. In 1016 he married Gisela, the widowed duchess of Swabia and a descendant of Charlemagne. Conrad, however, was distantly related to Gisela. When strict canonists took exception to the marriage, Emperor Henry II, who was jealous of the growth of Conrad's personal influence, used their findings as an excuse for forcing Conrad into temporary exile. The two men later became reconciled, and, by the time Henry II died, in 1024, Conrad presented himself to the electoral assembly of the princes at Kamba on the Rhine as a candidate for the succession. After prolonged debates, the majority voted for him, and he was crowned king in Mainz on Sept. 8, 1024.

Intelligent and genial, Conrad was also fortunate. Soon after his election, even the minority opposition was persuaded to pay their homage. Early in the following year, the sudden death of Boleslaw I the Brave of Poland, a tributary to the German monarchy who had styled himself an independent king, spared Conrad the necessity of military interference. In Germany a rebellion fomented by nobles and relatives of Conrad was joined by many lay princes of Lombardy; and, although the Italian bishops paid homage at a court in Constance in June 1025, the lay princes sought to elect William of Aquitaine as antiking. But, when the King of France refused his support, the rebellion collapsed. Early in 1026, Conrad was able to go to Milan, where Archbishop Ariberto crowned him king of Italy. After brief fighting, Conrad overcame the opposition of some towns and nobles and managed to reach Rome, where he was crowned emperor by Pope John XIX on Easter 1027. When a renewed rebellion in Germany forced him to return, he subdued the rebels and imposed severe penalties on them, not sparing members of his own family.

Conrad not only showed strength and incorruptible justice in maintaining his power but also displayed enterprise in legislation. He formally confirmed the popular legal traditions of Saxony and issued a new set of feudal constitutions for Lombardy. On Easter Sunday 1028, at an imperial court in Aachen, he had his son Henry elected and anointed king. In 1036 Henry was married to Kunigunde, the daughter of King Canute of England. Eventually, he became inseparable from his father and acted as his chief counsellor. Thus, the succession was virtually assured, and the future of the new house looked bright.

In the meantime, Conrad had been compelled, after all, to campaign against Poland in 1028. After severe fighting, Mieszko--Boleslaw's son and heir--was forced to make peace and surrender lands that Conrad's predecessor had lost. Even so, Conrad had to continue to campaign in the east, and in 1035 he subdued the heathen Liutitians.

Although occupied intermittently in the east, Conrad was able to gain political triumphs in the west. Earlier, the childless king Rudolf of Burgundy had offered the succession to his crown to Emperor Henry II, who, however, died before Rudolf. Thus, when Rudolf died in 1032, he left his kingdom to Conrad over the opposition of the Burgundian princes, who two years later, on Aug. 1, 1034, paid homage to Conrad at Z├╝rich.

Although Conrad's relations with his son remained close, King Henry at times showed independent initiative. He once concluded a separate peace with King Stephen of Hungary and on another occasion gave his oath to Duke Adalbero of Carinthia never to side against him. Thus, when Conrad fell out with Adalbero in 1035, Henry's oath severely strained relations between father and son. Conrad managed to overcome his son's partisanship only by humbling himself before him. In the end, Conrad's determination prevailed, and Adalbero was duly punished.

In 1036 Conrad appeared for a second time in Italy, where he proceeded with equal vigour against his old ally, Archbishop Aribert of Milan. Italy was rent by dissensions between the great princes, who, together with their vassals--the capitanei--had suppressed both knights and the burghers of the cities, the valvassores. Conrad upheld the rights of the valvassores, and, when Aribert, claiming to be the peer of the emperor, rejected Conrad's legislative interference, Conrad had him arrested. Aribert managed to escape, however, and succeeded in raising a rebellion in Milan. Through luck and skillful diplomacy, Conrad succeeded in isolating Aribert from his Lombard supporters as well as from his friends in Lorraine. Conrad was thus able to proceed in 1038 to southern Italy, where he installed friendly princes in Salerno and Anversa and appointed the German Richer as abbot of Monte Cassino.

On his return to Germany the same year along the Adriatic coast, his army succumbed to a midsummer epidemic in which both his daughter-in-law and his stepson died. Conrad himself reached Germany safely and held several important courts in Solothurn (where his son Henry was invested with the kingdom of Burgundy), in Strassburg, and in Goslar. He fell ill during the following year (1039) and died.

Compton's Encyclopedia (via America Online, 1995): CONRAD II (990?-1039). Europe in the 11th century had no
nation-states. It was a collection of hundreds of political units governed by kings, princes, dukes, and other nobles. Great
parts of the Continent, including Germany and Italy, were nominally united in the Holy Roman Empire, but the separate
parts were always ready to rebel. This was the world into which Conrad II, the son of Count Henry of Speyer, was born in
about 990. During his short reign as emperor, from 1027 to 1039, Conrad imposed a temporary unity on his domain. He
also proved that a strong monarchy was possible in Germany, though Germany would not really be united until the 19th
century. Conrad was elected king of the Germans in 1024, succeeding Henry II. Three years later, on Easter Day in 1027,
he was crowned emperor by the pope at Rome. He proved himself an able and just ruler, but most of his reign was spent in
putting down real and threatened rebellions. In 1027 he put down a rebellion in Germany. The next year he fought Poland,
and in 1032 he inherited Burgundy, though he was opposed by the local princes. From 1036 to 1038 he was in Italy, where
he defeated an uprising led by the archbishop of Milan and placed into power princes who favored his rule. He died in
Utrecht, Germany, on June 4, 1039. The ruling house that Conrad founded, known as the Salian Dynasty, lasted until
1125. He was succeeded as king and emperor by his son, grandson, and great grandson--all named Henry. - - - - - - Conrad
II was crowned at Rome 03-26-1027; he greatly strengthened Germany. He founded the Salian or Franconian dynasty.
Although a minor nobleman, he was elected because he descends from Otto I and his predeccesor (Henry II) died without an
heir. Conrad II was firm and ruthless in reinstituting the empire in Burgundy, Italy and Poland. His policies established
feudalism in the place of centralized power; he dominated the church through simony and lay investiture. Still, Conrad II
built the Speyer Cathedral in which he is buried. He was Emperor of the West.

References: [AR7],[WallopFH],[Moncreiffe],[Paget1], [PlantagenetA],[ES],[RFC]
Birth11 Nov 995, Swabia, Bavaria, Germany
Death14 Feb 1043
FatherHerman II Duke of Swabia (~950-1003)
ChildrenJudith (~1007-1058)
 Henry III (The Black) (1017-1056)
Last Modified 16 Oct 1999Created 4 Sep 2012 using Reunion for Macintosh