Conrad II, Holy Roman Emperor

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Conrad II (c. 990 – June 4, 1039) was Holy Roman Emperor from 1027 until his death.

The son of a mid-level nobleman in Franconia, Count Henry of Speyer and Adelaide of Alsace, he inherited the titles of count of Speyer and of Worms as an infant when Henry died at age twenty. As he matured he came to be well known beyond his power base in Worms and Speyer, so when the Saxon line died off and the elected monarchy for the German realm stood vacant, he was elected King of Germany in 1024 at the respectably old age of thirty-four years and crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire on March 26, 1027, becoming the first of four kings and emperors of the Salian Dynasty.


Early life

During his reign, he proved that the German monarchy had become a viable institution. Survival of the monarchy was no longer dependent on contracts between sovereign and territorial nobles.

The father of Conrad II, Henry of Speyer was a grandson of Liutgarde, a daughter of the great Emperor Otto I who had married the Salian Duke Conrad the Red of Lorraine.

Despite his bloodline in that age when people died young and younger, the orphaned Conrad grew up poor by the standards of the nobility and was raised by Burchard, Bishop of Worms.

He was reputed to be prudent and firm out of consciousness of deprivation. In 1016, he married Gisela of Swabia, a widowed duchess. Both parties claimed descent from Charles the Great (Charlemagne) and were thus distantly related.

Strict canonists took exception to the marriage, and Emperor Henry II used this to force Conrad into temporary exile.

They became reconciled, and upon Henry's death in 1024, Conrad appeared as a candidate before the electoral assembly of princes at Kamba, an historical name for an area on the East banks of the river Rhine and opposite to the German town Oppenheim (Today the position of Kamba is marked by a small monument, which displays Conrad on a horse). He was elected by the majority and was crowned king in Mainz on September 8, 1024, arguably in the prime of life. It was equally obvious that the Saxon line of Emperors was at an end, and all of Europe speculated and maneuvered to influence the Prince-electors in unseemly disrespect for the aging Henry II. That same year, Conrad commissioned the construction of the Speyer Cathedral in Speyer which was started in 1030.

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