Conrad III (1093 in Bamberg – 15 February 1152 in Bamberg) was the first King of Germany of the Hohenstaufen dynasty. He was the son of Frederick I, Duke of Swabia, and Agnes, a daughter of the Salian Emperor Henry IV.
Life and reign
Conrad was appointed Duke of Franconia by his uncle, Henry V, in 1115. One year later he acted as regent for Germany, together with his elder brother, Frederick II of Swabia. At the death of Henry (1125), Conrad unsuccessfully supported Frederick for the kingship of Germany. Frederick was placed under a ban and Conrad was deprived of Franconia and the Kingdom of Burgundy, of which he was rector. With the support of the imperial cities, Swabia, and the Duchy of Austria, Conrad was elected antiking at Nuremberg in December 1127.
Conrad quickly crossed the Alps to be crowned King of Italy by Anselm V, Archbishop of Milan. Over the next two years, he failed to achieve anything in Italy, however, and returned to Germany in 1130, after Nuremberg and Speyer, two strong cities in his support, fell to Lothair in 1129. Conrad continued in his opposition, but he and Frederick were forced to acknowledged Lothair as emperor in 1135, during which time Conrad relinquished his tile as King of Italy. After this they were pardoned and could take again possession of their lands.
After Lothair's death (December 1137), Conrad was elected king at Coblenz on 7 March 1138, in the presence of the papal legate Theodwin. Conrad was crowned at Aachen six days later (13 March) and was acknowledged in Bamberg by several princes of southern Germany. As Henry the Proud, son-in-law and heir of Lothair and the most powerful prince in Germany, who had been passed over in the election, refused to do the same, Conrad deprived him of all his territories, giving the Duchy of Saxony to Albert the Bear and that of Bavaria to Leopold III, Margrave of Austria. Henry, however, retained the loyalty of his subjects. The civil war that broke out is considered the first act of the struggle between Guelphs and Ghibellines, which later extended southwards to Italy. After Henry's death (October 1139), the war was continued by his son Henry the Lion, supported by the Saxons, and by his brother Welf VI. Conrad, after a long siege, defeated the latter at Weinsberg in December 1140, and in May 1142 a peace agreement was reached in Frankfurt.
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