Lothair III, Holy Roman Emperor

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Lothair III of Supplinburg (9 June, 1075, Unterlüß – 4 December 1137), was Duke of Saxony (1106), King of Germany (1125), and Holy Roman Emperor from 1133 to 1137. The son of Count Gebhard of Supplinburg, his reign was troubled by the constant intriguing of Frederick II, Duke of Swabia and Duke Conrad of Franconia. He died whilst returning from a successful campaign against the Normans in southern Italy.


Rise to power

Little is known of Lothair's youth. He was a posthumous child, born in June 1075 shortly after his father, Gebhard of Supplinburg, died in battle against the Emperor Henry IV.

After years of purchasing lands or gaining them via inheritance or marriage alliances throughout Saxony, Lothair gained the domains of the Billung, Nordheim and Brunswick families and became one of the dominant landowners in the northern duchy. He was made Duke of Saxony in 1106 by Emperor Henry V in exchange for his help against Henry's father, Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor.[1] Emboldened by the promotion, and incensed over the imposition of a new tax on ducal lords, Lothair subsequently revolted against Henry's rule and denied Henry's ability to rule Saxony during the Investiture Controversy. In 1115 his forces defeated those of the Emperor in the Battle of Welfesholz.[2]

When Henry died in 1125, Lothair was viewed by the imperial chancellor, the Archbishop of Mainz, as a perfect candidate.[3] As an extensive landowner, he brought power to the table, but he was old (slightly over fifty years of age) and had no male issue, potentially making him malleable for the nobility. He was therefore elected king of Germany after a contentious power struggle with Frederick II, Duke of Swabia, head of the Hohenstaufen.[4] His election was notable in that it marked a departure from the concept of hereditary succession.[5] Somewhat naive concerning the complex power struggle between the papacy and the empire, Lothair also consented to several symbolic acts that were subsequently interpreted by Rome as signaling acceptance of papal confirmation of his position.[6]

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