Salian dynasty

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The Salian dynasty was a dynasty in the High Middle Ages of four German Kings (1024-1125), also known as the Frankish dynasty after the family's origin and role as dukes of Franconia. All of these kings were also crowned Holy Roman Emperor (1027-1125): the term 'Salic dynasty' also applies to the Holy Roman Empire as a separate term.

After the death of the last Saxon of the Ottonian Dynasty in 1024, first the elected crown of 'King of Germany' and then three years later the elected position of Holy Roman Emperor both passed to the first monarch of the Salian dynasty in the person of Conrad II, the only son of Count Henry of Speyer and Adelheid of Alsace (both territories in the Franconia of the day). He was elected King of Germany in 1024 and crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire on 26 March 1027.

The four Salian kings of the dynasty — Conrad II, Henry III, Henry IV, and Henry V — ruled the Holy Roman Empire from 1027 to 1125, and firmly established their monarchy as a major European power. They achieved the development of a permanent administrative system based on a class of public officials answerable to the crown.



Werner of Worms and his son Duke Conrad the Red of Lorraine, who died in 955, founded the ancestral dynasty . Conrad the Red married Luitgard, a daughter of Emperor Otto I, their son Otto I, Duke of Carinthia ruled Carinthia from 978 to 1004.

Duke Otto had three sons: Bruno, who became Pope Gregory V; Conrad; and Henry, count of Speyer. Henry was the father of the first Salian Emperor Conrad II.

Pope Leo IX (in office 1049 to 1054) also had family ties to the dynasty, since his grandfather Hugo III was the brother of Adelheid, the grandmother of Henry III.

Ruling in the Holy Roman Empire

The early Salians owed much of their success to their alliance with the church, a policy begun by Otto I, which gave them the material support they needed to subdue rebellious dukes. In time, however, the church came to regret this close relationship. The alliance broke down in 1075 during what came to be known as the Investiture Controversy (or Investiture Dispute), a struggle in which the reformist pope, Gregory VII, demanded that Henry IV renounce his rights over the German church. The pope also attacked the concept of monarchy by divine right and gained the support of significant elements of the German nobility interested in limiting imperial absolutism. More important, the pope forbade church officials under pain of excommunication to support Henry as they had so freely done in the past. In the end, Henry journeyed to Canossa in northern Italy in 1077 to do penance and to receive absolution from the pope. However, he resumed the practice of lay investiture (appointment of religious officials by civil authorities) and arranged the election of an antipope (Antipope Clement III) in 1080.

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