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order. But his son was a mere child without any grown relative at his side to act as protector, and not even provided with a strong Mayor of the Palace to vindicate the royal authority. So far as there was any central government at all, it was worked by two great bishops, Adalbero of Augsburg and Hatto of Mainz—the wicked prelate of German tales, of whom posterity persisted in believing that he was devoured alive by rats in divine punishment for his sins. But Hatto and Adalbero were not even formally acknowledged as regents by the national diet, and had no authority to use the royal name save to execute the behests of that council.
In the third year of Lewis two powerful family-groups of counts in Franconia began to wage open war on each other, not under any pretence of serving the crown but purely to settle a personal feud. Adalbert of Bamberg and his two kinsmen, who governed the land of the Saal and upper Main, fell upon Conrad and Eberhard, two Civiiwarsin brothers who ruled in Hesse and on the Lahn, Franconia. and for four years central Germany was torn by their intermittent struggles. The meeting of the national council, and the anathemas of the bishops proved quite unable to bring the feud to an end. Presently the quarrel spread into western Lotharingia, where two other counts, Gerhard and Matfrid, espoused the cause of Adalbert and attacked his enemies in Hesse. It was only after four counts had fallen in battle, and the whole Main valley had been miserably ravaged, that a diet, summoned by bishop Hatto at Tribur, finally put its ban on Adalbert of Bamberg, as the fomenter of the war, and raised a great army against him. He was beleaguered by the national levy in his castle of Theres, captured and executed, while his friends Gerhard and Matfrid were exiled. But it had taken four years to induce the nation to move, and meanwhile other great counts and dukes had learnt the lesson that they might enjoy a long impunity, whatever turbulent enterprise they might take in hand. A few years later we find Burchard margrave of Rhaetia endeavouring to make himself duke of all Suabia by coercing the small governors in his neighbourhood; when he was put down and executed, by council of the' bishops who surrounded the young king, popular sympathy was decidedly in favour of the feudal usurper and not of the central government. In Lotharingia too troubles never ceased; they culminated in a second attempt of count Reginald-with-theLong-Neck to make over the Austrasian countries to the king of Neustria, Charles the Simple.
But serious as were these civil broils, their importance was as nothing compared with the greater disasters caused by the Hungarians' ravages on the eastern frontier. From the first year of king Lewis onward their attacks knew no intermission. They began by raids on Bavaria and Carinthia; a little later, while the Franconian civil war was in progress, we find them penetrating into Suabia and even into the distant Saxony. In 907 they defeated the whole levy of Bavaria, and slew its duke Luitpold together with the archbishop of Salzburg and the invasions bishops of Freising and Seben. The consequence of the of this disaster was the temporary loss to Germany
Hungarians. of its eastern frontier, the Bavarian 'Ostmark,' which we now know as Austria; the Magyars overran the whole of it as far as the Enns. In the very next year the victorious horde entered Thuringia and slew its duke together with the bishop of Wurzburg. In 910 the young king himself, now sixteen years old, took the field against them for the first time, and for once Bavarians, Suabians, and Franconians were found united under him for a common campaign against the invader. But the first fight of king Lewis was a disaster: his army was caught in an ambush and routed with great slaughter, only the Bavarian troops escaped the panic and succeeded in checking the outset of the victorious enemy.
How Lewis might have fared in future warfare against the Magyars we cannot say, for a year later, ere yet he had attained the threshold of manhood, he was carried off by disease. With him was extinguished the German line of the Carolingian house, for he left no male heir of any kind, whether brother, uncle, or cousin, to take up the heavy heritage of the Teutonic crown. (911.)
The only alternatives that now lay before the German nobles were either to elect as king one of the French branch of the Carolingian line, or else to follow the example of the Burgundians, Italians, and Provengals and choose one of themselves as the new ruler. After much hesitation the latter course commended itself to the diet, and at Forchheim the Franconians, Saxons, Suabians, and Bavarians joined in elevating to the throne Conrad, a count of lower Franconia, the son of that Conrad who had fallen in the war with Adalbert of Bamberg five years before. Only the Austrasians, Election of faithful now as ever to the house of Charles the Conrad I.,gu. Great, refused to acknowledge the new king, and once more did homage to Charles the Simple, the weak but ambitious monarch of Neustria. Conrad seems to have been remotely descended in the female line from the house of St. Arnulf, but could not pretend to represent the old traditions of Frankish royalty. He was simply the most powerful, or almost the most powerful, man among the German noble houses, and was chosen purely for his military abilities.
Conrad's reign of seven years (911-918) was one continuous story of rebellion and disaster. Under a ruler of a new line, whom they regarded merely as one of themselves, the local governors became even more insolent to the central power than before. They made war on each other at their good pleasure, and each endeavoured to put down his weaker neighbours and make their possessions his own. Each of the ancient divisions of the German realm, the original tribal unities of Suabian and Bavarian, Saxon and Frank, showed a tendency to draw apart from its fellows. Each sought to' reassert its individuality under some new ruler of its own, to hail its strongest noble as duke and follow him even against the king. It required a strong and persevering monarch to keep this separatist tendency under, and to prevent it from splitting up the realm.
Conrad I. was deficient neither in energy nor in perseverance. His whole reign was filled with struggles against the usurpations of the greater nobles, but he was still far from having won a victory when he died. Except from his fellow-countrymen in Franconia, and from the higher clergy, he got little assistance in the strife, and his own last words were a warning to the Germans that they must choose a stronger king than himself if their kingdom was to survive.
It would be wearisome to relate the many campaigns of
Conrad against his too-powerful subjects, to tell how the
Palatine count Erchanger tried to make himself duke in
Suabia: how Arnulf, the son of that Luitpold
Rebellions ' . . f
against whom the Hungarians had slam, claimed the
Conrad I. ducal power in Bavaria; how the great Saxon Henry, son of duke Otto—to be better known a few years later as king Henry the Fowler—defied his liege lord to drive him out of Saxony. Conrad was generally unsuccessful in his strife against the rebels; it is true that he defeated, captured, and executed the would-be duke of Suabia, and that he drove Arnulf the Bavarian into exile for a time. But he utterly failed in his attempt to win back Austrasia from Charles the Simple, and his expedition into Saxony against duke Henry came to a disastrous end, so that he was compelled to make peace and to recognise Henry's ducal power over the whole country. It is said that Hatto, the great archbishop of Mainz, died of sheer anger and disgust on hearing of the triumph of the Saxon, against whom he had a personal grudge. Hatto had been the chief supporter of the central government in the reign of Conrad, as in the reign of Lewis the Child, and could not bear to see the forces of disunion finally victorious.
It need hardly be added that while civil war raged all over
the German kingdom, the foreign enemy was more active than
Further even Insteacl of afflicting only the eastern border
Magyar of the land, the Magyars came flooding in over
inroads. its whole extent. They even reached the Rhine:
in 913 we find them before the walls of Coblenz: in 917 they surprised and burnt Basel, the south-westernmost of all the cities of the realm. Meanwhile the Suabians and Bavarians were too much occupied in resisting the king to be able either to unite or defend themselves.
In this melancholy position of affairs Conrad I. died on the 23d of December 918. His last act was to assemble his brothers and his chief councillors at his bedside, and to warn them that if Germany was to be saved they must Death of find a stronger man than himself to crown as Conrad, 918. king. He advised them not to look within his own family, but to elect the powerful duke of Saxony, Henry the Fowler. Though Henry was an obstinate enemy of his own, Conrad considered him the strongest and most capable statesman in the realm, and putting aside all personal enmity gave his vote in the Saxon's favour. His advice was taken and the happiest results ensued.
Here then we must leave Germany, still in evil plight, but on the eve of better things. She had yet to solve the question whether the work of Charles the Great — the blending of Frank, Saxon, Suabian, and Bavarian into a single nationality— was to endure, or whether the disruptive tendencies were still too strong. Fortunately for her there were two great forces at work in favour of unity. The Church owed her rise and growth in Germany to the protection of the great Frankish kings, and in gratitude always fought upon the side of royalty and union. But even more important was the pressure of hostile neighbours from without: it had become evident since the death of king Arnulf to even the most turbulent of the Suabian counts and the most unruly of the Saxon tribes, that if Germany was to survive she must submit herself to a single ruler. If the reigns of Lewis the Child and Conrad the Franconian had been disastrous failures, it was because the one was too young and the other too destitute both of heriditary claims and of personal followers. When a strong man with one of the great duchies at his back took Conrad's place, the problem of saving Germany was found not to be insoluble.