First to reign
Charlemagne
25 December AD 800 – 28 January AD 814
Henry in full regalia (depicted in the 11th-century Evangelion of Saint Emmeram's Abbey)
Coats of arms of prince electors surround the imperial coat of arms; from a 1545 armorial. Electors voted in an Imperial Diet for a new Holy Roman Emperor.
Throne of Charlemagne in the Palatine Chapel in Aachen
Depiction of Charlemagne in a 12th-century stained glass window, Strasbourg Cathedral, now at Musée de l'Œuvre Notre-Dame.
Henry jumps from Archbishop Anno II of Cologne's ship into the Rhine at Kaiserswerth in 1062 (engraving by Bernhard Rode, 1781).
Illustration of the election of Henry VII (27 November 1308) showing (left to right) the Archbishop of Cologne, Archbishop of Mainz, Archbishop of Trier, Count Palatine of the Rhine, Duke of Saxony, Margrave of Brandenburg and King of Bohemia (Codex Balduini Trevirorum, c. 1340).
Map of the Holy Roman Empire in the 10th and 11th centuries: Germany (blue), Italy (grey), Burgundy (orange to the West), Bohemia (orange to the East), Papal States (purple). Sardinia's presentation as part of the Holy Roman Empire is debated.
Henry's brother-in-law, King Solomon of Hungary, appeals to Henry for help (miniature in the 14th-century Vienna Illuminated Chronicle).
Ruins of Homburg Castle. Henry's army inflicted a decisive defeat on the Saxons near the castle in 1074.
Henry begging Matilda of Tuscany and Hugh of Cluny in Canossa Castle (miniature in an illuminated manuscript kept in the Vatican Library, 1115)
Rudolf of Rheinfelden dying after losing his right hand in the Battle on the Elster in 1080 (engraving by Bernhard Rode, 1781)
Henry IV (left) and Antipope Clement III (middle-right) during Henry's imperial coronation (from Otto of Freising's Chronicle or History of the Two Cities, 1157)
Welf, Duke of Bavaria—a wealthy German aristocrat with flexible loyalties during Henry's conflicts with the Papacy (a late-15th-century painting)
Henry and his two sons, Henry and Conrad (upper line) (from the 11th-century Evangelion of Saint Emmeram's Abbey)
Mikveh (Jewish ritual bath) in Speyer. Henry summarised the local Jews' liberties in a diploma in 1090.
Henry IV abdicates in favour of Henry V (from the early-12th-century Chronicle of Ekkehard of Aura).
Henry IV and his first wife, Bertha of Savoy (11th-century painting)

Henry IV (Heinrich IV; 11 November 1050 – 7 August 1106) was Holy Roman Emperor from 1084 to 1105, King of Germany from 1054 to 1105, King of Italy and Burgundy from 1056 to 1105, and Duke of Bavaria from 1052 to 1054.

- Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor

The best-known and most bitter conflict was that known as the investiture controversy, fought during the 11th century between Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII.

- Holy Roman Emperor
First to reign
Charlemagne
25 December AD 800 – 28 January AD 814

5 related topics

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Investiture Controversy

Conflict between the church and the state in medieval Europe over the ability to choose and install bishops (investiture) and abbots of monasteries and the pope himself.

Conflict between the church and the state in medieval Europe over the ability to choose and install bishops (investiture) and abbots of monasteries and the pope himself.

Henry IV begging forgiveness of Pope Gregory VII at Canossa, the castle of the Countess Matilda, 1077
Contemporary illustration of Henry IV (left) and Anti-pope Clement III (centre)
Henry IV requests mediation from Matilda of Tuscany and abbot Hugh of Cluny.
The Cathedral of Worms was 10 years old when the Concordat was issued there in 1122.
The Avignon Papacy occurring several centuries after the Concordat, and indicated that there was continued interference in the papacy by kings.

A series of popes in the 11th and 12th centuries undercut the power of the Holy Roman Emperor and other European monarchies, and the controversy led to nearly 50 years of civil war in Germany.

It began as a power struggle between Pope Gregory VII and Henry IV (then King, later Holy Roman Emperor) in 1076.

Pope Gregory VII

Head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 22 April 1073 to his death in 1085.

Head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 22 April 1073 to his death in 1085.

A map of Gregory VII's papal correspondence
Wax funeral effigy of Gregory VII under glass, Salerno cathedral

One of the great reforming popes, he is perhaps best known for the part he played in the Investiture Controversy, his dispute with Emperor Henry IV that affirmed the primacy of papal authority and the new canon law governing the election of the pope by the College of Cardinals.

Cardinal Ugo's intervention was contrary to the Constitution of Nicholas II, which affirmed the exclusive right to name candidates to the Cardinal Bishops; finally, the requirement of Pope Nicholas II that the Holy Roman Emperor be consulted in the matter was ignored.

A golden bust of Frederick I, given to his godfather Count Otto of Cappenberg in 1171. It was used as a reliquary in Cappenberg Abbey and is said in the deed of the gift to have been made "in the likeness of the emperor".

Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor

A golden bust of Frederick I, given to his godfather Count Otto of Cappenberg in 1171. It was used as a reliquary in Cappenberg Abbey and is said in the deed of the gift to have been made "in the likeness of the emperor".
Crusaders besieging Damascus in 1148
13th-century stained glass image of Frederick I, Strasbourg Cathedral
Penny or denier with Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, struck in Nijmegen
Wax seal of Frederick I, used in the imperial residence of Pfalz Wimpfen
Frederick's so-called baptismal cup, silver, partly gilded, Aachen 1160
The Barbarossa Chandelier in Aachen Cathedral was donated by Frederick sometime after 1165 as a tribute to Charlemagne.
Frederick Barbarossa, middle, flanked by two of his children, King Henry VI (left) and Duke Frederick VI (right). From the Historia Welforum
The now secularised St Peter's Church at Petersberg Citadel, Erfurt, where Henry the Lion submitted to Barbarossa in 1181
Path of the Third Crusade, Frederick Barbarossa's path in red
Frederick Barbarossa depicted during the Third Crusade
Barbarossa drowns in the Saleph, from the Gotha Manuscript of the Saxon World Chronicle
A German expedition led by Johann Nepomuk Sepp to excavate the bones from the ruins of the Crusader Cathedral of Tyre, 1879
The Frederick Barbarossa Memorial, near Silifke in Mersin Province, southern Turkey. The text explains in Turkish and German how Frederick drowned nearby.
Frederick Barbarossa as a crusader, miniature from a copy of the Historia Hierosolymitana, 1188
Frederick sends out the boy to see whether the ravens still fly.

Frederick Barbarossa (December 1122 – 10 June 1190), also known as Frederick I (Friedrich I, Federico I), was the Holy Roman Emperor from 1155 until his death 35 years later.

The reigns of Henry IV and Henry V left the status of the German empire in disarray, its power waning under the weight of the Investiture controversy.

Salian dynasty

Dynasty in the High Middle Ages.

Dynasty in the High Middle Ages.

Family tree of the imperial dynasties of the Holy Roman Empire: Carolingians, Ottonians, Salians and Hohenstaufen.
Map of the Holy Roman Empire in the 10th and 11th centuries: Germany (blue), Italy (grey), Burgundy (orange to the West), Bohemia (orange to the East), Papal States (purple).
Pope Gregory V anoints Emperor Otto III (a miniature by an unidentified author, c. undefined 1450).
Speyer Cathedral, burial place of all Salian Emperors

The dynasty provided four kings of Germany (1024–1125), all of whom went on to be crowned Holy Roman emperors (1027–1125).

He was followed by three more Salian rulers: Henry III, Henry IV, and Henry V.

The royal Throne of Charlemagne in Aachen Cathedral

King of the Romans

The title used by the German king following his election by the princes from the reign of Henry II (1002–1024, emperor from 1014) onward.

The title used by the German king following his election by the princes from the reign of Henry II (1002–1024, emperor from 1014) onward.

The royal Throne of Charlemagne in Aachen Cathedral
Coat of Arms of Joseph II, the last King of the Romans
Detail of the imperial coronation mantle, drawing from 1857
Armor of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor, created when he was still King of the Romans in 1549.
Napoleon II, 1811

The title predominantly amounted to being the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, a title long dependent upon coronation by the pope.

After the Salian heir apparent Henry IV, a six-year-old minor, had been elected to rule the Empire in 1056 he adopted Romanorum Rex as a title to emphasize his sacred entitlement to be crowned Emperor by the Pope.