These last few episodes you may have wondered how all this hangs together. This week we will try to resolve this question. What we will talk about is how the great stem duchy of Saxony fell apart. And there are two stories about that. One is the story of Henry the Lion and his fall in 1180. That story has been repeated over and over again and put into a context of rivalry between the Welf and the Hohenstaufen, between Guelfs and Ghibellines. It makes for a great story of betrayal and revenge. But it is also partly wrong and more importantly, not the whole story. The whole story is one about princely opposition against centralising tendencies, about an antagonism between the south and the north and about a broad trend of fragmentation of power that engulfed not just the empire but also Italy, Poland, Denmark and others.
It is the resulting environment of warring mid-sized principalities that allowed alternative structures like the Hanseatic League and the Teutonic Knights to emerge. So let’s get straight into it.
The music for the show is Flute Sonata in E-flat major, H.545 by Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach (or some claim it as BWV 1031 Johann Sebastian Bach) performed and arranged by Michel Rondeau under Common Creative Licence 3.0.
Homepage with maps, photos, transcripts and blog: www.historyofthegermans.com