A Consise History Of Germany Essay Research

A Consise History Of Germany Essay, Research Paper A Consise History Of Germany IMPORTANT DATES Germanic warriors decisively defeated Roman forces at the Battle of Teutoburg Forest.

A Consise History Of Germany Essay, Research Paper

A Consise History Of Germany


AD 9

Germanic warriors decisively defeated Roman forces at the Battle of Teutoburg Forest.


The Frankish king Clovis overran the Roman province of Gaul. Clovis introduced features of Roman life into western Germany.


The Treaty of Verdun divided Charlemagne’s empire into three kingdoms. The German kingdom soon divided into five duchies.


Otto I was crowned Holy Roman emperor in Aachen.


A dispute between Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII marked the beginning of a series of civil wars contesting church power.


The Hanseatic League was the supreme commercial and military power in northern Germany.


Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation.


The Peace of Augsburg recognized the right of princes to choose Lutheranism or Catholicism for their lands.


The Peace of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years’ War.


Frederick the Great became king of Prussia and began building Prussia into a great power.


The Holy Roman Empire came to an end with the establishment of the Confederation of the Rhine.


The German Confederation was formed at the Congress of Vienna.


Revolutions swept across Germany. The first German national assembly met at Frankfurt in the hopes of creating a more united country.


Prussian prime minister Otto von Bismarck realized his dream of a united Germany as the German Empire was founded.


Germany was forced to accept harsh terms under the Treaty of Versailles that brought an end to World War I. The Weimar Republic was founded.


Adolf Hitler and the Nazis assumed power.


Germany invaded Poland, starting World War II.


Allied armies occupied Germany and divided it into four zones of occupation. Nazi war criminals were tried at N rnberg.


Germany was divided into East Germany and West Germany. Berlin, in East Germany, was also divided between the two countries.


East Germany and West Germany became sovereign states. East Germany joined the Warsaw Pact, an Eastern European military alliance. West Germany became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a Western military alliance.


The East German government built the Berlin Wall.


The Communist government in East Germany collapsed, and the Berlin Wall was dismantled. Thousands of East Germans emigrated to West Germany.


Germany was formally reunified under the government of the former West Germany.


In a close election, Chancellor Helmut Kohl was returned to power for a fourth consecutive term.


Official Name

Bundesrepublik Deutschland

(Federal Republic of Germany)


Berlin, with some government offices remaining in the former West German capital of Bonn


The flag of the former West Germany was retained when Germany was reunified in 1990. The colors were taken from the uniforms of German volunteers during the Napoleonic Wars, and have flown intermittently over Germany since 1848. The black represents gunpowder, the red represents blood, and the gold represents fire.


Third verse of “Deutschlandlied”

(”Song of Germany”)

Origins of the Germans

Germany was inhabited from earliest times, but it took many millennia of migration, conquest, and intermingling to produce the Germans.

Stone Age Peoples

During the Old Stone Age, the German forests were thinly populated by wandering bands of hunters and gatherers. They belonged to the earliest forms of Homo sapiens, such as Heidelberg man, who lived about 400,000 years ago. Somewhat later more advanced forms of Homo sapiens appeared, as exemplified by skeletal finds near Steinheim, some 300,000 years old, and near Ehringsdorf, from about 100,000 years ago. Another human type was the Neandertal, found near D sseldorf, who lived about 100,000 years ago. The most recent type, which appeared by 40,000 BC, was the Cro-Magnon, a member of Homo sapiens sapiens, essentially of the same group as modern Europeans.

During the New Stone Age, the indigenous hunters encountered farming peoples from the more advanced southwest Asia, who were migrating up the Danube Valley into central Germany about 4500 BC. These populations mixed and settled in villages to raise crops and breed livestock. Villagers of this Danubian culture lived with their animals in large, gabled wooden houses, made pottery, and traded with Mediterranean peoples for fine stone and flint axes and shells. As their hand-hoed fields wore out, they moved on, often returning years later.

Bronze Age Peoples

The Bronze Age began in central Germany, Bohemia, and Austria in about 2500 BC with the working of copper and tin deposits by prospectors from the eastern Mediterranean. In about 2300 BC new waves of migrating peoples arrived, probably from southern Russia. These battle-ax-wielding Indo-Europeans were the ancestors of the Germanic peoples that settled in northern and central Germany, the Baltic and Slavic peoples in the east, and the Celts in the south and west. The central and southern groups mixed with the so-called Bell-Beaker people, who moved east from Spain and Portugal about the year 2000 BC. The Bell-Beaker folk, probably Indo-Europeans, were skilled metalworkers. They developed a thriving Bronze Age culture in Germany and traded amber from the Baltic coast for bronze, pottery, and beads from the Mediterranean.

From 1800 to 400 BC, Celtic peoples in southern Germany and Austria developed a sequence of advanced metalworking cultures-Urnfield, Hallstatt, and La T ne-each of which spread throughout Europe. They introduced the use of iron for tools and weapons. The La T ne Celts did fine metalwork and used ox-drawn plows and wheeled vehicles. The Germanic tribes absorbed much Celtic culture and eventually displaced the Celts themselves.

Germans and Romans

From the 2nd century BC to the 5th century AD the Germanic and Celtic tribes, constantly pressed by migrations from the north and east, were in contact with the Romans, who controlled southern and western Europe. Roman accounts by Julius Caesar and Cornelius Tacitus describe these encounters.

The Cimbri and Teutons, about to invade Italy, were defeated by the Roman general Gaius Marius in 101 and 102 BC. The Suevi and other tribes in Gaul (modern-day France), west of the Rhine, were subdued by Julius Caesar around 50 BC. The Romans tried unsuccessfully to extend their rule to the Elbe, and the emperors held the border at the Rhine and the Danube. Between the two rivers they erected a limes, a line of fortifications to keep out raiding tribes.

In the 2nd century AD the Romans prevented confederations of Franks, Alamanni, and Bourguignons outside the empire from crossing the Rhine. But in the 4th and 5th centuries, the pressure proved too much for the weakened Romans. The Huns, sweeping in from Asia, set off waves of migration, during which the Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Vandals, Franks, Lombards, and other Germanic tribes overran the empire.

Beginnings of a German State

In the late 5th century the Frankish chieftain Clovis defeated the Romans, and he established a kingdom that included most of Gaul and southwestern Germany. He converted his subjects, believers in a heretical offshoot of Christianity known as Arianism, to orthodox Christianity.

Carolingian Germany

Clovis’s work was carried on in the 8th century by Charlemagne, who fought the Slavs south of the Danube, annexed southern Germany, and ferociously subdued and converted the pagan Saxons in the northwest. As champion of Christianity and supporter of the papacy against the restive people of Rome, Charlemagne was crowned emperor of the Romans by Pope Leo III in Rome in 800. This milestone event revived the Roman imperial tradition in the west, but it also set a precedent for the dependence of the emperors on papal approval.

The Carolingian Empire was based on the social structure of the late Roman Empire. The official language of the court and the church was Latin, but Franks in Gaul adopted the Latinate vernacular that became French, and Franks and other Germanic tribes in the east spoke various languages that became German. The only relic of Old High German is the Hildebrandslied (”Lay of Hildebrand”), a fragmentary 8th-century poem, based on early pagan heroic tales, about the tragic duel between a father and son.

Carolingian rulers encouraged missionary work among the Germans. Saint Willibrord founded the monastery of Echternach, and Saint Boniface founded Reichenau and Fulda and reformed the Frankish church. Non-Frankish Germans, however, retained much pagan belief beneath their newly acquired faith. The Heliand, a 9th-century epic, depicts Jesus Christ as a Saxon warrior king.

Early Middle Ages

Medieval German kings had three major concerns. One was checking the rebellious princes-usually with the help of churchmen. The second was controlling Italy and being crowned emperor of the West by the pope, a policy considered an essential part of the Carolingian heritage. The third was expansion to the north and east.

The Saxon Kings

When the last Carolingian died without an heir, the Franks and Saxons elected Conrad, duke of Franconia, their king; he proved incompetent. After his death in 918 they chose the Saxon duke Henry I, the Fowler, a sober, practical soldier, who made peace with a rival king chosen by the Bavarians, defeated Magyars and Slavs, and regained Lorraine.

Otto I, the Great

At Henry’s death in 936, the princes elected his son Otto I, who combined extraordinary forcefulness, dignity, and military prowess with great diplomatic skill and genuine religious faith. Determined to create a strong centralized monarchy, Otto gave the duchies to his relatives and then broke them up into nonhereditary fiefs granted to bishops and abbots. By nominating these churchmen and subjecting them to the royal court, he ensured their loyalty. This Ottonian system of government through alliance with the German state church was carried much further by his successors.

Otto also had to defend his realm from outside pressures. In the west he strengthened his hold on Lorraine and gained influence over Bourgogne (Arles). In the north and east he defeated the Danes and Slavs, and he permanently broke the power of the Magyars at the Battle of the Lechfeld in 955. Otto established the archbishopric of Magdeburg (968) and other sees as centers of civilization in the conquered lands. Germans settled these regions.

Wanting to emulate Charlemagne as the divinely sanctioned emperor of Christendom, Otto began the disastrous policy of German entanglement in Italy. The temptation was the greater because Italy was a rich land and a scene of feudal disorder and Saracen invasions. When Adelaide, widowed queen of the Lombards, asked Otto for help against her captor, Berengar, king of Italy, Otto invaded Italy in 951, married her, and took her dead husband’s title.

The papacy at this time was struggling to hold its land against encroaching nobles from the north and Byzantine Greeks and Saracens from the south. When Pope John XII appealed to Otto for aid against Berengar, Otto invaded Italy a second time, defeated Berengar, and was crowned emperor by the pope in 962. By a treaty called the Ottonian Privilege, Otto guaranteed the pope’s claim to papal lands, and all future papal candidates had to swear fealty to the emperor.

Later Saxon Kings

Otto’s successors in the 10th and 11th centuries continued his German and Italian policies as best they could. Otto II established the Eastern March (Austria) under the Babenbergs as a military outpost but was defeated by the Saracens in his efforts to secure southern Italy. The pious Otto III supported the Benedictine reform movement originating in Cluny, Bourgogne, which encouraged a more austere, disciplined life. The childless Henry II, gentle and devout, also encouraged the Cluniac movement and sent out missionaries from his court in the new bishopric of Bamberg.

Salian Kings

For 100 years (1024-1125) German kings were chosen from the Salian line, which was related to the Saxons. The Salians brought the empire to its height.

High Tide of Empire

Conrad II, a clever and ruthless ruler, reasserted royal authority over princely opposition by making the fiefs of lesser nobles hereditary and by appointing ministerials, lower-class men responsible directly to him, as officials and soldiers. He seized Bourgogne, strengthened his hold on northern Italy, and became overlord of Poland.

Conrad’s son Henry III, the Black, was the first undisputed king of Germany. A pious visionary, he introduced to a Germany torn by civil strife the Cluny-inspired Truce of God, a respite from war lasting from Wednesday night to Monday morning, and tried in vain to extend it to a permanent peace. He ended the payment by new bishops of tribute to the Crown-a practice called simony-although he still invested churchmen, who remained his vassals. During his reign he deposed three rival popes and created four new ones, notably the reform-minded Leo IX.

Henry IV

While still a child, Henry IV succeeded his father, Henry III, in 1056. During his mother’s regency, long-restive princes annexed much royal land; cities, popes, and Normans controlled Italy; and the Lateran synod of 1059 declared that only cardinals could canonically elect the pope. Henry IV was wily, opportunistic, and headstrong in an era of violence and treachery, and as ruler he sought to recover lost imperial power. His efforts to retrieve crown lands aroused the Saxons, who resented the Salian kings. He crushed a Saxon rebellion in 1075 and proceeded to confiscate land, thus intensifying their enmity.

Henry’s control of the clergy embroiled him with the militant reform pope Gregory VII, who wanted to free the church from secular bondage. When Gregory forbade lay investiture of churchmen, Henry had him deposed by the Synod of Worms in 1076. The pope promptly excommunicated Henry and released his subjects from their oath of loyalty to him. To keep his crown, Henry cleverly sought the pope at Canossa in the Apennines in January 1077, where, after three days of humble penitence, he was forgiven. The princes, however, elected a rival king, Rudolf of Swabia. The result was nearly 20 years of civil war. In 1080 Gregory excommunicated Henry again and recognized Rudolf. Deposing Gregory, Henry marched on Rome, installed the antipope Clement III, and was crowned emperor in 1084. Henry returned to Germany to continue the civil war against a new rival king (Rudolf had died in 1080). Finally, betrayed and imprisoned by his son Henry, the emperor was forced to abdicate.


The treacherous, brutal, and greedy Henry V vainly continued his father’s struggle for supremacy. Suffering military defeats, he lost control of Poland, Hungary, and Bohemia. Despite the support of churchmen, ministerials, and the towns, he could not suppress the princes, who forced the weary emperor and Pope Callistus II to compromise on investiture. They accepted the Concordat of Worms (1122), which stipulated that clerical elections in Germany were to take place in the imperial presence without simony and that the emperor was to invest the candidate with the symbols of his temporal office before a bishop invested him with the spiritual ones. The pope, however, had the better of the bargain, and the rivalry between empire and papacy took on new dimensions.

Early Medieval Society

German kings had no fixed capitol, but traveled unceasingly about their realm. They had no income beyond that from their family lands and gifts from churchmen. Feudalism was the rule. The great lords, theoretically vassals of the king, in fact usurped royal rights to build castles and administer justice. The vast majority of common people lived on country manors belonging to nobles or churchmen. The few cities, such as Trier and Cologne, were chiefly Roman foundations or imperial fortifications. There, merchants, artisans, and uprooted peasants settled as free citizens under the authority of a prince. The cities also sheltered Jews, who were not allowed to hold land.

The clergy, which included many nobles, spread the faith, provided education, and carried on the functions of government. Monasteries such as Reichenau, Regensburg, Fulda, Echternach, and Saint Gall became centers of scholarship. Monks wrote Latin works (such as the Walthariuslied, based on a German legend) and translated biblical and other Christian texts into Old High German. Their illuminated manuscripts with flat, dignified images imitated the art of classical antiquity and Byzantium. Churches, notably Saint Michael at Hildesheim and the cathedrals of Mainz, Speyer, and Worms, were massive, stone-vaulted basilicas with towers and small, round-arched windows. Their walls were adorned with painted murals and expressive sculpture in wood and bronze.

High Middle Ages

In the 12th and 13th centuries Germany and Italy were rent by rivalry between two princely families. The Hohenstaufen, or Waiblingen, of Swabia, known as Ghibellines in Italy, held the German and imperial crowns. The Welfs of Bavaria and Saxony, known as Guelphs in Italy, were allied with the papacy.

Henry V died childless in 1125. The princes, avoiding the principle of heredity, passed over his nephews, Frederick and Conrad Hohenstaufen, to choose Lothair, duke of Saxony. As emperor, Lothair II revived German efforts to convert and dominate the east. To assert his authority in Italy, he made two expeditions supporting the pope, who crowned him in 1133. In Germany he fought a civil war with the Hohenstaufen princes, who refused to accept him as emperor.

The Hohenstaufen Kings

At Lothair’s death the princes avoided his powerful Welf son-in-law and heir, Henry the Proud, lord of Bavaria and Saxony. Instead, they chose Conrad Hohenstaufen. Civil war erupted again, this time between the weak but charming Conrad III and the Welf dukes Henry the Proud and his son Henry the Lion. It continued while Conrad led the ill-fated Second Crusade and was paralleled by the Guelph-Ghibelline conflict in Italy. The struggle in Germany was temporarily resolved at Conrad’s death by the election of his nephew Frederick, a Hohenstaufen born of a Welf mother.

Frederick I, Barbarossa

Handsome and intelligent, warlike, just, and charming, Frederick I Barbarossa was the ideal medieval Christian king. Regarding himself as the successor of Augustus, Charlemagne, and Otto the Great, he took the title Holy Roman emperor and spent most of his reign shuttling between Germany and Italy trying to restore imperial glory in both.

In the north he joined Germany and Bourgogne by marrying Beatrice, heiress to Bourgogne. He declared an imperial peace; to ensure it, he placated the Welfs by recognizing Henry the Lion as duke of Saxony and Bavaria, and for balance he made Austria a duchy. But when Henry refused to contribute troops to a critical Italian campaign, Frederick and jealous princes exiled him as a traitor. Henry’s duchies were split up, Bavaria going to the Wittelsbach family.

In the south, Frederick made six expeditions to Italy to assert full imperial authority over the Lombard city-states and the popes. In 1155, on his first trip, he was crowned emperor. On his second, he had the Diet of Roncaglia (1158) declare his rights, and he installed podestas (imperial representatives) in the cities. Some cities had Ghibelline sympathies, but most objected to being ruled and taxed by uncouth, greedy foreigners. The popes needed imperial support against a Roman rising, but they believed that their spiritual office gave them sovereignty over the emperors. Also, they wanted to maintain independent control of the Papal States. Consequently, some cities revolted against imperial authority and formed the Lombard League in alliance with Pope Alexander III. Frederick reacted by creating an antipope. On his next two trips, Ghibelline cities joined Guelph cities in a revived league and threw out the podestas. Alexander, who had excommunicated Frederick, fled to his Norman allies in Sicily, and Frederick captured Rome in 1166.

During his fifth invasion of Italy, lacking the support of Henry the Lion, Frederick was defeated by the league at the Battle of Legnano (1176). As a result, the Peace of Constance (1183) recognized the autonomy of the cities, which remained only nominally subject to the emperor. Stubbornly, Frederick made a last trip in which he gained new support among the quarrelsome cities. He died leading the Third Crusade.

Henry VI

More ambitious even than his father, Henry VI wanted to dominate the known world. To secure peace in Germany, he put down a rebellion by the returned exile Henry the Lion and then restored him to power. He forced the northern Italian cities to submit to him and seized Sicily from a usurping Norman king. Intending to create an empire in the Mediterranean, he exacted tribute from North Africa and the weak Byzantine emperor. Henry died suddenly in 1197 while planning a crusade to the Holy Land.

The empire immediately fell apart. Henry’s infant son, Frederick II, inherited Sicily, but northern Italy reasserted its independence. The Germans refused to accept a child or make the crown hereditary in the Hohenstaufen line. Once more civil war raged as two elected kings-the Hohenstaufen Philip of Swabia and the Welf Otto of Brunswick, son of Henry the Lion-struggled for the Crown. When Otto invaded Italy, Pope Innocent III secured the election of Frederick II on the promise that Frederick would give up Sicily so as not to surround the pope.

Frederick II, Stupor Mundi

Outstandingly accomplished in many fields, the new king was called Stupor Mundi (”wonder of the world”). He was gracious and amiable but also crafty and ruthless. Determined to keep Sicily as his base of operations, he revised his coronation promise, giving Germany rather than Sicily to his young son Henry. In Sicily he suppressed the barons, reformed the laws, founded the University of Naples, and kept a brilliant court, where he shone as scientist, artist, and poet. He was also an excellent soldier, diplomat, and administrator.

To gain German support for his campaigns in northern Italy, Frederick allowed the princes to usurp royal powers. The confirmation of their rights by the Privilege of Worms (1231) made them virtually kings in their own territories. Henry, when he came of age, objected to this policy and revolted but was quickly deposed and imprisoned by his father.

An aggressive emperor such as Frederick was regarded as dangerous by the popes. Angered by his claims to Lombardy, Pope Gregory IX excommunicated him for his delay in leading a promised crusade. Frederick finally went to Jerusalem in 1228, was crowned king, and gained the chief Christian sites in the Holy Land. His success did not mollify Gregory, however, who in his absence invaded Sicily. Frederick rushed home and made peace. But by 1237 he was battling in northern Italy against the second Lombard League of cities. The league was allied with the pope, who excommunicated Frederick again. Frederick then seized the Papal States. The new pope, Innocent IV, fled to Lyon and declared him deposed. Undaunted, Frederick was making headway against the league when he suddenly died.

Frederick’s young son Conrad IV inherited Sicily and the imperial title, but Italy and Germany were never united again. The popes, allied with the French, ousted the Hohenstaufens from Sicily. Germany suffered the turmoil of the Great Interregnum (1254-1273), during which foreigners claimed the crown and the princes won a six-century ascendancy.

Society and Culture in the High Middle Ages

By the late 13th century the empire had lost Poland and Hungary and effective control of Bourgogne and Italy. Within its borders the principalities were virtually autonomous. The ancient right of royal election was limited to seven princes, who purposely chose weak men unlikely to thwart their own dynastic ambitions.

The church continued to be a dominant force in society. Cistercian monks and Premonstratensian canons settled new lands in the east, and friars of the Dominicans and Franciscans preached and taught in the towns. The Teutonic Knights moved their headquarters to Marienburg in eastern Germany, where they led a crusade against the pagan Prussians. The knights opened the Baltic coast to the German church and to German merchants.

The struggle between emperors and princes benefited the towns, who paid taxes to the emperors in exchange for freedom from feudal obligations. Trade greatly increased. Cologne and Frankfurt gave access to the fairs of Champagne. Mainz lay on the route across the Alps to Italy. L beck and Hamburg dominated North Sea and Baltic trade, and Leipzig was in contact with Russia. Rhine towns and, later, north German towns began to form trade associations, the most powerful of which was the Hanseatic League. This trade association arranged advantageous commercial treaties, created new centers of trade and civilization, contributed to the development of agriculture and industrial arts, constructed canals and highways, and even declared war. Disintegration of the league began toward the end of the 15th century, and was complete in 1669.

At the height of the league, the rich burghers built city walls, cathedrals, and elaborate town halls and guildhalls as expressions of civic pride. By the mid-13th century, French Gothic influences were affecting German architecture. The lofty cathedrals of Bamberg, Strasbourg, Naumburg, and Cologne were richly decorated with sculpture, and they were filled with light from the stained glass in their large, pointed-arched windows.

French culture also affected German literature. Wandering nobles and knights, called Minnesinger, wrote and recited courtly love poems in the tradition of Proven al troubadours and French trouv res . Foremost among them were Reinmar von Hagenau and Walther von der Vogelweide. Other poets, called Spielleute, composed epics. Gottfried von Strassburg and Wolfram von Eschenbach dealt with Christian themes from the French Arthurian cycle. Nonetheless, the two most important epics-the Niebelungenlied and the Gudrunlied-were based on pagan Germanic traditions.

Late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance

By the late Middle Ages, the great stem duchies had been broken up and new principalities created. Three princely families-Habsburg, Wittelsbach, and Luxemburg-struggled for dynastic rights to the imperial crown.

Princely Rivalry

In 1273 the electors ended the Great Interregnum by choosing Rudolf of Habsburg, a minor Swabian prince unable to repossess the lands they had usurped. Rudolf I concentrated on aggrandizing his family. Aided by the Wittelsbachs and others, he defeated the rebellious Ottokar II of Bohemia and took the lands Ottokar had usurped-Austria, Steiermark (Styria), K rnten (Carinthia), and Carniola-for his two sons, thus making the Habsburgs one of the great powers in the empire.

On Rudolf’s death the electors chose Adolf of Nassau but deposed him when he asserted his authority. They next chose Rudolf’s son, Albert of Austria, but when he displayed appetite for additional territory, he was murdered. Still seeking a weak emperor, the electors voted for Henry, count of Luxemburg. Anxious to restore imperial claims to Italy, Henry VII crossed the Alps in 1310 and temporarily subdued Lombardy; he was crowned by the Roman people, because the popes had left Rome and were then living in Avignon, France-the so-called Babylonian Captivity. He died trying to conquer Naples from the French.

Civil war then raged until the Wittelsbach candidate for the throne, Louis the Bavarian, defeated his Habsburg rival at the Battle of M hldorf in 1322. Louis IV obtained a secular coronation in Italy, but Pope John XXII, objecting to his interference in Italian politics, declared his title invalid and excommunicated him. Louis then called for a church council and installed an antipope in Rome. At Rhense in 1338 the electors made the momentous declaration that henceforth the king of the Germans would be the majority electoral choice, thus avoiding civil war, and that he would automatically be emperor without being crowned by the pope. This was reflected in the title, official in the 15th century, Holy Roman Emperor of the German Nation.

The Luxemburg Line

The popes, of course, objected. Clement VI opened negotiations with Charles, king of Bohemia, grandson of Henry VII. In 1347 he was chosen by five of the seven electors, who had previously deposed Louis. Charles IV diplomatically ignored the question of papal assent. In the Golden Bull (1356) he specified the seven electors as the archbishops of Mainz, Trier, and Cologne, the count palatine of the Rhine, the duke of Saxony (an old title for a new state in the east), the margrave of Brandenburg, and the king of Bohemia. Because the bull made their lands indivisible, granted them monopolies on mining and tolls, and secured them “gifts” from candidates, they were the strongest of all the princes.

Having ensured the power of the princes, the astute Charles entrenched his own dynasty in Bohemia. He bought Brandenburg and took Silesia from Poland to build a great state to the east. To obtain cash, he encouraged the silver, glass, and paper industries of Bohemia. He adorned Prague, his capital, with new buildings in the late Gothic style, founded a noted university, and kept a brilliant court.

Charles’s son, Sigismund, forced the antipope John XXIII to call the Council of Constance (1414-1418), which ended the Great Schism in the papacy. But as the king of Bohemia he was chiefly concerned with his own dynastic lands. Bohemia was convulsed by the Hussite movement, which combined traditional Czech national feeling with desire for much-needed church reform.