The castle ruins of Drachenfels, Löwenburg and Rosenau, Heisterbach Monastery and the ruins of the medieval church on Petersberg remind us of the High Middle Ages in the Siebengebirge. So it stands to reason that there is a lot to report from this time. It is the time of the knights, the minnesang, the castles and the crusades.
High Middle Ages
The time of the Ottonian and Salian emperors
Under Heinrich I the Rhineland came to the East Frankish Empire. Heinrich’s son Otto I the Great rose to become the most powerful ruler of the Occident. His brother Bruno became Archbishop of Cologne and created the foundations of a strong archbishopric. Otto’s daughter-in-law Theophanu is also connected with the archbishopric of Cologne, she is buried in St. Pantaleon.
The time of the Salians is associated with the great imperial cathedrals in Speyer, Worms and Mainz. In Cologne, St. Georg and St. Maria im Kapitol were built, whose cloverleaf choir soon became a model for other churches in Cologne and the region. The archbishops of Cologne were powerful men in the empire and in our region. In 1118 they built the castle on the Wolkenburg, the first castle in the Siebengebirge.
The time of the Staufer emperors
Frederick Barbarossa, the Red Beard, Henry VI, who captured the crusader Richard the Lionheart, and finally Frederick II in faraway Puglia. In the Staufer period we encounter the most famous names of the High Middle Ages. At the same time it was an eventful time, and our region was also ravaged by wars.
Despite his numerous campaign in Italy, Barbarossa’s empire was north of the Alps. That changed under his son Henry VI, his mother Beatrix came from Burgundy, his wife Norman wife Constanze of Hauteville brought Sicily into the marriage, and Henry VI was crowned in Palermo. Barbarossa’s grandson Frederick II grew up here, he was Sicilian and loved the island and southern Italy, especially Puglia. There he probably spoke Volgare, the medieval Italian. During his reign, southern Italy was the center of his empire, his grandfather’s northern alpine territories came second.
Richard and Otto, uncle and nephew
German and European history met again when Richard the Lionheart was king of England. Eventually Richard was released from his German captivity, but he had to send hostages, among them his nephew Otto, the son of his sister Matilda Plantagenet and duke Henry the Lion of Brunswick. Richard and Otto were very close. After the sudden death of Henry VI, Richard proposed his nephew as a candidate for the throne.
A look beyond the Rhineland
The first spouse of the Saxon Otto I the Great was Eadgyth (910-946), a princess born to the anglo-saxon royal house of Wessex. William the Conqueror’s victory in the Battle of Hastings 1066 began the Norman conquest of England (Norman Britain (1066-1154). Wilhelm’s son and successor was Henry I, his daughter Mathilde (also Maud in England) married Henry V, the last emperor of the Salian dynasty.
After his death, she kept her title as Empress and married Geoffrey of Anjou. Her father Henry I nominated her as his heir, but the Anglo-Norman barons did not approve. After Henry’s death, Matildas cousin Stephen of Blois took the throne. Years of anarchy followed. Eventually, Matilda got the English crown: In 1154, her son with Geoffrey succeeded to the throne as Henry II.
Here we have the political map of Europe at the time of the Hohenstaufen dynasty. In southern Italy and Sicily, the Normans had established their kingdom. France was controversial. King Louis in Paris only ruled over the Ile de France and the bordering territories. Most of western France belonged to the Anglo-Norman Plantagenets (Angevin Empire (1154-1214), King Henry II of England and his wife Eleonore of Aquitaine and their son Richard I Lionheart.