Friday, January 22, 2016

Books Jonelle Made Me Read – The First.

The Fault in our Stars

In this occasional series, I will be discussing books that a tweenage girl, Jonelle, instructed me to read. And when  I say "instructed me to read," of course I mean "commanded me to read." For those of you who don't know her, she is a highly intelligent, sweet, precocious and fairly bossy young lady.

A large part of the reason why I read this book, and the other works that will be discussed in this blog series, is that I want to understand how tweenagers think. These posts will not be a review of the book per se as much as an exploration of my random thoughts on the book.

How did I get myself into this?


"There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does."


The first book I read was John Green's The Fault In Our Stars (2012).



Having no idea what I was in for, except that a twelve-year-old girl (soon to be thirteen) wanted me to read it, I was pleasantly surprised. This is a very good book. It touched upon the nature of pain and suffering and loss in an honest, forthright manner. It followed a teenaged girl and her experiences dealing with cancer and how, in a support group for other teenage cancer sufferers, she found life...and love.

On a personal note, a few months prior to my reading this work, my dearest friend passed away from cancer. The subject matter hit me particularly hard and on more than one occasion, I had to stop reading and put the book away until I could pull myself together. I could almost see what my friend endured reflected in the words on the page.


I initially encountered the quotation from this book, reprinted at the top of this post, months before Jonelle asked me to read the book. Frankly, I was stunned by it. I don't know if I have the words to express what I felt when I read this for the first time. The degree of angst and mature existential contemplation is not what I expected when I began this book. Nor was it what I expected from a book recommended to me by a 12 year old girl (soon to be thirteen). Remember, this quote is from a Young Adult novel, from the middle (page 12-13) of the first chapter for Heaven's sake!

At one time in the not too distant past, my curmudgeonly self would have very much disapproved of any girl, not yet in high school, reading subject matter like this. It was my firm belief that the young should be allowed to stay young as long as possible and that mature and adult themes should be kept from them until adulthood was upon them. But current-day pop culture seems insistent on morphing tweenagers into teenagers and teenagers into adults. I don't like it, but there it is.

As a result, I was interested in what thoughts Jonelle had regarding this book. Would she be upset by the portrayal of youth suffering? How would she react to the representation of love...or death?

Her actual response was not what I expected.

When asked what she thought of the book, Jonelle stated that she thought the book offered a realistic depiction of the trials faced by the characters. Jonelle felt the book was very romantic, presenting the young characters in a very mature light. Coupled with the romantic aspects, Jonelle thought the book represented teenagers as better able to cope with life challenges than adults gave them credit for. In addition to holding these surprisingly mature opinions, she mentioned that she really enjoyed the interaction between the teenaged main characters and especially their moments of teen rebellion. This interaction served as a reminder to the reader that despite whatever trials they faced and no matter how stoically they faced them, these people were still teenagers.

After my reading this book and particularly after my brief discussion with Jonelle, I have come to the conclusion that perhaps I ought to re-examine my beliefs regarding the youth of today. Maybe the need to be a guardian, while still an imperative for me, can be supplemented by the chance to become a mentor. And not just the older to the younger, but perhaps the younger to the older as well, where each can learn from, and teach the other...




Sunday, January 17, 2016

V Chronological Analysis

The thesis for my Master's Degree in History was published in 1993 by a small academic vanity press. Back then I was so proud of it. Also, I was so happy to be finished with it!

Every few years I would look at it, think about working on it, then put it back on the shelf. Well, now that HITM Press is up, I am determined to try this again. My first step will be to transcribe the entire work and publish it in kindle format. Reader's feedback will determine whether I revise it or not.

Presented below is a chapter from my thesis, in this case chapter 5, for the reader's enjoyment - or not as the case may be. The only thing different from the original 1993 edition is a slight change in the formatting to enhance readability. I am really curious what readers think of this. Any comments, gentle or harsh, would be most welcome.

I will post at least one more chapter before the full work is made available.

Good evening...


Shiraishi (1993) Images of the Holy Roman Empire



Chronological Analysis


The idea for the writing of this section began in the intriguing little fact that the infamous Papal-Imperial Investiture Contest of 1075 was not fought between a pope and an emperor, but rather a pope and a king. Henry IV was not crowned emperor until 1084. So throughout the first nine years of the Investiture Contest, Henry IV could not, theoretically, call on the full ideological authority of the imperial position to battle the papacy. Would it have made any difference? Was the papacy less likely to win an ideological struggle against an anointed emperor than against a merely elected king? Did the papacy deliberately time the release of the revolutionary, to say the least, "Dictatus Papae" before Henry was elevated to the imperium? For the most part, these questions are unanswerable. However, it is with these questions in mind that, in this section, I briefly discuss the differences between the institution of emperorship and kingship.

To facilitate an understanding of the complexities of this subject, this discussion concentrates on the relevant ideological, political and actual differences between the imperial and royal institutions in medieval Germany. An analysis of every aspect of the various manifestations of the kingship is not the goal of this section, nor is the pursuit of a chronological examination of kingship in Germany thorough the period under scrutiny. Rather, an investigation of the pertinent issues of the various reigns is the goal of this section, providing a foundation to launch further discussion. Also of import is what these issues say about the ideological and political development of the empire from the reign of Conrad I (crowned king in 911) through the reign of Frederick II (d. 1250) and the Great Interregnum (1254 - 1273). Of particular significance to this section is the means by which a duke was made king and a king made emperor.

This section sports a thematic arrangement following a rough chronological order. By this, I mean that I leap from fact to fact, reign to reign as the issues warrant. The purpose of this section is to discuss and analyze some of the major issues in the medieval empire pursuant to kingship and emperorship. The issues themselves range from the ducal policy of Henry I to the conflict over the idea of empire under the later Hohenstaufen. These form the foundation and background upon which the succeeding two chapters are built.


On his deathbed in December 918, Conrad I designated as his successor, Henry, duke of Saxony.[53] Known as The Fowler, Henry I was elected king in May 919. The six-month period from the designation of Henry as heir and his actual election was occupied with negotiations on Henry's part to gain the support of the great stem dukes. With the example and mistakes of his predecessor still fresh in mind, Henry I was very careful to establish bonds between himself and the dukes, a policy I term "the ducal policy of Henry I." The early years of Henry's reign were marked by his governing not as a monarch to his dukes, but more as a first among equals. In the rare instance of conflict with his dukes, Henry was quick to absolve them. By doing this, the dukes, if unable to accept Henry as their feudal overlord, were able to tolerate him as their king.

This ducal policy was highly successful. In 926, the duke of Swabia died in battle, Henry, using his authority as German king, appointed a Franconian noble to the position of duke of Swabia. That Henry I was able to place a foreigner on the ducal throne without consulting the Swabian nobility or the other dukes speaks of his growing supremacy over the dukes and the success of his attempt to bind the dukes to the royal throne through feudal times. Another important result of Henry I's ducal policy was the defeat of the Magyars at Riade in 933. Henry's policies enabled him to concentrate on regrouping and rebuilding his military. Instead of the dukes proving to be a distraction, they cooperated with royal policy and supported the king in his actions. The ducal policy of Henry I was the first attempt to rein in the powerful stem duchies since the collapse of the Carolingians. That it succeeded enabled his successors to build upon it and aspire to forge a unified state, though his successors would have to maintain a tight grip on the great dukes to prevent them from shattering the cohesiveness of the kingdom as events in the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries showed.

Looking back upon the reign of Henry I, Widukind of Corvey, monk, chronicler, and author of the Deeds of the Saxons, sometime after 962, recorded the battle of Riade and what immediately followed. After the battle, he wrote, the German troops acclaimed Henry I as emperor. It appeared that Widukind was creating a kind of quasi-imperial background for Otto I, suggesting that Otto already had the imperial power in 955 and the pope just performed a ceremony in 962. Widukind also dated the start of Otto's imperial reign from his decisive defeat over the Magyar at Lechfeld in 955 and not in 962 after his Papal coronation. By having the army acclaim Henry I as emperor, Widukind implied that it was not papal coronation in Rome that made an emperor but acclamation in the style of the later Roman emperors. Widukind and his supporters were unable to accept an idea of emperorship based on the Papal model. For him the Papacy had absolutely nothing to do with the imperial selection process. Widukind believed that Otto held the imperial title by virtue of his lordship over several distinct nations and his acclamation at Lechfeld. While the debate among scholars over what Widukind meant by this narrative continues, particularly since Widukind himself was not always consistent and clear himself, the point is that Henry's policies made him the equal of any western monarch of the time of the time and head of the German kingdom.[54] It also set the stage for successive kings to claim the imperial title, which was for them a title won by their prowess and not bestowed upon them by the papacy. In response to the suggestion that the crown of the Empire was not his by right, Frederick Barbarossa indignantly stated to the Roman people:

Let us ponder over the exploits of modern emperors, to see whether it was not out divine princes Charles and Otto who, by their valor and not by anyone's bounty, wrested the City along with along with Italy from the Greeks and the Lombards and added it to the realms of the Franks...I am the lawful possessor. Let him who can, snatch the club from the hand of Hercules.[55]

The tension between these two ideals of Roman origins and German power will rise again.

The fruits of Henry I's policies were seen in the reign of his son, Otto I "the Great." In answer to Pope John XII's entreaty for help and protection against tyrants in 962., Otto made ready to march on Italy.[56] Just prior to his journey to Rome, King Otto had his son Otto II also crowned as German king and acknowledged as his heir. Of this act, Liutprand of Cremona wrote: "Therefore, although it was contrary to custom, he appointed his young son Otto as king, and leaving him in Saxony collected his forces and marched in haste to Italy."[57] Previous to this, the norm had been for monarchs to refrain from designating an heir until death was near. By acting as he did, Otto not only assured his son's smooth succession to the royal throne should Otto meet an untimely end, but guaranteed that hereditary succession would triumph over the traditional elective principle. The very fact that Otto I was able to enforce this attests to the consolidation of power in the royal position and the success of Henry I's ducal policies.

Pope John XIII crowned the twelve year old Otto II as joint-emperor in 967, five years after Otto I received his imperial coronation. This was the last time that this was ever done in the west; the last time an emperor was crowned in the lifetime of the previous emperor. Just as Otto the Great crowned his son king in 967 to guarantee hereditary succession to the throne of the German kingdom, so too did he have his son crowned joint-emperor to assure Otto II's elevation to the imperial title. By this time, Otto the Great towered above the monarchs of Europe in power and authority. Even the Papacy was not immune from Ottonian influence and domination. Otto the Great's succession policy, that of naming the emperor's son as king, did not continue after his death but returned during the reign of Conrad II and served as the succession policy for the majority of the emperors up through the end of the Hohenstaufen.


In the royal elections of both Henry II and Conrad II, possession of the royal insignia was considered of extreme importance, if not a prerequisite, in deciding the legitimacy of a candidate's claim to the royal throne. The royal insignia consisted of the holy lance of Longinius, which allegedly pierced the side of Christ as he hung on the cross, and the crown made for Otto the Great's imperial coronation in 962. The mere possession of these two items gave the possessor a powerful claim to the throne in and of themselves due to their symbolic nature.

As the body of Otto III crossed the duchy of Bavaria on its way to burial in northern Germany, Henry II, then duke of Bavaria, seized the insignia, thus making his claim to the throne. Two decades later, immediately following Conrad's election in 1024, the widow of Henry II handed over to Conrad the royal insignia "and thus confirmed his rule, so far as a member of her sex may do so."[58]


The coming of the Salian dynasty marked the return of the dominance of the hereditary principle, the Ottonian succession policy. First begun by Otto the Great with his son Otto II and practiced in its more common form, from father to son, by Conrad II with Henry III, Henry III with Henry IV, Henry IV with Henry V, Frederick Barbarossa with Henry VI, Henry IV with Frederick II, Frederick II with Henry (VII), and after his deposition and death, Frederick II with hi second son Conrad IV, this trend encouraged the emperor to name his son king of Germany for several reasons.[59] First, it allowed for an orderly and, in most cases, unchallenged succession. It also provided practical experience with government for the young king while still under the protective shield of the emperor, his father. This policy, conscious r not, permitted the emperor to be in tow places at one. Ideally, by having the king maintaining order in Germany, the emperor would be free to perform more imperil tasks, such as organizing a crusade or reasserting imperial control in Italy. Henry IV as king of Germany enabled Frederick Barbarossa to concentrate on plans for his great crusade. In the same vein, King Henry (VII) allowed Fredrick II to concentrate on asserting himself in Italy and planning his crusade.

When the emperors had their sons crowned as kings, the emperors did not abandon their royal title. Instead their sons became joint-kings. Upon the death of the emperor, the king would come into his own rule and after a variable period of time would prepare for his coronation in Rome, and the process would begin again with a degree of regularity.


With the extinction of the Salian dynasty after 1125, once again the elective principle surface. Henry V had designated his nephew, Frederick of Swabia, as his heir. But in a show of power and in opposition to the problem which the Salians had brought into Germany, his claims were ejected by the great dukes. Thus Lothar of Saxony was elected to the kingship in September 1125. The fact the Lothar was over fifty years old with no male heirs made him all the more attractive to the magnates. Despite making concessions to the dukes curtailing his authority, it was not until 1135 that Lothar was able to consolidate his rule enough to put an end to fighting in Germany. In June 1133, Lothar II received the imperial crown in Rome in a ceremony in which he was made to appear as a vassal to the popes.

On his deathbed, Lothar II sent the royal insignia to his son-in-law, Henry the Proud, duke of Saxony, designating him as his successor. But again the fear of a resurgent dynastic family convinced the great princes to put aside Henry the Proud's claims and, in an electoral coup, chose Conrad III of Swabia in 1138.

Upon the death of Henry VI in 1197, the political situation in Germany degenerated into complete chaos. With the you age of Frederick II (3 years old), Henry VI's youngest brother, Philip, duke of Swabia, was persuaded by imperial supporters to protect young Frederick's succession by taking the royal crown for himself in an ad hoc ceremony in March 1198. In early 1205, the coronation ceremony was performed again, this time with all the requisite trappings. But because of the papacy's ill-will toward any Hohenstaufen, it initially supported the claims of Otto of Brunswick as an anti-king, hence forth called Otto IV, also cowed in an ad hoc ceremony in 1198. Otto IV emerged from the struggle victorious in 1208 by virtue of the assassination of Philip. Otto IV, crowned again in proper style in late 1208, was made emperor in 1209.

Frederick II was crowned emperor in November 1220. Unexpectedly, earlier in the year, Frederick's son, Henry, was elected king - not unheard of, but very unusual. King Conrad III had his son, Henry, crowned king in 1147. Even Otto I, just prior to his imperial election, crowned Otto II as king in 961.


The clash over nationalist versus universalist interpretations of the role of the empire first occurred between Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and the mighty duke Henry the Lion. The emperor held very universalist ideas concerning his empire, while the duke felt that the welfare of the German kingdom should take precedence over the other members of the empire. They quarreled bitterly. Henry lost badly.

Father, Frederick II, and son, Henry (VII), came into conflict over styles of government and over their interpretations of what the duties of the Holy Roman emperor were. King Henry believed that the emperor should concern himself more with Germany and its improvement. Frederick II took a more universalist view and felt that Germany was but one aspect of a world-wide empire. In 1235, Henry openly broke with his father. Frederick, relying on the majesty of the imperial person, returned to Germany, stripped his son of his rank and imprisoned him. Henry died by his own hand in 1242. It took the Great Interregnum to finally give the nationalists what they had desired, the collapse of the universalist ideas concerning the Empire and the concentration of imperial energy and resources on Germany proper.[60]

The evolution of the post-Carolingian imperial structure is revealed in the transformation of the German king to emperor is related. In regards to the succession policy from king to king and king to emperor, there was no single, clear policy. The emperors did as they pleased. The attempts to secure and the dangers inherent in this succession policy were also made clear.



[53] For all dates, refer to Appendix A - "Table I".

[54] For a fine examination of this subject see James A. Brundage. "Widukind of Corvey and the 'Non-Roman' Imperial Idea". Mediaeval Studies. vol XXII. Toronto, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1960.

[55] Otto, bishop of Freising, The Deeds of Frederick Barbarossa. Translated by C. C. Mierow and R. Emery. (New York, Columbia University Press, 1953), 147-8.

[56] Liutprandus, bishop of Cremona. The Works of Liutprand of Cremona. Translated b F. A. Wright. (London, George Routledge and Sons, Ltd., 1930), 215.

[57] Ibid., p. 216.

[58] Wipo as cited in Timothy Reuter. Germany in the Early Middle Ages: 800-1050. New York, Longman Inc., 1991), 188.

[59] King Henry (VII), eldest son of the Emperor Frederick II, was the seventh Henry, king of Germany. But as a result of his deposition, he is known to historians by the parens.

[60] This is highly reminiscent of the "Greater Germany"-"Little Germany" Controversy.