Early Middle Ages (475-1000)

Political Arrangements in Europe towards the Second Millennium

In this period, then, the eastern Frankish lands were still able to exercise dominance. This illustrates another aspect of the requirements of royal power at the millennium that are not too different from notions going back to the Merovingians. To succeed, the demonstrated ability to fight off foreign invaders was a necessity. Henry the Fowler and Otto were both able to defeat Magyars. Further, through patronage and commitment to ecclesiastical uplift, German kings were able to count on the Church to support them in a way not possible for French kings who had to compete with counts in patronizing the faith, and who had fewer resources in any event.

As had been the case in Pepin and Charlemagne's time, Italy continued to beckon German kings, who needed to secure their southern borders in any event. Further, demonstrating a trend that will continue well into the eleventh century, German sovereigns' involvement in Italy always caused revolt at home. Also a harbinger of future dynamics, German kings considered themselves the supreme patrons of Christianity, and were interested in purifying the Church while they used it to bolster their reign. In this respect, they were not to far off from a theocratic attitude so obvious in Byzantium. Assumption of this view by Otto's offspring, however, occurred during the same years that a Papacy under growing reformist influence would also articulate a view supporting theocracy, yet it was to be a Papal monarchy emanating from the Holy See. Conflict between these two views would animate the next years.

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