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Emperor Conrad II

"Konrad II" redirects here. For other uses, see Conrad II (disambiguation).
Conrad II
Conrad II, depicted in the Chronicle of Ekkehard von Aura
King of the Romans (also known as King of the Germans)
Reign 1024 – 4 June 1039
Coronation 1024
Holy Roman Emperor, King of Italy
Reign 26 March 1027 – 4 June 1039
Coronation 26 March 1027
Predecessor Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor
Successor Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor
Consort Gisela of Swabia
Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor

Matilda of Franconia

House Salian
Father Henry, Count of Speyer
Mother Adelaide of Alsace
Born 990
Speyer, Germany
Died 4 June 1039
Utrecht, Netherlands
Religion Roman Catholicism

Conrad II (Konrad) (c. 990 – 4 June 1039) was Holy Roman Emperor from 1027 until his death.

The son of a mid-level nobleman in Franconia, Count Henry of Speyer and Adelaide of Alsace, he inherited the titles of count of Speyer and of Worms as an infant when Henry died at age twenty. As he matured he came to be well known beyond his power base in Worms and Speyer, so when the Saxon line died off and the elected monarchy for the German realm stood vacant, he was elected King in 1024 at the age of thirty-four years and crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire on 26 March 1027, becoming the first of four kings and emperors of the Salian Dynasty.

Early life

The father of Conrad II, Henry of Speyer was a grandson of Liutgarde, a daughter of the great Emperor Otto I who had married the Salian Duke Conrad the Red of Lorraine. The orphaned Conrad grew up poor by the standards of the nobility and was raised by Burchard, Bishop of Worms. He was reputed to be prudent and firm out of consciousness of deprivation.

In 1016, he married Gisela of Swabia, a widowed duchess. Both parties claimed descent from Charles the Great (Charlemagne) and were thus distantly related. A daughter named Matilda became the first wife of Henry I of France, King of the Franks. Strict canonists took exception to the marriage, and Emperor Henry II used this to force Conrad into temporary exile.

Conrad and Henry II became reconciled, and upon Henry's death in 1024, Conrad appeared as a candidate before the electoral assembly of princes at Kamba, an historical name for an area on the East banks of the river Rhine opposite the German town Oppenheim (today the position of Kamba is marked by a small monument, which displays Conrad on a horse). He was elected by the majority and was crowned king in Mainz on 8 September 1024. The Saxon line of Emperors was at an end, and all of Europe speculated and maneuvered to influence the Prince-electors in unseemly disrespect for the aging Henry II. That same year, Conrad commissioned the construction of the Speyer Cathedral in Speyer which was started in 1030.

The Italian bishops paid homage at Conrad's court at Konstanz in June 1025, but lay princes sought to elect William V of Aquitaine, as king instead. Early in 1026, however, Conrad went to Milan, where Ariberto, archbishop of Milan, crowned him king of Italy[1] After overcoming some opposition, Conrad reached Rome, where in the presence of Cnut the Great and Rudolf III of Burgundy,[2] Pope John XIX crowned him emperor on Easter, 1027.[3]


Conrad formally confirmed the popular legal traditions of Saxony and issued new constitutions for Lombardy. In 1028 at Aachen he had his son Henry elected and anointed king of Germany. Henry married Gunhilda of Denmark, daughter of King Canute the Great of England, Denmark, and Norway by Emma of Normandy. This was an arrangement that Conrad had made many years prior, when he gave Canute parts of northern Germany to administer. Henry, who would later become Emperor Henry III, became chief counselor of his father.

Conrad campaigned unsuccessfully against Poland in 1028–1030, but in 1031 in a combined action with the Kievan Rus' forced King Mieszko II, son and heir of Bolesław I, to make peace and return the land that Bolesław had conquered from the Empire during the reign of Henry II. Mieszko II was compelled to give up his royal title, and for the remainder of his troubled rule became the Duke of Poland and Conrad's vassal.

In 1029 some Bavarian border conflicts undermined the good relations with Stephen I of Hungary. One year later Conrad launched a campaign against Hungary. The Hungarians successfully used scorched earth tactics, and the emperor had to withdraw with his army. Finally the Hungarian army forced him to surrender at Vienna. After his defeat Conrad was obliged to cede some border territory to Hungary.

When Rudolph III, King of Burgundy died on 2 February 1032, Conrad claimed the Kingship on the basis of an inheritance that Henry II had extorted from the former in 1006, after having invaded Burgundy to enforce his claim after Rudolph attempted to renounce it in 1016. Despite some opposition, the Burgundian and Provençal nobles paid homage to Conrad in Zürich in 1034. This Kingdom of Burgundy, which under Conrad's successors would become known as the Kingdom of Arles, corresponded to most of the southeastern quarter of modern France and included western Switzerland, the Franche-Comté, and Dauphiné. It did not include the smaller Duchy of Burgundy to the north, ruled by a cadet branch of the Capetian King of France. (Piecemeal over the next centuries, most of the former Kingdom of Arles was incorporated into France, but the King of Arles remained one of the Holy Roman Emperor's subsidiary titles until the dissolution of the Empire in 1806.)

Conrad upheld the rights of the valvassores (knights and burghers of the cities) of Italy against Archbishop Aribert of Milan and the local nobles. The nobles as vassal lords and the bishop had conspired to rescind rights from the burghers. With skillful diplomacy and luck Conrad restored order.

Last years

In 1038, Prince Guaimar IV of Salerno requested that Conrad adjudicate in a dispute over Capua with its Prince Pandulf, whom Conrad had released from imprisonment in 1024, immediately after his coronation. Hearing that Michael IV the Paphlagonian of the Byzantine Empire had received the same request, Conrad went to Southern Italy, to Salerno and Aversa. He appointed Richer, from Germany, as abbot of Monte Cassino, the abbot Theobald being imprisoned by Pandulf. At Troia, he ordered Pandulf to restore stolen property to Monte Cassino. Pandulf sent his wife and son to ask for peace, giving 300 lb of gold and a son and daughter as hostages. The Emperor accepted Pandulf's offer, but the hostage escaped and Pandulf holed up in his outlying castle of Sant'Agata de' Goti. Conrad besieged and took Capua and gave it to Guaimar with the title of Prince. He also recognised Aversa as a county of Salerno under Ranulf Drengot, the Norman adventurer. Pandulf, meanwhile, fled to Constantinople. Conrad thus left the Mezzogiorno firmly in Guaimar's hands and loyal, for once, to the Holy Roman Empire.

During the return trip to Germany an epidemic broke out among the troops. Conrad's daughter-in-law and stepson died. Conrad himself returned safely and held several important courts in Solothurn, Strasbourg, and in Goslar. His son Henry was invested with the kingdom of Burgundy.

A year later in 1039 Conrad fell ill and died of gout in Utrecht. His heart and bowels are buried at the Cathedral of Saint Martin, Utrecht. His body was transferred to Speyer via Cologne, Mainz, and Worms, where the funeral procession made stops. His body is buried at Speyer Cathedral, which was still under construction at this time. During a major excavation in 1900 his sarcophagus was relocated from his original resting place in front of the altar to the crypt, where it is still visible today along with those of seven of his successors.

A biography of Conrad II in chronicle form, Gesta Chuonradi II imperatoris, was written by his chaplain Wipo of Burgundy, and presented to Henry III in 1046, not long after the latter was crowned.

Family and children

Depictions of Conrad II

The Basilica of Aquileia (northern Italy) contains an apse fresco (c. 1031) showing emperor Conrad II, his wife Gisela of Swabia and Patriarch Poppone of Aquileia.


See also



  • at Google Books
  • Herwig Wolfram, Conrad II 990-1039: Emperor of Three Kingdoms (University Park, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006).
Conrad II, Holy Roman Emperor
Born: c 990 Died: 1039
Regnal titles
Title last held by
Henry the Saint
King of Germany
with Henry III (1028-1039)
Succeeded by
Henry the Black
Holy Roman Emperor
Title next held by
Henry the Black
King of Italy
Preceded by
Rudolph the Pious
King of Burgundy
with Henry the Black (1028-1039)

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