Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/182

This page needs to be proofread.


THE THRONE OF THE WORLD

was not with unmixed joy that he beheld the Emperor arming for a new Crusade; for while the preparations (which were not under- taken to please the Papacy) were in progress, the Pope was shown the true nature of this new Crusader. Henry took vengeance on the Sicilian barons who had conspired against him and all the Germans in their land. He ordered that the eyes of the guilty should be put out; then they were to be placed on seats of glowing iron and given red-hot crowns or sceptres. After the fleet had gone out to sea fol- lowing the battle of Acre, the avenger died of the fever in Messina at the age of thirty-two and was buried in Palermo. The Pope was laid to rest during the same year, 1 198. Henry's widow Constance made common cause with the national Sicilian party and before she died which was in that same year she decreed that the new Pope Innocent III should be Imperial administrator of Apulia and Sicily as well as the guardian of her child, who had been elected German King before his father's death.

That death had shaken, more severely than the dying Emperor himself had foreseen, the Hohenstaufen system, the greatness and power of which depended so much upon the ability of a given ruler. When two Emperors were elected, the Hohenstaufen Philip of Swabia, Henry's brother, and the Guelph Otto IV, son of Henry the Lion, civil war broke out in Germany and with it came the destruction of the monarchy. Italy, which coveted national independence, breathed freely as the power of the German strangers weakened. England was no longer dependent upon the Empire, and the realm of the Normans was governed by the Pope as regent. The hour was auspicious for a strong Pope able to extend the influence of Hildebrand's ideas.

The throne to which the third Innocent (11981216) ascended was in truth the throne of the world. For there was no other visible centre of authority; and to its power the rulers of earth bowed as to that which was superior to themselves. Nevertheless in the world embraced by this spiritual Empire there began to appear fissures deeper than had ever before appeared since the Christian name gained dominion over Europe. Even during the first half of the century which began under this Pope, there were manifested all the contradictions of which hu- man nature is capable and all the varieties of tension and conflict that


INNOCENT