THE THRONE OF THE WORLD
and prince, every captain and robber baron, could become a king in his own right; and the splendour of the German throne dwindled also in the south. Alexander IV proved a weak Pope, and Manfred ignored the claims of Conradin by proclaiming himself King of Sicily in 1258. But Urban IV (1261-1264), a French Pope, made use of his power as Liege Lord to induce Charles of Anjou, the brother of his saintly king, to accept the crown which Innocent IV had already offered him. The Pope who then conferred Milan upon Charles and crowned him king, was Clement IV, also a Frenchman, who had formerly been Louis DCs minister, and had taken orders after the death of his wife. Though his reign was short, he lived to see the death of the last scion of the house of the Hohenstaufens. Manfred was slain in the battle of Benevent, 1266. Summoned by the Ghibel- lines of Italy, Conradin, who was still hardly more than a boy, hurried from his Bavarian realm to drive off him who had stolen his heritage. When he drew near Rome, the Pope, who himself dared not come near his city, stood on the walls of Viterbo and predicted the defeat of Conradin. The Romans received the Suabian ruler with enthusiasm. He lost a battle against Charles, was captured as he fled, and was beheaded in the market place of Naples in 1268. His executioner, heir to the Hohenstaufen power in Italy, now revealed his true coun- tenance to the Popes, The See of Peter became the booty of the French, and the Pope was their vassal. Italy was hardly more than the spoils over which alien princes quarrelled, and for centuries after- ward it remained in a state of upheaval brought about by inner divi- sions and the ceaseless depredations of other countries. Clement IV substituted a Gallic yoke for the burden the Germans had laid upon the Papacy.
Soon the Anjou monarch was taking a hand in the affairs of the Church in his realm, and gaining for himself a strong following in the College of Cardinals, The camps in this College were so deeply opposed that after Clement's death three years passed before Greg- ory X (12711276) could be elected. This Pope was a scion of the Visconri family, with whose blessings and recommendations Marco Polo had journeyed to Eastern Asia. Soon he had tired of his French protector; and in 1273, when the Germans met to elect an Emperor, he insisted on the choice of Rudolph of Habsburg, despite the fact that