The Royal Descent of Emperor Lothar III († 1137):
Did the German kings all have royal blood? [1]

by Armin Wolf[2]

Translated from German by Patrick Evans


Up to now, the election to the German throne of Lothar of Saxony-Süpplingenburg in 1125 has been regarded as a model example for the “principle of the entirely free election” of German kings – with no requirement for the candidate to have a royal descent. This article shows 1) that Lothar was descended from the Empress Gisela, who has been known since the middle ages to have been a descendant of the German king Heinrich I as well as of Charlemagne, and 2) that Lothar was the last member of the Liudolfingians, whose various lines became kings and emperors (Ottonians, Henricians) or candidates for the throne (Ekkehardians, Brunonians, Ekbertians). In consequence, it makes the case that the German royal elections were not “entirely free”, but that they were bound by the law of succession. Kings were elected only within the circle of descent from former kings. They had royal blood, as was common for kings in other European countries.

Foundations (2017) 9: 21-34                                   © Copyright FMG and the author

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