n proverb. It was so with the ambitious rulers of Germany. They were not content to be sovereigns of their own empire, they desired also to hold in their hand the reins of Italy; the bestowal of the title Holy Roman Emperor by the Pope Leo III. upon Charlemagne moved their longing and cupidity, so that gradually they grew more occupied with the business of the fair peninsula, "the garden of the Empire," as Dante calls it, than with the condition of their own ruder and sterner fatherland. Added to this they took to fighting among themselves, being divided into two rival factions which elected opposing rulers, the result being that often no one knew who was head or who was subject.
[Illustration: IMPERIAL CROWN OF GERMANY.]
Frederick Barbarossa was the last to uphold the real authority and power of Germany. He was a true hero of romance, one of the noblest expressions of the mediæval character. When he died the real empire fell. What remained was but a semblance and a ruin, and it is little