Throughout the 12th and 13th centuries, the rivalry centered around two princely families: the Hohenstaufen, or Waiblingen, family of Swabia, and the Welfs of Bavaria and Saxony. The rivalry extended to Italy where the Hohenstaufens were known as the Ghibellines and the Welfs as Guelphs. The Hohenstaufens held the German and imperial crowns, while the Welfs were allied with the papacy.
When Henry V died childless in 1125, the princes passed over his nephews, Frederick and Conrad Hohenstaufen, and chose Lothair, Duke of Saxony, as Henry’s successor. When he became allied with the pope, however, and was crowned Emperor Lothair II in 1133, the Hohenstaufen princes and their allies refused to recognize the coronation and rose up in revolt. At Lothair’s death in 1137, the princes chose Conrad Hohenstaufen, rather than Lothair’s powerful Welf son-in-law and heir, Henry the Proud of Bavaria and Saxony. Civil war erupted again, this time between the charming but weak Conrad III and the Welf dukes Henry the Proud and his son, Henry the Lion. Peace was temporarily restored at Conrad’s death by the election of his nephew Frederick, a Hohenstaufen whose mother was a Welf. "Germany" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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