Conrad’s successor, the duke of Saxony, became King Henry I (r. 919-936). He and his descendants, notably Otto the Great (r. 936-973) and Otto III (r. 983-1002)— successfully combated the ducal tendency to dominate the counts and to control the church. In 939 the Crown obtained the duchy of Franconia; thenceforth, the German kings, no matter what duchy they came from, would also have Franconia as the royal domain.
The Saxon dynasty established by Henry I relied on the church to perform much of the work of governing Germany. The church welcomed the alliance because a strong central government was its best guarantee of stability; the papacy itself recognized the right of the German kings to appoint their own bishops.
The Saxon monarchs gave church and abbey lands their special protection, exempting them from the authority of the counts and bringing them directly under the Crown. Like the former counts, the bishops obtained the right to administer justice within their own domain.
The church also supplied the German king with much of his revenue, and tenants of church lands furnished three quarters of his army. The church participated in the German expansion to the east—in the defeat of the Magyars at Lechfeld (955), in the push into Slavic lands along the Elbe and Saale rivers, and in the advance into Silesia. New German bishoprics were set up, with Magdeburg as center, and subject sees were established east of the Elbe.