Two Heinrichs, a Cathedral, and Richard Lionheart
Part of the Speyer Cathedral we can see today goes back to the Emperor Konrad II who began the building in 1030 in replacement of an older church. Konrad was very impressed by the grand cathedrals in Italy he saw when traveling to Rome for his coronation as Emperor, and he wanted to erect the largest sacral building of western Christendom.
But it was his grandson Heinrich IV who gave the cathedral its final splendour. After the humiliation at Canossa and the ongoing strife with the pope, he used Speyer Cathedral as political demonstration. Heinrich rebuilt the eastern part with choir and apsis as well as the transept with its decorated gables, gave the main nave a cross grain vaulted ceiling (it had a wooden cassette ceiling before), and added the four towers and the arcade decorations on the outside.
There is another post about the history of Speyer Cathedral here. As it stands today, the building is close again to its original form it got during Heinrich's IV reign.
Speyer Cathedral seen from the south
To the left choir with towers and apsis, and crossing tower dome,
to the right narthex tower and Westwerk with towers
Would Richard Lionheart visit Speyer today, he might well recognise the cathedral. Part of the eastern walls as well as those in choir and apsis are the very stones he had looked at during his two visits in Speyer.
How did he get there? Well, most of you will know the story of Richard's capture by Duke Leopold of Austria in 1192, when Richard fled across the Alpes in disguise in hope to get to the lands of his brother-in-law Heinrich the Lion of Saxony who had returned from exile in England. Southern transept, decorated gable with arcades
Leopold handed Richard over to the Emperor Heinrich VI, son of Friedrich Barbarossa (though I bet he got a nice share in the ransom). And that is where politics come in. By the marriage of his sister Mathilde to the Heinrich the Lion, Richard was related to the Welfen family, while Heinrich VI was a Staufen. Those two houses didn't get along since Barbarossa exiled Heinrich the Lion, and the fact that Heinrich revolted against the son of his old enemy as soon as he came home, didn't improve matters.
Also, Heinrich VI needed money to reconquer Sicily, and Richard was a fat fish in that aspect. Since Philippe Auguste of France, another of Richard's enemies (he had a talent to make those) offered to pay the ransom if he got his
hands on Richard, the latter decided to better go along with Heinrich VI's demand and pay. It fell upon his mother Eleanor of Aquitaine to gather the money. Main nave, facing east towards choir and apsis
Since the Church considered it a crime to capture a crusader, Heinrich staged a process during a Reichstag
in Speyer where he tried to prove Richard's guilt in various points. Richard managed to not lose his temper for a change but to defend himself in a noble way, and thus the process came to nothing - except that Richard was kept prisoner in Trifels Castle until the better part of the money was paid. Heinrich escaped excommunication, but Leopold suffered that fate for the capture of Richard.
The final required payment took place in January 1194, and Richard was officially released. He had to swear an oath of fealty to the Emperor Heinrich, but that was nothing more than a gesture and never influenced the power constellations in Europe. Richard celebrated the Christmas before that event in Speyer, then already more a guest than a hostage, and we can be sure he has been inside the cathedral during masses. Probably already during his first stay since no one would have refused him religious assistance. Choir with apsis
Heinrich VI and Duke Heinrich the Lion made peace as well, though I couldn't figure out if Richard had a hand in that. Back home, Richard had to deal with his brother John, while Heinrich VI managed to conquer Sicily. And the rest is legend. *grin*