Math in the court of Emperor Frederick II

About Frederick II

Al-Kamil (right) and Frederick II signed a tre...

Frederick ruled the Holy Roman Empire on and off from 1220 to 1250.  As many of you know, my Medieval series,  The Fairytale Keeper, takes place during Frederick’s reign. Frederick is featured in the second novel in the series, The Fairest of All, which is what inspired me to do greater research on this remarkable man who one might argue could have inspired an early Renaissance if it weren’t for his constant battles with the Church.

Frederick II was a man of insatiable curiosity in a variety of subjects, including, but not limited to: physics, poetry, logic, linguistics, government, biology, mathematics, and zoology.  The plethora of intriguing facts about Frederick’s exploits in order to gain a better understanding of the world around him and that beyond him has lead me to break up one article on the Holy Roman Emperor into a half-dozen.  So hold onto your hats, Medieval enthusiasts, as we (rather briefly) explore the mathematical pursuits of Emperor Frederick II.  Links to the other articles that I’ve written about Frederick II can be found below.


Mathematical Pursuits

Not surprisingly, Frederick surrounded himself with the best and brightest mathematicians of his time.  As discussed in my previous articles, sultans of the east sent their best mathematicians to Frederick’s court.  Other members of his court, Michael Scot and John of Palermo, studied mathematics.  Leonard of Pisa, a man cited to contain “sovereign  possession of the whole mathematical knowledge of his own and every preceding generation,” communicated with the emperor, who took an active role in Leonard’s studies.   Based on their correspondences, we see that Frederick had a fundamental understanding of geometry.  Frederick applied his knowledge of geometry to his love of architecture, designing the towers of Capua.


“Frederick II (Holy Roman Emperor and German King).” N.p., 2013. Web.

Haskins, Charles H. “Science at the Court of the Emperor Frederick II.” The American Historical Review 27.4 (1922): 669. Print.