Tag Archives: Emperor Frederick II

A Week With Emperor Frederick II

Andrea CefaloAndrea Cefalo is a Medieval fiction author and Medieval history blogger. Her debut novel, The Fairytale Keeper,  was a quarter-finalist in Amazon’s 2013 Breakthrough Novel Contest. The next three books in The Fairytale Keeper series –The Countess’s Captive, The Baseborn Lady, and The Traitor’s Target—will debut later this year.  She regularly posts about Medieval history on Facebook and Twitter.

 

My mother Nancy researching our ancestry.

My mother Nancy researching our ancestry.

In last week’s article, Frederick II’s 21st Great Granddaughter, I announced a serendipitous discovery made by my genealogist mother, Nancy Cefalo.  To make a long story short, even though it seemed that I had no German ancestry–which was quite disappointing since I write Medieval fiction set in Germany– it turns out that I do.

I am a descendent of the man who was emperor at the time of The Great Interregnum.  Frederick II–the man who reigned over the place I have researched for the last five years–is my 21st great grandfather.

In honor of this discovery, I am dedicating a week of posts to Emperor Frederick II.

Today I am posting a short documentary, Frederick II a bridge between East and West, which focuses on Frederick’s desire to reach beyond cultural barriers to broker peace and increase learning during a time when religious and cultural tolerance was discouraged.

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Frederick II’s 21st Great-Granddaughter

meAndrea Cefalo is a Medieval fiction author and Medieval history blogger. Her debut novel, The Fairytale Keeper,  was a quarter-finalist in Amazon’s 2013 Breakthrough Novel Contest. Her second book in The Fairytale Keeper series –The Countess’s Captive—debuted earlier this year.  She regularly posts about Medieval history on Facebook and Twitter.

20140520_205112After retiring in 2009, my mom became an ancestry.com-aholic. Her hobby/compulsive disorder has taught me four things.

  1. The Irish didn’t keep good records.
  2. Welsh people have funny names.
  3. My great, great, great grandfather was hanged for trying to murder his wife.
  4. I have absolutely no German in me.

That last one was a bit of a disappointment. I’ve spent the last five years researching the Holy Roman Empire, especially the region that would later become Germany. Our lineage is a sprawling list of Western European nationalities, most of them ending in –sh. Not one of them German. Not one.

We writer people are a strange bunch.  Many of us believe in muses. We sit around at Starbucks sipping our lattes hoping our characters talk to us so the writing will be a little faster and more poignant today than it was yesterday. I guess a part of me thought I was a distant relation to some semi-important person who lived during The Great Interregnum, and, in some way, that person was bringing me this story. Well, ancestry.com poo-pooed all over that. Or so I thought.

Three days ago when my video, The Great Interregnum: A Thirteenth Century Game of Thrones, went live, I pulled it up for mom. We’re both dorks for European history, so I knew she’d appreciate it. After spending forty hours working on a five-minute video, I was in desperate need of mom-praise, which she gladly gave.

Tangelshe name Hohenstaufen sounded familiar to her. Later that day, she told me she found a Hohenstaufen in our line: Margaret Hohenstaufen. Born in 1241. Daughter of Emperor Frederick II.

The sky opened and angels sang.

No, not really, but I did get a case of goose bumps.

So not only am I part German, I am a descendent of the man who was emperor at the time of The Great Interregnum, the setting of my medieval fiction series. The man who ran the place that I have researched for the last five years is my 21st great grandfather.

I’m no mathematician. Maybe this isn’t so odd. I’m certainly only one of thousands of people who are Hohenstaufen descendants—but a part of me hopes that wherever and whatever Frederick II is now, he’s proud of his 21st great granddaughter who strives to tell the story of his reign. In honor of this discovery, I’d like to dedicate a week of posts to a man few know now, but who was a Renaissance man to the Middle Ages: Frederick II.

Using History to Guess Who Will Win The Game of Thrones

meAndrea Cefalo is a Medieval fiction author and Medieval history blogger. Her debut novel, The Fairytale Keeper,  was a quarter-finalist in Amazon’s 2013 Breakthrough Novel Contest. The next three books in The Fairytale Keeper series –The Countess’s Captive, The Baseborn Lady, and The Traitor’s Target—will debut later this year.  She regularly posts about Medieval history on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

George R. R. Martin says A Song of Fire and Ice is loosely based on The War of the Roses.  I believe the series more closely resembles The Great Interregnum: a twenty year Game of Thrones taking place in the 13th century Holy Roman Empire.  My five minute documentary, which compares The Great Interregnum to the Game of Thrones, posits who will end up on the iron throne.  (Take a guess who it is before you watch it.)

 

The Six-Month Siege of Aachen

meAndrea Cefalo is a Medieval fiction author and Medieval history blogger. Her debut novel, The Fairytale Keeper,  was a quarter-finalist in Amazon’s 2013 Breakthrough Novel Contest. The next three books in The Fairytale Keeper series –The Countess’s Captive, The Baseborn Lady, and The Traitor’s Target—will debut later this year.
Follow her on Facebook and Twitter

 

 

Frederick II Excommunicated by Innocent IV

Emperor Frederick II Excommunicated by Pope Innocent IV

Medieval history is rife with clashes between popes and kings—and the thirteenth century was no exception.  Disagreements between Emperor Frederick II and Pope Innocent IV—over Frederick’s attempts to extend his power in Italy and his reluctance to go on crusade—led to the excommunication and attempted ousting of the Hohenstaufen emperor. With the help of his allies, Pope Innocent selected men to take Frederick’s place. The first of these antikings, Henry Raspe, died only two years after his selection. William of Holland was elected king ten months later.

Since the time of Charlemagne, Holy Roman Emperors and kings were traditionally crowned in Aachen. In Spring of 1248, William’s men rode ahead of their new king to the Medieval city for the coronation, but the gates were barred. The people of Aachen remained loyal to the emperor and refused William’s entry. A skirmish ensued, and sixteen of William’s men were killed.

Because there was an emperor and king already on the thrown, William needed an official coronation so Europe would see him as more than a Church-sponsored pretender. William arrived with his armies approximately a week later, and the siege began.

Siege of Mortagne near Bordeaux in 1377.

Painting of 14th cent. Siege of Mortagne

According to the book The Medieval City Under Siege, siege warfare, though common, was ineffective during the thirteenth century for two reasons. First, a lack of gains in military technology meant that city walls and defenses were often stronger than the weapons used to destroy them. Second, most nobles had difficulty rallying an army large enough to  surround a city’s walls. Even if they could, they usually couldn’t feed and supply a large army for months at a time. Luckily for William, he had a strong ally in the pope who had strong allies of his own.

By summer, troops from Picardy, Flanders, and Brabant came to William’s aid. They damned the river flowing through Aachen, causing a third of the city to flood. After the addition of Frisia’s troops in the fall, William’s army finally had enough men to surround the city. Though the people of Aachen lay starving in a flooded city under constant bombardment, they remained loyal to the emperor. It wasn’t until a rumor of Frederick’s death circulated the city that Aachen waved the white flag.

Cologne’s Archbishop, Konrad von Hochstaden, aided in arbitration. The city nobles and the imperial bailiff pledged fealty to the Church and to William of Holland, gaining their freedom and the end of the siege in exchange. William entered the city on October 19th, nearly six months after the battle began. He was crowned on November first.

 

Sources:

Corfis, Ivy A.., and Michael Wolfe. The Medieval City under Siege. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1995. Print.

Rogers, Clifford J., William Caferro, and Shelley Reid. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Medieval Warfare and Military Technology. New York: Oxford UP, 2010. Print.

The Influences on 13th Century Renaissance Man, Frederick II

Frederick II’s Intellectual Roots

Similar to his grandfather, King Roger II of Sicily, Frederick was interested in intellectual pursuits and legislative matters.  Roger consulted travelers and commissioned them to help him create a better world map, only recording what was agreed upon.  His pursuits resulted in a great silver map in the year 1154. The emperors following Roger, William I and William II, didn’t share Roger’s vigor for scientific pursuits, but like Frederick, did study and have Greek texts translated.

Frederick II Looks Back to Greek and Egyptian Thinkers

Bust of Aristotle. Marble, Roman copy after a ...

Bust of Aristotle by Lysippos from 330 BC

Frederick made a conscientious effort to surround himself with the best and brightest minds of his time, reaching out to anyone who could answer his questions: Moslems, Jews, and Christians alike.  One such man, referred to as Michael Scot, born in Scotland (hence the surname) but educated in Spain, composed works on astrology, meteorology, astronomy, and pysiognomy and dedicated them to Frederick.   These works illustrate Scot’s familiarity with the works of Ptolemy.

Frederick himself was a known admirer of Aristotle.  Though Frederick didn’t always agree with Aristotle, he certainly shared his interests and methods.  Like Aristotle, Frederick studied physics, poetry, logic, linguistics, government, biology, and zoology. Also like Aristotle, Frederick often studied the scientific world through detailed observation, especially in the areas of zoology and biology. He collected animals from across the known world, including panthers, a giraffe, elephants, camels, and a menagerie of birds.  In his studies, Frederick went beyond Aristotle’s scientific method, conducting experiments, though not like what we know today as the scientific method.  Frederick certainly made hypotheses and predictions.  He also tried to set up controls.  However, many of his experiments couldn’t be replicated because they were highly unethical and often resulted in the death of the subject matter.

Frederick II Looks East to Moslem Leaders

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

Al-Kamil (right) and Frederick II signing a treaty restoring Jerusalem to the Crusaders for ten years.

As said earlier, Frederick reached out across the known world for answers to his many questions.  In scientific matters, he often reached out toward Arab leaders. It was rumored that Frederick preferred the company of Moslems, especially when it came to learning.  While this cannot be confirmed, we do know that Frederick often looked eastward when trying to quench his thirst for knowledge.

Frederick was well-known for his acceptance of other beliefs and cultures.  So it’s of no surprise that he  was reluctant to go on crusade against the Islamic east, but after much pressure Frederick did go.  He brought a Sicilian Moslem to tutor him in logic while on crusade. Unlike most crusades, Frederick’s led to a positive relationship with Moslem leaders both commercially and politically. By 1236, the sultan of Egypt sent the emperor a scholar named Theodore, who was, for his time, an expert in math, astrology, and medicine. This however, did not quench Frederick’s thirst for knowledge.  Much like his grandfather Roger, Frederick wasn’t satisfied with a theory unless it was widely agreed upon.  Frederick composed questionnaires, in which he puzzled through scientific, mathematical, and theological mysteries.   Frederick sent his questionnaires to Moslem leaders in the hopes that they could tap their intellectual resources and find answers.

While on another trip to the east, Frederick asked if he could interview an expert on astronomy.  Rather than allow the interview, the sultan Malik al-Kamil sent Frederick an astronomer/mathematician by the name of al-Hanafi.  The sultan of Damascus, al-Ashraf, who was also aware of Frederick’s interest in astronomy, sent him a planetarium with figures of the sun and moon which marked the hours as they made their rounds, a gift valued at 20,000 marks.

Related Articles:

Sources:

“Frederick II (Holy Roman Emperor and German King).” Www.encyclopia.com. 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.

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Few men are memorialized in such a contradictory manner as Konrad von Hochstaden. Surely a man who laid the cornerstone of one of Europe’s greatest churches—The Cologne Cathedral—should be remembered fondly. And he is…sometimes. (See the mosaic below.) But Hochstaden gave the people of Cologne and the Holy Roman Emperor of the time several reasons to hate him. Perhaps that’s why a vulgar statue of Hochstaden sits on the side of Cologne’s City Hall. (Scroll to the bottom to see it. Warning: it’s rather vulgar.)

Mosaic Konrad von Hochstaden Cologne Cathedral

This mosaic from Cologne’s Cathedral shows a saint-like Konrad von Hochstaden holding the plans for the church’s construction.

The Complexity of Rule in Thirteenth-Century Europe

To better understand Konrad von Hochstaden’s power and influence, a very brief examination of Medieval Europe’s political structure is in order. At the time, Europe was a hodgepodge of kingdoms, principalities, duchies (areas ruled by dukes), counties (areas ruled by  counts), ecclesiastical sees (areas owned by the church), and free imperial cities.  Trying to decipher the boundaries between these areas when looking at the map below is a tad tricky.

Thirteenth-Century map of Europe

This map of Europe shows the political boundaries under Hohenstaufen rule.

Beginning in the tenth century, the king of the Holy Roman Empire was called King of the Romans and, later, King of the Germans. These were the titles used during Hochstaden’s lifetime. In a nutshell, prince electorates selected a nobleman to fill the position of king. Typically when a Holy Roman Emperor died, the pope promoted the King of Romans to take the emperor’s place, which essentially made the newly crowned Holy Roman Emperor the official ruler of Central Europe. Although, the amount of power each emperor actually wielded varied throughout medieval history and depended on several factors.

While inheritance often played a role in electing the King of the Romans and the Holy Roman Emperor, these were not strictly inherited positions.  As I mentioned above, by the thirteenth century seven prince electorates—made up of four secular nobles and three church officials—ultimately decided who took the title of King of the Romans. The archbishop of Cologne was one of these prince electorates.  One might argue that these kingmakers were even more powerful than the king himself.  We certainly see this when examining the life of Konrad von Hochstaden, who was archbishop of Cologne from 1238 to 1261.

Prince Electorates Holy Roman Empire

This miniature from the Chronicle of Henry VII (1341) shows the seven prince electorates. The archbishop of Cologne sits below the shield with the black cross.

Konrad Von Hochstaden’s Rise to Prince

Konrad von Hochstaden came from noble blood, his father being Count Lothar of Hochstadt.  We know little of his childhood, but by 1216 he was the beneficiary of the parish of Wevelinghoven, and in 1226, he was promoted to canon.  He eventually ended up in Cologne as the provost of the cathedral. When Archbishop Henry of Molenark died in March of 1238, the chapter named Konrad as his replacement, an appointment that Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II approved in August.Surprisingly, Hochstaden wasn’t even a priest at the time. That was a title he’d earned the following year.

Konrad Von Hochstaden

Konrad Von Hochstaden was laid to rest in the Johannes Chapel of the Cologne Cathedral.

Konrad von Hochstaden Turns Against Frederick II

For the first year of his term as archbishop, Konrad supported the emperor in his disagreements with the pope, but when Pope Gregory IX issued Emperor Frederick’s (second) excommunication after he invaded a papal fief, Konrad’s loyalties shifted and he sided against the emperor with the pope and Archbishop of Mainz.  It was a decision Hochstaden must have regretted in 1242 when he was badly wounded in battle against the emperor and captured by the Count of Julich, though he was eventually freed. By 1245, Konrad’s star was on the rise again.

excommunication of emperor frederick ii

This fourteenth-century illumination portrays Pope Innocent IV excommunicating Emperor Frederick II.

Trouble in Cologne

By supporting the pope, Konrad von Hochstaden’s power grew.  He now had two duchies and the ecclesiastical see of Cologne, making him the most powerful man in Northwest Germany.  Not everyone was pleased with Konrad’s quick rise, and this resulted in struggles for power with his noble neighbors (Remeber the Count of Julich?) and the people of Cologne, who often refused to accept his authority.  His ruthless methods in dealing with the people of Cologne left him with a malicious reputation.

English: Albertus Magnus (fresco, 1352, Trevis...

Albertus Magnus (fresco, 1352, Treviso, Italy)

Hostilities grew, so a theologian and scholar by the name of Albertus Magnus was brought in to help bring the people of Cologne and the archbishop to peace.  This event is referred to as the Great Arbitration.  Konrad lost some power in the bargain.  After which, he tried unsuccessfully to pit the craftsman against the patricians in order to gain favor.  He died two years later, and when his successor, Engelbert II, tried to fortify one of the city’s towers, he was arrested and imprisoned by the Count of Julich for little over a year for violating the terms of the Great Arbitration.  Meanwhile, Cologne gave way to violent battles between the wealthy families of Cologne.  Unfortunately for Engelbert, he supported the losing side, and rather than continue his fight for Cologne, he abandoned it for his palaces in Bruhl and Bonn.

A league of German nobles defeated Engelbert’s successor, Siegfried of Westerburg, at the Battle of Worringen in 1288.  After this, the archbishops of Cologne would no longer reside within the city walls.  But Cologne would not officially have its freedom from the Church until 1475 when it was declared a Free Imperial City.

Battles for the Crown

Let’s go back to the battles between the Church and the emperor. In 1242, Frederick II selected Henry Raspe, Landgrave of Thuringia, and King Wencelaus of Bohemia  as protectors of Germany until his young son Conrad was ready for the task.

A papal ban against Emperor Frederick was issued three years later.  Raspe betrayed the emperor, siding with the pope, and was elected king in opposition to the boy he had earlier sworn to protect, Conrad.  Henry experienced success on the battlefield, beating Conrad in the Battle of Nidda.  Unfortunately for Henry, his reign was short.  He died of illness only seventeen months after being named king.

King William II of Holland Granting Privileges by Everdingen and Post 1654

King William II of Holland Granting Privileges (Caeser Van Everdingen & Pieter Post, 1654)

Supposedly many noblemen were considered to fill Raspe’s shoes, but the anti-king crown fell to the young Count William of Holland.  In April of 1248, Holland sieged Aachen, the place where German kings were traditionally crowned.  It took six months for Aachen to fall, but when it did, it was the Archbishop of Cologne, not the Pope, who placed the crown on William’s head.

Konrad von Hochstaden’s faithful service to Pope Innocent was reward with the position of Apostolic legate in Germany, but Hochstaden reached higher.  He secretly encouraged the people of Mainz to ask the pope to make him their new archbishop.  This would make Konrad a double-prince elector since the Archbishop of Mainz also gets to vote on who becomes king.  The pope gently denied Konrad the position, which caused Konrad to turn against the pope.  The apostolic legation was taken from Konrad.  Konrad turned from King William of Holland, as well and used every means necessary to dethrone him.  He probably would have succeeded if William hadn’t died first.

After the death of King William, it was time for Konrad to find another king.  His vote fell to Richard of Cornwall, brother to King Henry III of England.  In trade for his support, Konrad was gifted full imperial authority over his principalities and the right to name bishops in Richard’s stead.  Konrad von Hochstaden died four years later.  Ironically, his remains lie in the Cathedral of the city where he was most hated: Cologne.

I hope you enjoyed this article on Konrad von Hochstaden.  Hochstaden plays a key role in my medieval fiction series, The Fairytale Keeper.  This article is a part of a series on real historical figures from the time period who appear in The Fairytale Keeper series.  As promised, here is that vile statue of Konrad von Hochstaden.

 

 

profile picAndrea Cefalo is a Medieval fiction author and history blogger. Her debut novel The Fairytale Keeper, was a quarter-finalist in Amazon’s 2013 Breakthrough Novel Contest. The sequel–The Countess’s Captive—was published earlier this year.  She is currently working on the third book in her series.

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And if you happen to be a historical fiction reader who loves a strong female voice and gritty Medieval settings, check out The Fairytale Keeper series. (When a storyteller’s daughter attempts to avenge her mother, she gets caught in the cross-hairs of a power struggle between kings and kingmakers. The conflict gives rise to some of the greatest stories ever told: Grimm’s Fairy Tales.) Publisher’s Weekly calls The Fairytale Keeper a “resonant tale set late in the 13th century…with unexpected plot twists. An engaging story of revenge.”

Further Reading and Sources: