Frederick Barbarossa

(Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor)


Frederick Barbarossa
Frederick Barbarossa, King of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor, challenged papal influence and sought to establish German supremacy in Europe. He engaged in six expeditions against Italy and served for a time in both the Second and the Third Crusades.

Shortly after being made Duke of Swabia, 25-year-old Frederick set out with his uncle Conrad III to fight in the Second Crusade, an expedition that proved disastrous but that led the king to appoint his nephew as successor to the German crown. Within a span of four years, Frederick was elected King of Germany, King of Italy, and Holy Roman Emperor. The empire that Frederick inherited was actually a collection of over 1600 individual states, each with its own prince, and the new king achieved little success in his attempts to unite the largely different provinces.

Like his predecessors, Frederick argued with the pope over who held ultimate authority in the Church, and after being excommunicated he undertook six expeditions to Italy to try to arouse support for his anti-pope Paschal III. He was largely unsuccessful, however, and during two of his visits he was forced out of the country by the powerful Lombard League, a group of Roman citizens who opposed the harsh Imperial taxes. Finally, in 1177, Frederick and the true pope, Alexander, were reconciled, and the Emperor recognized the popes supremacy in the Church. This solved, he turned his attention eastward, where new problems were brewing in the Holy Land. He set out on the Third Crusade with a massive army but did not manage to reach Antioch before he was carried away by the Saleph River and drowned. German legend tells that Frederick is not truly dead but sleeps with his knights in the caves of a Bavarian mountain, to awake only when ravens cease to fly around its peak.

Key events during the life of Frederick I:

Beccame Duke of Swabia
  Accompanied Conrad III on the Second Crusade
Elected and crowned King of Germany
Crowned King of Italy
Crowned Holy Roman Emperor
Six campaigns to Italy
Frederick and Alexander III were reconciled
Two eldest sons were knighted
Embarked on the Third Crusade
Drowned in the Saleph River

Book Links
Barbarossa  by  George Upton

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Frederick the Red-beard  in  Stories from German History  by   Florence Aston
Frederick Barbarossa  in  Thirty More Famous Stories Retold  by  James Baldwin
Frederick of Hohenstaufen  in  Historic Boys  by  E. S. Brooks
What Befell after the Taking of Jerusalem  in  The Crusaders  by  Alfred J. Church
House of Hohenstaufen  in  Germany: Peeps at History  by  John Finnemore
Frederick Barbarossa  in  Famous Men of the Middle Ages  by  John H. Haaren
Decline of the Papal Power  in  The Story of the Middle Ages  by  Samuel B. Harding
Frederick Barbarossa and the Lombard Cities  in  Patriots and Tyrants  by  Marion Florence Lansing
Frederick I, Redbeard  in  The History of Germany  by  Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall
Holy Roman Empire: Strife with the Popes  in  The Story of Europe  by  Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall
Frederick Barbarossa and Milan  in  Historical Tales: German  by  Charles Morris
Frederick Barbarossa  in  The Discovery of New Worlds  by  M. B. Synge

Image Links

The Submission of the Milanese to Frederick Barbarossa.
 in Stories from German History

Frederick Barbarossa
 in Thirty More Famous Stories Retold

Fredrick at the feet of Henry the Lion
 in Famous Men of the Middle Ages

The Legend of Barbarossa
 in The Story of the Middle Ages

Barbarossa Saves the Papal Legate at Besancon
 in Greatest Nations - Germany

Barbarossa Kneels to Henry the Lion
 in Greatest Nations - Germany

Henry the Lion Kneels to Barbarossa
 in Greatest Nations - Germany

Barbarossa waits until his country needs him
 in Stories from the Crusades

Frederick Barbarossa
 in Patriots and Tyrants

Frederick Barbarossa
 in European Hero Stories

Short Biography
Baldwin III Fifth of the Latin Kings of Jerusalem.
Henry II Reclaimed kingdoms in England and Normandy after chaotic reign of Stephen. Founded Plantagenet dynasty.
Alexander III Vigorous exponent of papal authority. Resisted Frederick Barbarossa and Henry II of England.