The Sixth Crusade: Frederick II

Frederick II

King Frederick II

On the 26th December 1194, Frederick II of the Hohenstaufen dynasty was born in Jesi, in the Ancona region to parents; King Henry VI of Germany, the Holy Roman Emperor and Constance his mother, last heiress of the Norman royal dynasty of Sicily.

In 1197, his father Henry VI died, plunging Germany into fourteen years of civil war.  By 1198, the young Frederick had been orphaned, and came under the guardianship of Pope Innocent III.

The civil war and the constant struggle for the German crown, would not be resolved until 1211.  German princes deposed the excommunicated Guelf Emperor Otto IV, and invited Frederick to be their new King.

On the promise he undertook a crusade to the Holy Land, Pope Innocent III sanctioned his coronation in 1215, and in 1220 Pope Honorius III crowned him Emperor in Rome.

Frederick’s success in Germany, was not where his heart lay, it was nothing more than a source for money, for his main concern was to rebuild his dynasty, in southern Italy, where he grey up.

It was his intention to reduce the pontificate to a mere archiepiscopal, one of an archbishop.  To achieve this, he organised his territories, founded the University of Naples, became a patron of the arts, promoted medicine, and created laws, covering both German and Italy, which both would adhere to.

In his palace at Palermo, Frederick would sit enthroned in the manner of a Byzantine Emperor, and supplicants would prostrate themselves before him.

Frederick’s interests lay with Italy, and were more important to him, than the promise he had made to the Pope, to join the crusades.  With the threat of excommunication hanging over him, he finally set out to the Holy Land in 1227.

After barely a week at sea, Frederick returned home, claiming he be too ill to fight.  In 1228 Frederick incurred the wrath of Pope Gregory IX, who excommunicated him for abandoning his position as leader of the Fifth Crusade, and ultimately held him responsible for its failure.

Frederick was racked with guilt, for not leading the Fifth Crusade, as Christian armies were being defeated by the Egyptian sultan.

Frederick tried to make amends, for fifth crusade events, by launching a new crusade.  As news filtered through of his excommunication, his popularity, his support declined.  He may not have had the Pope’s blessing, but he recruited an army, and sailed to Syria, and onto Cyprus to create a base, before sailing onto the Holy Land.  As his popularity waned, so did the size of his army.

He used tactics to combat the like of the Sultan of Egypt, giving the impression he led a force, much larger than he did.  Al-Kamil the Sultan of Egypt had other issues to deal with, and surrendered Jerusalem, Nazareth and smaller towns in exchange for a ten year truce.

On the 17th March 1229, Frederick entered Jerusalem having achieved what the last four crusades had failed to do, retake the Holy Land, without spilling Christian blood.

Pope Gregory IX condemned Frederick for entering the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on the feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Mary, whilst excommunicated, and crowning himself at the High Altar.

In 1230 Pope Gregory IX withdrew the excommunication he had placed upon Frederick II.

The Sixth Crusade had come to an end, with a successful conclusion…

(Image) Frederick II: Wikipedia