Episode 75 – Wet Pants and Other Miracles

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Otto IV, scion of one of the oldest and most aristocratic families in the world had achieved what so many of his ancestors have craved, ruling the empire. This week we will follow him to his coronation and the sequence of errors that will leave him back home in Brunswick, alone and forgotten. At the same time his nemesis, the child of Pulle, the impoverished 15-year-old king of Sicily and son of emperor Henry VI, young Frederick II rises to the imperial crown on a wing and some very potent  prayer.


Hello and welcome to the History of the Germans: Episode 75 – Wet Pants and other Miracles

Otto IV, scion of one of the oldest and most aristocratic families in the world had achieved what so many of his ancestors have craved, ruling the empire. This week we will follow him to his coronation and the sequence of errors that will leave him back home in Brunswick, alone and forgotten. At the same time his nemesis, the Child of Pulle, the impoverished 15-year-old king of Sicily and son of emperor Henry VI, young Frederick II rises to the imperial crown on a wing and some very potent  prayer.

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Last week we saw Philipp of Swabia grinding towards ultimate victory against his rival for the imperial title, Otto IV. Otto IV had run out of money when his English sponsor, king John Lackland cut off the flow of subsidies. The endorsement by pope Innocent III also proves to be worth a lot less than he had hoped for and finally he had managed to alienate his two most important allies, his brother Henry, the Count Palatinate on the Rhine, and archbishop Adolf of Cologne. Otto IV had rejected a last generous offer from Philipp and in spring 1208 was readying himself for one last battle, presumably to go down in a blaze of glory. The attitude of Rome was the infallible index of the hopelessness of his cause; pope Innocent III withdrew his support from Otto IV, released Philipp from the ban, recognised him as king and offered to crown him emperor should he come down to Rome.

But that did not happen. Instead, a totally random event took place. King Philipp was murdered by Otto von Wittelsbach, a Bavarian count who he had upset by cancelling a marriage alliance. Just to avoid any confusion, this Otto von Wittelsbach is a different Otto to the man of the same name who was the greatest paladin and occasional skinny-dipping buddy of Frederick Barbarossa. That Otto, good Oto was by now dead and his son, Ludwig was the current duke of Bavaria. Murderous Otto was a cousin from another branch of the Wittelsbach family.

That is probably enough genealogy for this episode. Let’s go back to the history.

With Philipp’s death the Hohenstaufen party in Germany simply collapsed. In a terrible twist of fate, the whole of the family had died out without any male descendants. Barbarossa had a stepbrother and eight sons. All of them, were now dead. With the exception of Emperor Henry VI, they all had died without producing a male heir. That made 14-year-old Frederick, the son of the superannuated queen Constance of Sicily and currently residing in Castello a Mare in Palermo the last remaining male Hohenstaufen or as they would have called themselves, the last of the house of Waiblingen. 

Without a natural rallying point the complex alliances that Philip had woven for a decade disappeared overnight. The imperial princes immediately joined Otto IV’s camp and Otto IV just for safety staged a repeat election in Frankfurt in November 1208 where he was unanimously confirmed as king of the Romans and elected Roman emperor.

Philipp’s oldest daughter, Beatrice, appeared before the new sovereign and demanded her father’s murderers to be caught and brought to justice. Otto granted her that justice and Heinrich von Kalden, one of Philipp’s most accomplished warriors was despatched to hunt down Otto von Wittelsbach. That he did, cut off his head and threw it in a river. The duke of Meranien and his brother, the bishop of Bamberg, were also indicted, but were able to keep their heads and other limbs, probably because they were actually innocent.

This act of respect towards his rival was followed by an even more meaningful political move. Otto IV broke his engagement to Maria of Brabant and instead married his rival’s daughter Beatrice. Luckily for him Marie’s father, the duke of Brabant was a little less prickly than Otto von Wittelsbach and refrained from cutting the king’s throat.

Germany pacified the next natural step is for Otto to head down to Italy. Things have changed a lot since the days of Henry VI. The peace of Constance between the empire and the Lombard League is no more. The Lombard League has broken down during the struggle for the imperial crown. The old rivalries between Milan and Cremona and Milan and Pavia have returned. No tax had been sent to either king.

But the biggest change happened in what we now call the Papal States. The popes had returned to Rome in 1188 after years in virtual exile as guests of the commune of Verona. That had been achieved through a deal the popes had to strike with the senate of the Holy City that by now had taken over full temporal control.

The lands the papacy laid claim to on the back of the fake donation of Constantine, such as the Campania around Rome, the March of Ancona, the duchy of Spoleto, the area around Ravenna and the Emilia Romagna were in the hands of either local lords or the communes or imperial vassals. For instance, the duchy of Spoleto was held by Konrad von Urslingen, a Swabian nobleman who had come down to Italy with Henry VI and had received the duchy as his vassal. Spoleto was considered so safe that the empress Constance left her precious son Frederick with Konrad’s family in Folignano rather than take him down to Sicily.

When Otto IV comes down 10 years later, all of these territories have been seized by the papacy. Pope Innocent III had swept in right after Henry VI death and had pushed out the imperial administration. He called it the recuperation of the Patrimonium Petri. These lands now formed a wedge straight across the Italian peninsula. South of it was the kingdom of Sicily, a papal fief ruled by the papal ward Frederick. And north was Lombardy where anti-imperial sentiment was strong at least in parts. A papal Italy was a distinct possibility

Innocent was only 38 when he was elected pope in 1198 and in the years since had become the true ruler of Europe. It wasn’t just the empire that was riven with discord. In Sicily various factions fought over the kingdom as the child-king Frederick looked on. In England John Lackland had lost Normandy and Anjou to king Philippe Auguste of France and subsequently presided over a much more fragile Country than his brother and father. The only powerful monarch was Philippe Auguste but he had a major marital issue that forced him to seek papal favour. Innocent III used these weaknesses to tighten his reign on the bishops and abbots, expanded the judicial responsibilities of papal legates and channelled more and more of church income to Rome. Innocent III had called the fateful fourth crusade, the one that went so off the rails, that ended with crusaders breaking into Constantinople, sacking the greatest Christian city in the world, and installing a Latin emperor and patriarch.

Innocent III did see himself as the “verum imperator”, the true emperor. His favourite image was that of the sun and the moon. The papacy was the sun and the emperors and kings were the moon, who received all their light from the sun. Temporal power was a mere reflection of the might of the Vicar of Christ on earth.

And for him, Otto IV was simply a tool. A physically powerful man with modest intellectual capacity seemed an ideal sword of the church. To gain church support in his struggle with Philipp of Swabia, Otto had given in to all of Innocent’s demands. That included a big step away from the concordat of Worms. There should be free episcopal elections without any interference from the emperor, the recognition of Sicily as a papal fief, assurance that he would never attack Sicily and incorporate it into the empire, the right of the pope to scrutinise any imperial election including the right to vet the elected king of the Romans, and finally, full recognition of papal right to that wedge of land across the Italian peninsula, the Patrimonium Petri.

Otto had promised all this before, and he promised it again to gain his all-important coronation. That Innocent III performed on October 4, 1209, in St. Peter as is good and proper. And, as usual there is a bit of brawling and in the morning some Romans lay dead. By now the city of Rome is not a place a Holy Roman Emperor can stay. Before the coronation Otto IV had made camp on the Monte Mario, outside the city walls and right after he retires to a defensive position in the countryside.

And then he does what every self-respecting emperor would do in his position, now that the octagonal crown is safely on his head and the sacred oil had dried. He writes to the pope and says: Maybe we should meet up and discuss some of the details of our agreement. Maybe talk about the lands of Matilda or poleto. I just have a few questions. And, I am sorry, but I will not be able to meet in person in Rome because the city is a bit too dangerous for me, so why don’t you come into my camp, and we have a nice chat.

Surprise, surprise, Innocent III shows no interest to sit down in a tent surrounded by 6,000 armoured men. He suggests conducting negotiations via envoys.

Negotiations begin whilst Otto IV starts wandering around Tuscany and Spoleto, issuing charters for local lords, monasteries and bishops as if it was his fief. In March 1210 he is in Ravenna and Ferrara, slap bang in the Patrimonium Petri still acting as if he owns the place.

Innocent III is getting nervous. When is this guy going back home? What is he up to? Sure, a bit of imperial play acting is ok as long as he does not take it seriously. But this is dragging on a bit. Otto brings about a peace agreement between Genova and Pisa, making another set of alarm bells ring.

Meanwhile in Southern Italy the barons on the mainland, in Apulia and Calabria are stirring. There is talk of getting rid of young Frederick and bringing in Otto IV. Some of these barons were Germans who had come down with Henry VI and they firmly believed that the kingdom of Sicily should be part of the empire. Whilst the now emperor Otto IV stays in Pisa, the rebellious Sicilian barons seek him out and invite him to take the kingdom. The Pisans promise to help and provide shipping to cross over to the island.

What goes on in Otto’s mind we will never know, but it may have gone along the following lines. Pope Innocent III may appear all powerful but quite frankly his excommunication of Philipp had little to no effect. So, if he goes to Sicily and the pope goes ballistic, this is not going to be such a big deal.

On the other hand, the last of the Hohenstaufen sits in this palace in Palermo. Yes, he is still a boy, his grasp of power in Sicily is weak, but he had once been the elected king of the Romans and he could still be a challenge. Better to stamp out this viper before it comes to bite you.

A man of modest intellect – well let us see.

Whilst Otto makes preparations for a trip down south Innocent III too makes his preparations to bring down his former champion. First, he writes a letter to the German bishops. Not yet excommunicating Otto IV he just lets the bishops know that they are all automatically released from any oath of fealty to the emperor once he formally excommunicates him. Though this is not yet a call for action, the bishops understood right away. Off they went talking to the Landgraves, Margraves, dukes and other imperial princes seeding sedition.

The next one on Innocent’s Christmas card list is king Philippe Auguste and there Innocent resorts to rather uncharacteristic grovelling. He regrets he had not seen through the duplicitous nature of the Welf, something the wise king had so easily done. And he skilfully wove into the letter a few remarks that Otto had made. For instance, that he could not sleep as long as the king of France still occupies lands that rightfully belong to his beloved uncle, king John of England. Again, no call to action, just the subtle encouragement to get in touch with the German princes.

In the autumn of 1210, the conflict breaks out into the open. Otto had by now recruited a sizeable army from German and Lombard allies and began his march down south. The southern Italian rebels joined him at the border of Apulia.

As soon as Otto’s army set out on its quest, the pope issued the formal excommunication and carefully set machinery of rebellion in Germany was put into forward gear. Otto at this point still does not care much.

In spring 1211 hostilities resume and Otto cuts through the resistance of the boy-king of Sicily like butter. By the summer he is near the straits of Messina that separate Sicily and the mainland, waiting for the Pisan fleet that is supposed to take him across.

Frederick’s position is utterly hopeless. His hold on the Sicilian kingdom had always been tenuous, but now it is completely slipping out of his hands. Almost all the feudal lords were siding with the emperor. The still sizeable Muslim population in central Sicily declared for Otto. His kingdom had shrunk to no more than the royal palaces of Palermo. A galley is standing ready to take Frederick across to Africa, should the inevitable take place.

And that is when the first or by some counting the second miracle of Frederick’s life occurs. The first miracle was of course his actual existence, born as he was from a superannuated and perennially barren mother.

Just as Otto was about to embark on the last leg of his conquest, messengers arrive from Germany telling of revolt and the intention of the princes to have him deposed and to elect a new king. And that is when the miracle happens. The messengers, some from Germany, others from his allied city of Milan tell him the imperial princes are meeting and revolt is in the air. They tell him to return as fast as he can.

That same night Otto dreams of bear cup joining him in the imperial bed. The bear. Up grew and grew until it had become the largest and mightiest bear ever seen, a bear that took up so much space it pushed him, Otto, off his couch. Otto IV was “shaken to the marrow” and, terrified of losing his hard-won imperial crown, abandons his prey. The long legged Welf strikes camp and runs, runs as if that bear, he had dreamt of was chasing him back across the Alps.

As so often in history one man’s miracle is just another one’s panic. If Otto had thought about his dream calmly and rationally, he should have pushed forward and killed the bear cup before it grows. Sicily and his potential rival for the imperial rival was right there in his grasp. Capturing him would have brought the whole rebellion come crushing down.

Frederick was saved. And more than that. Just as the imperial army vanished in a cloud of dust, an envoy from Germany, Anselm von Justingen, arrived in Palermo. He bore the news that the German princes had met in September in Nurnberg, deposed Otto IV and elected none other than him, young Frederick, last of the Hohenstaufen, to become King of the Romans. Within just days Frederick had turned from being a near deposed king of Sicily to be elected emperor of the Romans and leader of Christianity.

The title, grand as it was, was still theoretically. To make it real he needed to be crowned, crowned by as we know, the right archbishop in the right church with the true imperial regalia. To get there he has to travel 2300 km, he will need to find allies along the way as Otto’s friends will try to stop him. The notoriously treacherous German princes must still be on side when he gets there for the plan to work out. And he is a 17-year-old who had never been to Germany, does not speak the language and does not know the ins and outs of the fiendishly complicated political landscape of the empire.

No wonder his council strongly discourage him to go. His wife Constance of Aragon – who had just borne him a son – objects even more vehemently. How is she supposed to keep Sicily together on the baby’s behalf when Frederick himself could barely keep it going? What happens if the pope changes his mind about making a king of Sicily emperor, thereby bringing back that dreaded encirclement of the papacy?  As they debated news arrive from Germany that some of the princes who in September had elected Frederick were now coming back to Otto, no doubt lured by some juicy bribe. Another reason to stay back.

In reality, Frederick did not have a choice. The events of the last year had shown that if a powerful emperor, be it Otto or someone else comes down to Sicily, his kingdom would fall. He needed to become emperor as a forward defence position to protect Sicily, probably the most extended forward defence in European history.

He would later claim that he went because his elevation was the sign of God that he, the last descendant of the great emperors of old had survived. He writes to Germany as follows: “since no other could be found, who could have accepted the proffered dignity in opposition to us and to our right…since the princes summoned us and since from their own choice the crown is ours” he accepts the elevation.

Frederick sets off on his great adventure in the middle of March 1212. Upon request of the pope, he had his son, Heinrich, crowned king before his departure.

Progress stalled already in Gaeta south of Rome where a Pisan fleet is lying in wait for him. After a month he finally manages to proceed to Rome where he meets for the first and the only time his guardian, pope Innocent III. He swears fealty to him for the Sicilian kingdom and – as Otto IV before – makes all the assurances the papacy could possibly demand.

Innocent covers the cost of the impecunious monarch’s stay in the Holy city and gives him the funds to continue his journey. The Genoese, perennial rivals of the Pisans are happy to take the boy further north to Lombardy. With just a few friends and a Genoese escort he follows a circuitous route to Pavia, avoiding cities and castles held by Otto’s allies.

The eternally loyal city of Pavia is prepared to take the last of the Ghibellines further on his journey. The next stage post is Cremona and that meant crossing the hostile territory of Piacenza and Milan. As Frederick moved east, news of his movements reaches his Lombard enemies. The Milanese ready their mighty Caroccio and send it down to the river Lambro, where spies have told them the Pavese were planning to hand the boy king over to the men of Cremona. Piacenza meanwhile searched all ships going up the Po expecting to find Frederick hiding amongst the sacks of wheat or bales of cloth.

The Pavese set out in the middle of the night taking their host as quietly and safely as possible the 25 km to the river crossing. Meanwhile the Cremonese head out for the same spot. And as dawn breaks the two contingents rendezvous as planned. They sit down for a well-earned farewell breakfast when the banners of Milan appear on the horizon. In a split-second decision, Frederick wearing no more than his pants and a shirt jumps on a horse and rides bareback across the river into the waiting arms of the Cremonese whilst behind him the faithful Pavese are being slaughtered.

That Frederick saw as miracle #3 whilst the Milanese will recount for decades about how they got the emperors pants wet.

From here there is no stopping him. From Cremona he goes to Mantua, then Verona. He tries to get across the Brenner pass but that is barred by Otto’s allies, so he goes on small mountain paths across bleak landscapes into the Engadin. In early September he is in Chur. The bishop of Chur, itself part of Frederick’s ancestral duchy of Swabia accompanies him to St. Gallen where the abbot of this great monastery joins him.

Along this route Frederick may have witnessed one of the most heart-breaking scenes of the entire Middle Ages, the so-called Children’s Crusade. At Easter 1212 in Cologne a young man, Nicolaus, declared an angel had appeared to him and foretold him that if he led an army of innocents south, he would be able to free Jerusalem. The lord would part the sea and they could get to Palestine on foot. Thousands of mostly adolescents and young adults joined this effort. They set off from Cologne and got to the Brenner pass via Trier and Speyer. By the time they had reached Lombardy most had already died or given up. They reached Genoa via Cremona in August 1212. – there, surprise, surprise, the sea did not part. At that point most were too exhausted, hungry and poor to continue. Very few returned home, some settling in Italy and some even sold into slavery. Later Frederick will condemn to death two merchants involved in that enslavement.

Gustave Dore: children’s crusade

For Frederick travelling the opposite direction, the next destination is Constance, a bishopric in Swabia and crucial to his claim on Philipp’s old powerbase. Otto IV meanwhile had consolidated his position and had come down to Lake Constance to intercept his rival.

Otto camped in Überlingen, a mere 12 km from the episcopal seat. The emperor had negotiated his entry into Constance with the bishop and great festivities were being prepared. His servants were in the town laying the tables and his cooks were putting the huge roasts into even bigger ovens when Frederick and his merry band appeared before the gates of the city.

The bishop was made to come to the battlement and parley with the young contender. Frederick demanded entry as duke of Swabia and as elected king of the Romans. The archbishop Berard of Bari, one of Frederick’s closest advisors and also the papal legate pushed hard on Otto IV being excommunicated and deposed by order of both the princes and the pope.

Entry of frederick II in Konstanz – not how it happened

After some back and forth the bishop relented. Frederick entered the city. Otto was kept out and lacking a full army retreated. Frederick and his men ate all the delicious food and celebrated that the Hohenstaufen were back. Had he been three hours later, Otto IV would have been inside Konstanz and the journey of the young king of Sicily would have ended right there.

This was miracle #4

Frederick’s support quickly grew as he progressed to Basel and then further to Alsace. Like his uncle, the support did not come cheap. Ottokar of Bohemia came and swore allegiance on condition that he would be confirmed, now for the third time, in his royal title.

This time he got even more than a personal royal title. In a splendid golden bull, Ottokar was granted an inheritable Bohemian kingdom as well as free investiture of bishops, relief from serving in imperial campaigns and some generous fiefs from the Hohenstaufen lands. This document was produced by a Sicilian notary and the seal attached was the royal seal of Sicily. Best guess, neither the elected emperor of the Romans nor his notary had the faintest idea where Bohemia was and what he had just handed over.

so-called “Golden Bull of Sicily”

Word of Frederick’s generosity spread rapidly, and the usual turncoats swelled the ranks of the Hohenstaufen loyalists. Our old friend and most unreliable ally Hermann Landgrave of Thuringia popped up again in the Ghibelline tent. The dukes of Lothringia, Zaehringen and Bavaria joined as did the archbishop of Mainz who had been put on his episcopal seat by Otto IV but now saw more value in the young Staufer Prinz.

All of them would benefit but none more than the duke of Bavaria who would gain the Palatinate when Otto’s brother Henry died without heir. The Palatinate and Bavaria would remain in the Wittelsbach family until 1918.

The Wittelsbach territories around 1500 across multiple lines

King Philippe Auguste who had pulled the strings in the background sent the penniless king a generous donation of 20,000 mark of silver. When the French envoys asked where to deposit this huge sum, Frederick said, “what do you mean?” All this money goes straight out to my supporters.

No surprise he was popular. People started calling him the Puer Apuliae, the child of Puglia, the young and innocent man, a true knight, descendant of emperors who was set against the gruff, battle-hardened, tight fisted, not very clever Otto IV.

In November 1212 the princes elected him King of the Romans, now for the third time. Four days later he was crowned king in the cathedral of Mainz by the archbishop of Mainz and with fake imperial regalia.

We know what that means – it means the war isn’t over yet.

We are quickly reverting back to the political situation of 1198-1208. Frederick holds southern Germany with his centres of power in the Hohenstaufen lands. Otto IV holds his family estates in Saxony and has allies in the lower Rhine. But his most important ally is the king of England, John lackland.

King John had lost the heart of the Angevin empire, Normandy and Anjou. The following 10 years John has spent gathering money and weapons with the single aim to get it back. And part of his plan was now the support of Otto IV. When he rekindled that alliance Otto IV was the undisputed ruler of the empire and hence a hugely important ally. Had Frederick never been born, been routed in Sicily in 1211, drowned in the river Lambro or missed the entrance into Konstanz by 3 hours, English history would have taken a different turn. Because now Otto IV could not provide anywhere near the kind of help John Lackland had hoped for.

At the beginning of 1214 John Lackland could not wait any longer for his ally to succeed. The great campaign against Philippe Auguste had to begin.

At its heart was a two-pronged approach. King John was to attack from the Southwest luring Philippe Auguste away from the Capetian heartlands around Paris. Otto should lead a combined force of Saxon, Brabant, Flanders and English forces in from the North East, taking the Ile de France and cutting the French king off from supplies.

On paper a very sound plan. John landed in La Rochelle, but his campaign ended quickly and rather embarrassingly. Philippe Auguste send him back into his boats and turned round to face the other invading army in the north. That was certainly a setback for the Anglo-Welf alliance, but it was partially offset by Frederick’s failure to distract Otto IV on the lower Rhine.

All now depended on the outcome in the Northeast. The two armies met at the bridge of Bouvines, between Lille and Tournai.  

Georges Duby estimated that Philipps army consisted of 1,300 knights, about the same number of mounted fighters and 6,000 foot soldiers. Otto’s army was larger not by a wide margin, but somewhat larger. Philippe’s army comprised predominantly of men from his personal domains in the Ile de France, the Artois and the Picardy. Otto’s forces were in part English but in the majority from Saxony, Flanders, Brabant, and Holland.

Philippe lined his army up in the traditional French manner. In the middle were the armed infantrymen with the cavalry on either side. Behind the infantry stood the king himself with his household knights and the reserve cavalry. Above the king flew the Oriflamme, the blood-red sacred war banner shot through with golden stars, confirming the presence of St. Denis, patron saint of the French monarchy.

The oriflamme on the top right hand corner – image depicts another battle at Roosebeke

Otto’s army was mirroring the French side. On the left flank knights from Flanders and Germany, on the right flank the English knights under William of Salisbury, called Longsword, the half-brother of king John. Otto IV took the centre with his Saxon knights and the foot soldiers lined up before him.

Otto IV had brought a highly symbolic battle standard too. Not the Holy Lance as it had been wielded by the Ottonians, but a golden imperial eagle. Raised on a staff that symbolized the Honor Imperii, the honour of the empire. And below flew the Anglo-Norman silk dragon symbolising the unity of Normandy, the dark dragon, and the white and red dragons of Britain.

Anglo-Saxon dragon flag

With two monarchs on the battlefield the key objective of either side was to capture the leader of the other side and/or his battle standard.

Otto made the first move and sent his experienced and numerically superior foot soldiers into the French centre. This move nearly decided the battle. The lightly armoured men got all the way to king Philippe Auguste and pulled him off his horse. They started hacking at his armour looking for the weakness that their daggers could penetrate. Only by a hair’s breadth did his bodyguard get him out.

That gave the French side new momentum. They pushed back the imperial infantry and started moving towards the golden eagle. Otto IV and his Saxon knights pushed back and finally fighting began between the knights whilst the simple soldiers were trampled under the horses’ hoofs.

A French knight, Gerard de Trui got close enough to drive his dagger into Otto’s chest armour. The armour deflected the blow but on the second attempt, Gerard hit the emperor’s horse in the eye. The horse rose up in pain and Otto fell on the ground. Otto was pulled out the melee and mounted a fresh horse. Another French knight, Walther de Barres grabbed him by the neck twice but failed to take the emperor down. At that point Otto IV lost his nerve and fled, leaving behind the golden eagle whose wings were broken when it fell.

Their leader gone the bulk of the army surrendered. Only the count of Boulogne and his 700 mercenaries from Brabant, the much feared Brabanzones held out until almost all of them lay dead.

This was not a miracle, just a medieval battle. But this battle decided so much of European history.

The Angevin empire shrunk to just Aquitaine. The Capetian kings began calling themselves kings of France, no longer king of the Francs as they had gained permanent possession of Northern and central France.  

King John Lackland returned to England empty handed after having squeezed the last dime out of his land in the hope of regaining the riches of France. His barons could not take it any longer and forced him to sign a list of concessions, the document we now know as Magna Carta.

And as for Otto IV, his imperial dream had collapsed. He would hold out in Brunswick until 1218, friendless and largely forgotten. After his truly gruesome death, his nephew, Otto the child, would be raised to duke of Brunswick and the House of Welf would depart from the global stage until on August I, 1714 a certain George, duke of Brunswick-Luneburg and elector of Hannover ascended the English throne where his descendants still reign.

Otto “the child” being elevated to duke of Brunswick by Frederick II

Frederick II was the other winner of the battle without having shot a single arrow. He was crowned properly in Aachen by the right archbishop and the real imperial regalia in 1215. And as we know, once that has happened the civil war is usually over.

Next week we will go back in time and talk about Frederick II’s early years, his mindset and outlook and the role of his guardian, pope Innocent III. I hope you will join us again.

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