The least known of the great Hohenstaufen emperors may also have been its most successful. During his reign he takes possession of the immensely rich kingdom of Sicily thanks to the proceeds of the ransom paid by Richard the Lionheart. He maintains some sort of order North of the Alps and even gets the princes to agree to make the empire an inheritable monarchy. But all this is too much for the popes who feel encircled and threatened to the core.
Hnery VIA German history starting in the Middle Ages when the emperors fought an epic struggle with the papacy to the Reformation, the great 18th century of Kant, Goethe, Gauss, the rise of Prussia and the horrors of the Nazi regime. We will end with the post-war period of moral and physical rebuilding. As Gregory of Tours (539-594) said: “A great many things keep happening, some good, some bad” .
When Barbarossa drowns in the river Saleph in 1190 the crown transfers to his eldest surviving son, Henry, known to History as Henry VI.
This is the first time since the accession to personal rule of Emperor Henry III in 1039 that the imperial crown moves from father to grown up son without a glitch. In the previous 150 years, the passing of an emperor had been a dramatic event where all the cards were dealt anew. Just remember, Henry IV came to the throne as a child, Henry V by rebellion against his father, Lother III wasn’t in any meaningful way related to the imperial family, Konrad III came in by a coup against the named heir, as did Barbarossa. The French meanwhile had five transitions from father to son, with only one 6-year regency. This consistency in reproduction is one of the key reasons the Capetion dynasty was so much more successful than their German counterparts, though the greatest of the Capetions has only just appeared, Phillipp II Augustus (1180 to 1223). More, and a lot more about him later.
Talking about famous protagonists, the other contemporary of Henry VI is of course Richard the Lionheart (1189 to 1199). Of him we will hear even more.
But today’s episode is mainly about the lay of the land and the first attempt to achieve the main aim of his reign, control of the kingdom of Sicily.
As always, this episode has a dedicated website with the transcript and maps, pictures and additional comments to read along. It is to be found at Episode 70 – From Father to Son • History of the Germans Podcast
The music for the show is Flute Sonata in E-flat major, H.545 by Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach (or some claim it as BWV 1031 Johann Sebastian Bach) performed and arranged by Michel Rondeau under Common Creative Licence 3.0.
Homepage with maps, photos, transcripts and blog: www.historyofthegermans.com
For the first time in 150 years does the empire see a smooth transition of the crown from father to son. His wife’s inheritance of the kingdom of Siciliy did not remain uncontested. A first campaign ends unsuccessfully before the walls of Naples
Henry VI. wins the lottery – twice. King Richard of England is captured and the usurper Tancred of lecce died – Sicily is his – and his 40-year-old wife gives him an heir
The wonderous gains of 1194 need to be conserved. And that means an agreement with the papacy – not that easy