The age of the Hohenstaufen begins with an emperor who wasn’t a Hohenstaufen. Lothar of Supplinburg was a Saxon duke who had spent his early years in opposition to the reigning Salian house and their allies, the Hohenstaufen. The circumstances of his election victory against Frederick of Hohenstaufen kicks off the long lasting political antagonism between Staufer and Welf, between Guelphs and Ghibellines. But despite the outward differences in background and initial political positioning, Lothar III continued the Salian policy of forcing their will upon the princes and pushing back against the papacy. The new element he brings into imperial policy is the Eastern expansion that will ultimately bring about the Baltic empire of the Teutonic Knights and the Hanse.
Emperor Lothar III, an unexpected leaderA 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” .
Hello and welcome to Season 3 of the History of the Germans Podcast – The Hohenstaufen 1125-1268.
Between March and June of 1977 675,000 people visited the Alte Schloß in Stuttgart to see an exhibition entitled “Die Zeit der Staufer” (the Time of the Hohenstaufen in English). Over 1,000 items from 17 countries were on display, with the Cappenberger Kopf, the image of emperor Frederick Barbarossa, this episode’s artwork as its star exhibit.
Nobody expected these numbers of visitors for what was just 3,000 square meters of exhibition space. At peak times there was barely a square meter per person. People fainted in the low and badly ventilated rooms. They sold 150,000 copies of the enormous four volume exhibition catalogue, one of which to my father who proudly displayed it in his office for 40 years and is now in a box en route over to mine.
Whilst most other medieval German rulers are all but forgotten, interest in the Hohenstaufen never completely disappeared. Why is that? They were by no means the most successful emperors, that crown has to go the Ottonians nor was their reign the most fateful, that was the reign of the later Salians.
Frederick Barbarossa and his grandson Frederick II have been such fascinating personalities that almost any age could project their own perceptions and expectations onto them, from champion of national unity to modern man before his time. Time to find out what really happened, who they really were. As always a great many things keep happening, some good, some bad.
Episode webpage: Episode 43 – All Change All Change • 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
Death of Emperor Henry V and election of Lothar of Supplinburg as Emperor Lothar III.
Civil War between Lothar III and the Hohenstaufen. Lothar defeats them