The Hohenstaufen (1125-1268)

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.

Overview

Most other medieval German rulers are all but forgotten, so why has interest in the Hohenstaufen never completely disappeared. They were by no means the most successful emperors, that crown has to go the Ottonians, nor was their reign the most fateful, that award goes to 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 actually were.

As always a great many things keep happening, some good, some bad.

Key Events

Lothar III (1125-1138)

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.

1125

Death of Emperor Henry V and election of Lothar of Supplinburg as Emperor Lothar III.

1125-1130

Civil War between Lothar III and the Hohenstaufen. Lothar defeats them

1130-1138

Church falls victim to a schism that pulls in all European monarchs. Lothar fights his way to Rome but dies upon his return

Conrad III (1138-1152)

Conrad III manages to gain the crown against overwhelming odds. His opponent Henry the proud was the son-in-law of Lothar III and the most powerful prince in the land. The coup resulted in a continuation of the civil war between the houses of Welf and Hohenstaufen. Participation in the Second Crusade was an attempt to break the gridlock that backfired badly

1138-1142

Conrad III snatches the crown from Lothar’s designated successor, Duke Henry of Saxony from the House of Welf

1142-1147

Conrad III fights endless civil wars against the House of Welf

1149-1152

The disastrous Second Crusade wipes out what was left of royal authority. The Reich falls into chaos

Frederick I Barbarossa (1152-1190)

The most famous of all the medieval German emperors. His reign divides into three parts, part 1 (1152-1160) when he brings peace to war torn Germany and rebuilds imperial authority, part 2 (1160-1177) where he struggles with the papacy and the Italian Communes, and finally part 3 (1177-1190 a period of consolidation ending in the Third Crusade.

1152

Barbarossa is elected in another Coup d’Etat

1153-1155

Barbarossa mends the divisions between Welf and Staufer, finds an agreement with the church and gets crowned emperor

1155-1158

Barbarossa Second Italian Campaign, first defeat of Milan and the promulgation of theLaws of Roncaglia

1159-1162

The cities of Crema and Milan reject the new governance of Northern Italy and are besieged, defeated and razed.

1160-1167

Political and ideological conflict with the papacy. A series of imperial anti-popes fail to get traction. Barbarossa besieges Rome

1162-1167

Alongside with the schism the Lombard cities chafe under imperial rule leading ultimately to the creation of the Lombard League

1168-1177

After the catastrophic disintegration of the army before Rome, Barbarossa fundamentally resets his agenda and sets out for his fifth Italian campaign

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