Site Search

Like and Share Us!


Click Yellow Button below to Bookmark this Page!

Barbarossa

Barbarossa

 

 

BarbarossaFrederic I, who was called Barbarossa, or Red-Beard, by the Italians, was one of the grandest figures of the Middle Ages, and one of the greatest of German sovereigns. He was the son of Frederic, the One-eyed, of Hohenstaufen, Duke of Swabia, and of Judith, daughter of Henry the Black, Duke of . Bavaria, and thus united in himself the blood of the great rival families, the Guelphs and the Ghibellines. He was born in 1123 or perhaps a year earlier, and succeeded his father in the dukedom of Swabia in 1147. He soon accompanied his uncle, Emperor Conrad III., in the disastrous Second Crusade.

 

Conrad, when dying, showed his recognition of Frederic's great abilities by nominating him as his successor, and this choice was unanimously ratified in the assembly at Frankfort. Frederic was crowned at Aix la-Chapelle on the 9th of March, 1152. He is said to have taken Charlemagne as his model; hut the times were far different, and while he was successful in confirming the strength and unity of the empire in Germany, he was not able to subdue completely the turbulent Italian republics. It was to this task he devoted most of his energies, first leading his army against Milan in 1154. He received the iron crown of Lombardy, and marched to Rome, where he was crowned by the pope as Holy Roman Emperor on the 18th of June, 1155. Pestilence in the army compelled him to return to Germany before he had accomplished his purposes.

 

The troubled state of Germany gave him abundant occupation. He put down the robber-barons reconciled Henry the Lion by restoring the duchy of Bavaria raised Austria to the rank of a duchy. Having divorced his first wife Adelaide, he married Beatrice, daughter of the Count of Burgundy, and thus obtained the homage of the Burgundian nobles. He compelled the rulers of Poland and Bohemia to swear fealty as vassals, and raised the latter to the rank of king for faithful services. Part of Franconia, under the name of the Palatinate, he gave to his half-brother Conrad.

 

After three years thus spent in restoring order and reorganizing Germany, Frederic returned to his unfinished task in Italy, and especially Lombardy. Here the prosperous cities were desirous of managing their own affairs they had thrown off the rule of bishops and counts, and the principal had formed a league with Milan as its head. Frederic aimed to quell the pride of :Milan. With an army of 100,000 foot and 15,000 horse he laid siege to it, and after a month of furious assaults, it was compelled to surrender from want of provisions. Frederic wished to restore the imperial power as it existed in the days of Charlemagne. At a great assembly held in the Roncalian Fields the prerogatives of the emperor were defined; he was proclaimed to be "Cord of the world." In every city a chief magistrate, called Podesta, was to be appointed to represent his authority.

 

On the death of Pope Adrian IV., in 1159, the emperor gave his support to Victor IV. as his successor but the courageous Alexander III. did not hesitate to excommunicate the emperor. Proud Milan now use in rebellion but after a siege of two years surrendered, and was by imperial order demolished. But the other cities of Lombardy formed a league and expelled their podestas. On the death of Victor IV., Frederic promoted the election of a new anti-pope, Pascal III. He was then in Germany and did not return to Italy until 1166, when he marched on Rome and attacked and captured the Vatican, while Alexander took refuge in the Colosseum. On the following Sunday, August 1, 1167, the empress was crowned in St. Peter's by the pope, and Frederic received the circlet of gold which was the token of patrician dignity.

 

But Milan rose from its ashes as by all enchanter's wand, and the formidable league of the Lombard cities renewed their hostilities. Frederic proposed that the rival popes should both resign and a new one be elected but Alexander hastily left the city. Suddenly the whole German army was smitten with pestilence, and Frederic was compelled to lead the terror· stricken survivors to Pavia, and thence, almost unattended, to flee to Germany. Seven years passed before he ventured to return; but finally, in October, 1174, he set out an his last expedition. After some victories and an unsuccessful attempt at a truce, he met a crushing defeat at Lignano, in which for a time he was believed to have been slain. He was compelled to acknowledge the papal rights of Alexander III., and to conclude a truce of six years with the confederated cities of Lombardy. Frederic then returned to take vengeance on Henry the Lion, who had rebelled, and having vanquished him, banished him to England. Frederic's rule in Italy was henceforth more conciliatory. He allowed home rule, but required acknowledgment of the supremacy of the empire. Even the Milanese, who had suffered so severely at his hands, became attached to his cause.

 

Having thus effected peace and harmony throughout his dominions, the veteran warrior was startled to learn of the victorious progress of Saladin against the Christians in Syria. His youthful crusading spirit was revived, and he resolved to march to the rescue of Jerusalem from the Infidels. He landed in Asia Minor, and there won two victories own the Muslims; but his grand projects suddenly came to naught. He was drowned while crossing a small river on the loth of June, 1190.

 

Frederic Barbarossa was an ideal sovereign of the days of chivalry. Tn him were seen great manly beauty. pleasing manners, an indomitable courage and untiring energy; all the qualities which at that time won the admiration of men. He was fully persuaded that he was appointed by divine right to be the Caesar, the temporal lord of the world, as the pope was to be the spiritual head of mankind. His great dispute with the papacy was inherited from his predecessors, and is the same which has marked successive ages down to the present. It is essentially involved in the impossibility of the world serving two masters. Frederic's wars with the cities of northern Italy were justifiable, and even unavoidable, from his view of their relation to himself but in the early years of his reign he sought rather to treat them as conquered aliens than as rebellious subjects. Finally, when he was compelled to acknowledge their strength, he made atonement for earlier harshness by granting t hem such liberty as they desired. The great force of the crusading spirit of that age is nowhere shown more vividly than in its sweeping the aged emperor from his duties as sovereign of the German and Roman empire to risk his life in the parched plains of Asia. Minor, and to meet his death in its chill waters.

 

BARBAROSSA THE MEDIEVAL CAESAR.

 

Even before Gregory VII.'s time it might have been predicted that two such potentates as the emperor and the pope, closely bound together, yet each with pretensions wide and undefined, muster long come into collision. The boldness of that great pontiff in enforcing, the unflinching firmness of h is successors in maintaining, the supremacy of clerical authority, inspired their supporters with a zeal and courage which more than compensated the advantages of the emperor in defending rights had long enjoyed. On both sides the hatred was soon very bitter. But even had men's passions permitted a reconciliation, it would have been found difficult to bring into harmony adverse principles, each irresistible, mutually destructive. As the spiritual power, in itself purer, since exercised over the soul and directed to the highest of all ends, eternal felicity, was entitled to the obedience of all, laymen as well as clergy, so the spiritual person, to whom, according to the view then universally accepted, there had been imparted by ordination a mysterious sanctity, could not without sin be subject to the lay magistrate, be installed by him in office, be judged in his court, and render to him ally compulsory service. Yet it was no less true that civil government was indispensable to the peace and advancement of society and while it continued to subsist, another jurisdiction could not be suffered to interfere with its workings, nor one-half of the people be altogether removed from its control. Thus the emperor and the pope were forced into hostility as champions of opposite systems, however fully each might admit the strength of his adversary's position, however bitterly he might bewail the violence of his own partisans. There had also arisen other causes of quarrel, less respectable, but not less dangerous. The pontiff demanded, and the monarch refused, the lands which the Countess Matilda of Tuscany had bequeathed to the Holy See; Frederic claiming them as feudal suzerain, the pope eager by their means to carry out those schemes of temporal dominion which Constantine's donation sanctioned, and Lothar's seeming renunciation of the sovereignty of Rome had done much to ell courage. As feudal superior of the Norman kings of Naples and Sicily, as protector of the towns and barons of North Italy who feared the German yoke, the successor of Peter wore already the air of an independent potentate.

 

No man was less likely than Frederic to submit to these encroachments. He was a sort of imperialist Hildebrand, strenuously proclaiming the immediate dependence of his office on God's gift, and holding it every whit as sacred as his rival's. On his first journey to Rome he refused to hold the pope's stirrup, as Lothar had done, till Pope Hadrian the Fourth's threat that he would withhold the crown enforced compliance. Complaints arising not long after on some other ground, the pope exhorted Frederic by letter to show himself worthy of the kindness of his mother, the Roman Church, who had given him the imperial crown, and would confer all him, if dutiful, benefits still greater. This word "benefits" _beneficia- understood in its usual legal sense of " fief, " and taken in connection with the picture which had been set up at Rome to commemorate Lothar's homage, provoked angry shouts from the nobles assembled in diet at Besancon and when the legate answered, "From whom then, if not from our Lord the Pope, does your king hold the empire?" his life was not safe from their fury. On this occasion Frederic's vigor and the remonstrances of the Transalpinc prelates obliged Hadrian to explain away the obnoxious word and remove the picture. Soon after the quarrel was renewed by other causes, and came to centre itself round the pope's demand that Rome should be left entirely to his government. Frederic, in reply, appeals to the civil law, and closes with the words: "Since by the ordination of Goo I both am called and am Emperor of the Romans, in nothing but name shall r appear to be ruler, if the control of the Roman city be wrested from my hands." That such a claim should need assertion marks the change since Henry III. how much more that it could not be en· forced! Hadrian's tone rises into defiance; he mingles the threat of excommunication with references to the time when the Germans had not yet the empire: "What were the Franks till Zacharias welcomed Pipin? What is the Tell· tonic king now till consecrated at Rome by holy hands? The chair of Peter has given and can withdraw its gifts."

 

The schism that followed Hadrian's death produced a second and most momentous conflict. Frederic, as head of Christendom, proposed to summon the bishops of Europe to a general council, over which he should preside, like Justinian or Heraclius. Quoting the favorite text of the two swords, " On earth," he continues, "God has placed no more than two powers: above there is but one Goo, so here one pope and one emperor. The Divine Providence has specially appointed the Roman Empire as a remedy against continued schism." The plan failed, and Frederic adopted the candidate whom his own faction had chosen, while the rival claimant, Alexander III, appealed, with a confidence which the issue justified, to the support of sound churchmen throughout Europe. The keen and long-doubtful strife of twenty years that followed, while apparently a dispute between rival popes, was in substance all effort by the secular monarch to recover his command of the priesthood; not less truly so than that contemporaneous conflict of the English Henry II. and, St. Thomas of Canterbury, with which it was constantly involved. unsupported, not all Alexander's genius and resolution could have saved him. By the aid of the Lombard cities, whose league he had counselled and hallowed, and of the fevers of Rome, by which the conquering German host was suddenly annihilated, he watt a triumph the more signal, that it was over a prince so wise and so pious as Frederic. At Venice, which, inaccessible by her position, maintained a sedulous neutrality, claiming to be independent of the empire, yet seldom led into war by sympathy with the popes, the two powers whose strife had roused all Europe were induced to meet by the mediation of the Doge Sebastian Ziani. Three slabs of :red marble in the porch of St. Mark's point out the spot where Frederic knelt in sudden awe, and the pope, with tears of joy, raised him and gave the kiss of peace. A later legend, to which poetry rind painting have given an undeserved currency, tells how the pontiff set his foot on the neck of the prostrate king, with the words, "The young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet." It needed not this exaggeration to enhance the significance of that scene, even more full of meaning for the future than it was solemn and affecting to the Venetian crowd that thronged the church and the piazza. For it was the renunciation by the mightiest prince of his time of the project to which his life had been devoted; it was the abandonment by the secular power of a contest in which it had twice been vanquished, and which it could not renew under more favorable conditions.

 

Authority maintained so long against the successor of Peter would be far from indulgent to rebellious subjects. For it was in this light that the Lombard cities appeared to a monarch bent on reviving all the rights his predecessors had enjoyed; nay, all that the law of ancient Rome gave her absolute ruler. The teachers of the canon law, who had not as yet become the rivals of the civilian, and were accustomed to recur to his books where their own were silent, spread through Europe the fame and influence of the Roman jurisprudence while its own professors were led both by their feeling and their interest to give to all its maxims the greatest weight and the fullest application. Men just emerging from barbarism, with minds unaccustomed to create, and blindly submissive to authority, viewed written texts with an awe to us incomprehensible. All that the most servile jurists of Rome had ever ascribed to their despotic princes was directly transferred to the Caesareau majesty who inherited their name.

 

He was "Lord of the world," absolute master of the lives and property of all his subjects-that is, of all men the sole fountain of legislation; the embodiment of right and justice. These doctrines, which the great Bolognese jurists, Bulgarus, Martinus, Hugolinus, and others who constantly surrounded Frederic, taught and applied, as matter of course, to a Teutonic, a feudal king, were by the rest of the world not denied, were accepted in fervent faith by his German and Italian partisans. To the emperor belongs the protection of the whole world," says Bishop Otto of Freysing. "The emperor is a living law upon earth. To Frederic, at Roncagia, the Archbishop of Milan speaks for the assembled magnates of Lombardy: "Do and ordain whatsoever thou wilt, thy will is law; as it is written: 'Quicquid principiplacuit legis habet vigorem, cum populus ei et in emu omne Suum imperium et potestatem concesserit. The Hohenstaufen himself was not slow to accept these magnificent ascriptions of dignity, and though modestly professing his wish to govern according to law, rather than override the law, was doubtless roused by them to a more vehement assertion of a prerogative so hallowed by age and by what seemed a Divine ordinance.

 

That assertion was more loudly called for in Italy. The emperors might appear to consider it a conquered country without privileges to be respected, for they did not summon its princes to the German diets, and overawed its own assemblies at Pavia or Roncuglia by the Transalpine host that followed them. Its crown, too, was theirs whenever they crossed the Alps to claim it, while the elections on the banks of the Rhine might be adorned, but could not be influenced, by the presence of barons from the southern kingdom. In practice, however, the imperial power stood lower in Italy than in Germany, for it had been from the first intermittent, depending on the personal vigor and present armed support of each invader. The theoretic sovereignty of the emperor.king was in no wise disputed: in the cities toll and tax were of right his ; he could issue edicts at the Diet, and require the tenants-hi-chief to appear with their vassals. But the revival of a control never exercised since Henry IV.'s time was felt as an intolerable hardship by the great Lombard cities, proud of riches and population equal to that of the duchies of Ger. many, or the kingdoms of the North, and accustomed for more than a century to a turbulent independence.

 

For republicanism and popular freedom Frederic had little sympathy. At Rome, the fervent Arnold of Brescia had repeated, but with far different thoughts and hopes, the part of Crescentius. The city had throwl1 off the yoke of its bishop, and a commonwealth under consuls and senate pro~ fessed to emulate the spirit while it renewed the forms of the primitive republic. Its leaders had written to Conrad III., asking him to help them to restore the empire to its position under Constantine and Justinian; but the German, warned by St. Bernard, had preferred the friendship of the pope. Filled with a vain conceit of their own importance, they repeated their offers to Frederic, when he sought the crown from Hadrian the Fourth. A deputation, after dwelling in high flown language on the dignity of the Roman people, and their kindness in bestowing the sceptre on him, a Swabian and a stranger, proceeded in a manner hardly consistent, to demand a largess ere he should enter the city. Frederic's anger did not hear them to the end: " Is this your Roman wisdom? 'Who arc ye that usurp the name of Roman dignities? Your honors and your authority are yours no longer; with us are consuls, senate, soldiers. It was not you who chose us but Charles and Otto that rescued you from the Greek and the Lombard, and conquered by their own might the imperial crown. That Frankish might is still the same: wrench if you can, the club from Hercules. It is not for the people to give laws to the prince, but to obey his command." This was Frederic's version of the " Translation of the Empire."

 

He who bad been so stem to his own capital was not likely to deal more gently with the rebels of Milan and Tortona. In the contest by which Frederic is chiefly known to history, he is commonly pain ted as tile foreign tyrant, the forerunner of the Austrian oppressor, crushing under the hoofs of bis cavalry the home of freedom and industry. Such a view is unjust to a great man and his cause. To the despot liberty is always license; yet Frederic was the advocate of admitted claims i the aggressions of Milan threatened her neighbors the refusal, where no actual oppression was alleged, to admit his officers and allow his regalian rights, seemed a wanton breach of oaths and engagements, treason against God no less than himself. Nevertheless our sympathy must go with the cities, in whose victory we recognize the triumph of freedom and civilization.

 

As the emperor's antagonist, the pope was their natural ally: he blessed their anus, and called on the barons of Romagna and Tuscany for aid; he made" The Church ere long their watchword, and helped them to conclude their league of mutual support, by means whereof the party of the Italian Guelfs was formed . Another cry, too, began to be heard, hardly less inspiriting than the last, the cry of freedom and municipal self·government-freedom little understood and terribly abused-self-government which the cities who claimed it for themselves refused to their subject allies, yet both of them, through their divine power of stimulating effort and quickening sympathy, as much nobler than the harsh and sterile system of a feudal monarchy as the citizen of republican Athens rose above the slavish Asiatic or the brutal Macedonian.-J. BRYCE.

 

Barbarossa

Would you like Affordable Service Repair Manuals as PDF download?


Starting from Only $1 to $9.95


Affordable PDF Download Shop Manuals Here!




Render time: 0.02 seconds
169,721 unique visits