FREDERICK I (BARBAROSSA) 1123 -
xxxxxOn coming to power in 1152 the ambitious Frederick I (Barbarossa), king of Germany and the Roman Empire, was bent on reducing the power of the Church and extending his authority in northern Italy. Adding "Holy" to his title, he was soon in conflict with the Papacy and the city states of Italy. Totally ignoring the Concordat of Worms of 1122, he invested his own bishops and, when the pope laid claim to his land, he appointed a series of anti-
xxxxxWhen Frederick I (nicknamed Barbarossa -
xxxxxFrom the start, Frederick totally disregarded the rights won by the pope during the long drawn out struggle between Church and State over the investiture of bishops and abbots. He filled several vacant episcopal sees (seats) in flagrant violation of the Concordat of Worms of 1122, and when, in 1156, the then pope, Adrian IV, implied that the Emperor's lands were, in fact, granted by the pope, the break was complete. Frederick set up a series of anti-
xxxxxThe Lombard League began as an alliance between four cities of northern Italy, but soon became a force to be reckoned with when other cities joined, including Padua, Milan, Verona and Bologna. The League was a direct result of Frederick's ambitious plans to establish his imperial power in Italy. He made no less than six expeditions into Italy. In the north, in particular, he caused havoc and destruction, imposing heavy taxes on the cities, and demanding that they recognise his royal rights. Inx1176, however, the Lombards proved strong enough to take on the Emperor's forces -
xxxxxBut Frederick's failure in Italy must not be allowed to distract from his long and, in many ways, outstanding reign. His determined opposition to the secular power of the Pope, his success in deposing Henry the Lion -
xxxxxIt was Frederick I who, in the Spring of 1189, following the fall of Jerusalem to the Muslim leader Saladin, called for the mustering of the Third Crusade. The following year he set out for the Holy Land himself and, after defeating the Muslims in two battles, was drowned while crossing a river in Cilicia (today's Turkey).
xxxxxIncidentally, the Battle of Legnano is important in the history of warfare, it being the first major battle in which infantry triumphed over an army of mounted feudal knights. The days of the heavily-
xxxxxIn January 1849 the Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi produced an opera based on the Battle of Legnano.
Barbarossa: miniature from a manuscript of 1188, illustrator unknown – Vatican Library, Rome. Battle of Legnano: by the Italian painter Amos Cassioli (1832-