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§ 27. The Popes and the Hohenstaufen.

I. Principal Sources:

(1) The Regesta of the popes from Anastasius IV. to Innocent III. (1153–1198) by Jaffé-Wattenbach (ed. 1886).—The Opera of these popes in Migne’s Patrol. Lat.—The Vitae of the popes by Platina, Watterich, etc.

(2) Otto (half-brother of King Conrad III. and uncle of Frederick Barbarossa, and partial to him, bishop of Freising, or Freisingen, in Upper Bavaria, d. 1158): De Gestis Friderici I., finished by his pupil Rahewin or Reguin. Best ed. by Waitz, 1884. Also his Chronicle (De duabus Civitatibus, after the model of Augustin’s De Civitate Dei), continued by Otto of St. Blasien (in the Black Forest) till 1209. First critical ed. by R. Wilmans in Mon. Ger. Scr., XX. 83–493.—Gunther Ligurinus wrote in 1187 a Latin epic of 6576 verses on the deeds of the Emperor Frederick I. till 1160. See Wattenbach’s Geschichtsquellen, II. 241 sqq

II. Works on the Hohenstaufen Period:

Jaffé: Geschichte des deutschen Reichs unter Konrad III., Hanover, 1845.—Fr. von Raumer: Geschichte der Hohenstaufen. Leipzig, 1823. 4th ed. 1871. —W. Zimmermann: Die Hohenstaufen oder der Kampf der Monarchie gegen den Papst und die republ. Freiheit. Stuttgart, 1838. 2d ed. 1865, 2 vols.—G. De Cherrier: Histoire de la lutte des papes et des empereurs de la maison de Souabe. Paris, 1841, 4 vols.—*Hermann Reuter (Professor of Church History in Göttingen, d. 1888): Alexander III. und die Kirche seiner Zeit. 1845. 2d ed. thoroughly rewritten, Leipzig, 1860–1864; 3 vols. (A work of fifteen years’ study.)—Schirrmacher Kaiser Friedrich II. Göttingen, 1859–1864, 4 vols.; Die letzten Hohenstaufen. Göttingen, 1871.—P. Scheffer-Boichorst: K. Friedrichs I. letzter Streit mit der Kurie. Berlin, 1866.—H. Prutz: K. Friedrich I. Danzig, 1871–1874, 3 vols.—Del Guidice: Il guidizio e la condanna di Corradino. Naples, 1876.—Ribbeck: Friedr. I. und die römische Kurie. Leipzig, 1881.—Ugo Balzani: The Popes and the Hohenstaufen. London and New York, 1888 (pp. 261).—Giesebrecht, Bryce, 167 sqq.; Gregorovius, IV. 424 sqq.; Hauck, IV.;— Hefele-Knöpfler, V. 533 sqq.

With Conrad III. the powerful family of the Hohenstaufen ascended the imperial throne and occupied it from 1138 till 1254. They derive the name from the family castle Hohenstaufen, on a hill in the Rough Alp near Göppingen in Swabia.130130    The castle was destroyed in the Peasants’War in 1525. At the foot of the hill is a village and an old church with a fresco picture of Barbarossa, bearing the inscription: "Hic transibat Caesar, amor bonorum, terror malorum.""Here Caesar passed away, beloved by the good, dreaded by the bad." Close by is the ancient seat of the Hohenzollern family. On the site of the old castle a splendid castle was erected by William I., the Emperor of Germany. Agnes in marriage. They were thus connected by blood with the antagonist of Pope Hildebrand, and identified with the cause of the Ghibellines against the Guelphs in their bloody feuds in Germany and Italy. Henry VI., 1190–1197, acquired by marriage the kingdom of Naples and Sicily. His son, Frederick II., raised his house to the top of its prosperity, but was in his culture and taste more an Italian than German prince, and spent most of his time in Italy.

The Hohenstaufen or Swabian emperors maintained the principle of imperialism, that is, the dignity and independence of the monarchy, as a divine institution, against papal sacerdotalism on the one hand, and against popular liberty on the other.

They made common cause with the popes, and served their purposes in the crusades: three of them, Conrad III., Frederick I., and Frederick II., undertook crusades against the Saracens; Conrad III. engaged in the second, which was a failure; Frederick I. perished in Syria; Frederick II. captured Jerusalem. The Hohenstaufen made also common cause with the popes against political and doctrinal dissent: Barbarossa sacrificed and punished by death Arnold of Brescia as a dangerous demagogue; and Frederick II., though probably himself an unbeliever, persecuted heretics.

But on the question of supremacy of power, the Hohenstaufen were always in secret or open war with the popes, and in the end were defeated. The conflict broke out under Frederick Barbarossa, who after long years of contention died at peace with the Church. It was continued by his grandson Frederick II. who died excommunicated and deposed from his throne by the papacy. The dynasty went out in tragic weakness in Conradin, the last male representative, who was beheaded on the charge of high treason, 1268. This conflict of the imperial house of the Hohenstaufen was more imposing than the conflict waged by Henry IV. with Gregory and his successors because of the higher plane on which it was fought and the greater ability of the secular antagonists engaged. Lasting more than one hundred years, it forms one of the most august spectacles of the Middle Ages, and furnishes some of the most dramatic scenes in which kings have ever figured. The historian Gregorovius has felt justified in saying that "this Titanic war of the Middle Ages filled and connected the centuries and formed the greatest spectacle of all ages."

After the fall of the Hohenstaufen, the German Empire maintained, till its death in 1806, a nominal connection with the papacy, but ceased to be the central political power of Europe, except in the period of the Reformation under Charles V., 1519–1558, when it was connected with the crowns of Austria, the Low Countries, and Spain, and the newly discovered lands of America, and when that mighty monarch, true to his Austrian and Spanish descent, retarded the Protestant movement for national independence and religious freedom. The new German Empire, founded on the ruins of the old and the defeat of France (1870), is ruled by a hereditary Protestant emperor.







Innocent II.

Conrad III.



Coelestine II.

Crowned emperor at Aix la Chapelle by the papal legates.


Lucius II.


Eugene III.

Frederick I. (Barbarossa).



Anastasius IV.

(Nephew of Conrad.)


Adrian IV.

Crowned emperor by Adrian IV.



Alexander III.


Lucius III.


Urban III.


Gregory VIII.


Clement III.

Henry VI.



Coelestine III.

(Son of Barbarossa.)

Crowned emperor by Coelestine III


King of Sicily.



Innocent III.

Otto IV


Crowned by Innocent III


Deposed by the Lateran Council



Honorius III.

Frederick II


Gregory IX.

(Son of Henry VI and Constance of Sicily)


Coelestine IV.

Crowned emperor by Honorius III



Innocent IV.

Conrad IV


(Second son of Frederick II)

Crowned king of the Romans


Excommunicated, 1252, and again 1254


Alexander IV.




Urban IV.



Clement IV.

(Son of Conrad, the last of the Hohenstaufen, b. 1252)



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