Frederick I Barbarossa

Frederick Barbarossa

Was the Holy Roman Emperor from 1155 until his death. He was elected King of Germany at Frankfurt on 4 March 1152 and crowned in Aachen on 9 March 1152. He became King of Italy in 1155 and was crowned Roman Emperor by Pope Adrian IV on 18 June 1155.

1122 seems to be the year that Frederick I, called Barbarossa was born, probably in Waiblingen, Germany. Frederick I Barbarossa came to the throne because of Conrad III’s desire, whose grandson he was. On his deathbed, he told his German parents that he wanted Frederic to become his heir. In 1125, he was elected in Frankfurt and crowned King of Germany in Aachen. Two years later, he was crowned King of Italy in Pavia.

In 1164, Frederick took what are believed to be the relics of the “Biblical Magi” (the Wise Men or Three Kings) from the Basilica di Sant’Eustorgio in Milan and gave them as a gift (or as loot) to the Archbishop of Köln , Rainald of Dassel. The relics had great religious significance and could be counted upon to draw pilgrims from all over Christendom. Today they are kept in the Shrine of the Three Kings in the Köln Cathedral. After the death of the antipope Victor IV, Frederick supported antipope Paschal III, but he was soon driven away from Rome, leading to the return of Pope Alexander III in 1165.

Historians have compared Frederick to Henry II of England. Both were considered the greatest and most charismatic leaders of their age. Each possessed a rare combination of qualities that made them appear superhuman compared to their contemporaries: longevity, boundless ambition, extraordinary organizing skill and greatness on the battlefield. Both were handsome and proficient in courtly skills, without appearing effeminate or affected. Both came to the throne in the prime of manhood. Each had an element of learning, without being considered impractical intellectuals but rather more inclined to practicality. Each found himself in the possession of new legal institutions that were put to creative use in governing. Both Henry and Frederick were viewed to be sufficiently and formally devout to the teachings of the Church, without being moved to the extremes of spirituality seen in the great saints of the 12th century. In making the final decisions, each relied solely upon his own judgment, and both were interested in gathering as much power as they could.

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